“Stand your ground,” or “no duty to retreat,” means law-abiding gun owners are legally allowed to defend themselves if attacked. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not a free ticket for lawlessness—it’s not any of the absurd falsehoods the gun-control crowd claim it to be.
“No duty to retreat” simply recognizes that victims have a split-second to react when attacked, and they are legally protected if they are forced to fight back to survive. It’s legislation that protects the victim instead of the criminal.
Current law says that when you are attacked, you must first try to flee. If you don’t, afterwards—that is, if you’re lucky enough to have an afterwards—you could face prosecution or even be sued by the criminal. Think about that for a minute. A bad guy attacks you on the street. You don’t know if he plans to rob you, rape you, or even kill you. But intent doesn’t matter according to current law. The state mandates that you have to turn and run for your life or you could be prosecuted. Simply put, current laws protect criminals instead of victims.
What the gun-control crowd won’t tell you is history is on our side. If you go back to 1977, when data on such laws and crimes first became available, you’d find that states with such laws actually experienced about a 9 percent drop in their murder rates. That means, overall, allowing the innocent to defend themselves from attackers without first having to flee has resulted in a drop in violent crime.
Laws should protect victims. Victims shouldn’t have to weigh out the legal implications in the milliseconds they have to react while being attacked. It’s wrong that Arkansas law should prosecute a victim for their attempt to survive. A person goes out for a stroll, or walks through a grocery store parking lot, or is out camping when a criminal attempts to harm them, and they decide to fight back … and they end up being prosecuted? That’s shameful, and must be rectified. That’s exactly what SB24 will do.
At least 25 states have this law, including our neighbors to the north, south, east and west. These laws have benefited good, honest people, not criminals. It’s been working for them and now it can work for us, too.
No one should be threatened with jail time for defending themselves or their family. No one should be more worried about the authorities than the bad guys. As a people and a country, we should not tolerate victim-blaming. Yet, under current law, Arkansas puts blame on the victim. SB24 is a common-sense measure. Anyone who opposes it puts the interests of the criminal above the interests of the person attacked. We must not stand for that. We must stand up for ourselves and our most basic rights.
Matt Herriman is the NRA’sArkansas state director.