LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he will sign a controversial ‘stand your ground’ bill into law on Wednesday.
The Republican-led measure, SB24, would allow an armed person to use deadly force if they believe they are in imminent danger. It has been backed by the National Rifle Association. Currently, Arkansas law prohibits a person from using deadly force if they can safely retreat. The bill passed 72-23 on the House floor last week.
“While I have often said there is no compelling need for this legislation, I am persuaded by the changes that have been made since it was introduced 2 years ago,” Hutchinson said Wednesday during a news conference in his office.
After announcing he would sign the bill, he said he did not want it to move through Arkansas’ General Assembly in the first place.
“There is nothing in the language of the bill that would lead to different outcomes in the criminal justice system,” Hutchinson said.
The ‘stand your ground’ law will end Arkansas’ duty to retreat if the person using deadly force is not a felon, is lawfully present, has a reasonable belief they are being threatened, is not engaged in criminal activity and if the person is not the initial aggressor.
Opponents of stand your ground legislation have argued that ‘stand your ground’ laws harm minority groups and have taken a violent toll on black communities.
Hutchinson on Wednesday encouraged lawmakers to pass legislation that addresses hate crimes in Arkansas.
“I hope that the members of the general assembly who supported SB24 will also support legislation that emphasized Arkansas will not tolerate crimes against citizens for who they are,” he said.