Thursday, March 29th, 2012

America's Unchecked Gun Culture Killed Trayvon Martin

As the investigation into what happened on February 26 continues, it appears increasingly more likely that Trayvon Martin, not George Zimmerman, was the one exercising his rights under Florida's Stand Your Ground law. On CNN, Martin's mom declared as much, saying, "My son was exercising his stand your ground rule.” Except, of course, 17-year-old Martin did not possess the single crucial element for standing one's ground in the United States: A gun. Florida law restricts concealed handguns to those 21 and older. Instead the teen had a bag of Skittles.

This will happen again, probably soon, but not because of race relations or hoodies; because of guns and a nation's increasing obsession with arming itself against all reason. And what is a nation armed to the teeth supposed to do once it has spent billions of dollars and countless political capital to be so locked and loaded? Sit on the couch and watch "Dancing with the Stars"? Hell no.

When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail, and when all you have is a gun everything looks like an imminent, violent threat. The failure of Martin's death is not necessarily one of race relations, it's one of gun relations.

Trayvon Martin's case has become a special sensation, but it's hardly unique. Martin's death mirrors a recent Wisconsin shooting involving a young black man named Bo Morrison in a town called Slinger.

Morrison, 20, fearing an underage drinking charge, had fled a nearby house party when police arrived and hid on a neighbor's porch. It just so happened that that porch was owned by a man that had called the police about the loud party. When the man heard a noise on his porch, instead of calling the police back, he armed himself with a handgun and went into the dark to investigate. Moments later, he shot into the dark porch, killing the unarmed Morrison who, by police reports, appears to have been standing up and raising his arms. Citing Wisconsin's new Castle Doctrine law, the Slinger man was found to not have committed a crime. (Though, as the shooter's attorney argued, he would likely have a case based on Wisconsin's old law as well.)

What these cases have in common is not race, but guns, and the new laws that promote firearms as a first solution. In both cases, the shooters had recently spoken to the authorities, were in no immediate danger, and could have redialed 911 and waited, with their handguns drawn if they so liked. Instead, they moved themselves into harm's way only to later hide behind laws meant to protect those who found themselves in harm's way by no action of their own.

The national debate over these shootings is something America had just four years ago, when a Texas man shot two men he saw burglarizing his neighbor's house. In that case, a man was advised to back off by 911, inserted himself into the crime and fired. Cleared on Stand Your Ground reasoning, the Horn shooting also devolved into a debate about race as the burglars were Hispanic.

In an effort to distance the shoot-first movement from negative associations, some gun advocates have taken the position that George Zimmerman was, in fact, wrong, and he doesn't represent responsible gun carriers. Some have even called for him to be charged, reasoning that because of his aggression toward Martin, stand your ground doesn't apply, that Zimmerman's is a uncharacteristic case. But data from the Violence Policy Center suggest the Zimmerman shooting is prototypical.

While it can rightfully be characterized as biased and "anti-gun," the organization's data still cannot be ignored. Covering 290 shooter incidents involving conceal-carry licenses since 2007, the center found that 83 were convicted of homicide and of the 58 cases still pending, 48 had been charged with criminal homicide.

But even by its own admittance, the Violence Policy Center's data is incomplete. And because there are no comprehensive statistics, Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine laws are often defended with real-life anecdotes.

For example, on a lark, I wrote a letter to Combat Handguns magazine for its "It Happened to Me" section. It was a common tale of successful gun use. Titled "Out the Window," the letter was published—alongside four similar tales—in the Aug. 2011 issue under the initials "JH" from North Dakota. I mentioned "doo rags," my girlfriend's safety, and my Glock, all the details of the most lobotomized self-defense anecdote. The editor never questioned its authenticity, even though the letter noted that 911 had been called, a detail easy to corroborate. (Harris Publishing did not respond to requests for comment.)

The point being, the gun use anecdote, without a police report, should be treated as highly suspect at best.


Combat Handguns has a circulation downrange of 130,00, about the same as Guns Magazine. Guns and Ammo reaches 575,000. American Rifleman, 1.6 million. As readers flee most magazines, gun publications are flourishing—thanks in part to an increasingly hard-line editorial direction. The 12-year-old NRA title America's 1st Freedom recently saw a single-year growth of 23 percent to a circulation north of 600,000. Since Obama's election, gun-focused magazines have landed on the list of the 25 fastest-growing titles. Visit any supermarket magazine rack in flyover country and a quarter to a third of it will be dedicated to gun magazines.

