Editor, The Messenger,

The daily deluge of difficult news has taken our attention off of a critical issue. In 2019 Governor DeWine promised to fight gun violence after the mass killing in Dayton left nine dead and many more wounded. To his credit DeWine did propose common sense measures in STRONG Ohio, but it has gone nowhere. Instead a GOP controlled state house passed Stand Your Ground in lame duck session and DeWine has now signed it into law.

A genuine attempt to save lives would have at least adopted some of DeWine’s 17 point plan. One would be universal background checks (firearm homicide rates are 58% lower in states with universal background checks). Our elected officials paid no heed to reports that other states passing Standing Your Ground legislation have an uptick in homicides [Rand Report:The Science of Gun Policy-A Critical Synthesis of Research Evidence on the Effects of Gun Policies in the United States, Second Edition (https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2088-1.html)].

Gerrymandering leads to electing extremists who do not reflect the will of the majority of Ohio citizens. Numerous emails and phone calls were made, along with over 550 submitted testimonies opposing Stand Your Ground legislation. Police Chiefs from major cities in Ohio also objected to this bill.

There have been many incidents across the nation that have opened our eyes that tragic events like the one in Dayton can happen anywhere – schools, concerts, movie theaters, churches, college campuses. For me, having a nephew murdered in a drive-by shooting gives me a very personal perspective. Having someone close to me raped at gun point adds to my own disgust at ignoring the message “Do Something.”

My greatest concern with this law is the cultivation of racism connected to Stand Your Ground. We have seen how threatening behavior can be just about anything when your skin color is dark; watching birds in Central Park, wearing a hoodie, picking up a toy gun in Walmart, carrying a cell phone (“But it looked like a gun!”) or taking a jog in a white neighborhood. A Person of Color can not let their guard down, and if you are white you have no clue how that feels. I know I don’t. This law allows a person to draw their gun, and shoot, with a “perceived threat.” Can you see the problem?

Preventing the next ugly incident of an innocent person being shot in the back is our responsibility. Common sense measures to curb gun violence is NOT an attack on 2nd amendment rights but a way to ensure you will not be faced with the tragic news a family member, a neighbor, a classroom has been held hostage or worse dead. In these divisive times it is up to our elected leaders to tamp down fanning the flames of fear, disrespect, and hatred. Do the words of “unity and justice for all” have any substance when laws are passed that are tethered to our ugly history of racism and fear of the other?

Janalee Stock

Athens, Ohio

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