Zimmerman Found Innocent

Ken AshfordGun Control, Race, Racial HomicidesLeave a Comment

I don't have much to say about this, although I find abhorrent the dancing on Trayvon Martin's grave that the rightwing blogosphere is engaging in.

I thought Zimmerman would be found innocent — not because of any nefarious reasons (like a racist jury or anything like that), but simply because the burden of proof is so high and there were so many unknowable key variables.

To me, the Zimmerman case was less about race, and more about guns and gun culture, and how the law imposes LESS responsibility on gun owners when it should be MORE.  At TAP, Scott Lemieux nails it:

Carrying a deadly weapon in public should carry unique responsibilities. In most cases someone with a gun should not be able to escape culpability if he initiates a conflict with someone unarmed and the other party ends up getting shot and killed. Under the current law in many states, people threatened by armed people have few good options, because fighting back might create a license to kill. As the New Yorker's Amy Davidson puts it, "I still don't understand what Trayvon was supposed to do." Unless the law is changed to deal with the large number of people carrying concealed guns, there will be more tragic and unnecessary deaths of innocent people like Trayvon Martin for which nobody is legally culpable. And to make claims of self-defense easier to bring, as Florida and more than 20 other states have done, is moving in precisely the wrong direction. And, even more importantly, no matter how self-defense laws are structured the extremely unusual American practice of allowing large number of citizens to carry concealed weapons leads to many unecessary deaths. (All 50 states, it's worth noting, permit concealed carry.)