The Arkansas State Senate rejected a measure to expand a "stand your ground" gun law Wednesday night thanks to a fiery dissent by State Senator Stephanie Flowers (D).
Flowers blasted the proposed law for increasing the likelihood of violence against black Arkansans. In Arkansas, current law authorizes lethal force only if a person is "unable to retreat with complete safety."
Flowers brought the house down:
"I'll be as quick as I can, as quick as it takes to kill somebody I guess. You want me to be that quick. ... 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. So I take issue with that. I'm the only person here of color here. I am a mother, too. And I have a son. And I care as much for my son as y'all care for y'all's. But my son doesn't walk the same path as yours does. So this debate deserves more time."
Gun violence is a routine reality for Flowers and her community.
"I'm in Pine Bluff. We have killings regularly down there. ... I don't know where Mr. Ballinger is from. But I can tell you for a long time since I've been back here in Arkansas, I have feared for my son's life. Now he's 27 and he's out of Arkansas, and I thank God he is when you're bringing up crap like this. It offends me."
States with open-carry and stand your ground laws often have higher rates of gun violence than states without such legislation. In Florida, for example, gun violence has reached a two-decade peak since the state implemented a stand your ground law.
Flowers said she feels threatened for herself and her constituents when she sees guns being toted by her fellow lawmakers in the state capitol.
"I worry about my son. And I worry about other little black boys and girls and people coming into my neighborhood, into my city, saying they got open carry rights, walking down in front of my doggone office in front of the courthouse! That's a bully!"
And when the Republican committee chair tried to shut Flowers up, her response was perfect.
"Senator, you need to stop," Senator Alan Clark.
"No the hell I don't," Flowers fired back. "What the hell you going to do, shoot me? Senator sh*t, go to Hell."
Arkansas State Senator Stephanie Flowers is a NATIONAL HERO. 🇺🇸 #EndGunViolence https://t.co/pf3Eq1Sucq— Ryan Knight 🏳️🌈🗽 (@Ryan Knight 🏳️🌈🗽) 1552031306.0
Flowers - leaving no stone unturned - is being lauded as a hero.
I’ve watched this thirty times and I’m still not done. https://t.co/PHmEuf2lMJ— Adam Parkhomenko (@Adam Parkhomenko) 1552056236.0
@ProudResister I love this women and she is a National hero— david veda (@david veda) 1552032936.0
@ProudResister In 3:45 State Senator Flowers raised most major gun laws issues;including stand your ground law, ope… https://t.co/8GaEbr7dgc— Deb WhitePigeon Bloom (@Deb WhitePigeon Bloom) 1552047436.0
@ProudResister @aboySimpson It makes me feel better when there are people like her around not willing to stay compl… https://t.co/Ve4wHntRBS— Floatinglonewanderer🔞 (@Floatinglonewanderer🔞) 1552039779.0
@ProudResister BEST LINE: "No I don't! What the HELL are you gonna do, shoot me?" Stephanie Flowers is my spirit human right now.— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@BrooklynDad_Defiant!) 1552053959.0
@ProudResister State Senator Stephanie Flowers is spectacular! Don't know this woman, but sure do like her. #NationalHero— Coupon Savings (@Coupon Savings) 1552031715.0
Flowers' powerful words struck a chord in many.
This is what leadership looks like.
@ProudResister I am so overwhelmed. She said all of the things that I agonize over, and she said it with the passio… https://t.co/cTQgGGWN2l— Stay✨Ready✨ (@Stay✨Ready✨) 1552034388.0
@ProudResister Sen. Flowers is absolutely correct. I am proud of her. She’s scared. We are all scared . Thank you S… https://t.co/x9Y6bDmrCC— Diane Steele (@Diane Steele) 1552036860.0
Elected officials in Washington, DC should take notes.
@ProudResister More like her please👏— Kathy Sloan (@Kathy Sloan) 1552031778.0
@ProudResister We need more like her in Congress. People who aren't scared and fight for what got them elected!!!— Christina Duncan (@Christina Duncan) 1552032151.0
@ProudResister Wild!!! We need her in Washington against TRUMP AND The REPUBLICAN!!— Norm207 (@Norm207) 1552035729.0
Thanks to the bill's defeat, Arkansas remains one of three states south of the Mason-Dixon line that requires a "duty to retreat" before using deadly force. Maryland and Virginia are the others.
The proposal would have broadened the "'stand your ground' territory beyond the home" - an expansion of the castle doctrine - "to any location where the person is lawfully present,'" the Arkansas Times wrote on Wednesday. "It explicitly states that a person acting in defense of self or another 'is not required to retreat before using deadly physical force' — so long as the lawfully present person is not engaging in criminal activity and did not provoke the other person. The bill eliminates all current provisions that describe retreating to avoid the need for deadly force. It further codifies that such a possibility cannot be considered in making a determination about whether use of deadly force was lawful."