An Arkansas legislative committee will decide this morning whether to vote, in essence, to increase the state’s homicide rate. Blazing debate seems likely. UPDATE: At 7:30 a.m. today, the agenda was updated and the proposed legislation discussed here was moved to the “deferred” list. Good, especially if permanent.

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. and items on the agenda include HB 1059, a so-called stand-your-ground bill. It eliminates any need to retreat in a potentially dangerous situation. You may unlimber your gun at any perception of threat. Such laws elsewhere have led to an increase in homicides and many a dubious homicide where the only other witness to contradict a shooter’s account of a perceived threat is dead.

Gun deaths have risen dramatically in Florida since passage of a “stand your ground” law there. The American Bar Association warned about such laws years ago because of increased homicide rates and because they hinder law enforcement, are applied inconsistently and disproportionately harm black people.

Arkansas has an adequate law guaranteeing a right to self-defense. Proponents of the stand-your-ground law have little evidence that this right has left people in danger. But former GOP gubernatorial candidate Jan Morgan, the Yosemite Samantha of the gun fringe, insists erroneously it would render an armed person defenseless against an active shooter. She’ll be echoed by similar belligerents in committee today.

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I’ve been led to understand that prosecuting attorneys are prepared to raise questions about this legislation. Let us hope.

The class of new Democratic blood in the legislature will be heard from for sure. For example:


To give you an idea of the level of rhetoric to be expected from the militia:

The self-defense law, if you’re interested, begins:

(a) A person is justified in using deadly physical force upon another person if the person reasonably believes that the other person is:

(1) Committing or about to commit a felony involving force or violence;

Yes, there’s a “retreat” provision, emphasis supplied:

A person may not use deadly physical force in self-defense if the person knows that he or she can avoid the necessity of using deadly physical force with complete safety:

The history of Arkansas unfair prosecutions of people acting in self-defense would be a short book. I’m reminded of the Little Rock pharmacist cleared by a local prosecutor  (not the current prosecutor) after he chased a man with a knife who’d robbed his store and shot him in the back from 12 feet away. Self-defense, it was held.

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