Skip to main content

I was once labeled as a vigilante.

For seven years, beginning in 1987, I regularly carried a gun. Initially it was only for particular events. Later it was daily. Why? The short answer is the work I was engaged in required it.

In the late eighties I volunteered to infiltrate rallies and gatherings of the Ku Klux Klan for a civil rights organization. Later, I was a public spokesperson for another local group engaged in anti-Klan organizing. The first brought me into contact with some unsavory types. The second made me the recipient of numerous death threats. So I was armed.

The local group I was with carried out a wide range of activities, including house sitting to protect people from night riders to patrolling areas under assault by nazi-skinhead gangs. I'm proud to say that in all the years of such activity I manage to avoid ever having to use that gun.

This didn't stop the Klan and others from trying to portray us as some kind of threat. We were tagged as vigilantes despite the fact that all of our activities kept scrupulously within the letter of the law.

This was, in part, because we didn't fool ourselves about the implications of being armed. There's an old saying: "Never draw a gun unless you're prepared to use it. Never shoot a gun unless you're prepared to shoot to kill." It follows from this that if you carry a gun you'd better be prepared to do both. We understood that to carry a gun was to decide that we would use deadly force in defense of our own lives and the lives of others. That we were prepared to kill. Not a decision to be taken lightly or treated casually.

That it never came to this was not because there weren't occasions when it could have happened. There were but because we never considered guns to be anything but a last resort to be used in extremity, we avoided the worst.

This is why I have absolutely no sympathy for George Zimmerman and no patience whatever for his apologists. When George Zimmerman got out of his car with his gun he was already prepared to use deadly force. He was prepared to use it on a specific target; a black teenager in a hoody whom he knew absolutely nothing about. He had no knowledge of any crime having been committed, much less any reason to believe Trayvon had committed a crime.  As far as I'm concerned, that's depraved indifference to the life of another. No one who carries a gun can credibly deny their intent to use it. The question is whether or not that intent is justified.

I guess it comes as no surprise when I say that I think the jury's verdict was a gross miscarriage of justice. I don't know what went on in their deliberations. What I do know is that I went for seven years prepared to defend myself against people who I knew posed a deadly threat to me and I never killed anyone. George Zimmerman stalked and killed a complete stranger for no reason that I can see other than his own desire to play cop.

That he walks free while Trayvon Martin lies in his grave is an obscenity.    

     

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Zimmerman forgot he had a gun. Couldn't remember (6+ / 0-)

    which street of a 3 street neighborhood he was talking about.  Couldn't find which pocket he had his cell phone in. Had a flash light with dead batteries. Was jumped from a 2' hedge 20' away. Had his head banged repeatedly in the sidewalk, requiring 2 large size butterfly bandages. And one on the scene wipey. Was punched 25 times, also requiring a large size butterfly bandage and one on the scene wipey. Said Trayvon Martin's last words were 'you got me'.

    Yep it is unbelievable.

  •  My Grandfather (6+ / 0-)
    There's an old saying: "Never draw a gun unless you're prepared to use it. Never shoot a gun unless you're prepared to shoot to kill." It follows from this that if you carry a gun you'd better be prepared to do both.
    when teaching me and my brothers to shoot reiterated this frequently... almost verbatim what you said here...

    Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

    by awesumtenor on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 08:29:05 PM PDT

  •  I am thankful that you made it through that time (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener, WB Reeves, Tonedevil

    intact and without having to hurt anyone. And I agree with your conclusion entirely.

  •  This is a key point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WB Reeves
    No one who carries a gun can credibly deny their intent to use it.
    There is no 2A right to create a menace with or without a gun.

    Our loose gun laws allow people to own and carry guns in public without required training and proficiency in defensive use of a gun,do create a menace for everyone else. There is ample evidence of that.

    IMO, the vast majority of gun owners either keep their guns on private property, or carry concealed handguns safely, as you did.

    When will they start to advocate for licensing?

    My current understanding of SCOTUS, Appeals, and District Ct. decisions is that there is no 2A problem with licensing and registration.  

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:54:13 AM PDT

    •  Agreed! N/T (0+ / 0-)

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 12:09:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The trouble here is multi-headed. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WB Reeves

      1. Neither party trusts the government to do what is right, in either the letter or the spirit of the law--hence the fear of violation of privacy and the intense resistance to the kind of licensing you speak of--which is interpreted as lists.

      2. Intense bipartisan tension that is older than a decade made  worse by sweeping generalizations out there on the intertubenets. That means a lot of people who should be talking about difficult subjects, don't. They just glare at each other across the aisle.

      People don't talk to each other.

      And because they don't talk at each other, they yell insults at each other. This does not foster rationalism or reasonable dialogue. Everyone is a racist, or a gun nut, or a tree hugger, or a [fill in the blank with intended political, religious, gender, racist stereotype].

      I have closed my ears to both sides mostly, because I just cannot take the bullshit any more. Yes, I said it, both sides. Because I have been called all of those things, either to my face, or via sweeping generalizations.

      What more is there to say?

      When the pundits get tired of flinging pooh at each other, maybe I might enter back into the dialogue. Til then....

      •  Yes, both sides (0+ / 0-)

        I say this as someone who's considered himself a staunch left radical since my teens. It's sad to see so many who would rather engage in circular insult fests rather than doing the actual hard work of grappling with these issues.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 12:18:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree that many people have a lot of assumptions (0+ / 0-)

        about what is illegal and may argue vehemently before they bother to actually learn what the law says. Some are  shocked when they learn what is actually required or allowed by law.

        A resource for gun laws and how they are changing

        http://smartgunlaws.org/....

        To push back against false memes we all need to know which laws apply. The best single resource I have found is the Law Center for Prevention of Gun Violence.

        They have a well organized website where you can search gun laws by federal, state, or policy. They have excellent digests of Heller and MacDonald and are tracking all the gun laws that are currently percolating up to SCOTUS.
        They are also tracking changes to gun laws proposed by some states and local jurisdictions.

        "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

        by LilithGardener on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 12:33:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Cool. I am just saying is that I get it from both (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LilithGardener

          sides to the point, that this is the first time I have talked about it all anywhere outside of my home.

          And this is about all I am willing to say here.

          As a citizen, I support your right to pursue reforms as you see fit, whether or not I agree with them entirely, in part, or not at all.

          •  For what it's worth I grew up with guns (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GreenMother, WB Reeves

            and was taught to shoot straight at the age of 10. Now I live in New York City, so I think I have appreciation for both the relative utility of guns in wide open places and the relative risk of guns in crowded urban environments.

            "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

            by LilithGardener on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 12:52:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I still live in a rural area. Not as rural as I (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              WB Reeves, LilithGardener

              would like, but still more isolated than some places, and also dealing with varmints that eat my livestock from time to time.

              I also had an attempted break in while we were home in the wee hours of the morning. Nothing came of it. The police got there just before the person decided to stop trying to push our door in.

              I feel blessed.

              I don't want to hurt anyone, and I don't want to be hurt, and I don't want my family hurt. I prefer being around  people who find a way to balance out those needs and desires in a way that causes the least amount of harm while accomplishing the most good.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site