Cowboys and Enablers

I haven’t posted about the Trayvon Martin tragedy because, really, what could I say that hasn’t already been said?

In my opinion, whatever happened between George Zimmerman and Trayvon immediately before Zimmerman shot him–whether there was an altercation or not– is legally and morally irrelevant to the question of guilt; when Zimmerman intentionally ignored the police dispatcher’s order not to follow Martin, he became responsible for what happened next.

As evidence has emerged, the one thing that seems indisputable is that George Zimmerman is a cowboy–one of those all-too-common sheriff/policeman wannabes with short fuses and delusions of righteousness. It is the role of public safety and public policy to reign in such people–indeed, protecting citizens from those who would harm them is the most basic function of government.

The passage of “Stand Your Ground” laws has enabled, rather than impeded, the cowboys. In 2010, a survey by the Tampa Bay Times found that Florida’s rates of “justifiable homicide” had tripled since the law’s passage. Kendall Coffee, former U.S. Attorney for Southern Florida, has condemned the law as “a license to kill.”

“Stand Your Ground” laws are part and parcel of what seems to be an effort to recreate the “justice system” of the wild West–at the same time we are choking off resources for law enforcement, we’re passing laws that protect vigilantes.

And young men like Trayvon Martin pay the price.


  1. I had a slightly different thought. Assuming the version told by Zimmerman’s brother is correct, that Martin turned and confronted Zimmerman about why Zimmerman was following him, and a confrontation ensued, it was MARTIN who would have been justified in “standing his ground” in confronting an armed pursuer. None of this tragedy occurs without an armed vigilante chasing an unarmed teen going lawfully and peacefully about his business.

  2. “Stand your ground” is a political red herring in this case. If Zimmerman initiated the confrontation that escalated to gunfire as Martin defended himself, then Zimmerman is guilty of homicide. If Martin attacked Zimmerman at the SUV bearing Zimmerman to the ground, then Zimmerman is in fear of his life and justified to shoot. I believe “stand your ground” to be misapplied to this case; it was intended to remove the legal obligation to retreat in the face of a threat to one’s life. “Stand your ground” simply replaced “obligation to retreat” as FL state law some years ago. I continue to urge everyone to breath through their noses, to resist jumping to conclusions, and wait for a Grand Jury to judge evidence and testimony…but of course there IS political mileage and money to be made from this tragedy, especially if we can assume facts and motives that support our own political agendas.

  3. At this point, all we know, for sure, is that Martin died from a shot fired from Zimmerman’s gun and that Zimmerman has not been charged. Beyond that, everything else is conjecture, rumor, and hearsay. On the other hand, I’ve privately found it interesting to entertain the ‘cowboy’, ‘wannabe cop’ idea, but I’ll take a wait and see attitude on this one.

  4. I understand the fact that in many people’s eyes, a robbery victim is better than a dead robbery suspect (in regard to laws addressing self defense.)

    I’m appalled by the media coverage. On one hand we show a mugshot, orange jumpsuit and all, and on the other hand we seem to be shown increasingly older and dated photographs of the deceased. I’m not saying anybody knows what’s true or not at this point, or that we ever will, but we’re unequivocally operating under two different standards here.

    And, who knows if it’s true, but it was reported witness statements on scene at least begin to corroborate Zimmerman’s account. Probable Cause is still needed to make an outright arrest, and even if you had made the arrest operating under the assumption that the autopsy report would present a different factual basis, and even if that autopsy report presented a different factual basis, you would have never been justified making that arrest in the first place and your whole investigation would be in jeopardy.

    It’s extremely common for a possible suspect in a homicide investigation to be interviewed on scene and released pending the conclusion of the investigation. It’s also extremely common for no charges to be filed in those situations.

    I respect the bias in assuming that “justifiable homicide” isn’t really justified because people should be required by law to run away, but that makes it more of an ideological argument. I don’t exactly shed tears for forcible felons who are met with like force, but hey, to each their own. Like was said, if Zimmerman chased the fellow down “stand your ground” doesn’t apply. It’s just brought up as a scapegoat for the anti-gun crowd, when you get down to it. Thus, this becomes a debate about racial politics, gun laws, personal protection laws, and two extremely polarized ideologies.

    Notice nowhere in there did I say anything about two people meeting on on a fateful street in Florida one night.

  5. What’s this I hear about a new Indiana law that allows people to shoot police entering their homes? Nice work, Hoosier Legislature.

  6. Read Indiana Senate Bill 1 here… It applies to unlawful entry by a public servent, is not inconsistent with the 4th amendment and speaks to a citizens right to resist an unlawful act by the state. It is not, however, open season on law enforcement.

  7. The NRA Must be very proud of their work. Every year we have more and more innocent people killed by guns. More and more gun nuts carrying guns everywhere. Even into bars.( What could possibly go wrong there?) I often wonder if the NRA Gang sleeps well at night after a 4 year old shoots his sister to death? I assume that they sleep like babies because they are evil morons. More guns = more dead people. They only exist to kill people.
    Growing up in the 50’s the only guns in the neighborhood were hunting rifles. We did not hear about people being shot to death on a weekly basis. Now every nut has a gun or ten. Are we safer? It does not seem so.
    Canada & England have almost NO GUN DEATHS. Guess Why.

  8. I see, so the average Hoosier is equipped to evaluate whether a police officer entering their home in the middle of the night does or does not have a warrant, before shooting…

  9. Why is an accidental firearm death more evil than an accidental drowning in a residetial pool? In both cases, a parent is negligent, but the gun death is evil and the drowning is just a sad tragedy?

    The reason I’m a NRA Life Member is because there is power in numbers and the NRA protects my 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. There would be no need for the NRA if there were not organized efforts to eliminate my ability to defend myself and my family. What part of “shall not be infringed” do folks refuse to understand?

    Why do some folks fear law abiding citizens who elect to legally carry guns? We are law abiding because, you know, we respect the law and our fellow citizens. We own and carry guns in accordance with the law so please do not confuse us with criminals who are not legally able to own guns and use illegally carried guns to shoot and terrorize others. They are breaking the law…how ’bout we arrest and prosecute them. If there were no guns, do we think crime and anti-social behavior would go away? No, we would just have to deal with physically stronger and emboldened predatory criminals. Is getting maimed or beaten to death preferable to getting shot? I don’t know…ask an Englishman or Canadian. We seem to have so little faith in our fellow (non-criminal) citizens, especially I guess if you are an average Hoosier, so why are gun haters so scared of me? If your life was in danger and a gun carrying citizen came to your aid, would you be grateful or horrified? Would that citizen be an “evil moron” or “gun nut” then?

    I have a gun or ten. I and all of my friends are safety zealots. I train with firearms like others train in martial arts or law. I don’t live in fear, I just believe in being self-reliant and prepared and I refuse to depend on the state to protect me from evil…because it can’t. If you are foolish enough to be in my house at night, or threaten me or my family, I will ensure you regret that decision for the rest of your life. If you don’t like guns, then don’t own one…I will respect your decision (but likely not understand it). Just respect my decision to own and carry a gun and keep your hands off them if you please.

    See? We can get along just fine! How ‘bought those Colts, eh?

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