The somewhat controversial Stand Your Ground law, which allows the use of deadly force in a self-defense situation, is becoming more and more popular by the day as details continue to emerge from the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.
But in Ohio, and more specifically the university-area where the threat of crime is ever-present, do students have the right to defend themselves?
The Stand Your Ground law allows those who are attacked outside of their home to be able to protect themselves by any means, including the right to use a concealed weapon if they feel threatened.
The Castle Doctrine law is upheld in Ohio, which allows for people who are attacked inside their home or vehicle to protect themselves.
Mike Newbern, a second-year in industrial and systems engineering and founder of Buckeyes for Concealed Carry on Campus, said if Ohio enacts the Stand Your Ground law, it will be beneficial and perhaps even lower crime rates on campus.
“When you look at wherever we have empowered citizens, law-abiding citizens, to take ownership for their self-defense, to allow them to carry concealed firearms, crime rates are lower,” Newbern said.
Newbern said he believes students are targeted for many reasons, whether it is distractions from cellphones or not being able to defend themselves, and he wants that to change.
Buckeyes for Concealed Carry works toward educating and promoting advocacy of gun rights so students know how to properly protect themselves.
Toby Hoover, executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, said the possibility of the Stand Your Ground law passing in Ohio is pure speculation at this point. Hoover said she does not want to see this law make its way to Ohio.
“I think it would be a huge mistake for them to go to the next step in saying that no matter where you are, you can shoot someone if you feel threatened,” Hoover said. “Everybody’s idea of when they feel threatened is a little bit different.”
Some students agree with Hoover, in that they think the law could create some issues.
David Rutz, a fourth-year in German and mechanical engineering, said the Stand Your Ground law would give individual citizens too much power and would take away the power from law enforcement officers.
“I think that (the Stand Your Ground law) opens up too much of a road for abuse of firearms,” Rutz said. “Is it really self-defense when you have to shoot to kill to protect yourself? … That’s why we have a police force everywhere.”
The Stand Your Ground law extends to protection of the victim in a court of law, where they will not be prosecuted if they decide to use lethal force as their method of self-defense against their attacker.
Ohio State Police Chief Paul Denton said University Police has not determined where it falls along this controversial topic.
“At this point I would say that we, along with other law enforcement professionals, would listen and learn as this issue is debated in public,” Denton said. “If it does progress to the legislature, we would weigh in at an appropriate time and in an appropriate manner.”
Lobbyist Jim Irvine of Buckeye Firearms Association said that people, especially students with a concealed carry permit, should weigh their options before using deadly force.
“Just because you have the legal authority to shoot someone doesn’t make that it is a good decision,” Irvine said. “You don’t ever want to be involved in a shooting that you can avoid.”