Dec 07 2012
Seventeen year old African American student Jordan Russell Davis was gunned down two weeks ago as he sat in a car outside a convenience store in Jacksonville Florida listening to music with his friends. The shooter, Michael Dunn a 45 year-old gun collector and software engineer, fired at least eight shots into the car after admonishing the teenagers about the volume of their music.
Dunn fled the scene after the assault and police found no weapons in the car or in the surrounding area. Jordan Davis’ father, Ron Davis stated, “They were just kids…They have never been in trouble. The kids had no weapon; they had no drugs in the car.”
Dunn who claimed to have felt threatened when one of the car’s occupants brandished a shot gun is using the Stand Your Ground law in his defense. This same defense was used to justify the slaying of 17 year old Trayvon Martin who was also killed in Florida this past February. The Trayvon Martin shooting provoked national outrage over the laws.
Jordan Davis’ case is once again putting a spotlight on the controversial ‘Stand Your Ground Laws’ which are on the books in twenty states. The law was originally crafted by the National Rifle Association or NRA and introduced to the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC who pushed it as a “model bill.” The Florida version of the law passed in 2005. While the legislation provides no clear definition of what constitutes a threat, it allows people to use deadly force if they feel threatened regardless of whether they can safely leave the scene.
Florida Governor Rick Scott instituted a six month task force to assess the Stand Your Ground Law after the Trayvon Martin Case. The task force, comprised partially of people who had originally drafted the law, did not institute any substantial reforms despite data which has clearly shown substantial impact on racial minorities.
GUEST: Mychal Denzel Smith, writer and social commentator whose work on race, social justice, politics, feminism, and black male identity has appeared online for the Guardian, The Nation, Al Jazeera English, The Atlantic, The Root, and other publications.
Click here to read Mychal Denzel Smith’s Guardian article about Jordan Davis.