• 52°

Changing self-defense laws is dangerous

It sounds scary enough. Thankfully, it rarely happens.

You’re out in public when a robber confronts you with a gun. You either comply and pray, run for your life knowing a bullet is faster or, perhaps, brandish your own concealed weapon and fight back.

Ohio law clearly spells out self-defense rights in your home, vehicle or relative’s vehicle. You don’t have to retreat to defend yourself, but you also can’t chase a burglar stealing your computer out of the house and shoot him in the back.

Some Ohio lawmakers want greater clarity in other public situations by removing language requiring people to retreat before defending themselves.

It’s commonly known as a “Stand Your Ground” law, the phrase widely attached to the tragic shooting death of Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in 2012 outside Orlando, Fla.

The provision, tucked into an otherwise reasonable bill seeking to clarify how Ohio recognizes concealed carry permits from other states, surely will attract plenty of attention in light of the Zimmerman trial where he was found not guilty….

Before changing state law, we first ask the sponsors to provide ample evidence of cases where Ohio law-abiding victims were charged with crimes when defending themselves in public situations. We can’t recall any locally in the past decade….

We also strongly recommend polling Ohio’s prosecutors on whether they see a need for clarifying state law. At the least, work with them to make sure we’re not giving career criminals a get out of jail free card. Aggressors never should be afforded self-defense excuses….

Changing Ohio’s law won’t change how law-abiding victims defend themselves, nor the likely outcome of any prosecution

The (Newark) Advocate