Public Notice: Count on it.
— Bob Ballinger (@Bob_Ballinger) April 5, 2019
Speaking of copycat legislation: The worst NRA desire of this legislative session — adding Arkansas to the list of states with dangerous “stand your ground” laws — isn’t dead yet. Another run to pass it, potentially with the acquiescence of a former foe, is on the agenda for the legislature’s final week.
The Tweet from Sen. Bob Ballinger is no idle threat. Also, Sen. Trent Garner (R-El Dorado), the angriest gun advocate, is growing more excitable by the day in hopes of resurrecting the bill that eliminates any need to retreat in face of danger.
Prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement officers have made clear that Arkansas’s self-defense law already provides adequate protection to those who use guns in defense of themselves and others.
But the gunners won’t be happy until we have Stand Your Ground, a license to kill with impunity that has done damage everywhere it’s been adopted. The laws have led to increased homicides and gun deaths. And there’s no greater truth than “dead men tell no tales.” Shoot somebody dead for no good reason and — absent other witnesses — just tell cops you felt threatened. It’s led in Texas and elsewhere to justified shootings of people for minor property crimes. The “beyond a reasonable” doubt standard of proving someone did NOT act in self-defense has proved difficult to surmount with only one living witness to a gun homicide, the one who did it.
Moms Demand Action was out in force last week at the Capitol, a signal the fight isn’t over.
This significant thing has happened: The gunners have been meeting with the influential prosecuting attorneys. It is possible that the bill has been, or will be, amended in ways suggested by the prosecutors to drive them into a neutral posture on the bill. That could lead to passage.
There is this hope: If the bill is acceptable to prosecutors, it might mean they find the amendments of little meaning except as political cover for Ballinger and Garner, but it would still be another victory for the gun lobby to claim. However limited the change, it would still encourage problematic happenings in Arkansas among newly empowered gun-toters.
Ballinger amended the bill several times last week and sent the bill back to the Judiciary Committee. The bill currently contains this language of when use of deadly force is allowed without retreat. If a person:
(1) Is lawfully present at the location where deadly physical force is used;
(2) Has a reasonable belief that there is an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury;
3) Has not provoked the person against whom the deadly physical force is used;
(4) Is not in unlawful possession of a weapon used to employ the deadly physical force;
(5) Is not engaged in criminal activity that gives rise to the need for the use of deadly physical force at the time the deadly physical orce is used; and
(6) Is not engaged in any activity in furtherance of a criminal gang, organization, or enterprise as defined in § 5-74-103.
The law isn’t needed. Advocates haven’t yet illustrated where the existing self-defense law has proved inadequate for defense of someone who used a weapon in a dangerous situation. The experience elsewhere illustrates that laws such as these have lethal consequences. But …. Arkansas.