The Republican-controlled legislature never seems to tire of tinkering with Ohio’s gun laws, even at the risk of increasing the likelihood that violent confrontations will turn deadly. Among recent efforts is a misguided bill introduced by state Rep. Terry Johnson, a Scioto County Republican. It would add Ohio to the list of some 20 states, among them Florida, with a “stand your ground” law.
Fortunately, the law enforcement and legal communities delivered strong testimony against the idea at a legislative hearing this week. John Gilchrist, representing the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, and John Murphy, representing the Prosecuting Attorneys Association, emphasized that changing current Ohio law would be an invitation to trouble.
Under current law, a person is required to retreat, if there is a reasonable means of doing so, before using deadly force in self-defense. Johnson’s bill would end the requirement. Gilchrist correctly framed the consequences: “Repealing the duty to retreat is a recipe for more violence whereby killings, currently considered to be criminal, will become justifiable homicides.” Murphy reminded lawmakers of the state’s “legitimate interest” in preserving the peace. Legislators would be wise to follow the advice.