On February 26th, 2012, seventeen year old Trayvon Martin was initially stalked and then murdered by George Zimmerman, the appointed neighborhood watch coordinator for the gated community where the murder of Trayvon took place. We listened to Zimmerman’s own confession that he was following Trayvon without justifiable cause. Packed with his nine millimeter handgun Mr. Zimmerman felt bold enough to follow the young man and instigating a confrontation that wound up in the murder of an unarmed black teenager guilty of looking suspicious while walking home from a quick trip to the convenience store for Skittles and a can of Arizona Iced Tea.
The dustup from the shooting of Trayvon still has yet to settle. Although he was free to go home with his murder weapon the night Trayvon died, Mr. Zimmerman was later charged with second degree murder and is awaiting his trial that is to start in June 2013. But in the meantime, people have gathered on both sides of this issue. Many black people, including yours truly, see Mr. Zimmerman as a criminal, a bad guy who had no business following Trayvon and initiating an altercation while packing a deadly weapon. Many white people see Mr. Zimmerman as a good guy who may have been justified in killing a black teenager who looked suspicious even though there was no evidence that he was doing anything wrong that night.
So who’s right and who’s wrong? Who is to say who the good guy is and who the bad guy is? Eventually the courts will decide Mr. Zimmerman’s fate. Unfortunately, Zimmerman already decided Trayvon’s fate. And it’s a fair bet that if Trayvon was carrying a gun and started following George Zimmerman as he was walking home and a fight ensued and Zimmerman wound up dead, I seriously doubt if many people would be willing to give Trayvon the benefit of doubt if he said that Zimmerman attacked him and there was no initial evidence to contradict that claim.
But many people see Trayvon, the deceased victim of Zimmerman’s zeal for law and order, as a good guy who had the misfortune of being followed by a bad guy with a gun. Would it have been acceptable for Trayvon to walk the streets of Sanford, Florida that night so he could’ve had stopped the bad guy? Believe it or not, I don’t think so.
So when I heard Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, give a televised presentation advocating for more guns in our communities and in our elementary schools as a response to the tragic murder of twenty first grade children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary by a deranged gunman loaded to the hilt for a murderous rampage, I really have to ask the question is that a rational and well thought out mode of action to take. Not only that, Mr. LaPierre says that arming more people is the only way, strong emphasis on the word “only”, to keep our children safe.
Mr. LaPierre says with absolute zero indecisiveness that anything done to keep guns out of the hands of people who don’t need guns, like George Zimmerman, will only fail because it would not be totally effective. No matter what laws are passed people will still get their hands on a gun if they want one. Pass laws to make high capacity clips illegal and some people will just get them illegally. And guns don’t kill people, people kill people. With such infantile logic, or illogic might be more precise, anybody who wants a nuclear weapon should have one because nuclear weapons don’t kill people, people kill people. A nuclear weapon is just a tool. And giving the good guy a gun is no guarantee that a bad guy won’t still do damage to the community. So going back to Mr. LaPierre’s high standard of effectiveness, giving the good guy a gun is just as useless as keeping guns in the hands of bad guys off the street.
In Trayvon Martin’s altercation with George Zimmerman there is a difference of opinion of who the good guy was and who the bad guy was. For some people, the bad guy had a gun and the good guy was unarmed and paid the price for it. For others, Trayvon was the aggressor even though George Zimmerman clearly chased after him and instigated the struggle that wound up with Trayvon’s death. If both men were armed they could have had a shoot out in that gated community. Some people think that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. That might work. But sometimes just the opposite winds up happening. Sometimes, it’s the good guy with a gun that gets stopped by the bad guy with a gun. There is no guarantee.
We already have plenty of so-called good guys with guns on the streets already. We have police officers and armed security personnel already equipped to kill. We don’t need elementary school teachers and principals packing heat as well. Their jobs are already tough enough. Why do we think we need to add more to their already hectic jobs by holding them responsible for keeping their schools safe from somebody crazed enough to enter a school with an assault rifle? If teachers need guns then we might as well let anybody carry a weapon. And I for one don’t need another George Zimmerman blowing away a teenager because they thought somebody they saw walking and minding their own business looked suspicious.