COLUMBUS — After receiving encouragement from Ohio prosecutors to veto Ohio’s new “Stand Your Ground” legislation and a week after hinting he might do just that, Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill this week.

But he wants something in return.

For more than a year, the Republican governor pushed his plan for tighter gun controls but the General Assembly has yet to move anything forward. DeWine hopes signing the new bill leads to more cooperation with lawmakers.

“In the spirit of cooperation with the General Assembly, I have signed Senate Bill 175,” DeWine said. “I look forward to working with members of the legislature in the future to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and to protect the rights of citizens who follow the law.”

Republicans in both the House and Senate say the law clears up ambiguity and removes the duty to retreat from state law. They also say it protects the Second Amendment rights of Ohioans.

The law changes what is known as the Castle Doctrine and allows for a person to defend themselves without the duty to retreat “if that person is in a place in which the person lawfully has the right to be.”

“From the origination of House Bill 796, to its amendment into Senate Bill 175, this pivotal legislation has come a long way and I applaud Gov. DeWine for signing it into law today,” State Rep. Kyle Koeher, R-Springfield, said. “This bill protects the rights and safety of law-abiding Ohioans.”

Democrats called the new law dangerous, saying it threatens African American lives and makes Ohioans less safe.

“There’s nothing worse than a coward. Only cowards would pass and sign a bill that has been proven to disproportionately harm Black people,” Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, said. “Only cowards would support a bill that allows people to shoot first and ask questions later. The blood of the lives lost from the signing and passage of this bill rests solely on those who supported it.”

DeWine has pushed for stronger gun measurers since an August 2019 mass shooting in Dayton that killed nine and injured 27. His plan includes requiring information such as convictions, protection orders and open warrants be included in the federal and state background check systems.

DeWine also wants stronger penalties for criminals who illegally possess, buy and sell guns.

“Everyone who cares about these issues knows that the provisions I am requestion in no way infringe upon the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms,” DeWine said. “They know what I am asking for is to make it harder for guns to get into the hands of criminals. These provisions will save lives. These provisions need to become law.”

By J.D. Davidson

The Center Square