LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – After weeks of debate and controversy, an act two legislative sessions in the making is now law with the signing of the Stand Your Ground bill, SB-24.
The approval by the Governor had mixed reaction. For Josh Gwin at Bullseye Guns and Ammo, the move comes as a relief for those with a concealed carry license.
“I think it’s fantastic news, really, for the state,” Gwin said. “You shouldn’t be forced to retreat first in a scenario when your life is in danger.”
Gwin adds that responsible gun owners shouldn’t use this as an excuse to recklessly pull the trigger and know how to properly react to defend themselves. “The majority of people are going to be following the law,” he said, “and obviously the ones that follow the law are the ones that care.”
But not everyone agrees. Scott Hamilton, CEO of the Urban League of Arkansas says he was hoping the Governor would veto the law and is concerned about the consequences. “We believe these laws actually create a lackadaisical attitude toward use of deadly force,” Hamilton said. “I will tell you, we’re disappointed, not totally surprised.”
Hamilton is also worried that the law will lead to arguments answered with gunfire over words.
“Now we’ve got a scenario where people are comfortable enough to carry a firearm like they’re carrying an ink pen,” he added.
But law professor Robert Steinbuch with the UALR Bowen School of Law says this won’t change who can use force when threatened, a right many already had for some time.
“You must first be entitled to defend yourself with deadly force before any of this is implicated,” he said, and added that if Arkansas follows the other 30-something states with similar laws, we won’t see much of a legal difference with its passing. “People who are not entitled to use self-defense get prosecuted if they use deadly force inappropriately.”
Arkansas now joins over 30 states with similar Stand Your Ground laws. The first was infamously passed in Florida in 2005.