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Government & Politics

'Stand Your Ground' Gets First Hearing in Ohio Senate

Testimony for the bill in a courtroom.
Sen. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) gives testimony for his bill, SB237, which removes the "duty to retreat" before using lethal force in self-defense.

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would remove what's known as the "duty to retreat" in public before shooting someone in self-defense. This law is commonly referred to as the "Stand Your Ground" bill. At the heart of the debate is whether the law would increase or decrease safety. 

State Sen. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) told a Senate committee during the first hearing of his bill that it keeps the main prongs of self-defense: that an aggressor must display "means, intent, and opportunity" to do harm before someone takes action to protect themselves.

"If someone attacks you and they're going to try to kill you and you make a reasonable assumption that that person's trying to kill you then you already have the rights to self-defense so that's already in law," Johnson said. "What I'm saying is, you don't also have to run away."

But opponents express concern that this could increase gun deaths in Ohio. Senate Democrats argued that passing the bill could discourage people from finding ways to de-escalate tense situations.