Ohio Supreme Court Rules ‘Warning Shots’ Can Be Self-Defense, but the Real News Is Who Made the Decision

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AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that firing a warning shot in lieu of shooting a person can be considered by courts as an act of self-defense. In today’s America, that’s a big deal.

In a split decision, the court ruled in favor of Tyler Wilson, who had been convicted by a lower court on charges of felonious assault with a firearm but not guilty of attempted murder. Four of the justices reversed the lower court rulings that found a claim of self-defense isn’t viable from a person who didn’t shoot to wound or kill. 

The court held that Wilson’s shooting with a stated intent to “back [an aggressor] off” is protected by Ohio’s self-defense laws.

While the decision was a victory for gun rights, which is sure to incense the gun-grabbing left, Second Amendment supporters were surprised to learn that the decision was made by three liberal justices and one conservative justice.

Here’s more:

The Buckeye Firearms Association’s Rob Sexton believed the initial ruling against Wilson was unconstitutional.

In a 4-3 decision, the court agreed. Sexton was not only surprised by how the vote broke down; he also said the vote of the liberal justices made a stronger case for future self-defense claims.

Liberal Justices Melody Stewart, Michael P. Donnelly, and Jennifer Brunner wrote the opinion, with conservative Justice Pat Fischer in concurrence of the judgment only — meaning he agreed but didn’t write an opinion on why.

Case Western Reserve University law professor Jonathan Entin suggested that the ruling was less about gun rights and more a question of how easy it should—or shouldn’t— be to assert self-defense. Entin stressed that the court didn’t say Wilson had acted in self-defense, only that the jury should have been allowed to consider whether he did.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Joseph T. Deters wrote that Wilson’s version of what had happened didn’t constitute self-defense.

Entin agreed with Deters:

That said, Entin admitted that requiring lethal violence isn’t ideal.

Either way, in my view, the decision was a positive step for self-defense — in an America that gets crazier and less predictable by the day.

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