In 2019, the state of Arkansas considered a Stand Your Ground bill. The measure, contrary to what some might think, doesn’t “legalize murder” or any such thing. It simply prevents prosecution for those who are justified in the use of lethal force for not trying to escape first. After all, when your life is on the line, looking for a way out may not be really high up on your list of priorities at that moment.
Unfortunately, the measure never made it out of committee. This was a significant setback for gun rights in a fairly pro-gun state.
Well, this year, another Stand Your Ground measure is up for consideration, and this one is already more successful than the last.
An Arkansas Senate panel has advanced legislation loosening restrictions on the use of deadly force in self defense, two years after failing before the same committee.
The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed the proposal that would remove the state’s duty to retreat before using deadly force in certain circumstances.
“It’s tighter and cleaner,” said State Senator Bob Ballinger (R- Ozark), the bill’s lead sponsor. “There’s a few amendments that we’ve done to clarify the law but other than that it’s substantially the same bill as last time.”
The proposal failed before the same committee two years ago after State Senator Stephanie Flowers (D- Pine Bluff) made an impassioned speech against the proposal invoking the fear of gun violence her children and other African-Americans feel in her crime-plagued district. A recording of the testimony went viral on social media.
But Flowers was more reserved Wednesday in her remarks against the latest proposal, pointing to the fact that five of the bill’s sponsors hold seats on the eight-person panel.
In other words, Flowers knew it was a done deal this time around and no amount of fearmongering would change a thing.
However, what people need to remember is that there has to be a clear threat to a person before lethal force can be used, even in a Stand Your Ground state. You can’t just see a black guy and kill him because you think he wants to hurt you. That’s not how it works, thankfully.
No, there has to be more there. There has to be something that would cause a reasonable person to believe their life was threatened. A gun pointing at the person, a knife, or any number of other things may qualify, but there has to be something.
Impassioned pleas may have made Arkansas’ citizens less safe for a couple of years, all because of the fearmongering surrounding Stand Your Ground measures. Now, it’s out of committee and can get a fair chance in the legislature. That means people may soon be able to protect themselves more efficiently. That’s all for the better.
While the scare tactics the anti-gunners and the media use with regard to Stand Your Ground will likely continue for an indefinite period of time, the truth is that it helps save lives. I’m glad the bill made it out of committee in Arkansas. Here’s to hoping it passes.