Another State Recognizes the Right to Self-Defense

 by Brian McCombie - Tuesday, March 9, 2021

In Arkansas, “Stand Your Ground” legislation (S.B. 24) was recently passed by both houses of the Arkansas legislature and signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R). This NRA-backed legislation removes the legal need for a citizen to retreat in the face of an attacker. The previous legal standard in Arkansas required that a person under attack or threatened with attack must first attempt to flee or retreat before the person could use deadly force against his or her attacker.

While there were some exceptions to the current Arkansas law, some form of retreat was generally mandated before the intended victim could legally defend themselves. Immediately resorting to force in the face of an attack could (and did) land intended victims in court with various criminal and civil charges.

“This allows the leveling of the field, so everyone gets the same consideration when you go to that court of law,” Rep. Marcus Richmond (R) told the Associated Press.

“That’s the purpose of this self-defense bill, to allow you to defend yourself and not necessarily go to jail when you had no choice because you only had seconds to make that decision.”

“Laws should favor victims—not criminals, as they do now,” said Matt Herriman, NRA state director for Arkansas. “When crimes occur, victims have little time to decide the best course of action for survival. They should not be required to run away or face prosecution for defending themselves. This measure is common sense. Anyone who opposes it puts the interests of the criminal above the interests of the victim.”

“This important legislation is a huge step forward for self-defense rights and law-abiding gun owners in the Land of Opportunity! Thirty-four other states have passed Stand Your Ground laws allowing their citizens to more effectively protect themselves, instead of forcing unnecessary risks upon them. Senate Bill 24 specifically uses language similar to that of Florida’s law, which is seen as the gold-standard,” the NRA Institute for Legislative Action said.

“It is time that Arkansas move past the politics and provide clarity for good citizens who just wish to protect themselves and others,” said Sen. Bob Ballinger (R), as S.B. 24 moved through the legislative process. “Over the last few years, a group of legislators went to work with prosecutors, self-defense advocacy groups and law enforcement to craft the right stand your ground legislation for Arkansas.”

In his 2001 book, Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control, Florida State Professor of Criminology Gary Kleck addressed the efficacy of armed self-defense. When citing crime victimization data, Kleck determined that “[v]ictims who used guns were less likely to be injured than crime victims who did not resist.”

The practical ability of average Americans to meet violent crime with armed self-defense has improved substantially since Professor Kleck first began his research, as more and more states have improved access to concealed-carry permits, have added “Castle Doctrine” laws (legal doctrines that grant certain immunities to persons defending themselves within their abodes), and addressed Stand Your Ground issues.

NRA-ILA summed it up this way: “When presented with a reasonable threat of death or grievous bodily harm, free individuals have the right to defend themselves with deadly force. This right is inherent to all people, preexists any government and is not dependent upon the Second Amendment, which codifies the right to armed self-defense in the U.S. Constitution.”

OPINION | EDITORIAL: Union labels Another bill lawmakers should pass

It's not hard to figure out why there is so much opposition to collective bargaining, specifically when that bargaining is being done by government employees’ unions. Imagine being able to elect your own bosses, and their jobs depended on making you happy in your job, and nobody is spending their own money. Regular civilian taxpayers don’t get that kind of deal.

A committee in the state Senate passed Senate Bill 341 by Bob Ballinger (R-Ozark) earlier this week. Michael Wickline’s story said the bill passed in a voice vote “with no audible dissenters.” Yesterday, it passed the full Senate almost as smoothly. Now it’s onto the Arkansas House.

Sen. Ballinger says the bill applies to state-level governments such as agencies, departments and universities. Also the courts and—note well—school districts. (It would not apply to cities or counties.) Frustrated taxpayers have long watched teachers’ unions elect school boards and then negotiate with the people who owe their positions to those very same unions. It’s like negotiating salaries and benefits with yourself. It’s a nice gig if you can get it. Most people can’t. But most people, being taxpayers, certainly foot the bill(s).

