CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - NAACP leaders across the state are rallying against a proposed “Stand Your Ground” gun bill that is being debated in the Ohio Senate.
The bill could receive a vote on the Senate floor this week. Dozens packed into the Ohio Senate Committee hearing Tuesday night to express concerns about HB228. It was the second day of testimony that will continue through Thursday. Several Republican senators were noticeably absent from that hearing.
If the bill is passed it would eliminate a person’s “duty to retreat” if they feel their life is in danger, allowing the individual to protect themselves by using deadly force. The NAACP is calling the legislation a public safety threat.
“I really don’t understand what the need is, in the state of Ohio. Statistics have shown that homicides increase in every state that has implemented Stand Your Ground,” said Joe Mallory, who is the First Vice-President of the Cincinnati NAACP.
Representative Niraj Antani, R-District 42, is a co-sponsor of the bill and says he supports it because it will clarify the current law which only allows citizens to use lethal force to protect their home or car.
“Right now the law is very confusing for people on when they have to flee instead of standing their ground. The law, right now, it states if you can escape you have to try to escape and that leads to very confusing and perhaps deadly situations. This bill says for the purpose of state law that you can stand your ground. You have the right to protect yourself. That does not mean that you can chase someone or go after someone or anything like that,” said Antani.
However, Mallory says if “Stand Your Ground” becomes a law it would create more deadly situations for communities of color.
“If you get into a confrontation with someone and you feel threatened you don’t have to retreat. You can shoot the individual and then the burden of proof is on the prosecution. There’s a lot of concern. It’s about public safety and if you’re African American your life will be at risk,” said Mallory.
The sponsor of the bill, Representative Terry Johnson, R-District 90, would not do an interview but sent FOX19 a statement saying: “The second amendment to the U.S. Constitution is for everyone. Anytime we can reverse infringements to the second amendment, everyone benefits. To suggest this amendment has some supernatural ability to discern skin color and mete out punishment rather than protection to one race rather than another is on its face, absurd.”
The NAACP says they will continue their fight to prevent the bill from becoming law.
“We need everyone to call their state senator and ask them to vote no. Demand that they vote no,” said Mallory.
Gov. John Kasich said if the bill reaches his desk he would veto it, but Republicans say there is enough support to override a veto.