American Bar Association warns about 'Stand Your Ground' laws | Arkansas Blog

Monday, August 11, 2014

American Bar Association warns about 'Stand Your Ground' laws

Posted By on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 11:12 AM

An American Bar Association task force has issued a preliminary report on so-called Stand Your Ground laws that should discourage them in states like Arkansas without them and encourage repeal in those that do.

Said the task force: The laws:

* Hinder law enforcement.

* Are applied inconsistently.

* Disproportionately affect minorities.

Also: The 33 states that have a form of the law have had increasing homicide rates — up 8 percent according to a 2012 Texas A&M study. 

The task force, which was co-chaired by Leigh-Ann Buchanan of Berger Singerman and Jack Middleton of  McLane Graf Raulerson & Middleton, conducted its investigation throughout most of 2013. It also found that stand-your-ground laws carry an implicit bias against racial minorities. In terms of the laws' effects, the task force found that there was widespread confusion amongst law enforcement personnel as to what actions were justified and what were not.

The task force recommended that states either repeal stand-your-ground laws or refuse to enact them. Additionally, it encouraged the ABA to adopt an educational initiative to provide accurate information about these laws, as well as to correct the misconception that these laws provide carte blanche for people to use deadly force in public areas.

The task force said it had learned nothing good about such laws and said it hoped the ABA would take a position against them.

Stand-your-ground laws eliminate a duty to retreat in the face of threat, wherever it occurs, and allow use of force without criminal liability. Some states also grant civil immunity. Critics call them "kill-the-witness" laws. Fatal shootings in some cases can leave the shooter as the only witness to the level of threat presented by the gunshot victim and the ability to avoid confrontation.

Many Arkansas prosecutors have argued that the state's strong self-defense law provides ample means to use force to combat a threat.

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