No matter what happens to the neighborhood watch captain who gunned down an unarmed 17-year-old in Florida, two things are clear: A promising young mans life has been cut tragically short, and those who carry guns are all too inclined to use them.
Despite NRA claims, handguns in the hands of untrained citizens pose a greater danger to innocent people and to themselves than to violent criminals; a fact that is overwhelmingly supported by gun violence statistics.
In my opinion, there are two types of people who choose to carry handguns: 1 Those who are seeking trouble. 2 – Those who have an irrational fear of others, particularly those who look different. It appears the Florida shooter fits both categories.
George Zimmerman reported a suspicious person to 911. But despite being told by the police dispatcher to avoid the young man, he followed Trayvon Martin with his gun drawn and he shot him. We dont know Mr. Zimmermans state of mind. And we dont know what led him to shoot. But we do know that the shooting was unnecessary. George Zimmerman could, and should, have kept his distance and allowed police to do their jobs.
So what now?
The best way to pay tribute to this young man is to do our best to ensure that others arent victimized by gun-toting Dirty Harry wannabes. We can start by making sure that George Zimmerman is charged with murder (manslaughter at minimum). Since 911 calls prove that Zimmerman pursued Martin, a claim of self-defense should not be an option. Next, Florida’s law needs to be changed to require the shooter to prove that he shot in self-defense. Not the other way around. Ideally, we would also eliminate all handguns in the US. Unfortunately, that genie is out of the bottle. There are simply too many to destroy. But we can discourage people from carrying handguns. And we can require anyone who owns a handgun to obtain training and a license so that we can minimize the number of George Zimmermans on our streets.
Why should it be more difficult for someone to obtain a license to operate a car than to carry a handgun?