Despite the abandonment of the gun-control debate, gun sales are booming since Obama took office. Sturm Ruger & Co. recently halted new orders, citing an inability to meet surging sales. The company's stock jumped 7.8 percent. The president's inaction on gun control has only led many—including the NRA—to suspect he's concocting a super secret gun control master plan. It's a paranoid delusion, one that should maybe preclude a person from owning a gun under mental-health provisions.

And instead of smoothing sales, the decrease in violent crime has been used to buttress the more-guns position. Florida gun supporters attribute the crime drop to its liberal you-can-shoot-people laws. But those same decreases have happened in Wisconsin, even though the state's concealed carry and castle doctrine laws did not take effect until the last few months.

Even after a member of Congress was shot in the face by a man wielding a Glock with a 33-shell capacity, lawmakers could not get any traction to even begin to talk about what could possibly be the reasonable need for such high-capacity magazines. Instead, the arguments move in the other direction. The hottest front in gun rights? "Silencers are Legal," a campaign by brand Silencero that informs gun owners that "Yes, silencers are legal in beautiful, constitution-upholding states." It argues that silencers save hearing, are better for accuracy and "increase situational awareness." Silencero lobbyists worked in Arizona to advance the "suppressor bill"—on the way to the governor—and it's hosting the first annual "Silencers are Legal Shoot" in Dallas on April 28.

As much as many in its community may detest it, Hollywood has aided and abetted the explosion of gun culture in ever way. The Internet Movie Firearm Database is a hot property. Angelina Jolie's live-firing Glock from the film Salt fetched $3,200 at auction. Terry Crews, the automatic-shotgun-toting star of the kill-em-all flick The Expendables, joined in a Trayvon Martin tribute sing-a-long.


People don't kill people, people emboldened by laws they don't fully understand kill people. Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine laws alone are not the direct instigators of shootings such as the Martin and Morrison deaths. Instead, they are just road maps for dumb gun owners looking for a fight.

Most scenarios that require a gun as a solution are messy, fast affairs where the kind of thoughtful reasoning taught in concealed carry permit classes is an unaffordable luxury. A stand your ground law encourages those with guns, but often little if any training, to act instead of flee. By letter these may be called "stand your ground" laws, but in practice they operate as enforce your ground laws because, simply, the smart people who write and lobby for the laws are not the dopes who come to carry the guns with an understanding they now have an absolute right to use them.

This in a paranoid modern American seduced by the increasingly popular idea of arming oneself to… do something. Incidentally, as the blog The Truth About Guns points out, authorities in the Trayvon Martin shooting found the magazine of George Zimmerman's gun was full. This means "Zimmerman loaded the gun, racked the slide to put a round in the chamber (reducing the number of bullets in the magazine by one), removed the magazine, put another round in the magazine, then replaced the magazine in the gun." In simpler terms, Zimmerman went through the trouble of chambering a shell and then reloading the magazine to full so that the gun would be ready to fire immediately, plus have an extra round. It's speculative, but had Zimmerman needed to "rack the slide" or chamber a shell in that final scuffle with Martin that Zimmerman is claiming happened, it may not have been so easy to get off the deadly shot. For this very reason, carrying an already-chambered handgun is a point of debate within the conceal-carry community.

When Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels recently signed an NRA-backed "stand your ground against police" law—a law that, unsurprisingly, was unpopular among police officers—Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David predicted such a law "unnecessarily escalates the level of violence." The law itself just stated that police officers acting illegally had no right to enter a home, but what a lot of gun owners likely heard was that the authority of police is subjective.

If the conversation about the Trayvon Martin case continues to be mainly about race, the NRA and pro-gun advocates will be the true victors. Let the sides argue endlessly about the hopeless subjects of racial profiling, hoodies and what's to be done about young black men who insist on walking around the world buying candy. (Answer: More guns!) Just so long as the argument is not about how an increasingly armed and emboldened society is inevitably only going to experience more and more of these incidents. Rise, repeat, rearm.

As for Zimmerman, the facts are ominous. The Violence Policy Center's data show that of those nearly 300 cases of deaths involving concealed carry permit holders, a full 134 were suicides.

