Arkansas Senator Stephanie Flowers Storms Out of Gun Rights Debate: 'What the Hell You Gonna Do, Shoot Me?'

The Arkansas state capitol was the scene of a fiery confrontation over gun rights on March 6, as senators clashed over a proposal to eliminate the "duty to retreat" clause from the state's self-defense laws.

The legislation was eventually voted down by a narrow margin, but not before Senator Stephanie Flowers delivered an impassioned rebuke of gun rights advocates.

According to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, gun rights advocates have been attempting to pass so-called "stand your ground laws" in Arkansas for more than a decade, under both Democratic and Republican legislatures.

On Wednesday, Flowers reacted angrily to a suggestion from other members of the Judiciary Committee that debate on the newest proposal should be time-limited, arguing the issue was far too important to rush.

Flowers requested time to comment, which committee Chairman Senator Alan Clark allowed on the condition she did so quickly. Flowers replied, "I'll be as quick as I can, as quick as it takes to kill somebody, I guess."

"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," she said.

"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 yours. But my son doesn't walk the same path as yours does. So this debate deserves more time."

Flowers said that living in Arkansas, she regularly feared for the life of her son, now 27 years old and living outside the state. "I thank God he is [living elsewhere] when you're bringing up crap like this," she declared. "It offends me, and then to limit the debate too? This is crazy."

She told the gun rights supporters, "You don't have to worry about your children." But as a member of the black community, she said, "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've got open carry rights, walking down 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."

She took particular issue with people who came into the state legislature armed with "these damn guns," and slammed the gun advocates for taking up "all these little [National Rifle Association] bills."

"I'm talking about my son's life. And I'm talking about the lives of other black kids," she reiterated.

Clark leaned away from his microphone and warned Flowers, "Senator, you need to stop," but this only made Flowers angrier. "No, the hell I don't," she shouted back. "What are you going to do, shoot me?"

Before storming out of the chamber, she told Clark, "Do what the hell you want to do, go ahead, but you can't silence me."

The Republican-majority committee eventually voted 4-3 against the bill, with three Democrats and one Republican in opposition. Senator Bob Ballinger, who sponsored the legislation, said he would revive it at a later time, the Gazette reported.

gun rights open carry Stephanie Flowers Arkansas debate
An open-carry rally in Austin, Texas, on January 1, 2016. On March 6, 2019, Arkansas Senator Stephanie Flowers stormed out of a debate on a proposed "stand your ground" law for the state. Erich Schlegel/Getty Images
Arkansas Senator Stephanie Flowers Storms Out of Gun Rights Debate: 'What the Hell You Gonna Do, Shoot Me?' | U.S.