HB 0994/SB 0908 would expand the citizen's arrest law and allow individuals to threaten deadly force merely if the individual feels “threatened,” resulting in a greater threat to life and property and raising serious civil liberties concerns. This expansion has nothing to do with legitimate self-defense, but instead is an invitation for vigilantes to recklessly threaten to use deadly and unnecessary force.
Additionally, HB 0994/SB 0908 has the potential to exacerbate the existing racial disparity that more likely deems a killing is more “justifiable” if the victim is Black and the shooter is not than when the races of the victim and shooter are reversed.
What is a “citizen's arrest” law?
A citizen’s arrest law radically expands legal protections for individuals who arrest another person if they witness them commit a crime.
By expanding and condoning the citizen's arrest law, which is steeped in a white supremacist history, the Tennessee legislature is implicitly sanctioning threats of racialized violence among private citizens. This unintended permission allows people to weaponize their racial biases and harm innocent Tennesseans.
Citizen's Arrest laws have caused the senseless deaths of Black men and women across the U.S. such of Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many more. As we continue to mourn the loss of those who should still be here, we must act now.