FUNNY how we remember things. Or mis-remember.
The first thing to come to mind when talking about a potential Stand Your Ground law in Arkansas might be the name George Zimmerman. Or maybe Trayvon Martin. For the record, that horrible situation in Florida back in 2013 had nothing to do with Florida’s so-called Stand Your Ground law. George Zimmerman said he was flat on his back when he fired. He never used the SYG law in his defense at his trial. That never stopped the commentariat from talking about it.
The issue came up again this past week when the Arkansas Legislature debated whether this state should have its own Stand Your Ground law. As the state’s self-defense law now states, a person has the “duty to retreat” first. Senate Bill 484 would do away with that requirement. Thus, a Stand Your Ground law.
Stephanie Flowers, a state senator, made national—maybe even international—headlines last week when she lost her temper over the issue. She’s agin SB484. And if you’re going to lose your temper, this’d be the time to do it. When it’s a matter of life and death.
But besides Sen. Flowers chewing out another senator and melting the Internet doing it, what is the argument behind the argument? Does Arkansas need a Stand Your Ground law?
Try as we might, we can’t recall the last time somebody made the papers for being convicted of, and sent to prison for, shooting somebody in self-defense. Oh sure, self-defense shootings happen. But to be convicted of a crime afterward? Such as murder or manslaughter? How many prosecutors would even take such a case to trial?
Which is the whole argument coming from law enforcement.
Ye shall know them by their opposition. Those speaking against the bill included members of the Arkansas State Police, the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police and the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association. “In our opinion, the law is not broken and we do not need to change it,” said Bob McMahon, the state prosecutor coordinator.
Speaking in favor of the bill was a state senator from El Dorado, Trent Garner, who testified that he once was shot during a mugging. He struggled with the attacker, he said, and wondered if he could have been prosecuted had he been successful in grabbing the gun and shooting the mugger.
Which proves the point.
Prosecutors speaking before the Ledge used Sen. Garner’s very example, saying he would have been fully protected under current law.
It’s the latest example of a solution in search of a problem at the Arkansas General Assembly. It’s a habit over there. A habit that needs to be overcome.