A Tennessee lawmaker proposed a new self-defense law that would reimburse accused killers if a court determines they acted in self-defense and a jury acquits them of the charges.
The bill is named "Kyle's Law" –– named after Kyle Rittenhouse, the acquitted gunman who fired on protesters, killing two of them and injuring another, back in August 2020 following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, Jr. in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
"I'm trying to balance the scales out a little here," State Rep. Bruce Griffey said. "I think we all saw what happened. [Rittenhouse] was attacked. He was defending himself and the jury found that. And despite that –– he was still prosecuted for a murder charge. This law intended to sort of protect that from happening in the future."
If the law passes, the state would be on the hook for covering legal fees and any lost wages an accused killer has if they're acquitted of the charges.
"I think it's a reasonable response to make sure citizens are protected from malicious prosecutions or being prosecutions or being prosecuted when there's not really enough evidence in the case to pursue a criminal charge against them," Griffey argued. "They have to go through hiring a lawyer, hiring experts, lost wages –– all costs to them. That's not a fair system."
Lawmakers on both sides disagreed with Griffey, saying such a law has "no place in Tennessee."
"This is a serious lack of respect for and lack of trust for publicly elected officials and district attorneys nationwide," Rep. John Ray Clemmons said. Clemmons added that the law is "offensive" to Tennessee citizens' second amendment rights, and called Griffey's proposal a "political ploy."
According to WKRN, the bill is headed to the criminal justice subcommittee in the coming weeks.
Last year, Tennessee got rid of its requirement to have a permit to carry a gun in public spaces. As of July 1, 2021, state law permits virtually anyone 21 years and older to carry a handgun –– openly or concealed –– in most public spaces, as long as they're legally allowed to possess the gun.
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