Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a ‘Stand Your Ground’ bill into law on Wednesday afternoon despite past concerns that he raised regarding the measure.
SB24 removes the obligation for a person to retreat before deadly force can be used.
“A person who uses or threatens to use physical force as otherwise permitted under this subchapter does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use the physical force…” the law reads.
A similar proposal was previously introduced in the legislature but was stalled two years ago. Hutchinson later dropped his opposition to the measure after groups like the state’s sheriffs’ and prosecutors’ association dropped their opposition, according to 5 News.
“While I’ve often said that there is no compelling need for this legislation, I’m persuaded by the changes that have been made since it was first introduced two years ago,” Hutchinson said, according to the report. “And the fact that law enforcement no longer opposes the bill.”
Others have opposed the measure arguing it would lead to more violence against people of color, according to the Associated Press (AP).
“I have no doubt these concerns are heartfelt and real, but there’s nothing in the language of the bill that would lead to different outcomes in our criminal justice system,” Hutchinson told reporters, according to the AP.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) hailed the signing in a statement. (RELATED: County Sheriff Applauds Homeowner Who Shot Alleged Home Invader)
“This law ensures the rights of law-abiding Arkansans are protected,” Executive Director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action Jason Ouiment said. “Victims have little time to react when confronted with a criminal attack, they should not be required to try and run away before defending themselves. This is a common sense piece of self-defense legislation.”
Hutchinson is now calling on the legislate to pass another piece of legislation that would impose more penalties for committing a crime against someone because of their race, sex, sexual orientation or other characteristics, according to the AP.
“The justification for Stand Your Ground and laws addressing targeted crimes are the same: the fundamental right of all citizens to feel safe,” he said, according to the report.