Sunday, July 14, 2013

License to Kill

Florida's Stand Your Ground law is not, in itself, a terrible idea. Nor is the concept of Concealed Carry, where people gain the right to carry a gun without making it public knowledge.

But put together, they equal a license to kill. George Zimmerman has proven that you can stalk somebody, harrass them, threaten them until they punch you - and then you can pull out your gun and kill them.

Even if you assume Martin threw the first punch, do you really think he would have done so if he knew Zimmerman was armed?

The entire point of not allowing concealed carry was that adding a firearm to any altercation automatically increases the risk of fatality. If two men are wrestling, and one of them has a gun, then both of them are legitimately in fear of their life. Which is why you show your gun - so people don't choose to wrestle. If they do choose to anyway, they know what they're getting into.

Trayvon Martin didn't know what he was getting in to (again, assuming Martin had any choice in the matter, for which we only have Zimmerman's word). The clear and obvious conclusion is that Trayvon Martin should have been carrying a gun of his own*. Then he could have shot Zimmerman - because any time you're being stalked by a hostile, aggressive man in the dark carrying a gun, you are legitimately in fear of your life.

This is how it would have gone down: Martin would have suddenly pulled his gun - completely legally - and said, "Stop following me!" Zimmerman would - completely legally - respond by pulling his gun. Then, of course, gunfire until one or the other (or both) are dead. The cops would have shown up, looked around, and then gone home (which, as it turns out, is what they did in the first place). A win for everyone, right?

Carrying a concealed weapon is supposed to carry with it an increased responsibility. Choosing to approach people in the dark as part of a Neighborhood Watch program is supposed to include increased responsibility (which is why the Watch guidelines specifically say not to carry a weapon). At every point in this process Zimmerman (and his defenders) have looked past the responsibility that Zimmerman choose to accept, and laid all of the blame entirely on Martin's ill-considered decision to throw the first punch (assuming, of course, that he did).

Basically, the white guy gets a complete pass for every part of the history leading up to this incident, and the black guy is expected to behave perfectly in the face of provocation.

Now why does that sound so familiar?

* Assuming anyone can, even for the time it takes to read this post, pretend that a black man shooting a white man would result in an acquittal. I find I am not in that august company.

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