Following BFA testimony last week, Senate committee to hold 3rd hearing on SB 237 (Remove Duty to Retreat)

Senator William Coley (R-4), who chairs the Government Oversight and Reform Committee, has announced that further proponent testimony will be heard at a third hearing on SB 237 (Remove Duty to Retreat), sponsored by Terry Johnson.

The hearing will be held on Wednesday, December 11 at 4:00 p.m. in the Finance Hearing Room.

To enact the Ohio Duty to Retreat Act to modify the law regarding self-defense and remove the duty to retreat.

Buckeye Firearms Association has endorsed SB 237.

The concept of "duty to retreat" goes back to the days when swords were the primary self-defense tool, and running may have proved to be a safe option. However, in a world where guns are commonplace, requiring retreat to outrun a bullet is absurd.

On Tuesday, December 3, 2019, Buckeye Firearms Association Executive Director Dean Rieck submitted testimony in support of SB 237 to remove "duty to retreat" from Ohio law. That testimony follows:

Chair Coley, Vice-Chair Huffman, Ranking Member Craig, and members of the Government Oversight and Reform Committee, my name is Dean Rieck and I am Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association.

On behalf of Ohio's 4 million gun owners, I am here to testify in support of SB 237.

Ohio's “duty to retreat” law should be repealed. It is illogical, unsafe, and unfair to Ohio's citizens.

Duty to retreat is illogical because it applies after a victim has met the criteria to establish lawful self-defense. Only after a victim can articulate that an assailant had the means, opportunity, and intent to kill him or do great bodily harm does the duty to retreat come into play.

The standard for establishing whether using lethal force in self-defense is justified is generally stated like this: “Lethal force in self-defense is justified if the victim has an honest and reasonable belief that he is fear of immediate and unavoidable death or great bodily harm.”

If someone is legally justified to use lethal force, why would the law add an additional burden to “retreat”?

Duty to retreat is unsafe because it suggests that someone facing immediate death or great bodily harm should focus on escape rather than self-defense. A victim of violence is already behind the reaction curve. Action beats reaction.

So when a person is being attacked, she may have only seconds to stop the threat. Turning your back, looking for an exit path, taking your eyes off the threat, are all dangerous reactions that only put the victim in an even worse situation.

Duty to retreat is unfair because it forces a victim of violence to put the safety of their attacker above their own safety.

In short, it is the law's way of saying, “When a bad guy thrusts a knife at your neck, swings a hammer at your head, or aims a gun at your chest, consider the bad guy's safety before your own.” This is more than unfair; it is immoral and perverse.

Removing the duty to retreat is not a “get out of jail free” card. It will not create a “shoot first” environment. It will not hamper law enforcement. Removing the duty to retreat will merely change a part of Ohio law that is clearly illogical, unsafe, and unfair to Ohio's citizens.

When it is time for opponents to present testimony, we expect to hear the same tired arguments that we've been hearing from gun control advocates for the last 20 years in Ohio. They will claim that this bill will encourage a Wild West mentality, that arguments will be settled with gun play, and blood will run in the streets.

However, these scenarios have never come true for previous bills. Lawmakers see through these disingenuous Chicken Little panic attacks, and even gun control leaders admit in private that Ohioans have proved to be overwhelmingly trustworthy and law-abiding. So there's no reason to continue putting such an unfair burden on gun owners.

For a complete list of bills we are monitoring in the Ohio legislature, click here.

Be sure to subscribe to BFA NEWS, our free weekly newsletter, to stay up-to-date on gun bills and other news in Ohio.

Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

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