3 1/2 Minutes premieres on Nov. 23, the anniversary of Davis’ death, at 9 p.m. (EST) on HBO. Next America recently spoke to McBath about her efforts to promote gun control.
Next America: Why are you trying to get Stand Your Ground laws repealed throughout the U.S.?
McBath: The laws are very, very dangerous. There are many, many gun laws that are very dangerous. But the laws that are the most destructive are Stand Your Ground laws. Those laws are based upon the “castle doctrine”—a man has the right to protect his castle. Those kinds of self-defense laws are in every state, but 22 states that have indoctrinated Stand Your Ground on their books. They have taken the common self-defense laws and watered them down. They’ve taken them and turned them into Stand Your Ground laws. … In some states, [the law] doesn’t really define what ‘territory’ means. Does territory mean your car? Your front porch? Your lawn? Your place of business? So the laws are very, very dangerous and makes it very difficult for prosecutors to try those cases and to win because oftentimes the victim is dead. ...
We are one of the very few cases in the country that received justification and a guilty verdict. That is just not happening—when the shooter is white on black victim, that’s not happening in this country.
Next America: In your case, the defense was trying to use the Stand Your Ground law.
McBath: Yes, it was a self-defense case. We never went before the judge in a specific Stand Your Ground trial. … But when the instructions go to the jury, there’s Stand Your Ground verbiage. There, again, you’re planting the seed. There was no alcohol or drugs on the boys. They never got out of the car. They remained in the car. They didn’t threaten to kill him, but under the law in the state of Florida, he knew that he could say, ‘Oh, they were gangbangers. They were threatening me. They had a gun.’ Because they were four black males, he assumed that everybody would believe him.
Next America: You are now an outspoken gun-control advocate. What are we, as average American citizens, missing about this issue?
McBath: We don’t understand, in each of our respective states, the gun laws. We don’t understand Stand Your Ground. We don’t understand that people are buying guns in massive numbers online without background checks. We don’t understand that domestic abusers are able to buy guns without background checks. We don’t understand that people can ‘open carry’ their guns anywhere they want. We don’t understand that we have power and authority to keep our families safe, and that is through our vote.
People don’t understand that they have to be knowledgeable when they go to the polls. Be knowledgeable about the people, legislators in their state that are passing these kinds of laws, and vote them out. Everything that we see happening in the country with the police is because the law allows it. In order to change the law, you have to change the culture. So you begin changing the gun culture, changing one mind-set at a time, addressing what’s happening in this country, opening these discussions in every community, and then that’s how the culture gets changed. And once the culture starts to change, people start changing the laws. But until we stand up and fight the laws and change the laws, our people will continue to die.