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Opponents Of "Stand Your Ground" Law Rally At Statehouse

Opponents of a plan to enact Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law in Ohio held a protest at the Statehouse yesterday. Some protest leaders say the law would increase violence in the state. Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow reports.

The issue at the center of the protests was a bill that would create “Stand Your Ground” laws in Ohio.

This means a person would no longer be required to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense. Protesters at a rally held by the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus believe the provision would lead to increased violence combined with racial profiling.

Stanley Miller, former leader of the Cleveland NAACP says there’s a constant push for pro-gun policies that hinge on the words of the Second Amendment. Miller read the amendment out loud to the crowd then broke down its details.

Miller: “27 words, three commas and one period. And that one sentence has been misused and interpreted so many different ways that most people never really knew what it stood for. And currently has resulted in more legislation and more action than any other 27 words in any document our country has.”

Leaders of the rally repeatedly brought up the death of Trayvon Martin, a teenager shot and killed in Florida. Caucus President Alicia Reece, a Democrat from Cincinnati, says the Stand Your Ground law in that state led to Martin’s death and she doesn’t want to inject that kind of fear in Ohio.

Reece: “This is a human interest of folks who are very much afraid of this type of law taking place and what does it mean to their young person. Will they wear the right clothes, is that against the law? Will they walk on the wrong street and get killed, or is that against the law? And so people are really afraid that this will turn into a Wild Wild West type of environment in the state of Ohio.”

Sean Maloney is a leader with the Buckeye Firearms Association, a gun-rights advocacy group. He says liberal activists are the first ones who brought up Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws and it was never actually used in the prosecution of George Zimmerman, the man acquitted of Trayvon Martin’s death.

Maloney says adding a Stand Your Ground law wouldn’t change much in the state of Ohio but urges that it’s still necessary.

Maloney: “I feel that—if I reasonably believe that I’m in fear of death—it should stop there. My decision making process should stop there and I should have the ability—faced with death—to immediately protect myself, my family members, or whoever else is nearby.”

Maloney explains that a person facing a deadly situation doesn’t have time to think about which laws would apply to their dilemma.

Maloney: “No they’re not going to—absolutely not—I think that analysis takes place after the fact because we already know that in a defensive gun-use situation or when we’re fighting for our life we have a rush of adrenaline—we have tunnel vision—hearing depravation—there’s so much physically going on that we don’t even remember what’s happened shortly before, during, or even after until days later.

But to the protesters… this provision represents a much larger problem with gun policies in Ohio and around the country. Representative Reece says the General Assembly is out of touch with the majority of Ohio and the push for a Stand Your Ground law is just the latest example.

Two other anti-gun rallies were held throughout the day with a group of pro-gun advocates also gathering at the Statehouse.

As for the bill, the House has yet to schedule it for a second hearing.

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.
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