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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has signed a gun rights bill that eliminates a person’s duty to retreat before using force, despite previously voicing concerns that some lawmakers were ignoring legislation that he proposed following the 2019 mass shooting in Dayton.
The Republican governor’s most recent measure, which was signed Monday, expands the so-called "stand your ground" right from an individual’s house and car to any place, "if that person is in a place in which the person lawfully has a right to be," the legislation states.
He said he signed the bill in "the spirit of cooperation" with the General Assembly, but had hinted as recently as December that he might veto the bill.
"I have always believed that it is vital that law-abiding citizens have the right to legally protect themselves when confronted with a life-threatening situation. While campaigning for Governor, I expressed my support for removing the ambiguity in Ohio’s self-defense law … that is why I have signed this bill today," he said in a statement shared Monday on Twitter.
He added: "I am very disappointed, however, that the legislature did not include in this bill the essential provisions that I proposed to make it harder for dangerous criminals to illegally possess and use guns."
For over a year, DeWine had called for measures that would toughen background checks and boost penalties for felons committing new crimes with guns.
The governor has pushed these proposals since the Aug. 4, 2019, Dayton massacre that killed nine and wounded more than two dozen.
Nan Whaley, the Democratic mayor of Dayton and a sometimes ally of the governor, said she couldn’t "express my level of disappointment" and accused him of giving in to extremists in his own party. Shortly after the Dayton shooting, she and DeWine pledged to work together on a bipartisan effort to change gun laws.
Ohio becomes the 36th state with a similar measure, officials told the Associated Press.
"Our state needs principled leaders who will stand up for what is right — not what is politically easy," Whaley tweeted.
The Buckeye Firearms Association praised the move, saying DeWine kept multiple promises, both publicly and privately with the association, to sign the bill.
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"We’re very pleased the governor kept his promise to sign the repeal of Ohio’s duty-to-retreat law that forces victims of violent crime to retreat before they’re legally able to defend themselves," said Dan Rieck, the group’s executive director.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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