I was involved in a long thread on Facebook in which a longtime acquaintance of mine who has spent a career in law enforcement was avidly defending George Zimmerman, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why.
Ultimately, I came up with two reasons: 1. He's a racist. Or 2. He's such a crazy gun advocate that he automatically gives the benefit of the doubt to someone carrying a gun -- Zimmerman was given credibility simply because he was carrying a gun.
It's kind of crazy to come to that -- but the way Florida law is written, my acquaintance just didn't see that Zimmerman had committed a crime, and therefore the ire against him was somehow misplaced and Zimmerman was being stigmatized and victimized.
So I asked myself: why don't I give Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt? I've done a bunch of thinking about this, and here's where I come up: I trust Trayvon more than I trust Zimmerman. Why? Because he was a kid on the phone holding some Skittles.
And Zimmerman was an armed adult who has been charged for violence against a police officer and domestic abuse, disobeying the police and looking for an interaction he never should have had.
And while that jury may very well have chosen the correct verdict given Florida law, I think the law here is wrong.
So I did a bunch of thinking about what is wrong with the laws and how they should be changed.
Follow me below to see the laws that should be enacted to prevent situations like this from ever happening again.
1. Gun background checks should include priors for violent offenses against police officers. You assault a cop, you've forfeited your right to own and carry a gun. That's it. If you have a gun license, you lose it. You can't get another one.
2. Gun background checks should include priors for domestic abuse. You are guilty of domestic abuse, you've forfeited your right to own or carry a gun -- domestic violence can too quickly escalate, and having a gun nearby is a terrible idea.
3. Initiating a physical altercation while in possession of a loaded firearm should be considered assault with a deadly weapon. The fact that you are starting that fight knowing you have a loaded gun in your possession makes it much more likely that it will come out and someone (the aggressor, the aggressee, an innocent bystander) is going to be shot.
4. If you do initiate a physical altercation while in possession of a loaded firearm, you may not use self-defense as a defense for subsequently shooting the person you attacked. You started that fight not knowing if you'd win or lose; deciding at some point that you are losing is not an excuse for pulling out that gun and using it.
5. Make it illegal for civilian organizations like neighborhood watches to carry guns. They are simply not trained like police officers in proper use -- including when and how not to use them -- and are too likely to engage in vigilante justice.
Numbers 1 and 2 might not have applied in this case; Zimmerman plead out from his resisting with violence, battery on an officer, and domestic violence charges. Which is too bad, because the best result of all would have been for Zimmerman to not have a gun with him at all (or obey police orders and stay in his car).
But numbers 3 to 5 would have applied to Zimmerman. And though we still would tragically have lost a young boy's life, perhaps some measure of justice would have carried the day.
I'd love to see this set of laws -- billed as Trayvon's laws -- enacted, in Florida and elsewhere.
The best part is that the first two are hard ones to oppose. Who wants to argue that copkillers and wifebeaters need guns? Even for NRA whackos that's a tough argument to make. And the others make sense as well, and while I know there would be opposition, there may also be a sentiment right now that we can take advantage of.
Let's see Trayvon's Laws enacted.