Don't Let Georgia Extend 'Stand Your Ground' to Criminals

My son, Jordan Davis, was 17 when he was killed on November 23, 2012, at a Jacksonville gas station. I had always taught Jordan to be strong, to speak up for himself. He was funny, thoughtful and filled with wisdom, even at a young age. As a mother, I made sure to know where he was when he wasn't home and who his friends were. But ultimately, nothing I did or could have done as a mother would have saved my son.

I believe Florida's Stand Your Ground law, and the aggressive culture it fosters, is the reason my son is not here today. Stand Your Ground laws encourage people to shoot when they could have walked away. Too many families have suffered unnecessarily, and too many young lives have ended mindlessly. Stand Your Ground laws will continue to devastate American families as long as they're in place.

While the media has been focused on Florida's Stand Your Ground law, our own state has a similar law on the books -- and our legislature is looking to expand this dangerous law even further.

Legislation right here in Georgia, HB 60 and formerly HB 875, would extend our state's Stand Your Ground law to protect felons who kill using illegal guns. Under this legislation, a convicted felon who is prohibited under state and federal law from possessing a gun, could shoot and kill someone in public and escape criminal prosecution, even if the shooting was entirely unnecessary because there was a safe and easy way for him to walk or drive away from the confrontation and even though he was illegally carrying a gun that he obtained through illegal means. The last thing our families need is for criminals to be shielded by this law.

I'm not only speaking from the experience of a mother whose son was needlessly taken from her -- the research is in: these laws are dangerous. After Georgia passed its Stand Your Ground law, the number of justifiable homicides in our state increased by 83 percent.

Since Trayvon Martin was killed in February 2012 -- the death of another mom's 17-year-old son -- no new state has become a Stand Your Ground state. While other states have introduced legislation to repeal or scale back their Stand Your Ground laws, our lawmakers here in Georgia are incomprehensibly trying to expand ours.

In the last Mother's Day card he was able to give to me, Jordan wrote, "Thanks for being my number one cheerleader." I continue to be his number one cheerleader by fighting for him and his legacy and to prevent other children, mothers, and families from suffering as we have.

The best way for you to fight for Jordan is to stand with me and other Georgians in urging our leaders in the Georgia Senate to reject HB 60 and any other bill with this dangerous provision.

Lucia McBath is the National Spokesperson for Moms Demand Action. An earlier version of this piece originally ran in Savannah Morning News.