Local lawyer, lawmaker discuss “Stand Your Ground” bill

Bill now heads to State House
Updated: Jan. 20, 2021 at 8:13 PM CST

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Region 8 News has been paying close attention to the “Stand Your Ground” bill that is currently sitting in the Arkansas House Judiciary Committee as of Wednesday.

This is not the first time that the bill has been introduced at the State Capitol.

The bill was approved 27-7 Tuesday by the state Senate and now goes to the state House.

Mark Rees, a criminal defense attorney in Jonesboro, says that he does not see any benefits to the bill.

“I think it’s more of a political ploy than that’s something that’s probably necessary,” says Rees.

The attorney added that there are already laws in place that protect using deadly force for self-defense.

The new bill does not obligate one to retreat before self-defense before using deadly physical force, but Rees thinks it can enable people to use it unnecessarily.

“Is that going to cause innocent people to get killed when they shouldn’t have or they were going to run away? I think it certainly can,” the attorney said.

However, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bob Ballinger (R-Ozark) said Tuesday during the debate that the bill protects people in a possibly dangerous time.

“This is not a license to kill,” Sen. Ballinger said. “This does not give you the ability to shoot fire and answer questions later.”

Rep. Monte Hodges (D-Blytheville), who represents District 55 in Mississippi County, also feels the bill is unnecessary, stating that it should not have been a priority for the first week of the session.

“Our energy should have been focused on something more on where there’s a need in our state as opposed to this legislation that I think is going to cause more harm than it is good,” said Representative Hodges.

Hodges mentioned that as an African American, he feels personally threatened by the bill, and he encourages his Black constituents to speak out against the bill.

“Anyone can say they’re threatened by someone,” said Rep. Hodges. “I’ve seen the stereotypes. I’ve seen how the clinched purses and the door locks when I walk by or when I dress a certain way as opposed to when I am not.”

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