On Saturday, November 2, 2013 a coalition of faith groups, unions, professional associations, community groups, and rights organizations (including the ACLU of Ohio) will hold a rally at the Ohio Statehouse. At this rally, we will call on Ohio lawmakers to halt the death penalty, end the war on drugs and the epidemic of mass incarceration, break the many reentry barriers for the formerly incarcerated, and put a stop to "stand your ground" proposals in Ohio.

In advance of the rally, the ACLU of Ohio will be blogging about each of these four important issues. In this post, staff member Lisa Wurm writes about "Stand Your Ground" laws.

You have almost certainly heard of Trayvon Martin and the tragedy surrounding his death. The trial and the Stand Your Ground law that resulted in a “not guilty” verdict marked an important point in history that will likely never be forgotten.

One of the most impactful ways to honor Trayvon’s memory is to focus on the underlying issues of what his death symbolized – racial profiling and the failings of our criminal justice system. There has been a lot of response to what happened on that fateful night in Florida, but without actual, practical reform efforts, there will continue to be more racially charged shootings.

The ACLU believes that change can be made by repealing existing or preventing new Stand Your Ground laws because these laws make a fundamental change to what has historically been called “a duty to retreat.” Previously, if a person felt threatened while in a place they were lawfully permitted to be, that person was required by law to attempt to get away before using deadly force. Stand Your Ground laws remove this condition and instead allow people to use any means necessary, including lethal force, to defend themselves against another person they perceive as a threat.

Ohio is currently at risk of having one of these laws enacted. HB 203 has been introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives. The ACLU of Ohio has closely analyzed HB 203 and is in opposition to this bill. You can see the details of our summary on our legislation section of our website here.

We are doing more than just advocacy to help prevent this legislation from moving forward. On Saturday, November 2, at 4:00 p.m., the ACLU of Ohio will join forces at the Ohio Statehouse with a coalition of faith groups, community based organizations, and professional associations to rally against stand your ground laws and other important efforts to reform the criminal justice system. We call on all citizens to come to Columbus and make your voices heard at this event, which is an important step forward to raising awareness of the dangers of Stand Your Ground laws and advancing real change.