Duck and cover: A big shootout on the session’s leading gun bill is next week

Gun Rights

Tuesday will be a climactic day for the license-to-kill legislation known as the Stand Your Ground Bill. It eliminates a need to retreat (even a person who is trespassing) before killing someone because of a perceived threat. As yet, none of the sponsors has produced a case of wrongful prosecution of a self-defense case in Arkansas, but prosecuting attorneys, who joined opposition two years ago, were cowered into submission this session by the gun lobby. Gun fetishists are now firmly in control of the Senate, where this legislation was the first order of business in a pandemic year. Is the situation just as bad in the House, where the bill has 15 sponsors?

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We’ll learn Tuesday when the House Judiciary Committee has the proposal, SB 24, as the only item on its agenda at 2 p.m. in Big Mac.

The tiny Democratic caucus is urging opposition. Democrats hold eight seats on the 20-member committee, with 11 votes needed for a favorable recommendation, though it’s not clear all eight will oppose the legislation. The Republican contingent includes a few marginally reasonable members of the GOP caucus.

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Sunday, the NAACP and Harold Flowers Law Society will join in a Capitol gathering, dubbed “Real Love,” to oppose the legislation. Speakers include Rep. Vivian Flowers, Arkansas State NAACP President Frank Shaw, and Rabbi Barry Block. They’ll say the state is safer WITHOUT this legislation.

Nationwide, Stand Your Ground laws give people a license to kill, allowing those who shoot others to obtain immunity, even if they started the confrontation. Research shows that these laws are associated with increases in gun homicides, and do nothing to deter overall crime.

The laws also tend to discriminate against Black people, perceived more often as threats by shooters. They’ve also been used to defend people who shot people over property crimes.

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Moms Demand Action, the gun safety group, plans a news conference Monday morning to object to passage of the bill. Speakers include Dr. David K. Humphreys of the Penn Injury Science Center at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The NRA lobbyist and his fellow travelers will be working the legislature, too (to the extent necessary, which isn’t much in these gun-loving times in Arkansas.)

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