Thursday, March 29, 2012
Social Commentary: Five Minutes and a Gun
The information regarding the tragic death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida is being disseminated at an alarming rate. It's been in the headlines for over a month and is nowhere near abating. We all know the basics of the events by now: The 17 year- old Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer Zimmerman as Martin walked home from a nearby convenience store to the house where his father was waiting for him. Zimmerman regularly patrolled the gated community where Martin was walking, looking to prevent break-ins and disturbances. Zimmerman claims that he shot the young man in self defense after a violent, physical confrontation and has not been charged with ANY crime in the incident. Martin's parents claim that Zimmerman profiled and then confronted the unarmed Martin (Zimmerman is white, Martin black), escalating the encounter to the point of violence. They also claim that Zimmerman shot their son in cold blood. Everyone agrees that the loss of this young man was a tragedy for all concerned. However, at this point, that's about all everyone agrees on.
On one side, you have the supporters of Mr. Zimmerman, who claim that he only shot Martin after Martin, according to Zimmerman's account, violently slammed his head into the ground in an attempt to kill him. They site Florida's self defense statute, one of the most liberal in the land when it comes to self-defense, as justification for the shooting. On the other side, the supporters of Mr. Martin say that the only thing that he was carrying in his hands when he was shot was a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. Therefore, how dangerous could he have been?
I don't know exactly what happened. Only two people know for sure and one of them is dead. The other is in hiding and not talking. Although the nature of the case has caused a great deal of controversy, most rational people realize that whatever truth there is to be found can only be done so in time and with the proper authorities investigating the case. However, there is one thing that I DO know: George Zimmerman was WRONG to have a TEC-9, the weapon he used to kill Trayvon Martin, in his car in the first place, much less on his person when he decided to pursue Martin.
First, what was Zimmerman doing in possession of a TEC-9 handgun? The TEC-9 is a 9mm semi-automatic handgun that uses a clip of anywhere from 20-72 rounds of ammunition and is designed to "spray lead" in a rapid and, somewhat, haphazard manner. It was originally designed as a military weapon. It is relatively inexpensive and fairly easy to operate. Accuracy is not a strong suit. In other words, it can spray a lot of lead in a short period of time. These attributes make it very desirable among drug dealers.
So, this begs the question; why did George Zimmerman feel it necessary to have this weapon in his possession in the first place? Remember, Zimmerman was NOT a member of any law enforcement agency, nor did he have any military experience with weapons. He was a neighborhood watch captain!! Every security expert called upon to explain what the mission of a neighborhood watch captain might be says exactly the same thing: their SOLE mission is to observe and report. Zimmerman did just that and used 911 to report that he thought that Martin was acting suspiciously. The police then informed him to take NO FURTHER ACTION i.e. your job is done. This order was ignored by Zimmerman. Obviously, at some point, Zimmerman who had been following Martin in his car, felt it necessary to leave his vehicle, WITH THE GUN, and confront Martin. Why? Was it because, with that TEC-9, he felt empowered? I'm sure that, knowing he had that weapon, he must have felt pretty secure that he could handle the situation. And this is where the gun lobby loses all credibility.
One of the favorite slogans among gun lobbyists and enthusiasts is: guns don't kill people, people do. Well, now you have a gun in the hands of someone who was, quite obviously, not in the position to handle one. And a young man paid the ultimate price for this lame philosophy with his LIFE! Florida, like most Southern states, seems to be in love with the 2nd amendment; the so-called right to bear arms. Therefore, they have some of the most liberal gun ownership laws in the country. And what do you get when you have liberal gun ownership laws? You get unqualified 28 year-old neighborhood watch captains shooting and killing 17 year-old young, black men!! Another argument used by the gun lobby is that if everyone were armed we would have a level playing field and violence would be reduced. Really? Would that philosophy have applied to this situation? Would Zimmerman have hesitated to get out of his vehicle with his weapon if he felt Martin also had one? I doubt it. I think that he would have done the same thing and Martin would have probably responded in kind with his weapon. Then you would have had lead flying all over the place with even more potentially disastrous results! And all Zimmerman had to do was wait for the police to arrive - just wait. Five minutes. Five freakin' minutes and the police would have been there and the situation would have been peaceably resolved. But, instead, filled with the false bravado embodied in a 9 mm semi-automatic ass-kicking piece of stamped metal, a young life was snuffed out and two families ruined. I so firmly believe that, without that weapon, none of this would have gone down the way that it so tragically did.
No. The answer is GUN CONTROL. We need reasonable, rational laws that protect our personal freedoms (which, as some would argue, includes the right to bear arms) and at the same time keep destructive weapons, like the TEC-9 out of the hands of people like George Zimmerman. It has recently been discovered that not only was Zimmerman not qualified to USE a handgun, he is also a convicted felon, which, in some states with SERIOUS gun control laws (like New York), would prevent him from even owning a gun!!
Come on, people! Use your heads. This is simple. If you want to prevent tragedies like this one from happening again, limit access to firearms. Let's make sure that the people who own guns are responsible enough to know their purpose - to kill. And, if you are like me, reject them all together. Any thinking, reasonable, rational human being would never consider the use of a firearm to resolve any situation. ANY.