Lawmakers, others discuss ‘Stand Your Ground’ bill

Bill approved by 72-23 vote Wednesday in state House

Lawmakers, others discuss ‘Stand Your Ground’ bill
(Source: KAIT)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - The controversial ‘Stand Your Ground’ bill passed in the Arkansas House Wednesday afternoon with a 72-23 vote.

SB24 is an effort to loosen Arkansas’ restrictions on the use of deadly force in self-defense.

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted 10-9 for a bill that would remove the duty to retreat, sending the Senate-backed measure to the full House.

The state House approved it Wednesday and it now heads Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk.

The bill advanced weeks after the same House Judiciary Committee rejected the measure.

Most of the debate on Tuesday focused on an unsuccessful effort to loosen the restrictions even further.

Similar legislation stalled in the Legislature two years ago.

The bill is sponsored by several Region 8 lawmakers including Sen. Missy Irvin, of Mountain View, Rep. Johnny Rye, of Trumann, Rep. Frances Cavenaugh, of Walnut Ridge, Sen. Blake Johnson, of Corning, and Sen. David Wallace, of Leachville.

On Wednesday, local House members voting yes on the bill were Reps. Craig Christiansen (R-Bald Knob), Cameron Cooper (R-Romance), Cavenaugh, Marsh Davis (R-Cherokee Village), Les Eaves (R-Searcy), Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould), Michelle Gray (R-Melbourne), Steve Hollowell (R-Forrest City), Jack Ladyman (R-Jonesboro), Jon Milligan (R-Lake City), Rye, Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro), Stu Smith (R-Batesville), Nelda Speaks (R-Mountain Home), Dwight Tosh (R-Jonesboro) and Jim Wooten (R-Beebe).

Voting no were Reps. Deborah Ferguson (D-West Memphis), Monte Hodges (D-Blytheville), Joe Jett (R-Success), Josh Miller (R-Heber Springs), Reginald Murdock (D-Marianna) and Milton Nicks (D-Marion).

Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Keith L. Chrestman said Wednesday afternoon that he was neutral on the bill.

“On SB24, Prosecuting Attorney Keith L. Chrestman is neutral. The Arkansas Prosecuting Attorney’s Association, which includes Chrestman and Arkansas’s other 27 elected prosecutors, decided to remain neutral on this legislation,” the statement from Chrestman noted.

The 72 yeas for the bill included District 59 State Representative, Jack Ladyman (R-Jonesboro).

“I think it’d be more of a balance in defense, with the aggressor and the defender,” Ladyman said. “Obviously, I consider the comments I got from back home, but they were about split. So I thought it was a good deal I thought it would help reduce our serious crime rate.”

But, for District 55 State Representative, Monte Hodges (D-Blytheville), he says it will affect more people who look like him.

“Those stats that I saw in those states that have passed this law, the marginalized communities were the most affected by it. So, the numbers in black and brown people when it came to gun deaths, increased,” Hodges said. “I have pink slips all over my desk and in the chamber from constituents saying vote no on SB24 and it’s my job to be their voice here in Little Rock. Shame on me, if I don’t speak on their behalf when it’s legislation that affects them.”

And as far as what the future hold for Arkansans and this bill, Hodges says he believes the bill will take Arkansas backwards.

“It’s a license to kill and we don’t want that blood on our hands. The state, we’re better than that,” Hodges said.

However, Ladyman says the bill went through its due process and outcome will be seen over time.

“We’ll have to wait and see you know if it’s as successful as the sponsor said it would be,” Ladyman said.

The bill now heads to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk.

The bill can be signed into law; amended and returned to the General Assembly for approval; vetoed by the Governor and returned to the legislature, which can override a veto with a simple majority vote of the House and Senate; or Gov. Hutchinson can take no action and allow the bill become law without his signature.

Copyright 2021 KAIT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.