Deadly force: local laws differ on threat

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Following a shooting in Warren Wednesday in which a homeowner shot and killed an alleged burglary suspect, WKBN looked closer at Ohio’s laws regarding self-defense.

The Castle Doctrine law protects the right of homeowners to use deadly force if they feel endangered when someone is breaking into their home. The law has been in place for many years, but some attorneys say the law and similar ones are causing safety concerns.

John Morrison with Extreme Outfitters is one of many Ohioans packing heat to protect himself. He also sells guns to people who have concerns over safety.

Morrison said over the past few years, the concealed carry market has been growing. He said people who are worried about home invasions and want to protect themselves are in his store daily.

“It doesn’t matter what demographic. It spans people from all walks of life,” said Morrison.

State Representative Bob Hagan said Ohioans need to make sure they understand state laws before using deadly force to protect themselves. He said more guns equals more injuries and more deaths.

“There is a difference between the Castle Law and Stand Your Ground,” said Hagan.

Under Ohio’s Castle Doctrine laws, a homeowner is protected if they feel threatened when someone tries to break into their house.

“For instance if they kick the door down or they break the window and they are trying to get in the house, you have the right to defend yourself,” said Hagan.

Ohio Revised Code reads: 2901.09 No Duty to retreat in residence or vehicle.

  • (A) As used in this section, “residence” and “vehicle” have the same meanings as in section 2901.05 of the Revised Code.
  • (B) For purposes of any section of the Revised Code that sets forth a criminal offense, a person who lawfully is in that person’s residence has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence, and a person who lawfully is an occupant of that person’s vehicle or who lawfully is an occupant in a vehicle owned by an immediate family member of the person has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense or defense of another.

Last fall, state representatives passed the Stand Your Ground bill which says you can use deadly force even if you feel threatened on the porch, sidewalk, anywhere you feel that you cannot get away without being injured. You have the right to stand your ground and not back away. That bill still is awaiting a vote in the Ohio Senate.

Many people from across the state are doing what they feel will keep their families safe.

“The main focus is going to be self-defense for concealed carry and defense of the home,” said Morrison.

Just last year, a Niles homeowner was not charged under Ohio’s Castle Law in a fatal shooting after two men attempted to break into his house.

George Zimmerman was acquitted under the Stand Your Ground law in Florida in the February 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin during an altercation on the street.

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