SEEMS TO ME ... Circling the wagons for defense

s a kid growing up in the 1950s and 60’s our home in Randolph County was often packed with folks to watch TV. Not everyone had a TV back in the 50’s. I nostalgically remember relatives and neigh- bors huddled around that black-and-white picture

coming out of a wood grain box cabinet in our living room at Supply, Arkansas, and then our family room in Pocahontas. We watched news with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley — the “Huntley-Brinkley Report.” Rather boring but what’s a kid gonna do? We watched the latest music sensations on “Te Ed Sullivan Show” and Gillette’s “Friday Night Fights and Boxing” [I remember more about the Gillette commercials than I do the boxing]. Te cowboy shows were numerous and favorites in those days. We would watch “Wells Fargo,” “Te Roy Rogers Show,” “Bat Masterson,” “Gunsmoke,” “Lara- mie,” “Rawhide,” and “Bo- nanza.” And, of course, there was “Wagon Train.” In virtually every show the wagon master, after a report from scouts, had to circle the wagons. “Circle the wagons” is an idiom we still use suggesting a group of people have to work together to protect themselves from some kind of external danger. Te phrase has its ori- gins in the migration of settlers from the East Coast and Mid- west to the West during the 1800s. Tey traveled in covered, horse-drawn wagons — Conestoga wagons, sometimes called prairie schooners. At night, or when threatened during the day, these wagon trains would stop moving and form a circle on the frontier prairie as a means of protection against attack. I was reminded of this during the 92nd General Assembly when county government was put in the position to protect our interests a few times. Te natural reaction from county government was simple; just like in Wagon Train, our wagon master, AAC Executive Director Chris Villines, sounded the call. It was time to circle the wagons to stave off the attack. Tank you, county officials and employees for pulling your wagon into the circle to exercise much-needed defense. One of those bills where the “circling the wagons” defense was used was HB 1059 — a “stand-your-ground” bill. Stand- your-ground laws have become popular across the United States, establishing a right by which a person may defend one’s self or others against threats or perceived threats, even to the point of applying lethal force. Some label stand-your-ground

ple have to work together to protect them- selves from some kind of external danger.

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ircling the wagons is an idiom we still use suggesting a group of peo-

laws as “shoot first” laws — a return to the wild, wild, West with more regard for property than human life. I believe the vast majority of Arkansas county officials are strong advocates of the 2nd Amendment to keep and bear arms. However, there are pros and cons to stand-your-ground laws. County of- ficials concluded the cons outweighed the pros because (1) in states that have made stand-your-ground the law, self- defense claims double and even triple in the years following enactment; (2) stand-your-ground laws make it potentially more difficult to prosecute cases against individuals who com- mit a crime and claim self-defense; and (3) it is an encourage- ment for people to possibly use deadly physical force when it shouldn’t be used. One of the prime respon- sibilities of county govern- ment is “public safety,” and a large percentage of a county’s budget is for law enforcement and the administration of jus- tice — public safety. Counties of Arkansas desire to provide public safety, and we don’t want to increase the costs any more than possible.

Eddie A. Jones County Consultant

A 2018 overview of existing research by RAND Corp. con- cluded there is evidence stand-your-ground laws increase ho- micide rates, and the laws increase firearm homicides in par- ticular. Arkansas sheriffs and other county leaders made the decision that Arkansas’ strong castle laws have served our state well and we should maintain that doctrine. A castle doctrine, also known as castle law, is a legal doctrine that designates a person’s home or any legally occupied place as a place in which that person has protections and immunities permitting one, in certain circumstances, to use force — up to and including deadly force. In English common law the term is derived from the dic-

tum that “an Englishman’s home is his castle.” English com- mon law came with colonists to the New World, where it has become known as the castle doctrine. Te castle doctrine in Arkansas allows the use of deadly force to defend one’s self, their home, and others on the property, if they feel they are about to be severely harmed or killed. It may also be used if the person believes a felony is about to be committed. [A.C.A.


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