Broad Ohio gun bill spurs stand-your-ground debate

COLUMBUS (AP) — An Ohio legislative panel cleared a measure today that makes broad changes to the state’s gun laws, including the addition of a “stand-your-ground” self-defense rule that has sparked similar debates on gun control across the country.

The measure would expand the circumstances in which Ohioans could use force to defend themselves without having a duty to first retreat from an attacker. Under current law, residents need not retreat if they are lawfully in their homes, vehicles or the vehicle of an immediate family member.

The bill would eliminate the duty to retreat in any place in which the person is lawfully allowed to be.

At least 22 states have similar laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The laws generally eliminate a person’s duty to retreat before using force in the face of a serious physical threat.

Debate over such measures has increased among the states after George Zimmerman’s acquittal this year in the 2012 Florida shooting death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin.

Opponents say Ohio’s current self-defense laws are sufficient.

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