Schenck’s journey brought him to careful conversations with fellow conservatives surrounding this issue (conversations that unfortunately didn’t usually include much more response than people repeating NRA slogans), to an NRA rally and gun show, and to a life-changing conversation with a mother of a gun-violence victim. Lucy McBath is the mother of Jordan Davis, a young man who was murdered in Florida in 2012 and whose murderer claimed the “Stand Your Ground” law as his defense. (Davis’s killer was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in a second trial.)
McBath is a powerful voice of moral conviction in the show (although, as an aside, I hope her association with Schenck will help her to shed her prochoice position on abortion in a parallel move of moral consistency), and Schenck cites her as the key person to push him beyond the point of “inertia.” Together, the two begin to articulate the theological problems with the reasons some people own guns. Key among these problems is fear.
Increasingly, the news media, the NRA, and the people who want to sell us guns communicate to us how terribly dangerous the world we live in is. We are told we must always be on guard because people, everywhere, are trying to kill us all the time. McBath articulates the problem with this view: “We are deceived into believing that we are so powerful because we have something that will protect me. Instead of looking to God righteously as the Protector, we have replaced God with our guns as the protector. … Jesus never advocated violence. Despite how bad it gets, we’re never to advocate violence. Ever. Particularly with the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, you do everything you possibly can to retreat before you use that violence. Yes, you have a right to protect yourself. But you don’t have a right … to shoot to kill because you think that you’re threatened or because you’re empowered because you have a gun. That’s not the will of God.”
McBath’s son was killed because of the perception of danger. There was a dispute about loud music in a convenience store parking lot. Her son and the young black men in his vehicle were unarmed, but the killer saw four black young men and thought “danger.” So he shot and killed Davis. And he almost got away with it. During the sentencing, Duval County Judge Russell Healey pointed to the way the case showed how much society had lost its way; he also emphasized that there was a need in such situations to retreat and deescalate.