'Stand your ground' self-defense bill filed in Arkansas

(Photo: MGN)

An Arkansas lawmaker has filed a "stand your ground" self-defense bill.

Opponents of the House Bill 1059 said it could have unintended consequences but the sponsor, Rep. Aaron Pilkington, R-Clarksville, said he wants to give Arkansans an opportunity to better protect themselves.

“Let's say someone came up to your yard, had a gun, and said, 'I’m going to shoot you, I’m going to kill you for what you did' ... your duty right then is to turn around and go inside your house," Pilkington said. "And the second you turn they could shoot you in the back and you were just trying to follow the law."

The bill would eliminate a person's duty to retreat, which generally blocks a person from using deadly force if the risk of injury or death can be safely avoided. Pilkington said that although the bill would eliminate the duty to retreat, it would still limit the circumstances under which force could be used.

"You cannot be the aggressor in the situation ... someone has to be attacking you,” he said. “We have a provision in it, as well, that if you're experiencing or encounter a sexual assault such as a rape that you're able to use deadly force. Currently, right now, let's say jogging in a park and you were to come upon a situation like that where someone was being sexually assaulted. You're not allowed to use any sort of force to end that situation. You have a duty to retreat and call police."

While Pilkington isn't sure how much support the bill will receive from his fellow lawmakers, state Sen. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, who opposes guns on college campuses and typically opposes legislation that relaxes gun laws, told KATV this bill could have unintended consequences.

"I would ask representative Pilkington how many times he's been confronted in his front yard by an armed individual," Leding said. "That's what law enforcement is for. And I just really think that this type of legislation, if it were to become law, could end up with a lot of tragic stories."

About two dozen other states have "stand your ground" laws.

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