FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) – (4/7/19) A controversial defense law that would give Arkansans the right to defend themselves with lethal force, awaits voting at the state capitol.
A local man is fighting for the bill after he said he would have died had he not defended himself from his attackers.
“The people got back into their car and were yelling something, backed their car out in between me and the gas station and they were yelling, cussing, spit at me out of the passenger side of the car. And I was like, “man it’s Christmas why don’t you go ahead and leave me alone,” said NWA local, Jesse Pettry.
For Pettry, Christmas morning took a turn for the worst.
“He ducked his head down and just started throwing punches over and over and over again. His cousin got out the car with a weapon and hit me in the back of the head and all I remember is I saw black and white and then some colors and then some black again,” said Pettry.
Pettry was attacked in a Florida gas station parking lot in 2002.
After being almost beaten to death he reached for a knife in his pocket and stabbed his attacker.
This was a defense that changed his life forever.
“I told him they knocked me out on the ground and when I woke up I was still getting kicked and beat on, and they proceeded to charge me with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon or with great bodily harm,” said Pettry.
Now as a Northwest Arkansas local he is fighting to make sure legislators approve the stand your ground bill.
In March, Representative Flowers got upset over the bill saying she fears for the lives of Arkansans if this is passed.
“It doesn’t take much to look on the local news every night and see how many black boys and black men are being killed with this stand your ground defenses that they raise and then they got off,” said Flowers.
“When someone gets arrested in Pine Bluff and there’s been physical injury to someone then they’re going to get arrested. And if she thinks they’re disproportionally arresting people of color in Pine Bluff, all the more reason to have this law,” said Pettry.
According to the National Conference of StatLegislatureses, almost half of the states in the U.S. have the stand your ground defense, a right that Pettry said is dangerous to lack.
Lawmakers like Flowers said this law is a license to kill.
“Do I have a right to stand my ground when someone crazy person walking around with a doggone gun? I don’t know what he intends to do but I know I’m scared, I feel threatened,” said Flowers.
“If something happens to her or someone attempts to come up to her and do something awful to her we want her to be able to defend herself without being prosecuted,” said Pettry.
As the bill lingers in Little Rock, Pettry said he’ll keep fighting.
“Thank god I had that knife on me that day. I carry a firearm on me every day,” said Pettry.