Jury selection begins today in the trial of Michael Dunn, the man who shot and killed teenager Jordan Davis outside a Florida convenience store in November of 2012. Davis was sitting in a parked SUV outside the Jacksonville store with friends when Dunn, who is white, began complaining about their music. An argument ensued, and then ended, when Dunn fired his 9mm handgun into the vehicle. As the SUV raced off, Dunn stepped out of his car and fired again. Then he and his girlfriend drove to a hotel, checked in, and ordered a pizza. He never called the police and was only arrested because a witness jotted down his license plate. Dunn, who is mounting a Stand Your Ground defense, claimed a passenger in the vehicle had threatened him with shotgun—or a stick. The police found no gun.
In the wake of Jordan Davis’s death, his mother Lucia McBath has become active in the fight against Stand Your Ground laws. I spoke with her recently about the impact of the death of her son.
Read more. [Image courtesy Lucia McBath]
On Tuesday, the same day that Attorney General Eric Holder said that “Stand Your Ground” laws “sow dangerous conflict,” Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer called her state’s version of the law “important” and a “constitutional right.” And Wednesday, Florida state Sen. David Simmons called Holder’s comments “inappropriate” and “inaccurate.” Stand Your Ground may be getting more attention now after the Zimmerman verdict, but the laws themselves don’t look like they’re going anywhere.
And that’s not for a lack of effort from critics of the self-defense policy. While the exact laws differ somewhat from state to state, Stand Your Ground laws justify the use of force in self-defense when there’s a reasonably perceived threat. It’s on the books in some form or another in more than 21 states. Florida was the first to adopt the law, and the state is the focus of the law’s critics now. Those critics range from Stevie Wonder (who has decided to boycott any state with a Stand Your Ground law) to the dozens of student activists who crowded Gov. Rick Scott’s office on Tuesday.
But the critics aren’t limited to Florida.
Read more. [Image: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters]