On Jordan Davis' Senseless Death

Everyone's talking about "Stand your ground" laws, but it's time to talk about guns, too.

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In a culture that caricatures black youths as perpetrators and criminals, men such as Dunn and Zimmerman seem empowered, entitled and emboldened to use deadly force against any black male -- as if brown skin alone were a badge of dishonor. The truth? These were not thugs, gang members or drug dealers. They were sons, grandsons, nephews, brothers and friends.

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing, Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott convened a "Stand your ground" task force consisting of citizens, activists and government officials. The commission concluded -- despite the seemingly unbridled violence that the law encourages -- that only minor changes should be made in the statute. Critics complained that Scott appointed a largely Republican-dominated commission, most of whom were supportive of "Stand your ground" to begin with.

Benjamin Crump, the Tallahassee attorney who represents Trayvon's parents, responded to the task force findings with grave disappointment. "We all believe it's asinine that you can be the aggressor and then shoot an unarmed kid and claim you were standing your ground," Crump told the Huffington Post. "Until we fix this law, there are going to be a lot of asinine claims of 'Stand your ground' when there's another Trayvon Martin."

Crump's prophetic statement came just over a week before the shooting death of Jordan Davis.

Lucia McBath, Jordan's mother, told First Coast News that Dunn will have to answer to God for the killing of her only son. "There's nothing logical you can say that would make me believe that you were threatened."

But race isn't the only factor. Though the spotlight remains on Florida, similar "Stand your ground" laws have been passed in states across the country and are promoted by the National Rifle Association, the nation's largest gun lobby. Critics highlight the fact that the NRA's push for lax gun control measures is increasingly irresponsible. That lesson is clearly on display in the killing of Jordan Davis.

"[Dunn] didn't think he had harmed anybody, and he just thought he had scared them off," Lemonidis told reporters on Wednesday.

How can any reasonable adult possibly believe that no harm had been done after firing eight shots into a vehicle full of teenagers? The attorney's statement conveys why stricter controls are needed to keep guns out of the hands of sociopaths, psychopaths and self-appointed vigilantes.

As innocent and unarmed black youths continue to meet violent ends at the hands of white assailants, perhaps the closest Americans can come to a colorblind resolution is to agree on one simple fact: Guns certainly do kill.

Edward Wyckoff Williams is contributing editor at The Root. He is a columnist and political analyst, appearing on Al-Jazeera, MSNBC, CBS Washington and national syndicated radio. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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