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First man standing

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Any bill that will cause more people to shoot each other more times will be endorsed by the National Rifle Association, because the legislation will generate more guns-and-ammo sales for the weapons manufacturers who uphold the NRA. Eventually there will be no shooters left standing, of course, no buyers of guns and ammo to chamber the next round, but manufacturers can make a pile before then.

Naturally, the NRA supports a bill by state Sen. Jerry Taylor, D-Pine Bluff, who plans to introduce the measure in the upcoming legislative session. (Taylor says the bill was sought by individual constituents and not by any organization.) The bill would make it easier for a person to use deadly force against a real or perceived aggressor. Existing law legalizes the use of deadly force in certain circumstances, but requires in other cases that the person who feels threatened attempt to retreat before opening fire. The retreat-first requirement does not apply if the person is in his own home.

Taylor wants to remove the “retreat first” requirement in other cases too, effectively turning “retreat first” into “retreat last.” Those who believe that not enough people are being shot will like Taylor’s bill. Those who believe that Arkansas needs fewer deaths by gunshot wound, not more, will oppose the bill. We belong to the second group, having noticed that the human harvest on the streets of Little Rock is approaching in number the duck and deer harvests in the woods.

Sen. Jim Luker, D-Wynne, one of the last level heads in the legislature — most have been forced out by term limits — rightly questions the need for such a bill. The idea that a person should first try to avoid shooting before he opens fire is “a long-standing tradition in the law,” Luker said. “We don’t believe in standing out in the middle of the street and having a quick-draw contest anymore.”

Proponents of the quick draw say they fear that under existing law, prosecuting attorneys will file charges against people who are only defending themselves. Fanatical prosecutors, eager to charge gun-and-God-loving taxpayers? One might find such a thing on Pluto, or farther out. In Arkansas, crazed, gun-hating prosecutors are comparable to the abortion doctors who lurk around schools and shanghai girls to be victims of forcible abortion. Both threats are imaginary.

Thanks for …

The election returns, which will surely bring an end to a bloody and pointless war based on lies. The Razorbacks, who’ve had a wonderful season regardless of how the LSU game comes out. The autumn leaves, as handsome this year as any we can remember.

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