Wednesday, March 21, 2012
The Florida “Stand Your Ground” law essentially allows a person to attack someone (overruling previous supreme court rulings, which declared you should try to flee first) if he or she “reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony." This is pretty ambiguous language (deliberately), and essentially gives anyone carte blanche to murder anyone in the area, as long as they can show that they were scared for their life. It seems odd that Mr. Zimmerman, larger, older, and carrying a weapon, would be scared of a young man walking through the neighborhood, who showed absolutely no intent on hurting or killing him. Trayvon Martin was responsible for nothing more than WWB (walking while black) in a neighborhood that Mr. Zimmerman felt that he shouldn’t have been in. And now Trayvon Martin is dead, and George Zimmerman walks free (in a new neighborhood – he’s since moved).
After the incident, it was reported that George Zimmerman was the “neighborhood watch captain”. This was a volunteer position, for which no official selections or elections were held – so basically the guy took it upon himself to be the “captain”. The guy is a vigilante. And why was the made possible. Because we now live in a society based upon fear. Fear of terrorism, fear of illegal immigrants, and fear of a young black man walking in a gated community. We’re told that we should be scared of these things. And Florida tells you that you not only should be afraid of them, but if you feel threatened by them, you have the right to act upon your suspicions and kill them.
Gun obsession and violence in this country is out of control (well highlighted by Michael Moore’s film, Bowling for Columbine). People keep guns in their homes, their cars, the desks at work, behind the bar, behind the counter at work, on their person, and anywhere else you can think of. Why do we have all of these guns all around us? Are we in constant danger of being killed? Reality and statistics will tell us no; violent crime has actually been steadily declining in this country for the past 40 years.
So why do we have so many guns floating around, and why are we so scared? There are several reasons why, but the most potent reasons are that the NRA wants to promote gun ownership (regardless of the consequences or type of gun), the companies that manufacture guns want to sell more guns, and the media wants something to sensationalize. It is time to ban handguns in this country. Handguns are made to kill people, and that is exactly what they’re doing. People are not only being empowered, but being encouraged to use them. “Taking back the streets” does not mean killing everyone. It means building a real community, so that neighbors know one another and watch out for one another, not kill one another. Let’s hope that the senseless death of Trayvon Martin will at least start a dialogue about the culture of fear and the stupidity of laws such as Florida’s (and several other states’) “Stand Your Ground”.