“Now we’re getting down to it. Gun control. A Hispanic guy shot a black guy who was beating his head against the sidewalk, so let’s grab up all the guns. Let’s keep people from being able to defend their own lives,” Daily Caller blogger Jim Treacher wrote.Rather more to the point is whether or not following a stranger around, confronting them and then shooting them when it looks like you're going to lose the fight counts as "defending your own life." In Florida, it does. Florida has something called a Stand Your Ground law, and your ground is defined as wherever the hell you are, doing whatever the hell you want. If the other person doesn't like it they're free to stand their ground themselves, in which case the person who is right, in the eyes of the law, is whoever lives afterwards and can tell their side of the story.
This isn't a case about guns. This is a case about what you're legally allowed to do with your gun, and the debate is about whether or not we think the Florida approach is the right idea. Under the Florida approach, you're going to simply have people "accidentally" having to shoot other people all the time—specifically, people they are mad at, or people they simply suspect are up to no good—and we're all going to call that "safety" because hey, if you didn't want to be shot walking down the street, you should have been carrying your own gun and shot the other guy first. That's the Wayne LaPierre approach to things. They proposed it. Florida said "yes, please."
Note the defend their own lives part. George Zimmerman could easily have "defended his own life" by not following Trayvon Martin and causing a confrontation. He didn't. He "defended his own life" from a situation he himself caused. In any similar context, the person being followed around the neighborhood would be perfectly justified in fearing for his own life, and right to "defend his own life"—in theory. In practice, Martin didn't have a right to "defend his own life", which is why Zimmerman was forced to shoot him. It only works one way.
Find out why below the fold.
Why? If Martin had a knife and had struck the first blow, would the knife rights lobby have treated him as a hero? If Martin had a gun, would he still be standing his ground in shooting the random stranger following him home from the local store? Would the same groups celebrate him for "defending his life"? Would it still be considered a necessary side effect of the law, one of those tsk-tsk, no-harm-done consequences of a culture that says you can shoot anyone you like, so long as you're the person with the gun and you can make a reasonably good argument that they had it coming?
“By injecting himself in a minor Florida criminal case by implying Martin could be his son, the president of the United States — a onetime law lecturer, of all things — disgraced himself and his office, made a mockery of our legal system and exacerbated racial tensions in our country, making them worse than they have been in years,” Roger L. Simon wrote on PJMedia.com.It's only a minor criminal case if your brain says that black teenagers ending up dead for looking suspicious in the wrong neighborhood is, indeed, a minor criminal case. Similar things, however, seem to happen in America with some regularity. It seems to happen more frequently in certain states. Zimmerman followed Martin because Martin was black and a teenager and that is all that it took to be "suspicious" in George Zimmerman's neighborhood. So racial tensions in America were doing fine, with all that, before Obama stuck his head in and fouled things up?
Forget the immediate reaction of the rest of the country to the case. Forget the radio waves of the nation that have five years now erupted in constant predictions as to the blackness of the president and how the blackness of the president puts good white Americans at risk because the black, black president has plans to take care of his own "kind." Forget the Supreme Court deciding that certain bits of the Voting Rights Act were archaic now, deciding it while one of the marchers that got his head bashed in by law enforcement those decades ago was in the room, listening to them debate it as if it were the stuff of colonial times, something too foreign now to the American experience to still be plausible—it was Obama speaking on it that put "racial tensions" in a bad way? That's what did it?
Here is the problem. Certain portions of America—Florida, to name one of them—have decided that this is the good and proper way to live. If you are in certain neighborhoods, you may get shot for walking down a sidewalk when someone thinks you don't belong there. This is considered security, and freedom, and a minor price to pay compared to living in any alternative world in which George Zimmerman was not carrying a gun while deciding which of the people in his neighborhood might or might not be allowed to walk down the sidewalks and what he should do about it. The problem is that there's not a damn person, among those that consider Zimmerman a hero, who would be praising Trayvon Martin for winning that same fight. Trayvon Martin was considered a thug the moment he got shot. That's all there is to it. Because he "looked like" a thug.
You can suppose the reasons for that all you want, but it's definitely an ideological choice. As for the security and freedom provided by the new Florida law, it's difficult to keep from noticing that in practice it's not much different from the security and freedom of those much simpler and straightforward days a long time ago that Antonin Scalia is still pissed off at losing. You know the ones. The ones where, if you found yourself in certain neighborhoods and the law-abiding citizens there felt your presence was a bit out of place, you might have gotten shot for walking down the sidewalk.