Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Too Many People Carrying Guns

David Horsey has a refreshingly sensible analysis of the whole Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman tragedy.  While a bit understated, the column did pull me back into the entire drama after I thought I could leave it alone.

A string of misperceptions has driven the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman tragedy from the very beginning, including the public misperception that perfect justice can be found in a court of law.

The misperception that propelled events from the very start was Zimmerman’s assumption that a black kid in a hoodie did not belong in his neighborhood. If he had known Martin was the guest of a local resident with no other mission than to reach home with the package of Skittles he had just purchased, Zimmerman would not have followed the young man. In fact, if he had simply not held a stereotype in his head that a young African American in a hoodie is very likely a criminal, Martin would be alive today and Zimmerman would not have had his own life turned upside down.

Conversely, if Martin had not looked at Zimmerman and seen a “cracker” – as Martin described Zimmerman in a phone call to a friend when he noticed Zimmerman behind him – he may have reacted with less fear and anger. If he had seen George Zimmerman as he appeared in court – cleanshaven, wearing a nice suit – perhaps nothing more would have happened than a brief, heated conversation. Instead, he saw a burly Latino man with a goatee, a baseball cap and clothes that made him look like a tough guy from the streets. ...

No matter what Zimmerman’s motivations may have been, no matter his feelings about black people, no matter that a police dispatcher told him not to get involved, despite any of that, the prosecution failed to undermine Zimmerman’s story that, in the thick of the confrontation, it was he who felt threatened. Even though Zimmerman’s attorneys did not base their defense on Florida's “stand your ground” law, the judge’s instructions to the jury had to take that into account. Like it or not, Florida law gave him the right to pull a gun and shoot.   [Emphasis added]

It is that last statement that concerns me right now.  Thanks to the NRA and ALEC, too many people are walking around believing that they can carry a weapon and use it whenever they feel "threatened."  This places all of the rest of us in jeopardy, as this article makes clear:

When the Legislature passed Wisconsin's concealed carry law nearly two years ago, the main argument for it was that good guys needed to carry guns to stop the bad guys.

So what to make of a road-rage incident where two concealed carry permit holders engage in a wild west-style shootout as they sped down a Milwaukee freeway? There has to be a bad guy, right?

Eric Adamany, 27, was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment in the June 26 incident, during which he allegedly emptied a magazine at a fleeing motorist. No one was hurt.

But Adamany says the other guy, 27-year-old Roy Scott, shot first. ... another recent case, concealed carry permit holder Phillip Green, 40, was charged with first-degree reckless homicide after killing Ernest Banks after the two men, who were bar hopping together last May, got into a fight.   [Emphasis added]

Extreme examples?  Not really.  And both are significant for the dangers posed to those who happen to be in the vicinity, whether drivers who have to avoid bullets and careening cars or people in a nearby building when an errant shot pierces a window or a wall.

I just don't believe the old saw "an armed society is a civil society."  It seems to me we are discovering that an armed society is a dangerous one.

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