Mother of Jordan Davis testifies in ‘stand your ground' hearing

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Since her 17-year-old son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed during an argument about loud music at a Southside gas station nearly three years ago, Lucy McBath has become an advocate for gun violence prevention.

In an effort to continue her mission, she was in Tallahassee Tuesday morning to testify against a bill to revise Florida's “Stand Your Ground” law.

"'Stand Your Ground' laws create a culture of 'shoot first and ask questions later.' These laws embolden individuals to settle their conflicts by reaching for their firearms, instead of using their words," McBath said.

The change to the "Stand Your Ground" law passed the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Tuesday. Senate bill 344 would require prosecutors to prove a defendant was not acting in self-defense in cases where that person is asking for immunity. Right now the defendant has to prove it before a judge to avoid trial.

Action News Jax Law & Safety expert Dale Carson weighed in.

“It helps anyone involved in a self-defense shooting. It protects their rights to not give ground in a desperate shooting situation,” Carson said.

Republican Sen. Rob Bradley, of Orange Park, proposed the bill.

"It's simply incorrect to suggest that the bill would result in otherwise guilty individuals going free. If the state has sufficient evidence to successfully prosecute a defendant at a jury trial, the state will prevail in the immunity hearing before the judge and the judge will permit the case to go to trial," Bradley said.

Michael Dunn, the man who shot and killed Davis, claimed self-defense. After an initial mistrial, Dunn was convicted of first-degree murder. In her testimony McBath called the bill dangerous.

"The current ‘Stand Your Ground' laws in the state of Florida are very, very loose, very open, very ambiguous. They have taken out the duty to retreat for the shooter, and they've just basically given immunity to the shooter, criminal and civil immunity, to the shooter," McBath said.

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