Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has signed into law a gun rights bill eliminating an individual's duty to retreat before using force.
The measure expands the so-called “stand your ground” right from an individual’s house and car to any place a person lawfully has the right to be. Legislators attached the controversial measure to a bill that grants civil immunity for deaths or injuries from handguns before passing it during the lame-duck session.
"I have always believed that it is vital that law-abiding citizens have the right to legally protect themselves when confronted with a life-threatening situation," DeWine said in a statement. "I am very disappointed, however, that the legislature did not include in this bill the essential provisions that I proposed to make it harder for dangerous criminals to illegally possess and use guns" says DeWine
The Republican governor's decision followed months of his declaring that any new gun legislation should include his own proposals for toughening background checks and boosting penalties for felons committing new crimes with guns.
The governor has pushed these measures since the 2019 mass shooting in Dayton that killed nine and wounded more than two dozen.
DeWine had urged lawmakers to set the bill aside and pass a package of what he called "common sense" gun reforms. Among his proposals were to raise penalties against violent offenders caught with guns, expand the ability for courts to confiscate firearms, and improve the state's background check process.
After the "STRONG Ohio" bill faltered in committee, DeWine suggested in late December he may veto "Stand Your Ground."
"I made my position very clear that we should not be taking up bills like that, when we have bills that have been in front of the legislature for a year where we have really the opportunity to directly save lives," DeWine told reporters at the time.
"Stand Your Ground" has long been a priority for gun rights groups in Ohio.Democrats and gun control advocates like Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley urged DeWine to fveto, arguing "Stand Your Ground" would make Ohio more dangerous for people of color.
In a statement, Whaley criticized DeWine for folding to the "extreme elements" in his party.
"I can't express my level of disappointment," Whaley wrote. "Governor DeWine came to our city and stood on stage for a vigil for our murdered friends and neighbors, and then told us he stood with our community in our fight against gun violence. Now it seems he does not."