Michael Dunn is a Florida man who stopped at a gas station after his son’s wedding. Jordan Russell Davis was a 17-year old teenager, at the same gas station, sitting in an SUV with three other teenage friends playing loud music. Dunn and the teenagers got into a verbal argument about the music being too loud. This led Dunn to take out his gun and shoot at the SUV 8 to 9 times, killing Davis who was hit twice.
Now Dunn is invoking Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law as his defense. You might have already heard of this law, especially if you followed the Trayvon Martin case back in March of this year. In a very simplified nutshell, the law declares that if you feel threatened, you do not have to retreat. You can stand your ground and shoot.
Since the law was enacted in Florida, in 2005, deaths resulting from self-defense have almost tripled. This is coherent with a study conducted by Texas A & M University which concluded that “Stand Your Ground” laws result in higher homicide rates.
According to Wikipedia:
Before passage of the law, Miami police chief John F. Timoney called the law unnecessary and dangerous in that “whether it’s trick-or-treaters or kids playing in the yard of someone who doesn’t want them there or some drunk guy stumbling into the wrong house, you’re encouraging people to possibly use deadly physical force where it shouldn’t be used.”
[Dunn] reacted after having seen a gun barrel in the window of the teens’ car and after hearing a profanity-laced string of threats against him and his girlfriend while the teens motioned they were opening the door. And, “When all the evidence has been flushed out, I believe that it will be extremely clear that Mr. Dunn acted as any responsible firearm owner would have under the same circumstances.” [CNN]
As it turned out, the police confirmed that there was no gun either in the car or on any of the teenagers. It is very likely that Michael Dunn panicked because he believed that the four black teenagers were gang members and proceeded to shoot at them. I’m assuming this because a non-panicked, “responsible firearm owner” would have probably fired one shot up in the air or into one of the car’s tires instead of shooting 8 to 9 times at the teenagers in the SUV.
I am anti-gun. But I am even more anti-NRA who under the leadership of Wayne LaPierre has taken more and more extremist pro-gun positions. In 2005, the NRA was instrumental in getting the “Stand Your Ground” law passed in Florida, (which served as a launch pad for other states). In March 2011, Wayne LaPierre refused to meet with the Justice Department which was holding a series of meetings with members of gun safety and gun lobby groups in order to seek “agreement on possible legislative or administrative actions” on gun safety and gun control. At that time, Wayne LaPierre stated, “Why should I or the N.R.A. go sit down with a group of people that have spent a lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment in the United States?” I guess to Mr. LaPierre it’s preferable to destroy the lives of young men and their families than to sit around a table to discuss how to avoid these tragedies.
Trayvon Martin died because his shooter, George Zimmerman, saw him wearing a hoodie and thought he looked suspicious. Jordan Russell Davies died because his shooter, Michael Dunn, thought he was a gang member while he was in a car listening to loud music. Stupid gun laws are dangerous, but when they are combined with racial stereotypes they are deadly.
How many Trayvon Martins and Jordan Russell Davises need to die before the “Stand Your Ground” laws are repealed? I don’t know, but until then I will not think of those who stand their ground but of those who, unnecessarily, go into the ground.