Debate Over ‘Stand Your Ground’ Bill In Arkansas Gets Heated

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KFSM) — The "stand your ground" self-defense bill was voted down by a Senate committee by just one vote. During that committee hearing...things got pretty heated.

“I have feared for my son’s life,” said Arkansas Senator Stephanie Flowers.

Senator Stephanie Flowers from Pine Bluff had a passionate response during the more than two hours of debate over the "stand your ground" bill.

“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 said.

The current law requires Arkansans outside of their homes to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense if that's an option. This bill would do away with that requirement.

In the video, Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, chairman of the committee, tries to silence Flowers.

"Senator, you need to stop," he whispers.

"No, I don't," Flowers replies.

"Yes, you do," he insists.

“No, I don't. What the hell you going to do, shoot me?” Flowers said.

Representative Bob Ballinger proposed the bill. He says 31 states have similar laws and that while Senator Flowers has the right to share her views, but there is a better way to do it.

“We're all Senators sent here by our people. We ought to be able to communicate back and forth and share our ideas. I think it diminishes her perspective when she screamed. When she cussed. When she`s angry and says things that are frankly so out of line,” Ballinger said.

Ballinger said the states that have "stand your ground" laws have seen a steady decrease in all violent crimes over the last decade.

“That's rapes, thefts, murder, violent crime goes down in every one of the states, so on average of 1.5% per year. I don't think that's necessary because of stand your ground. I think it's the impotence of vindication that stand your ground doesn`t do what the people fear it does,” Ballinger said.

Rev. Sara Milford with Mom's Demand Action says they oppose "stand your ground" because they say it increases the numbers of homicides with gun violence and disproportionately affects communities of color.

“We just want to advocate for a gun safe environment and culture and communities and the stand your ground legislation does not. By giving people to shoot first and ask questions later, it does not advocate for a gun safe culture,” Milford said.

Representative Ballinger says he plans to now work with Senator Cooper who voted against the bill to clear the language to hopefully get it through committee.

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