‘Stand your ground’ fails panel vote; moving to House is next try for bill

'Stand your ground' fails panel vote; moving to House is next try for bill

Rep. Aaron Pilkington, R-Clarksville, is shown in this photo. ( A contentious bill to eliminate the "duty to retreat" from Arkansas’ self-defense laws was derailed in a House committee Tuesday, after hours of testimony from opponents who said the proposal would give cover to armed vigilantes and racists. The legislation, Senate Bill 24, is commonly referred to as a "stand-your-ground" bill, using the language of the National Rifle Association, which has thrown its support behind the bill. But the bill has drawn fierce opposition from gun-control groups and community activists, who pointed Tuesday to studies in other states correlating stand-your-ground laws with increases in homicides, as well as the disparate success of "stand-your-ground" defenses in situations where Black people are injured or killed. Mental-health advocates, faith leaders and a coalition of Black mayors from around the state were among those who spoke against the bill Tuesday and during a rally at the Capitol over the weekend. "This bill’s not right and you know it; it’s a racist bill," the Rev. Benny Johnson, president of Arkansas Stop the Violence, told lawmakers Tuesday. Jayme Womack, an Arkansas woman whose brother was one of two innocent bystanders killed when a gunman shot into a crowd outside a bar in Slidell, La., in 2014, recalled to the committee her experience watching her brother’s shooter claim self-defense under that state’s stand-your-ground law. (News reports state that the shooter, Jamieon Chatman, later pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 40-year prison sentence.) "We were told […]

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