Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Vindicator: ‘Stand your ground’ gets new life

Matthew T. Mangino
The Vindicator
December 23, 2018
In November, the Ohio House of Representatives approved legislation that would include a provision for “stand your ground” self-defense. The vote in favor of the legislation was a whopping 2-to-1.
The bill is in the Senate and in spite of the overwhelming support in the House this legislation is far from a done deal.
A similar bill was thwarted in 2013, and Ohio’s outgoing governor, John Kasich, said he would veto the legislation. However, that may change with Gov.-elect Mike DeWine.
In 2013, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association opposed stand your ground. Both organizations have taken the same position this time around. “That’s obviously an officer safety issue that we’re concerned with,” Michael Weinman, spokesman for the FOP, told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Florida law
In 2005, Florida passed the first stand your ground law expanding on what was known as the Castle Doctrine. The Castle Doctrine permitted the use of deadly force within one’s home without first attempting to retreat.
Florida’s stand your ground law stated “a person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, laws in at least 25 states provide that there is no duty to retreat from an attacker in any place in which one is lawfully present. At least 10 of those states, including Pennsylvania, have language stating one may stand his or her ground.
Pennsylvania’s law, amended in 2011, distinguishes the use of deadly force outside one’s home or vehicle. It provides that in such locations one cannot use deadly force unless there is a reasonable belief of imminent death or injury, and either the ability to retreat safely is not present or the attacker displays or uses a lethal weapon.
Research published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that stand your ground increased homicide rates.
Soon after the law took effect in Florida, there was a sudden and sustained 24 percent jump in the monthly homicide rate – the rate of homicides caused by firearms increased by 32 percent.
An investigation by the Tampa Bay Times, a Florida newspaper, found that the rate of homicides declared justifiable tripled in the five years after the passage of stand your ground.
In Ohio, the proposed law would also shift the burden of proof for self-defense from the individual who used deadly force to the prosecutor. The prosecutor would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the individual didn’t act in self- defense.
More than 11 million Americans now have concealed carry permits. Stand your ground and the proliferation of gun ownership has increased the potential for unnecessary violent confrontations.
‘Fear and Quarrels’
Lawmakers recognized this concern centuries ago. According to a New York Times op-ed by Robert J. Spitzer, a professor at the State University of New York-Cortland, in 1686, New Jersey enacted a law against wearing weapons because they induced “great Fear and Quarrels.”
Massachusetts, North Carolina and Virginia passed similar laws in the 18th century. By the 19th century, 37 states joined the list prohibiting concealed weapons.
Now, on the eve of 2019, state lawmakers are promoting the concept that toting a gun and shooting first – asking questions later – will promote peace and harmony in neighborhoods across Ohio.
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly and George and the former district attorney for Lawrence County, Pa. You can read his blog at and follow him on twitter @MatthewTMangino.
NOTE: Governor Kasich vetoed the Bill before Christmas.
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