Let me start off this post by reassuring my readers that I am neither a gun control advocate, nor do I hold any animosity towards people who feel they need a gun (or several) for their personal protection. Given that the main theme here at TDS is the likelihood of economic collapse, which by definition would include a collapse of law and order, it would be silly for me to advocate any attempt to restrict the rights of responsible, law abiding citizens to own guns. I’ve handled and fired about every type of firearm there is, from revolvers, Colt .45’s and 9mm semi-automatics to shotguns and even M16A1 rifles for the U.S. Army. To me, a gun is a tool that can be used for good or bad, but anyone who owns one has an obligation to train themselves to the point where they don’t become a danger to themselves or others while using it.
Having dispensed with the disclaimers, let me also define what I mean by the phrase, “gun nut.” A gun nut is not synonymous with someone who is lawfully allowed to own and carry firearms. A gun nut is instead an unbalanced individual who, rather than dispassionately looking at guns as a tool to be handled responsibly and carefully, loves them a little TOO much. I’ve had the unfortunate experience to be around people like that and frankly they scare me. They are the people for whom gun ownership is a fetish akin to a fundamentalist religion, and are also the ones who give gun owners in general a bad name among those who don’t like guns or would like to see them banned.
Obviously, I don’t know George Zimmerman and have never met him. Yet I think it is safe to say from the evidence released to date of how he took it upon himself to accost Trayvon Martin, who was doing nothing more sinister than walking alone along a public thoroughfare, and then shoot him down that Zimmerman had an extremely unhealthy attraction to the power that carrying a handgun seemingly bestowed upon him to uphold his twisted view of “law and order.” Yes, Zimmerman's lawyer now claims that the shooter was injured during his confrontation with Martin. Doesn't matter. Zimmerman was the aggressor, even after being told by a 911 operator to stand down, and the unarmed Martin is dead as a result.
But I’m not writing this post to rehash the facts of the case against Zimmerman, or to speculate whether the shooting was racially motivated. That is being done in plenty of other quarters. Instead, I’d like to point the finger of blame at those individuals, even though they may not have actually pulled trigger, who are at least partially responsible for creating the conditions that led to young Martin’s death: the gun nuts who pushed for passage of Florida’s insane “stand your ground” law.
Just for the record, the law states that any individual who is in a place where he/she has a legal right to be, and who is “not engaged in an unlawful activity...has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, 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.” It does sound reasonable at first glance, as many awful laws do when reduced down to legalese, but there’s a hole in there that you can drive truck through. Very simply, how in the hell can anyone determine whether a shooter acted properly if there are no eyewitnesses to what happened? Simply put, this is a license to commit cold blooded murder, just so long as you can ensure no one is around who can contradict your story. Heck, maybe you can even shoot the witnesses and claim they were attacking you was well.
The brilliant legislative minds who sponsored the Florida law are now backtracking by trying to claim that it does not in fact immunize George Zimmerman and that he should be prosecuted. To which I would very pointedly reply: bullshit. If Zimmerman is successfully prosecuted in this case, it will only be because there was enough evidence subsequently collected to demonstrate that he initiated the confrontation which ended in Trayvon Martin’s death. But the fact remains that the local police who responded to the shooting were so confident that Zimmerman was within his rights under the law that they did not even arrest him or initially make any attempt to verify his version of what happened. Had Zimmerman not had the “bad luck” to shoot a “good kid” instead of a gangbanger under the exact same circumstances, a kid whose family is now rightfully demanding that justice be served, this marauding thug would have literally gotten away with murder. Moreover, had the police not felt they were handcuffed by the law, instead arresting Zimmerman and conducting a thorough investigation, this likely would have remained a local (if still regrettable) story.
So who was responsible for lobbying to push through this hideous abomination of a law? Why, the National Rifle Association, of course. Specifically, it was NRA lobbyist Marion P. Hammer, whom you can read more about at this link. Hammer appears to be living proof an old saying of mine, which is that there is nothing worse than a zealot, even if you happen to agree with whatever it is they are zealous about. In fairness to Hammer, she is hardly the only one, and the NRA has been pushing for the passage of such laws all over the country.
Again, I’m not criticizing the NRA because it is pro-gun ownership. I’m criticizing it because it is yet another out-of-control lobbying group that uses scare tactics to raise money from its membership while pushing a radical, self-interested agenda greatly detrimental to the common good. Which is pretty much par for the course among lobbyists in Washington these days.
The NRA’s biggest problem is that it has been TOO successful. Except for a few minor setbacks such as the Brady Law and the assault weapons ban, the political climate in America these past 30 years has been squarely in favor of the gun lobby. You would think the NRA would acknowledge this fact and pop the cork on some expensive champagne in celebration. But no, that’s not what keeps those many millions of dollars in membership contributions coming in. Instead, you have to rile up your members, get them thinking that the evil, dark skinned socialist commie in White House is personally coming over to their house to confiscate their weapons cache despite the fact that Obama has scarcely lifted a finger to curtail gun ownership. We’ll fight Obama and his gun confiscating minions for you, just be sure to send in that nice, fat check.
But what can NRA lobbyists do when the politicians have become so cowed that there is no longer any realistic threat of serious gun control legislation being enacted? After all, they’ve grown accustomed to the cushy perks and expense accounts that come with their responsibility to wine and dine legislators. If there no longer is any realistic legislative threat to gun ownership anymore, they might just be out of a job. So instead they look around for ways to pass laws enhancing the rights of gun owners. And with each success, they become more emboldened and cocksure. Until before you know it they are pushing for extreme measures like the “stand your ground” law.
Only this time, it looks like the gun lobby finally went too far. Popular revulsion against the shooting of Trayvon Martin is mounting quickly, and may represent the NRA’s “Rush Limbaugh” moment, in which average citizens who don’t give a damn about guns laws one way or the other finally wake up recognize what a hideous, bullying, out-of-control beast the gun lobby has become. Responsible gun owners would be well advised to get out in front on this issue and support repeal of “stand your ground” laws wherever they have been enacted. It would be a great way to separate those law abiding citizens who own guns and respect the awful power they have from the gun nuts who give gun ownership a bad name.
Bonus: A song about a justifiable self-defense shooting that didn't need a stand your ground law.
See your reflection in the blue steel
and it's too late to run
The romance was gone with that first bruise
See cupid don't shoot arrows out the barrel of a gun
and love don't make the ten o'clock news