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Rep. Russo calls for repeal of Ohio's "shoot first" law

Says no duty to retreat will make deadly confrontations more common
April 6, 2021
C. Allison Russo News

State Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) today called on Statehouse leaders to repeal Ohio’s new no duty to retreat law, which passed in December 2020. Democratic-sponsored legislation, House Bill (HB) 38, would repeal the new shoot first law that takes effect Tuesday. 

“The ‘no duty to retreat’ law taking effect today is another prime example of my Republican colleagues passing extreme state laws that are completely disconnected from the reality of what most Ohioans want us to do to address the serious issues facing our communities,” said Rep. Russo.  “It masquerades as a pro-Second Amendment law when, in reality, it offends the Second Amendment by discouraging responsible gun ownership and encouraging lethality.  We have a serious gun violence epidemic that is devastating many communities and families in our state.  If we are to make sure Ohioans are able to live, learn, and work with safety and security, then we must repeal this dangerous law and start passing commonsense, evidence-informed gun safety measures that the majority of Ohioans actually support.”

HB 38 would repeal the recently passed Shoot First law that permits the use of deadly force by individuals who believe their lives are endangered anywhere in the state. The measure was added as a last-minute amendment to Senate Bill (SB) 175 in December 2o2o, and the governor signed the bill into law even after suggesting he would veto the extreme legislation

A recent report found that shoot first laws may have led to an increase in total homicides and firearm homicides in states which have enacted them. 

During discussion of the bill on the House floor in late December, multiple Democratic lawmakers argued that the new law will disproportionately affect Black Ohioans and other communities of color. In the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a similar law on the books in Florida was invoked because the shooter claimed self-defense.

Ohio’s no duty to retreat law takes effect April 6. No hearings have been scheduled on HB 38 to date.