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Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Statement as Arkansas Lawmakers Advance Dangerous ‘Stand Your Ground’ Legislation Ahead of Planned Armed Demonstrations

January 13, 2021

Legislation Would Embolden Armed Demonstrators and Extremists to Shoot First and Ask Questions Later

Moms Demand Action Volunteers Testified and Are Available for Interviews

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement after the Arkansas Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass SB 24, a so-called “Stand Your Ground” bill which would embolden vigilantes and extremists to shoot first and ask questions later, weaken gun laws, and make Arkansas less safe, particularly for people of color. The bill now moves to the full Senate.

“The FBI is warning us that armed extremists plan to descend on our state Capitol – but instead of debating laws that would keep us safe, our lawmakers just advanced racist legislation that would embolden those same extremists to shoot first and ask questions later,” said Amy Gillespie, a volunteer with the Arkansas chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Arkansas already has strong self-defense laws, and this unnecessary bill would just make Arkansas more dangerous, particularly for Black people and other people of color.”

The hearing came as the FBI is warning of further armed demonstrations at the state Capitol in Little Rock after last week’s attempted violent insurrection at the United States Capitol Building. Arkansas gun extremist Richard Barnett was one of the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol and was arrested.

In response to the attempted coup, Sen. Bob Ballinger, the sponsor of SB 24, called Black Lives Matter protesters “violent mobs” and defended the attempted coup in Washington, D.C. last week, tweeting “It is repulsive that the party that coddles violent mobs and incorporates them and their behavior into the very fabric of their movement, is so aghast that others would engage in violence because they ‘believe in something.’” In Arkansas, protestors openly carrying firearms gathered at the state Capitol in solidarity with the attempted coup in Washington, D.C.

What to know about so-called “Stand Your Ground”:

  • Arkansas already has strong self-defense laws which allow people to defend themselves in dangerous situations. But SB 24, introduced by Sen. Ballinger, is a “Stand Your Ground” proposal which would encourage armed vigilantism and would allow a person to kill another person in public even if the shooter could have safely walked away from danger. “Stand Your Ground” laws are associated with increases in homicide rates resulting in more than 150 additional gun deaths each month. “Stand Your Ground” laws are also associated with an increase in firearm injuries, resulting in emergency room visits and hospitalizations. 
  • So-called “Stand Your Ground” laws are inherently dangerous for everyone, but have a particularly harmful impact on people of color. When white shooters kill Black victims and claim a “Stand Your Ground” defense, the resulting homicides are deemed justifiable far more frequently than when the victim is white and the shooter Black. 

More information about “Stand Your Ground” laws is available here.

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