A couple of decades ago I belonged to a gun club in Boston. I had a lot of fun shooting weekly matches in .22, .38 snubby, and semi-auto competitions. I also took the mandatory gun safety class, passed the written and range tests and got my permit.
Imagine my horror when a fellow classmate told me he’d fired shots at someone rummaging in his trash cans the night before. He was still visibly pumped by the power of using his new pistol. I was speechless. Our class instructor had repeatedly stressed just how far bullets of various calibers could travel, and their abilities to penetrate doors, walls, car doors–and innocent people.
I am horrified today, on too many levels, by the implications of Trayvon Martin’s killing. It should have been a non-event; Martin and Zimerman should not have crossed paths, Martin should not have died. As to the court verdict: I do not know how the jury was instructed, but given Florida’s existing byzantine laws, I might, as one of the six jurors, have been forced to reach the same conclusion, that Zimmerman was innocent of any wrongdoing.
I base my personal opinion about Zimmerman’s responsibility for killing the unarmed Martin on two factors.
First: George Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch captain. Watch is the operative word. Ensconced in his car that evening, Zimmerman was in no physical danger. He fulfilled his duty by reporting a person he deemed “suspicious.” (I won’t go into the “racial profiling” issue.) Second, when Zimmerman called in his observations, he was told by the dispatcher to remain in his car. He did not.
What should have been a simple–though racially charged–event of the police arriving, approaching Martin, learning that he lived nearby and letting him go, turned instead into a killing. Whatever the defense argued, it is an undisputed fact that a neighborhood watch member killed a resident. Another neighbor.
Neighborhood watch groups are a good thing. Even untrained civilians can keep an eye out and call the professionals when needed. Hot-headed shoot-from-the-hip cowboy wannabes, however, can get me killed; others, less impetuous, more hesitant, can have their guns taken away and used against them. Call a gun the “Equalizer;” what balances the equation is Death.