“Ignorance and bigotry killed Trayvon Martin. The gun was incidental. Zimmerman would’ve killed him with a pencil if that was all he had.” – Al Stefanelli
I would imagine right now most of your cockles are raised regarding my above comment about the gun being incidental. My comment should be understood not in the context of the huge epidemic of illegal weapons, but to the effect that because Zimmerman is a licensed, well-trained and legal gun owner, the epidemic of illegal weapons and their availability to all young people – not just minorities – does not come into play here.
The problem in general speaks loudly to the Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in combination with our judicial system operating on an “innocent, until proven guilty” premise. These two facts mean that there is absolutely no getting around the rather unpleasant reality that Mr. Zimmerman is presumed innocent until proven guilty and that in he was within his legal right to shoot that child.
I Am Not Supporting Zimmerman…
Today’s article focuses on the question of why he has not been arrested yet. This has nothing to do with the police chief being white, or the victim was black. It has nothing to do with the assailant being white or Mexican. Even though it is morally wrong to take another human life and that it repugnant that another black youth’s life ended due to bigotry, Zimmerman has not been arrested because the law will not allow it.
Furthermore, it is highly likely that Mr. Zimmerman will never even be indicted, and enjoy the ability to walk free – albeit with an enhanced awareness of his surroundings.
The way this case is playing out is indicative of a problem that is systemic within our penal code. One that allows for the legality of what happened to that young man without provision for the rights of the victim in any way, shape or form.
An individual had stated to me that my comment about the gun being incidental was a stupid thing to say, maintaining that without the gun, Zimmerman would almost certainly not have confronted someone he felt was “suspicious” and potentially dangerous. This individual stated that the gun undoubtedly enhanced his feeling of entitlement and sense of authority and privilege. He then advised me to research homicide rates in countries with gun control so that I would understand that accessibility to firearms should not be considered incidental in cases like this.
As I had explained, the gun was incidental because the man using it had the mindset that it was OK to kill this person. To think that without the gun Zimmerman wouldn’t have confronted the young man is disingenuous. If one studies violent hate crimes, it is easily understood that gun was only a venue to achieving this task – just as if a knife were used, a bat, an axe handle or even bare fists.
If Zimmerman felt able to carry out this killing, he would do it with anything handy, even his bare hands. This happens in prisons with frequent regularity. Although there would have been less of a chance Zimmerman would have killed Trayvon without the gun, given the fact that Zimmerman’s physical mass is almost entire person heavier than Trayvon, and that Zimmerman has had significant training, it would not have taken much effort for him to effect the same results.
People Kill People…
And of course the gun enhanced his feeling of entitlement and sense of authority and privilege. I would not suggest otherwise. But this is not case of a thug killing someone with an ill-gotten, illegal handgun. This incident was perpetrated by an individual that was trained and licensed to carry a gun and the gun he was carrying was obtained legally.
This should give everyone pause, because even if Florida had stricter laws regarding the ownership and concealment of firearms, Zimmerman would have been still been given his permits, and he would still have been able to purchase and carry his weapon.
Please understand, I am not trying to justify or stick up for Zimmerman. This couldn’t be further from the truth. What happened was an unnecessary and uncalled for act of violence. But until there is a change in laws that, when used in combination, allow something like this to happen, people like Zimmerman will have the legal right to shoot and kill an unarmed person who is walking in their own neighborhood, carrying nothing but an iced tea and a snack.
I am horrified at the death of Trayvon, and as a parent I cannot even fathom what this family is going through. However, the mob-rule mentality that is taking hold in this country, particularly the New Black Panthers offering of a $10,000.00 bounty for the capture of Zimmerman, is extremely worrisome.
Unless new evidence is presented that shows, beyond reasonable doubt, that he broke the law, there is no precedent for law enforcement to charge Zimmerman with a crime. This is the core of the problem, and this is the issue that must be addressed. The stark reality is that under the law, his gun was legal, and the “stand your ground” law gave him the right to shoot Treyvon. I consider this legalized murder.
I understand the need for all the vigils, marches, protests and rallies. I hope some of that energy will be focused on changing the core of the problem – the elimination of the law that allows actions that are not “self defense,” but a personalized version of the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive strike.
The only way future incidents like this can be deterred is with the threat of penalty of criminal law. This needs to be addressed on the legislative level. The “stand your ground” law needs to be repealed or the next person who thinks that maybe, perhaps, their life could possibly be sort of in danger from someone who they have already judged as a potential threat will feel completely justified in killing them.
My condolences to the family…