The Ohio chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, a part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, today released the following statements after volunteers testified in the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee against Stand Your Ground legislation. The hearing was held despite demonstrations for racial justice across Ohio and the nation.
The bill, HB 381, would upend traditional self-defense law in Ohio and allow a person to shoot to kill in public, even when there is a clear and safe alternative. It’s a policy known for helping white shooters avoid criminal prosecution and putting Black people at further risk of gun violence. Most recently, in Georgia, where Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while jogging down the street, a prosecutor on Arbery’s case pointed to Georgia’s Stand Your Ground law as one of the reasons he refused to pursue charges against the shooters.
“Despite calls across the country to end the systemic racism that is killing Black people every day, Ohio lawmakers are moving forward on Stand Your Ground,” said Shela Blanchard, a volunteer with the Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action. “This policy is known for helping white shooters kill at will and putting Black people at even higher risk of gun violence. Why are Ohio legislators contributing to the systemic inequality that so many are fighting against?”
“Stand Your Ground laws are proven to lead to more gun violence and make Black people in America less safe,” said Lara Kowalcyk, a volunteer leader with Students Demand Action in Ohio. “Outside the capitol, protesters have demanded racial justice, and more than 70 Ohioans have submitted testimony against this racist, destructive and unnecessary bill. We’ll keep coming back until lawmakers give up on this dangerous effort and get to work on common-sense bills to prevent gun violence.”
Stand Your Ground laws disproportionately impact communities of color. When white shooters kill Black victims, the resulting homicides are deemed justifiable 11 times more frequently than when the shooter is Black and the victim is white. Stand Your Ground laws are also associated with an increase in firearm homicides and injuries and do not deter crime. At least 30 people nationwide are killed each month as a result of Stand Your Ground laws.
As a whole, gun violence takes a disproportionate toll on Black and brown communities. Black Americans represent the majority of homicide and nonfatal shooting victims in the U.S. and are far more likely than white Americans to be victimized by and exposed to assaultive gun violence.
More information about the risks of Stand Your Ground policies are available here. Statistics about gun violence in Ohio are available here, and information on how Ohio’s gun laws compare to other states overall is available here.