Abe Sauer is the author of the book How to be: North Dakota. He is on Twitter and has his concealed carry license. Email him at abesauer @

86 Comments / Post A Comment

Pop Socket (#187)

Worst Penthouse Forum letter ever.

dcagogo (#792)

Thanks for this thoughtful piece. As an additional point, new research shows that people who are holding a gun themselves are more likely to believe others are. Here's a writeup from Science Daily: (Sorry, can't figure out how to link.)

jfruh (#713)

Just because it's about guns doesn't mean it isn't … also about race? The NRA as far as I know (and I might not, so please correct me if I'm wrong) caters to an overwhelmingly white target (ha) audience, and plays into white fantasies of personally taking down black criminals with deadly force — something that you seem pretty aware of, Abe, by inserting that pitch-perfect "doo rags" bit into your fake letter to the editor.

I have been thinking a lot about what would have happened if the all the facts we know about the Martin-Zimmerman scuffle were the same, except that Zimmerman were dead at the end — if he had wrestled ZImmeran's gun away, or if he had just landed a lucky punch that hit his head on the sidewalk or something. If Martin had said "This guy I didn't know was following me in his car and then came at me, so I stood my ground," would the police have just thrown their hands up and said, well, we can't prosecute? I'll bet the races of the two people would have a huge effect on how that incident would be perceived.

I've also sort been amazed by the stand your ground laws as described (not sure of the actual legislative language) because they seem almost like a conservative's parody of liberal touchy-feelyness. It seems it doesn't matter whether the shooter is actually under any threat, just that they feel that they are (or that they "reasonably" feel that they are, which probably has some specific legal meaning but seems awfully squishy to me). I mean, in literally any encounter between two people where one ends up dead and there are no witnesses, couldn't the survivor just claim that he felt his life was under threat and that he stood his ground? Isn't that just an automatic ticket to acquittal?

Abe Sauer (#148)

@jfruh The point about it also being about race is taken. But the nation is incapable of arguing about race and guns at the same time. This became immediately about race instead, something that is so subjective that those dying to play the race bait thing (especially when Sharpton shows up) have a huge audience of middle-roaders whose racism is more passive and who find all of the calls of "white racists" when the guy turned out to be Hispanic proof that the race baiting argument might be right. (Not that Hispanic people can't also be racist.)

jack burton (#4,433)

@Abe Sauer Race Baiting? Huh. Who was the person the murdered young man's parents went to see because for three weeks no one gave a fuck? Your race baiting Sharpton. Love it. We must protect those poor racist middle-roaders who love the status quo. Fuck everyone else. Why is it so important for you guys to make sure this guy is "Hispanic" and not white? I know it is difficult for you ND/MN types to get but do you know you can be both "Hispanic" and White? I know, right? They haven't talked about that on Mad Men yet so I guess it is not important. In short, what is your deal, my man? Fuck you and your race baiting bullshit.

jack burton (#4,433)

@jack burton Abe, I apologize for the fact that you were not speaking of Sharpton as the race baiter and that I misread your comment. I still wonder about the rest, however.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@Abe Sauer I'm glad you brought up this issue, but if we accept your proposition that the country is incapable of talking about both guns and race at the same time, it doesn't logically follow that we MUST choose guns. Yes, you are right, this specific case can be used to highlight a lot of bigger issues with US gun culture and gun laws that need to be addressed. It ALSO can be used to highlight a lot of bigger issues with race and racial profiling that need to be addressed, and this happens to be the direction it's gone in.

Don't worry, I'm sure someone else will be wrongly shot soon enough, and maybe THAT victim's mother will choose to ignite a national conversation about gun laws instead of racism.

NeonTrotsky (#2,249)

@Abe Sauer But the vigilante spirit as expressed by these "Stand Your Ground" laws has almost always overlapped with bigotry (19th & early 20th century vigilante justice was most often directed against blacks as well as Native Americans, Chinese immigrants, and religious dissenters like Mormons). Ignoring that racial animus in American gun culture means that you can't deal with the issue as a whole.

Your trolling of Combat Handguns demonstrates this, as you used the right racial codes ("Was he on drugs?", protecting your [presumably] white girlfriend), which resonated with the editors.

23abraxas (#16,293)

@NeonTrotsky It should be added, however, that gun control laws have nearly always been racially motivated as well. The era of liberal gun control began with the rise of black power and advocaction of the right to armed self-defense against state terror.

Though, as the shooter's attorney argued, he would likely have a case based on Wisconsin's old law as well.

