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‘Stand Your Ground’ Killed My Son

February 20, 2014

By Lucia McBath, via USA Today

1372137707-gun-rally-june-2013Over the past few weeks, people have talked endlessly about my son, Jordan Davis. Jordan was a really good kid who was warm and fun loving. On Nov. 23, 2012, Jordan, age 17, stopped with friends at a gas station in Jacksonville, after some Black Friday shopping. It was there, in the back seat of a red Durango, that I lost my son forever. He died after a dispute over loud music ended in a senseless shooting.

The gunman, Michael Dunn, was tried for the death of Jordan and the attempted murder of his friends. Dunn was convicted of three counts of attempted murder, but not for my son’s death.

Much of the debate over the shooting has focused on whether race played a role. Jordan and his friends were black; the shooter is white. While I understand the racial significance of this discussion, I believe the blame lies with the culture that emboldened Dunn to pull a loaded gun from his glove compartment and a law that encourages unnecessary violence. Florida’s “stand your ground” law is the reason my son is dead.

Florida’s permissive gun laws and its culture of “shoot first, ask questions later” is why a stranger shot my child. Instead of settling a dispute over loud music in a reasonable manner, Dunn overreacted. His actions were not only senseless, tragically, they also were irreversible. “Stand your ground” laws empower emotional people to end an argument with a gun, and until these laws are rolled back we will continue to suffer more senseless tragedies like the one my family has endured.

People ask me what they can do to honor Jordan’s memory. The answer is simple: They can join me and other moms who are calling on Florida and 25 other states to repeal “stand your ground” laws. There is a difference between feeling threatened and being in a life-threatening situation. That distinction should be clear under the law. In many states, it isn’t.

As Jordan’s mother, I am committed to dedicating my life’s work to advocating for my son, and my voice is magnified by working with so many other moms who want a better, safer country for them.

The last Mother’s Day card I received from Jordan was just after he moved to Jacksonville from our home in Atlanta. My breast cancer had returned, and I had sent Jordan to live with his father as I underwent treatment. In the card, Jordan wrote, “Thanks for being my number one cheerleader, my number one fan, and for never giving up on me. You believed in me when nobody else did. Even though I don’t let you kiss me anymore, I love you and you have been the best mother.”

Dunn had a chance to tell his story, but my Jordan will never have that opportunity because an angry man with a loaded gun took it away from him.

It is my job to keep being his mom and to ensure that his legacy is a nation with gun policies that protect rather than threaten children and families.

Lucia McBath is the mother of Jordan Davis and a national spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

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