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Ohio ‘Stand Your Ground’ law goes into effect

Mike Bates, owner of Jim’s Gun Shop in Beverly, explains ammunition stocking concerns this year after delays in production related to coronavirus and an increase in demand saw many suppliers with reduced access to inventory. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

Southeast Ohio is no stranger to Second Amendment enthusiasm and education.

“We’re southeast Ohio trained,” said Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks Monday. “Many have been handling firearms since they were around 8 years old… males and females are taught in the home and how you should and shouldn’t utilize (weaponry).”

But a law that takes effect today can reopen the conversation concerning safe and responsible gun ownership, according to both officers of the law and those whose business is in selling the wares.

Today, the “Stand Your Ground” law, which was passed in Ohio’s legislature in December, takes effect.

“Stand your ground means you don’t have to turn and run, you’re allowed to protect yourself,” said Mincks. “Similar to the feeling behind Castle Doctrine where you’re allowed to be safe and secure in your own home, with ‘Stand Your Ground,’ if somebody is threatening you and you’re in fear of your life, you don’t have a duty to retreat. Now, you can’t be the aggressor and just shoot someone, but you can defend yourself.”

Marietta Chief of Police Rodney Hupp further explained the law follows trends of the expansion of gun ownership rights over recent decades, noting in his opinion that an “O.K. Corral gunfight” is not the result of expanded responsible gun ownership.

“The vast majority of people that go to the trouble of obtaining a concealed carry permit are very responsible, very decent people who just want to live their lives in peace, but in safety,” said Hupp. “I do not anticipate anything remarkable coming out of this at all.”

But, he reiterated, that standing one’s ground doesn’t mean picking a fight.

“If you read carefully what the various conditions are, you can’t have started the altercation. There’s no gameplay in there. If you have a minor fender bender, and you jump out and start engaging in violent and turbulent behavior…this doesn’t apply to you,” said Hupp. “So that part of it is really pretty darn ironclad. You can’t start the problem.”

Mike Bates, owner of Jim’s Gun Shop in Beverly, said not much talk has surrounded the topic from his customers.

“I don’t think it’s going to impact anything around here. People know there’s little reason your gun should be out of your holster and if you’re (licensed to) conceal carry, nobody should be able to tell that you’re even carrying,” said Bates. “We don’t need a new law to know somebody can’t just come up and punch you and you just shoot them.”

But the pandemic and unrest of the last year in the U.S. is often part of shop talk.

“There’s still a shortage of everything right now,” he reported, including both handgun and rifle ammunition.

David Silwani, an assistant prosecutor in the Washington County Prosecutor’s Office, echoed similar cautions concerning the new law as both Mincks and Hupp, saying “it’s no different than any other self-defense case, to prosecute,” and also mentioned the short supply of ammunition and weaponry.

“If you look across the board, manufacturing, in general, is impacted by COVID it’s hard to get anything,” said Silwani. “Everything that requires an assembly line of some sort is affected right now. And ammo is no different … Even if you do (make your own) even those parts are in short supply as well.”

Chip Ditchendorf, owner of West Side Gun and Safe in Marietta’s lower west side, said in part, the supply-and-demand chain and which shops have available stock also has to do with who can purchase in such a scale to be profitable.

But in terms of the new law?

Ditchendorf said he hopes the conversations continue toward common ground discussion in suicide and mass shooting prevention through the lens of physical and mental wellness, nodding to the “Have a Brave Conversation” campaign about mental illness put out in partnership by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Likewise, Bates, echoed an emphasis on safe and responsible ownership could be additional common ground.

“I definitely recommend a gun safety course for anyone,” he said. “Most (people) get a gun for safety at their house. I’ve had an older man just want one at home, saying ‘I may never use it, but it’s better to be safe.’ But if they want to carry, I definitely recommend more classes. I’ve been hunting since I was six years old, so was taught how to unload before storing and how to clean it. Accidents (often) happen when people don’t make sure the gun was unloaded or was secured.”

See a future edition of the Times, for more on safety and common ground.

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