True, but he would have likely had to convince a jury. The jury instructions imposed by the castle doctrine are among its most insidious aspects and a strong disincentive for DAs to prosecute. Here's what the state bar criminal section warned legislators last fall:

Assume a man kills his wife in cold blood in the family home without witnesses. I suggest that a man who is willing to kill his wife is not squeamish about committing perjury. If he takes the stand and claims that he mistakenly thought she was an intruder, under AB 69, the jury must be instructed that he is presumed to have reasonably believed that force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself. The jury, in effect, is prevented from considering if his act was unreasonable.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@gnarlytrombone All the wife needs to do is shoot first, so leave our freedoms alone!

young preeezy (#44,987)

Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for this. Not nearly enough people are bringing up this specific issue. Race was absolutely a factor, but if Zimmerman wasn't armed, Martin could have survived and made it out alive.

deepomega (#1,720)

Bullshit. Househould gun ownership has declined over the last fifty years. There isn't an "increasing gun culture," there's just an increasing ability to talk about tragedies. Without facebook and twitter, Trayvon's tragedy wouldn't have attracted national media attention.

And the real problem is not handgun ownership, it's laws that encourage cops to NOT INVESTIGATE CRIME SCENES. Any law that says "if there is a body, the police should not charge the shooter" is fucking insane.

saythatscool (#101)

@deepomega I'm not disagreeing with you, but I don't understand which law you are referring to in your last sentence?

deepomega (#1,720)

@saythatscool Oh – I was referring to the police interpretation of stand your ground, which was written up here. Specifically, "Section 776.032 of the Florida Statutes provides that a person who uses deadly force in self-defense 'is immune from criminal prosecution.'"

saythatscool (#101)

@deepomega Ah gotcha! I thought that's what you were referring to, I just wanted to confirm.

Abe Sauer (#148)

@deepomega "There isn't an 'increasing gun culture'…" Really? Really? When people are arguing for the legitimacy of owning 50 cal rifles and high capacity magazines and going to political rallies openly carrying weapons and numerous reality shows are now on about guns–there isn't an increase in gun culture? Really?

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@Abe Sauer I'm also confused about how we have had dramatically increasing gun sales since at least the recession/Obama's inauguration, but household gun ownership is falling. This suggests a shrinking group of homeowners owning more and more guns, which sounds a little scarier to me than every household having a .22 or whatever?

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@Abe Sauer – It's possible that these things existed before you were aware of them.

deepomega (#1,720)

@Abe Sauer: First off, Ham is right, people have been making these claims for a while. (Also I'm not sure why reality shows about guns are somehow scarier than, like, Westerns.) Second, if that's what you mean by gun culture, fine! But I'm not sure this is in any way more serious (from a policy perspective) than saying there's been an "increasing gangster" culture due to the rise of hip hop over the last 30 years. Like, if gun deaths are down overall, and gun ownership is down, WHO CARES?

@stuffisthings: Why is that scarier? It only takes one gun to kill someone. Frankly, once someone has a gun I'm not going to change my concern if they get more. Unless they're, like, dual-wielding like they're playing Halo or something.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@deepomega I think a small subculture of people who are totally obsessed with guns, and particularly in using them to thwart (real or perceived) crimes, is much scarier than the idea that in the 1950s a lot of farmers owned shotguns and hunting rifles.

deepomega (#1,720)

@stuffisthings So even if they aren't actually shooting anyone, you think they're scary? Based on their cultural consumption? Huh. Interesting.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@deepomega I think I detect where you're going here, and I hope you understand why it's bullshit. I'm not even saying we should be focusing on guns and gun law in this case — see my comment above. In fact, using "the percentage of households owning guns is declining" as an argument against what Abe is saying about gun culture offends me as a statistics nerd far more than as a gun-hating lefty.

deepomega (#1,720)

@stuffisthings Sincerely: What is it about "gun culture" in the sense of "a small subculture of people who are totally obsessed with guns" that you think is a problem? Do you think crime will go up? Do you think there will be more suicides? What do you think is the actual policy-related problem here, and as a follow up, show me ANY DATA that demonstrates that it's happening?

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@deepomega First of all, I was talking about people who are obsessed with USING guns, and particularly using them to fulfill racially-tinged crime-stopping fantasies. This group, I would think, is a sub-subculture within the general population of people who are into guns (I have enjoyed firing more than a few weapons in my time, though I wouldn't cry if they were made illegal) This group of people can clearly be objectively dangerous, as the Martin case shows. If nobody at all in America owned a handgun except for a tiny population Zimmermans, I think it would be fair to worry.

