Ohio

Ohio Rep. Howse Speaks Out About Racial Component of Stand Your Ground

In state legislatures and at the federal level, one of the key battles that pro-gun legislators are fighting is in the area of preemption and reciprocity: attempts to pass one-size-fits-all gun laws for both rural and urban areas, and then to force the weakest of these laws on everyone. This is especially true of laws that have a disparate impact on communities of color, like the “stand your ground” clause at the center of Ohio HB 228 in Ohio. In the aftermath of that debate, state Rep. Stephanie Howse, a Democrat and African-American from Cleveland, pointed out the fundamental inequity of these laws. From Peter Krouse, Cleveland.com:

As for the bill’s main sponsors, Rep. Sara LaTourette, a Republican from Geauga County, represents a district that is 96.2 percent white and 1.5 percent black, while Rep. Terry Johnson of Scioto County, is from a district that is 94.9 percent white and 2.4 percent black.

And that, to Howse, is telling.

“They have a responsibility to my constituents in Cleveland,” Howse said of the representatives pushing the bill, as well as to those in Toledo, Cincinnati and other cities. “Even though they don’t directly represent us.”

Of the 32 House members who voted against the House version last month, 12 represent districts where the white population is less than 51 percent. Another 10 have districts with white populations of 80 percent or less. Only 10 have white percentages above 80 percent. One Republican, Ann Gonzalez of suburban Columbus, voted against the original bill.

LEAP Forward has graded action on this bill and scored opposition.