Democratic Sen. Stephanie Flowers boldly refused to back down to a Republican lawmaker who attempted to quiet her when she became impassioned about being opposed to Arkansas’ proposed “stand your ground” bill.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Bob Ballinger, a Republican, on Wednesday, March 6. It proposes making a law in the state that gives civilians the right to use firearms against someone whom they feel threatened by, rather than adhering to the English Law concept of “duty to retreat” in the same circumstance.
The state has tried and failed to pass such a law for the past decade.
“It doesn’t take much to look on the local news every night and see how many black kids — black boys, black men — are being killed with these ‘stand your ground’ defenses that these people raise, and they get off,” Flowers says during a debate on the matter, her voice rising. “So I take issue with that. I’m the only person here of color, OK? I am a mother too. And I have a son. And I care as much for my son as y’all care for y’alls. But my son doesn’t walk the same path as yours does. So this debate deserves more time.”
Flowers resides in Pine Buff, Arkansas, where she says killings occur regularly.
“I can tell you for a long time since I’ve been back here in Arkansas, I have feared for my son’s life!” she continues. “Now, he’s 27, he’s out of Arkansas. “And I thank God he is when you’re bringing up crap like this! It offends me, and then to limit the debate too? This is crazy! You don’t have to worry about your son, [Sen.] Will Bond! I worry about my son! And I worry about other little black boys and girls! And people coming into my neighborhood and my city, saying they got open carry rights, walking in front of my doggone office in front of the courthouse. That’s a bully! Do I have a right to stand my ground, with some crazy-ass person walking around with a doggone gun? I don’t know what the hell he intends to do! But I know I am scared! I feel threatened!”
Fired up, Flowers went on to blast open carry rights and noted that some senators have walked through the Legislature with a gun on them.
“Senator, you need to stop,” Republican state Sen. Alan Clark says calmly to a cussing and fervid Flowers.
“No, I don’t,” Flowers says in response.
“Yes you do,” Clark insists.
“No the hell I don’t,” Flowers hits right back. “What are you going to do, shoot me?”
Flowers continued and would not back down from her stance.
“Do what the hell you want to do!” she says. “Go ahead! But you can’t silence me! You got your damn silence gun out in the damn chamber today, but you’re not gonna silence me!”
Flowers stepped out for a cigarette break, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and returned to hear arguments from the Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police and the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association, which all opposed the bill.
The measure from the Republican-controlled Arkansas Senate Judiciary Committee was rejected 4-3. All three Democrats and one Republican, Sen. John Cooper were in the opposition.