Democratic lawmakers in the Georgia House plan to push a series of bills later this month aimed at undoing the state’s stand-your-ground and citizen’s arrest laws following the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery.
Bills to repeal those aspects of the state’s self-defense laws will come in a package of reform measures House Democrats intend to introduce once the General Assembly reconvenes on June 15, Democratic Minority Leader Bob Trammell said Thursday.
Trammell, D-Luthersville, said the 10-bill package seeks to prevent Georgians from adopting “the notion that they can take the law into their own hands with deadly and tragic consequences.”
More details on the bills will be unveiled next week, Trammell said.
“It is necessary and imperative that all of us do everything we can to rush toward justice and make sure that this is a state and a nation with justice for all,” he said.
The latest push by Georgia Democratic leaders for criminal justice overhaul stems from the killing of Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was shot dead as a white father and son pursued him in a neighborhood near Brunswick on Feb. 23.
The two men, Travis and Gregory McMichael, suspected Arbery of burglarizing a nearby construction site and used a truck to confront him. Widely shared video footage captured the moment Travis McMichael shot Arbery with a 12-gauge shotgun after a brief tussle between the two in the street.
A bipartisan group of state lawmakers also announced Thursday they intend to introduce legislation repealing the ability for citizens to make arrests if a crime is committed in their presence or with their knowledge.
Rep. Carl Gilliard, who is sponsoring the bill, called citizen’s arrest protections in Georgia “outdated” and “formed in the fashion of the Wild West.”
“When individuals lose their lives at the hands of civilians that become judge and jury, we must use the power of the pen to move Georgia forward,” said Gilliard, D-Garden City.
Like other states, Georgia’s stand-your-ground law allows persons to defend themselves and not retreat in the event of a threat to themselves by an attacker.
Trammell said lawmakers should not “sit back and allow people to chase down and kill someone” with intent to invoke stand-your-ground protections.
Trammel also reiterated a call by lawmakers from both parties for the Georgia Senate to pass hate-crimes legislation that would set additional penalties for those who commit crimes based on a victim’s gender, race or other identifier. The hate-crimes bill passed the House last year but has stalled in the Senate.
Beau Evans writes for the Capitol Beat News Service