If you’ve been to the blog before, you know I’m a gun owner and a proponent of armed-self-defense. I feel that as such, I want to make it very clear what stance I take and I believe the defensive-shooting community must take as sane, responsible gun owners and compassionate people. I am horrified to see that some who I had respected are not taking a stand supporting the family of Trayvon Martin and are instead holding out any consideration that Zimmerman, who stalked the unarmed teenager, might have acted in legitimate self-defense. We do have enough information to know better.
I was very saddened today to see GEORGE ZIMMERMAN AND TRAYVON MARTIN: WHAT WE DON’T KNOW from Massad Ayoob, where he alternately says we must “not jump to conclusions” and jumps as high as anyone does. He tried so hard to paint Trayvon Martin in a bad light that he finds the Facebook page of another kid with the same name and plastered his photos up (which will keep showing up on feeds for a long time….even if these photos were the same Trayvon Martin, they show a kid being a kid and nothing more is directly evident from the poses or Rap lyrics). And tries to make out that a truancy suspension trumps Zimmerman having been arrested for violent crimes in the past.
It saddens me because I had respected Ayoob until today. I had been looking forward to him being a voice of responsible gun-ownership in this. But that is not what he offers. He’s looking for excuses to support Zimmerman. He jumps to the conclusion that because Zimmerman’s Kel-Tec PF-9 (this is not the first time a very public crime has been committed with precisely one of the guns I own, this isn’t even a particularly popular gun like Glocks are, but it is inexpensive and small) supposedly didn’t cycle through, that Martin must have attacked him and had his hand on it. Well, yes, an obvious explanation for the gun not cycling would be someones hand on it and we do know they had a physical contact before the shooting, although the witnesses differ in how that went down as opposed to what Zimmerman and the police have said. But, consider this, which is actually more likely, that Martin might have grabbed the gun in a desperate attempt to defend himself or that he decided to attack someone holding a gun at him by grabbing the gun? Either way, Zimmerman had the gun out against an unarmed child who he outweighed by 100 lbs.*
We do have a lot of facts. Including that Zimmerman, against the advice of the 911 operator, stalked this child and left his vehicle to do so. Stalking is not self-defense. It is not Stand Your Ground. It is stalking. It is a crime in itself, but especially when it leads to you shooting down the unarmed child you are stalking.
As responsible gun-owners we can not defend that. To do so seriously insults Trayvon Martin, his family and all victims of such crimes. On a purely selfish level, it makes us and the laws that protect us as gun owners targets and if we lose the rights we have it is our fucking fault for defending those who, in fact, are not protected by those laws but now you’re making out that they are.
Let me give you my very personal take on this, which is shaped by my defensive-shooting training which was from trainers traiend by, yes, Massad Ayoob:
NH has “Castle Law.” If I were to be attacked in my home and reasonably fear for my life, I can shoot in self-defense. But the fact is that what I expect from the police when they show is to have my weapon taken from me, to be taken in, to be questioned extensively, to feel I need a lawyer and, before today, I would have tried to get a message to Ayoob through my own trainer who trained with him. That would be even if the person lying on my floor, was armed to the teeth and a convicted murderer. I expect to be questioned and have all evidence looked into about whether or not I did have reasonable fear. I expect that if there is doubt about my reasonable fear that I might go to trial, I would hope that a jury would not convict.
I also expect to be vomiting, sobbing and freaking out over having taken someones life. I may believe in self-defense, I may choose to have firearms for self-defense but I pray I never need to use it. It’s for the worst of the worst possibilities. I never want to have to take a life. On the other hand, I never want to stand by and let someone take other lives if I can do something about it. I don’t want someone to get away with taking mine if I can stop it. I hope I never have to, I hope that if I do have to I do so only because I truly do have to. I accept what I might have to live with both in trauma and legal issues after. But I do expect there to be issues.
On the other hand, if someone came to my door and then left or where just walking by and “looked suspicious” and I followed them with my gun and shot them I would fully expect to be charged with murder. I’d expect to be convicted should a jury of my peers be sane. Or, as I have already noted, be committed for life as obviously given the above I would have gone insane to be able to do that. Again, that would be even if the person were an armed convicted murderer. Because I have no fucking right to stalk and kill someone. Ever. Not even a known criminal. And certainly not an unarmed child.
In fact, if I did this because I thought the person looked “suspicious” and the person in fact attacked me, I do not have a defensible leg to stand on. Because I followed them. I knowingly put myself in unreasonable danger. If I thought they were dangerous my duty would be to call the police and stay in my fucking house and perhaps to call my neighbor that they might be heading towards and warn them of my concern. It is not my job and it is illegal for me to chase after the person. I am not a cop. I am not Batman.
The self-defense community must condemn such vigilantism, especially in light of a unarmed child having been killed. Zimmerman had a long standing history of this sort of behavior, he was not a member of a registered Neighborhood Watch and if he had been he’d have violated the rules by carrying a gun and by stalking individuals. He followed this child, first in his vehicle then got out. If he were attacked, which I do not believe is reasonable to believe but if, then he put himself in harms way by taking the law in his own hands. That take it out of self-defense territory. He was not a cop, he did not have any rights to go after another citizen who was simply walking home.
The fact that the police claimed that they couldn’t arrest him because it was “clearly self-defense” is actually bizarre. There is something seriously wrong there. And it must be fixed.
There was no self-defense here, even the Republican lawmakers who brought recent changes to the laws have said that. Even if Martin had been dangerous, there was no excuse for Zimmerman to stalk him. He should have been arrested, if he were not guilty that would be for a trial. He is a danger. Martin never was.
I say again, responsible gun owners and self-defense advocates must stand by Trayvon Martin’s family and cry that justice be done. Not just because by defending his killer actually puts our legal right to defend ourselves in jeopardy, and it does, but because it’s the right and decent and caring thing to do.
*ETA: There are, of course, other reasons why the gun might not have cycled through another round. One would be if it were in or got interfered with by clothing. One thing I have not seen is what actual shooting experience Zimmerman had. The PF-9 is a tiny gun, he may have jammed it up with a bad hold, while other injuries got mentioned later, I don’t know if his hands were injured. He may also have limp-wristed it, which with a Kel-Tec can take away the energy causing the slide not to come back properly. That, of course, could also explain the broken nose. If we’re going to jump to one conclusion on this, we might as well visit all of the possibilities.
ETA2: Just adding some more links that may be of interest: What Everyone Needs To Know About The Smear Campaign Against Trayvon Martin (1995-2012)
Dishonoring Trayvon Martin
ETA3: I also realized I was remiss in not including the petition calling for the arrest of Zimmerman in this shooting. Prosecute the killer of our son, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin
copyright © Saigh Kym Lambert