OHIO — On Monday, Gov. Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 175, otherwise known as the controversial "stand your ground" bill after hinting he would veto it earlier last year.
The bill eliminates the state's "duty to retreat," meaning legal gun owners don't need to walk away before hurting or killing someone in self-defense.
The signing comes as a surprise to some, including Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.
"Gov. DeWine came to our city and stood on stage for a vigil for our murdered friends and neighbors and then told us he stood with our community in our fight against gun violence. Now it seems he does not. Gov. DeWine has made clear he opposes this dangerous policy, but he once again folded to the extreme elements of his own party,” Whaley wrote in a statement on Twitter, pertaining to the 2019 mass shooting in Dayton's Oregon District. Nine people died and many were wounded.
Following the shooting, DeWine encouraged lawmakers to press pause on the "stand your ground" bill and instead focus on the STRONG Ohio bill, which was composed of what DeWine called "common sense" gun reform legislation. It would have improved the state's background check system, raise penalties for violent offenders with guns and would have expanded courts' right to confiscate firearms.
And at the time when it didn't pass, DeWine said he may veto SB 175.
The bill was attached to another bill which grants civil immunity when it comes to deaths or injuries for handguns.
DeWine defended himself in a statement, saying there were both pros and cons to the legislation.
"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,” DeWine wrote.
Prior to the bill, deadly force in terms of self-defense was allowed so long as the one claiming self-defense didn't cause the altercation, believed they were in harm's way, or were on their property, such as in their home or in their car.
Both the Buckeye Arms Association and the National Rifle Associated commended DeWine for signing the bill.
“While this bill changes one technicality in Ohio law, it does not change the near universal and well-established standard for use of lethal force, nor does it give criminals a free pass to commit violent crime,” Buckeye Arms wrote in a statement.
Along with Whaley, Akron Rep. Emilia Sykes expressed disappointment toward the measure.
“Only cowards would support a bill that allows people to shoot first and ask questions later. The blood of the lives lost from the signing and passage of this bill rest solely on those who supported it," wrote Akron Rep. Emilia Sykes in a statement.