Six years after her 17-year-old son was shot and killed at a gas station, a longtime former flight attendant and gun control activist is one step closer to making history as the only black woman in Georgia's congressional delegation. On Tuesday, July 24, Lucy McBath won the Democratic nomination in Georgia for a House seat against fellow Democrat Kevin Abel by touting a strong message for stricter gun laws. While McBath still has to face off against incumbent Republican Rep. Karen Handel in November's general election, the success of McBath's gun control campaign in the battleground district hints that the tide of public opinion could be turning.
After the deadly Parkland, Florida high school shooting in February hit close to home, McBath decided to run for office and hit the campaign trail with a firearms control lobby that included background checks for all gun purchases, raising the minimum age for gun purchases to 21, as well as a ban on gun sales to criminals and individuals with a history of domestic abuse. It sounds like McBath's stricter gun law platform appealed to her Democratic constituents in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, as she ended up taking home over 36 percent of the vote during Tuesday's election.
McBath's gun control activism was spurred even earlier by a personal tragedy. In 2012, her teenage son, Jordan Davis, was murdered by a 47-year-old man who complained about his loud music at a Jacksonville, Florida gas station. The shooter was later sentenced to life in prison without parole.
After her son's death, McBath left her 30-year career as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines and started advocating for stricter gun laws by speaking at rallies, making appearances on TV, and even testifying before Congress, per The Washington Post. According to her campaign website, the two-time breast cancer survivor also became involved in leadership roles for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and the Everytown for Gun Safety Survivor Network. McBath was also part of the Mothers of The Movement group of women whose children, who were all black, were killed by police and gun violence, including the mothers of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and Michael Brown.
After the Parkland school shooting took 17 lives earlier this year and students started campaigning for change, McBath realized she had to do even more.
"I knew that I could no longer sit on the sidelines while the politicians in the pocket of the gun manufacturing lobby decide the future of our gun laws," McBath explained on her website. "While I support the 2nd Amendment rights of Georgians, we can still advocate for common sense gun violence prevention to make our communities safer."
McBath's staunch supporters included Democratic stalwarts such as Hillary Clinton and Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California, as well as women's political advocacy group Emily's List and the Everytown for Gun Safety Survivor Network.
After McBath's victory, Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily's List, said in a statement obtained by Elite Daily, "Lucy McBath’s victory tonight shows us that voters in the 6th District want a dedicated leader who is committed to change ... She will be a strong voice in defending access to health care, expanding economic opportunity, and preventing senseless gun violence."
Still, the race is not over, and the battle for the House seat to represent Georgia will be a tough one come November. According to ABC News, Georgia's 6th Congressional District hasn't gone blue since 1979, and McBath will be going up against Rep. Karen Handel — known for her efforts to defund Planned Parenthood when she was at the Susan G. Komen Foundation — who was narrowly elected to the seat in 2017.
However, if McBath's unexpected win proves anything, it's that anything can happen when gun control, especially in schools, is at the forefront of the nation's attention.