The executive director of the Arkansas Education Association spoke out against the bill, which surprised few people. She said SB341 “directly targets our educators who have shown up every single day at schools and in every way possible teaching students, transporting them and serving them meals since the beginning of the pandemic, knowing they are putting themselves and their families at risk. They should be respected, not attacked.” Put aside, if you can, all those stories about teachers who—well before the pandemic—were considered “chronically absent.” Pre-covid-19, the papers noted that a considerable number of core teachers at J.A. Fair, Hall High and others would miss five days or more in a single school quarter.

But put that aside. This bill doesn’t “target” educators, or even their unions. Only the power of collective bargaining, which smart school districts are getting rid of anyway: “They can have a union,” Sen. Ballinger said. “They have their association. But as far as collective bargaining, we are prohibiting it from a policy standpoint as a state.” That is, if the Arkansas General Assembly approves and the governor signs. And they should.

School districts should work for the students first, then the community as a whole. Teachers are an important priority, but collective bargaining too often makes them the first priority, if not the only priority.

It’s going to take bold, determined, courageous action to take on the unions, even now. But that’s the nature of leadership. And education. And life.


I may be sleeping in the dog house for revealing this, but my wife has a medical fascination with grotesque pimples, boils, etc. She is not alone. “Dr. Popper” has 4.2 million subscribers on YouTube. Her videos commonly get more than 20 million views, and now she has her own TV show. I don’t get it, but for my wife and millions of others, it is entertaining and informative.

This somewhat unpleasant topic does provide a useful illustration for the corruption we recently uncovered in our State government.  A boil is a bacterial infection of the skin that if untreated will grow and fester over time. Boils are disgusting to behold (stay with me here, I’m going somewhere with this), but never more so than when they are treated and drained.

Our State was controlled by one political party for 138 years. Over time, accountability and transparency disappeared into a vacuum that reached its pinnacle during the Clinton administration here in Arkansas. Corruption permeated the entire system. Without some adversarial tension, without oversight, the path of least resistance, succumbing to temptation, became the norm.

The stench we are now experiencing is evidence that the system that created and sustained the boil of corruption has been lanced. Arkansans have responded with understandable revulsion. The healing process appears ugly, and it stinks, but it has begun. While perfection in unattainable, we would be fools not to learn from the painful experiences we have endured.

Unlike Dr. Popper’s fans who find value in the information she provides; the citizens of Arkansas experienced the revulsion of corruption without any compensatory benefits. If there is to be an upside to our recent governmental moral failures, it must be in our individual and collective responses. We let our guard down once and suffered a regrettable but predictable consequence.

I am reminded of an incident years ago. I met the brother of a good friend who had warned me, as an attorney, that his brother had “no use” for lawyers and politicians. When we shook hands, this stranger I had just met wiped his hand on his jacket. It was done in jest, but the gesture was not lost on me.

We know that power and money invite abuse. The neighbors we serve know that politicians and lawyers are often around both. It’s no mystery why constituents are angry, pundits are cynical, and partisans attack opportunistically with a broad brush. Dishonest players in State Government stink up the whole system and make us all seem guilty by association.

Recently I opined that “no one was benefiting from being in Little Rock.” It was my admittedly clumsy way of saying that in my experience, I have not found the legislators in Little Rock to be routinely corrupt.  Most are simply decent people trying to make a difference. Sadly, the dishonest few cast a shadow over all the rest.

These recent scandals do show us that honesty is not enough. The air of power and money that public servants breathe requires more than honesty. It requires a diligence that looks for signs of trouble. Politics is a minefield that can obliterate the most honest among us.

With the help of God, I am personally resolved to go beyond “merely” being an honest man. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. As public servants, we must be proactive. Civility and collegiality are important, but we must never forget that our first loyalty is not to fellow legislators. Our allegiance is to the standards we profess, the people we serve and the Constitutions we swear to uphold.

Andrea Lea, Auditor of State, Endorsement

I’ve witnessed Bob live out his convictions in the midst of immense pressure and stand strong on conservative principles while the political storms raged. I’m confident Bob will continue to stand strong for the conservative values we as Arkansans hold so dearly. I was proud to call him a house colleague but I am even more proud to call him my friend.