Greetings to all!
This post comes as the second part of my update to the structure here at the end of each month. The last post here was one concerning a foreign issue, and I strongly suggest reading that before you read this post if you have not already done so. Today, I address a topic that has set off a firestorm in America and has clearly divided the populace among lines that most of us would like to ignore. I am taking a look at the Trayvon Martin case, along with the broader subject of gun control.
The facts of the case are as follows: Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old black male living in Sanford, Florida, on the way back to his father’s house just a while ago. He had gone to a local convenience store wearing a hoodie, and had purchased a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. On the way back home, Martin was tracked by county watch official George Zimmerman, a half-white half-hispanic 28-year-old man. Zimmerman called the police as he was following Martin, telling them that Martin looked “suspicious” like he “was on drugs or something”. The police asked for a location, and then told Zimmerman to stop following Martin after learning that he was doing so (http://phoebe53.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/zimmerman-911-call-transcript-trayvon-martin/). After the call ended, Zimmerman continued following Martin and came into a conflict with him. Shortly into this, Zimmerman pulled out a loaded gun and killed Martin. No arrest was made, and no trial or charges have been brought up as of yet. And wow, it’s easy to tear this apart.
So much is wrong in this case, it’s hard to know where to start. I’ll split this first into the racial profiling part, and then the larger area of gun laws. The proof of racial profiling is difficult, but easy to see if you know where to look. Zimmerman has had an obsession with crime and blacks for some time (http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/17/2700249/shooter-of-trayvon-martin-a-habitual.html#storylink=cpy). So we know that it is likely his view of Martin as suspicious may have been warped. Trayvon had been on the phone with his girlfriend, and had noted that he was being followed. Witnesses attested that the voice yelling in the struggle was young (http://insidedateline.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/25/10843593-witnesses-describe-trayvon-martins-final-moments-parents-say-he-was-headed-on-the-right-path). And all in all, due to Florida’s gun laws Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense is all that is needed to prevent his arrest. This is in spite of witness Mary Cutcher, who was essentially blown off by the police department which took few notes on her account of the incident (http://www.wftv.com/news/news/witness-sanford-police-blew-us-teen-slaying/nLSqk/). Examining all of this, how is it possible that Zimmerman truly needed the self-defense of a gun? Martin was younger and 140 pounds (http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/opinion/x121055164/George-Zimmerman-and-Trayvon-Martin), whereas Zimmerman was older and 250 pounds. Zimmerman had a gun and a car for protection, while Martin had a snack in his pockets. Not only that, but Zimmerman also has a police record for resisting arrest (http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/23/2712299_p2/george-zimmerman-self-appointed.html). Pretty much every piece of evidence points to Zimmerman attacking and killing someone innocent because he was a racist.
And now, onto the bigger debate. Should laws concerning guns be as loose as Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” legislation? The immediate and correct answer is no. Yes, I know the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms for all citizens. But there are reasonable restrictions. Children and the elderly should not be able to own or be near guns, as it is highly dangerous to their health and others. People should not be able to have any kind of automatic weapon, tank, anti-tank weapon, or nuke. We all know these things, and all sane people agree at least on these terms. However, the argument settles typically around semi-automatic weaponry and the ease with which deadly firearms are attained. We need look only to Columbine High School to know that semi-automatic weaponry should not be available to anyone, let alone teenagers. When kids can attack a school, killing several people and injuring others using this type of gun, it should be well accepted that those weapons are not suitable for normal humans to own. Nobody is hunting with semi-automatic guns. Why? Because a moose isn’t qualified as a military-grade target or threat. Neither are deer, birds, or anything else you hunt. Next comes the trouble with getting guns. Many states have a waiting period to get firearms, in which background checks and psychological analyses are performed to ensure weapons aren’t being sold to dangerous human beings. But in states with looser gun laws, background checks and psych tests are few, while waiting periods are typically shorter or non-existent, and in some cases may be waived. This allows former criminals and other unstable individuals to get their hands on weapons that can easily kill fellow citizens. Sure, the defense of people and communities is important and we should be ready to “stand our ground” against criminals. But guns are really unnecessary. There is a reason we have police, and a reason why people arm their homes with alarms systems. Because we can deter and prevent crime without killing people all over the place. There is a reason that we have an incredibly high homicide rate per year, and it’s not because we have a more mixed ethnic make-up. It’s because we have laws that let it happen.
And so ends my end of the month two-part post on domestic and foreign issues. If you would like to ask questions, pose comments, etc., you can do so right here. My Facebook and Twitter are active, along with my email at firstname.lastname@example.org and my Google+ account. In the spirit of the recent holiday, I suggest you all view this link due to its importance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ. Happy holidays to all, and I am signing off.