Now, in terms of policy, do I have strong evidence that these particular laws are causing a significant number of people to kill others in these particular ways? No. I'm not a criminologist, and even if I were, no one is collecting this data.

What I do know is that the rate of gun homicides in the United States is fully ten times higher than in France (where my girlfriend is from) and 27 times higher than England (where I used to live). In fact, in 2009, in the District of Columbia (where I live now), 99 people were murdered with firearms. This was the lowest number in years — a widely celebrated drop for the city of 600,000 people. It also happens to be the same number of homicides by firearm in ALL OF FRANCE in 2007 (the population of France is more than 60 million).

Let me put that another way: If the US could somehow reduce its rate of gun murders to be the same as France's, more than 8,000 people who are shot to death each year would still be alive. Maybe some of them would be scumbags, home invaders, or even rapists. But the unnecessary, violent deaths of thousands of citizens each year seems like a pretty major policy-related problem to me.

Now, are most of these murders committed directly by "gun nuts"? No. But "gun nuts" drive gun policy, and the ready availability of guns in the US versus France and England is the only thing I can think of that might be driving our wildly divergent rates of gun murder. You may well disagree, and probably do, but I think this is a perfectly valid reason for disliking this subculture beyond coastal elitism.

deepomega (#1,720)

@stuffisthings First let me say, I don't have a gun or care for guns particularly. But I also think there's a willingness to scorn guns and people who like them for cultural reasons, and then portray this as a policy stance rather than an aesthetic one. It feels sort of like trying to ban trailer homes to prevent poverty, or something. I'd say that it's hard to argue that "redneck gun culture" causes crimes in DC, and it's also hard to back up claims that gun control (or lack thereof) affects gun crime. As Ham Snadwich mentions below, there's not really any evidence backing this up. So I feel like this leaves the idea of "gun culture in rednecks driving permissive gun laws in DC which in turns drives violent crime sort of in shambles. Especially given that it was impossible to legally buy a handgun in DC until two years ago.

Abe Sauer (#148)

When a Democratic Florida politician claimed "deaths due to self-defense have jumped over 250 percent" since the state passed its stand your ground law, PolitiFact Florida put him in his place, its Turth-O-Meter™ claiming his was only "half true" as it was only 200 percent, "short of Smith’s claim."

The bottom line is that if Zimmerman didn't have that gun (and the full backing of a culture that was encouraging him to use it) he would have just made his racist profile call to 911 and waited in the car, Martin would have been stopped for no reason (like a million other black kids walking down the street) and then released. Instead, he's dead, in part because he was black but fully because a man had a gun and a culture that told him to use it.

deepomega (#1,720)

@Abe Sauer: Yeah, and yet somehow there's no evidence that gun control laws reduce violent crime. Besides, you have to think like an asshole on the neighborhood watch. Would he have gone "patrolling" without a weapon? No way. He might have hit Trayvon in the skull with the bat he carried everywhere, instead. Or knifecrimed him.

Also, did you even read the whole politifact piece? "I don’t believe anything triples.…Increases that sharp are probably due to some artificial cause like a shift in how people are defining events," Kleck said. "It’s possible nothing actually changed in frequency except police departments increasingly defined homicide claimed to be defensive as a justifiable homicide. … Local police departments are increasingly viewing alleged defensible homicide as falling into the UCR definition. I don’t think they are trying to rig data, they honestly shifted their perceptions of what qualifies."

Which puts the blame on police, not "gun culture."

23abraxas (#16,293)

@Abe Sauer FYI, you sound like a huge asshole in your replies to readers. The main point is that George Zimmerman would not have killed Trayvon Martin had George Zimmerman not absorbed American racism into the marrow of his being. An inanimate gun did not kill Trayvon Martin; an American racist gun-toter killed Trayvon Martin. Oh yeah, and your anti-gun liberalism is fucking retarded. Please read up on the ABCs of political power before you write another one of these stupid articles.

Abe Sauer (#148)

@deepomega And why would the police increasingly define homicide as justifiable? On a whim? Or because there was a cultural push to define shootings that way? I mentioned Goetz earlier. By today's definition, his would be a nearly cut and dried case of justifiable homicide (in Florida anyway).

deepomega (#1,720)

@Abe Sauer Uh, considering Goetz shot someone forty years ago – well before Obama scared people into buying magazines – and STILL wasn't convicted of murder, and in fact got off on self defense, I think your claim of "increased gun culture" is kind of nonsense.

