Thomas Rejects Stand Your Ground, Urges Commonsense Gun Reform
December 18, 2020
Today, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 175, which includes the controversial Stand Your Ground legislation that removes the duty to retreat in almost any public space and will likely lead to more violent confrontations and gun deaths.
“It is perhaps my biggest regret of the past two years that we failed to ‘do something’ to strengthen our laws to protect Ohioans and to keep guns away from dangerous individuals. Ohioans demanded that of us last year,” said Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights). “Instead, today we have passed a bill that endangers people. As a legislature, we’re failing to protect families and communities across our state.”
The legislation is opposed by groups including Moms Demand Action, the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, the Chiefs of Police, the Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the ACLU, the Catholic Conference and the League of Women Voters of Ohio.
“This bill seeks to solve a problem that doesn't exist and would inevitably lead to many shoot-whoever-makes-you-nervous situations,” said Assistant Minority Leader Cecil Thomas (T-Avondale). “Even well-intentioned individuals hold implicit biases, which is why Stand Your Ground laws have substantial racial implications. Reducing gun violence should be one our top priorities, but this bill will instead increase gun deaths in Ohio.”
Ohio has experienced a spike in gun violence this year, particularly among youth. According to the Office of Criminal Justice in the Department of Public Safety, crimes involving gun violence have increased by 17% in the first six months of 2020 in the eight largest cities in Ohio compared to the same period last year, and murder by firearm has increased by 27% during the first 6 months of 2020.
“The Ohio GOP once again did not listen to the majority of Ohioans who oppose stand your ground legislation,” said Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo). “We heard evidence that this bill will endanger the lives of Ohioans – and of people of color in particular – yet advocates of the bill could not show why we need this in Ohio. Republicans do not have the right priority, and they certainly are not listening.”
According to a 2013 study by Texas A&M University, Stand Your Ground laws lead to an 8% increase in murders. The study also found no evidence that such laws deter crimes.
“Our role as legislators is to protect Ohioans, and they have called on us again and again to ‘do something’ about gun violence in our state,” said Senator Tina Maharath (D-Canal Winchester). “Instead, we’re prioritizing a dangerous bill that does nothing to save lives and instead creates more opportunities for people to be killed.”