Trayvon Martin was just 17 years old when he was allegedly gunned down by George Zimmerman. Based on information available in the media, it seems like a pretty cut and dried case. I will allow that the media may not have, or may not have released, the whole story and I’m not trying to dog pile Zimmerman without all the facts.
However, I also hear a lot of criticism coming from the “gun safety” crowd, who claim a lot of things in regards to this incident. First, let me say that I think it’s reprehensible for them to jump onto this tragedy, like so many of them do with every other gun-related tragedy, until all the facts are in.
There are a couple of points that need to be considered. First, let’s address Florida’s “Stand Your Ground Law” which has come under fire. The law basically says you are free defend your life, or the life of another. Critics have called it a “shoot first and ask questions later” law, but that’s far from the reality.
Florida’s law is very similar to the law here in Georgia. Both laws require for someone to have a reasonable fear of their life. If the facts reported by the media are correct, and there’s nothing omitted, then Zimmerman had no reason to fear a teenage boy armed with tea and Skittles.
Those who oppose these laws often don’t understand them. In many states, citizens have what’s called a “duty to retreat” from potential attackers. In these states, criminals have little to fear from their prey. Ultimately, they can range far and wide, knowing that the law abiding people they prey upon can’t really do much of anything.
However, these “castle doctrine” type laws, like the ones in Florida and Georgia, make things a little different. They make it so the law abiding don’t have to run from criminals who mean them harm. It means that we, the average citizen, can stand up to the bad guys.
What these laws don’t do is justify executing unarmed people who have done no wrong. What they don’t do is empower the average citizen to become Judge Dredd – complete with “I am the law!” vocalizations – because you think there there’s a threat.
Even Zimmerman’s statement to police, that Martin attacked him and he was defending his life, doesn’t hold up as things stand based on the available information. After all, you don’t get a pass for shooting an unarmed kid. You just don’t. Tea and Skittles don’t qualify as weapons, and unless there was a knife, club, gun, or some other implement that hasn’t been revealed, the allegations against Zimmerman have nothing to do with the “Stand Your Ground” law.
Instead, it has to do with a man who allegedly pulled the trigger when no one’s life appeared to be in danger. New information may surface that could change the way all of this looks. Like I said, I only have the media accounts for what happened, and who knows how accurate those are. Until then, let’s quit blaming laws that had nothing to do with this incident.