LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday signed into law a measure easing the state’s restrictions on the use of deadly force in self-defense, but urged conservatives who pushed for the legislation to pass a hate crimes proposal they’ve so far resisted. The Republican governor signed the measure that removes the duty to retreat before deadly force can be used, despite past concerns he’s raised about changing the state’s self-defense law.
A similar measure stalled in the Legislature two years ago, but the bill this year moved more easily after groups such as the state’s sheriffs’ and prosecutors’ associations that previously opposed it said they’re neutral to the latest version.
Hutchinson said he was persuaded by law enforcement groups dropping their opposition, though acknowledged the fears from Black lawmakers and others that it will lead to more violence against people of color.
“I have no doubt these concerns are heartfelt and real, but there’s nothing in the language of the bill that would lead to different outcomes in our criminal justice system,” Hutchinson told reporters.
Supporters have said the bill is needed to give further legal protection to people who defend themselves, though opponents note state law previously allowed the use of deadly force without retreating in some situations. [full article]