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story.lead_photo.caption Gov. Asa Hutchinson is shown in this file photo. ( NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo / David Gottschalk)

ROGERS -- Gov. Asa Hutchison wants to see hate crimes prosecuted in the state, he said Tuesday while speaking to the Arkansas Sheriffs' Association.

Hutchinson told the group that he is willing to discuss a law to take guns from people deemed at risk of committing violence, but added that he hasn't read any legislation yet that he could support.

His comments came days after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left at least 31 people dead. A gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, and another killed nine in Dayton.

Hutchinson said Arkansas is one of only four states without a hate-crime law. The others are Georgia, South Carolina and Wyoming, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

There should be enhanced penalties under the hate-crime law for people who commit crimes based on religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, Hutchinson said.

"People should not be targeted because of who they are," he told reporters after he spoke to the association.

Hutchinson said he would like to get a hate-crime bill before the Legislature as soon as possible, but he said the timetable hasn't been determined.

Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, who has backed hate-crime legislation since 2001, praised Hutchinson's proposal.

"I absolutely look forward to working with him on this bill," Elliott said, noting such legislation should have bipartisan support.

Matt Durrett, prosecuting attorney for Washington County, said any penalty enhancements would depend on how the bill is written. The state has penalty enhancements in place for some crimes, he said.

Hutchinson told the association there will be more discussions about extreme-risk protection orders -- also called "red flag laws" -- in the wake of the most recent shootings.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaking to the sheriffs group Monday, called for Congress to make it easier for law enforcement agencies and others to present evidence from family members or others to a judge that a person shouldn't have access to firearms.

Extreme-risk laws empower families, household members or law enforcement officers to temporarily remove a person's access to firearms before the person commits violence, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

An Arkansas bill that would allow for judicial orders to confiscate guns from people deemed to be a threat failed in committee in March. Sen. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, referred his bill for a red-flag law to a study committee until the 2021 legislative session. The bill was rejected in the Senate Committee on City, County and Local Affairs.

The committee vote against Leding's measure, Senate Bill 621, was along party lines, according to records of the vote, with Republicans against it and Democrats for it.

Hutchinson, who previously said he had concern about due process in regard to a red-flag bill, said Tuesday that he hasn't seen any plan yet that he could back.

State Desk on 08/07/2019

Print Headline: Arkansas governor urges hate-crime law; red-flag proposal also on his mind after shootings


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Archived Comments

  • Nodmcm
    August 7, 2019 at 5:33 a.m.

    Now Republican officeholders are waking up to the need for gun control. Even Sen. Cotton is unbelievably in favor of a 'red-flag' law in Arkansas. What we need is a law restricting firearms with over five shots, or pistols with over six shots. Only lever-actions, pumps, and bolt-action or break-action long guns and only revolver handguns should be allowed. No war weapons in civilian hands, that is not working out well for us. Folks are now shooting up our Wal-Marts on Saturday mornings in the South. We can't have that, there are women and babies at Wal-Mart stores on Saturday mornings. No more shoot-em-ups at Wal-Marts, please.

  • Nodmcm
    August 7, 2019 at 5:38 a.m.

    Also, the 'good-guy-with-a-gun' is a myth at these mass shootings. No one wants to risk their lives. The police might think you are with the shooter and kill you with a long shot from a high-powered police sniper rig. Would you blame the police for killing the 'good-guy-with-a-gun' if they thought he was one of the bad guys? Of course not. So since there won't be any civilians saving the day at Wal-Mart shoot-em-ups like El Paso, those civilians can get by just fine with lever-action, pump, bolt- or break-action long guns and six-shot revolvers ONLY. No war weapons!

  • Seitan
    August 7, 2019 at 6:28 a.m.

    President Obama established a Red Flag Law, but then President Tweetyfingers went golfing and decided that he didn't like it, so he overturned it. And, yes, weapons of war should only be in the hands of soldiers. The 2nd Amendment requires regulation, but right-wingers prefer insanity.

  • 23cal
    August 7, 2019 at 7:18 a.m.

    "There should be enhanced penalties under the hate-crime law for people who commit crimes based on religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, Hutchinson said."
    "sexual orientation or gender identity"
    Didn't the legislature just pass a law prohibiting cities from passing protection laws for people based on " sexual orientation or gender identity"? Doesn't Arkansas regularly and consistently pass laws specifically AGAINST LGBTs?
    Arkansas bans same-sex marriage in both state statute and its state Constitution. These provisions have been ruled unconstitutional and are no longer enforced only because they cannot be.
    Arkansas defended its ban on same sex marriage until Obergefell v. Hodges ruled it unconstitutional.
    Arkansas voters approved a ballot measure aimed directly at LGBTs in November 2008, effective January 1, 2009, to prohibit by statute cohabiting couples who are not in a recognized marriage from adopting and providing foster care.
    In December 2015, a circuit judge found Arkansas' birth certificate law unconstitutional because it unfairly discriminated against same-sex couples.
    In 2015, Arkansas passed the Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act, a bill that prohibits counties, municipalities or other political subdivisions in the state from adopting anti-discrimination ordinances that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law specifically to PREVENT gay protection ordinances.
    Then there's the homophobic extremist Jason Rapert who will be running for Lt. Governor and went bat guano crazy over a gay pride parade in Conway and who has also vocally supported antigay state legislation, proposing a non-binding resolution for the Arkansas Legislative Council to urge the state's supreme court to overturn the circuit court ruling that Arkansas' same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.
    Good luck, Asa, getting coverage for LGBTs included in a hate crimes bill. You have an uphill battle in a backward state.

  • RBear
    August 7, 2019 at 7:24 a.m.

    Thank you, Gov. Hutchinson. I support both the initiatives you have outlined.

  • mrcharles
    August 7, 2019 at 10:25 a.m.

    We will be sad when ASA leaves office, whether timmy G or our gun toten christian AG or the spinmaster of Huck genes, we will see that happens when agenda driven thoughtless thinking becomes the norm. As to jason rapter and his direct line to the boss of bosses, well just read the book of revelations after waking up in the middle of the nite and be very very scared.