NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — A controversial bill surrounding self-defense and the use of deadly force has passed in both the Arkansas House and the Senate.
When it comes to the ‘Stand your ground bill’, it’s now up to Governor Asa Hutchinson to veto, approve the bill to become a law, or do nothing and the bill automatically becomes a law without his signature.
State Senator Bob Ballinger is the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 24.
The way the law currently stands, it prohibits a person to use deadly physical force in self defense if they can safely walk away from the danger or threat.
If this measure becomes a law, it would remove the ‘duty to retreat’ and protects the individual’s use of physical deadly force in certain circumstances.
The bill faced opposition from people who say it is a licensed to kill while supporters believe this measure will make self defense rights stronger
Matt Durrett, is an Executive Board Member with the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association. The organization opposed the bill in the past. Durrett says that’s because it completely removed the duty to retreat.
It’s now taking a neutral stance on it following some changes to the measure.
“We didn’t have a position on whether we are for or against the bill’s passage and that was just based of the prosecutors and law enforcement agencies working with the sponsors of the bill to add exceptions there to eliminate concerns that law enforcement and prosecutors had,” said Durrett.
He says the exceptions revolve around making sure that the individual who uses the physical deadly force is not breaking the law at the time.
“You have to not be a felon with the possession of a gun. You can’t be the initial aggressor… you can’t be involved in some criminal activity that gave rise to the incident,” said Durrett.
It also includes an amendment that the individual using deadly force has to be lawfully present in the location at the time, for example, individual cannot be trespassing.
Now the bill is left to the governor to make a decision.