A new gun law will go into effect Tuesday in Ohio that removes the “duty to retreat” requirement before a firearm owner can use lethal force in self-defense.
The new measure was passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature in December. Governor Mike DeWine originally threatened to veto the bill after lawmakers declined to pass his recommended gun control proposals, but he ultimately signed it into law on January 4.
“It is vital that law-abiding citizens have the right to legally protect themselves when confronted with a life-threatening situation,” DeWine said at the time. “I am very disappointed, however, that the legislature did not include in this bill the essential provisions that I proposed to make it harder for dangerous criminals to illegally possess and use guns.”
Previously, Ohio residents were allowed to “stand their ground” only in their homes or vehicles. The new bill removed the terms “vehicle” and “home,” expanding the description of self-defense to apply in public as long as the person is legally allowed to be there.
In order to claim self-defense, someone must be able to show that they were not at fault for instigating the situation.
According to the global policy think tank RAND Corporation, at least 34 states had stand-your-ground laws or expanded the measure to apply beyond the home as of January of last year.
Democratic legislators have argued that this is not the kind of gun measure the state needed after a 2019 mass shooting in Dayton. Nine people died and more than a dozen were injured in the attack, during which the shooter used an AR-15-style assault rifle.
“This is not what people meant when they asked us to ‘do something’ last year after the deadly mass shooting in Dayton,” Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko told a local NBC affiliate.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, slammed DeWine for signing the bill earlier this year. She argued in a statement that the governor was giving in to the “extreme elements” of his party.
“I can’t express my level of disappointment,” Whaley said. “Gov. DeWine came to our city and stood on stage for a vigil for our murdered friends and neighbors, and then told us he stood with our community in our fight against gun violence. Now it seems he does not.”
House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes also warned that “shoot first laws are already in place in other states and have proven to disproportionately harm Black people and increase homicide rates.” Sykes told The Columbus Dispatch that the state’s new law “will threaten more Black lives and ultimately make us all less safe.”
Newsweek has reached out to the governor’s office for additional comment on the new law.