Monday, July 15, 2013

10 Thoughts on the Zimmerman Verdict

There are about a million opinions on the recent verdict in the George Zimmerman-Treyvon Martin case.  I'll add my two cents:

  1. When you carry a firearm, you need to act with an abundance of caution and a higher amount of restraint than someone who doesn't carry since you have the means to end someone's life and that kind of thing can't be undone.
  2. Unless you are defending someone's LIFE (not property which can be replaced), 'watch and report' is what you need to do (there are some exceptions to this but in an urban area, in a non-life threatening situation, this is exactly what should be done).  Hunting down a "suspect" with a weapon is a bad idea for a number of reasons (like the multi-year legal problems you will face in the event of a poor outcome, like elevating a simple situation into a fight for your life, like having to detain a suspect when you have NO TRAINING for such a thing, etc).
  3. When you carry a firearm you need the right mindset (not the "I'm even more macho now with a firearm" mindset but "the amount of responsibility I have now undertaken has quadrupled" sort of attitude).
  4. When you carry a firearm you need to back that choice up with a massive amount of training.  Basic firearm handling training, the legalities of carrying a firearm training, close quarters combat training, tactical shooting training, etc.
  5. When you carry a firearm, you never go looking for a fight (unless it is in your job description as in the case of military or law enforcement personnel).  If there is a fight, you have a duty to back away if at all possible.
  6. At the intersection of law and justice, nothing is really clear.  Between Florida's Stand Your Ground Law and basic common sense and the types of criminal acts that could be considered in this case (really? 30 years to life or acquittal, not even reckless endangerment?), and public opinion, and--heaven forbid--the two people in this case were of different races...the whole case was a mess and there would be no good outcome.
  7. This is why most "security guards", neighborhood watch folks, etc. aren't armed.  This is also the reason that agencies that do arm their folks (police departments, etc) go to great lengths to ensure proper training, have an extensive amount of policies for these matters, and have the legal wherewithal to back up their employees in the even of a negative outcome (plus a massive amount of liability insurance coverage).
  8. Racism is still a thing, unfortunately.  There is no doubt in my mind that if Zimmerman would have come across a neatly dressed white teenager (picture a Mormon missionary), the outcome would have been different.  In that same vein, 49.7% of people arrested for homicide in 2011 were black (and blacks make up less than 10% of the population) so it isn't unreasonable that when looking at someone, using race as a factor in determining someone's motivations could come into play.
  9. Florida's Stand Your Ground law should be revamped.  While I am all for "Castle doctrine" type laws, the slippery slope begins when anywhere you happen to be is considered your castle and you are justified in shooting anyone who appears to be a "threat".  That's pretty vague.
  10. This won't be the first, or the last, of such cases, unfortunately.

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