23abraxas (#16,293)

@deepomega You may have good points, but your ignorance of history makes you look like a fool. The Goetz shootings took place less than thirty years ago.

deepomega (#1,720)

@23abraxas Haha. This is my favorite comment. Gonna go update my twitter bio to "may have good points, but ignorant of history and looks like a fool."

23abraxas (#16,293)

@deepomega Everything's a joke to you, fine. But you still look completely fucking stupid.

roboloki (#1,724)

@23abraxas haha

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@Abe Sauer – It doesn't look like you can get convicted of murder for anything in Florida, because of Stand Your Ground. Because this guy got off after stabbing a stereo thief to death, taking his stuff, then going home for a nap.

deepomega (#1,720)

Also, fuck you. Any white person saying that "we can't make this about race or the NRA will win" is a privilege-waving disingenous dickhead. You think if Trayvon was white people would be posting pictures of his twitter account and calling him a thug?

jack burton (#4,433)

@deepomega Thank you. You have articulated so much better what I was trying to say above. What the fuck?

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@deepomega – I guess you haven't been fortunate enough to see all the "here's a case where a black assaulted a white" false equivalence posts all over the internets.

deepomega (#1,720)

@Ham Snadwich Unfortunately, I have. That's what makes this case racist – the fact that people respond to it by saying "oh but in ohio two hispanic kids threw a match at a white kid" or whatever. My point was that if Trayvon was white and Zimmerman was still Zimmerman, the "he quoted rap lyrics so he was a thug" shit wouldn't be happening.

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@deepomega – Oh certainly, Zimmerman's racism is sort of indeterminate at this point. Likely, but not certain. The worst has been coming from the observers.

I stumbled across a depressing, but hilarious forum where a bunch of middle-aged teabaggers were trying to decipher the txtspeak in Trayvon Martin's twitter feed.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@deepomega Are you saying that black people would still have an issue or two left to raise even if we stopped shooting them for no good reason? But all we have is this anti-gun article, so everything looks like just a gun problem!

Vera Knoop (#2,167)

@Ham Snadwich Zimmerman once called 911 to report a "suspicious" black male whom he described as skinny, about 4' tall, and 7 to 9 years old. I don't think his racism is in question.

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@Vera Knoop – Heh, I hadn't heard about that. Frankly, the Encyclopedia Brown-ing of every new detail that comes out has kept me from following it too closely.

Vera Knoop (#2,167)

@Ham Snadwich Not sure how to interpret "Encyclopedia Brown" as a verb here. But an armed adult shot an unarmed child, and the police have– in the most charitable interpretation– failed spectacularly in doing their job. Paying attention to the details doesn't seem gratuitous or nit-picky to me.

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@Vera Knoop – Encyclopedia Brown as in the careful and usually specious analysis of every bit of information that comes out about the case. On one side details about Martin's suspension from school, on the other speculation about whether Martin had a full clip or not. Neither of it makes much difference, but every new detail is held up as a crucial piece of evidence.

Vera Knoop (#2,167)

@Ham Snadwich Whether who had a full clip now? Martin was UNARMED.

And we'll have to agree to disagree about whether those details are important. Like the fact that Martin's cellphone is missing. Or that Zimmerman's story keeps changing, and that there's no evidence that he was even slightly hurt.

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@Vera Knoop – Zimmerman, of course. Lighten up, Francis.

Vera Knoop (#2,167)

@Ham Snadwich Seriously? "Lighten up?" Must be nice to not give a shit.

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@Vera Knoop – About an overreaction to a typo? It's ok. Not as nice as you might think.

Vera Knoop (#2,167)

@Ham Snadwich Such a convenient typo. And in the context of your smirking, dismissive tone throughout this thread, I'm not inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt. You're being incredibly condescending about this, and I'm done engaging with you.

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@Vera Knoop – Yes, it's all part of my secret plot to convince everyone that Trayvon Martin was really the shooter. You got me.

cherrispryte (#444)

@Ham Snadwich Considering Zimmerman's family/attny/supporters are already trying to work the "we both reached for the gun" angle of things (straight out of fucking Kanter & Ebb) it's not nearly as far-fetched as it ought to be.

I think one of the reasons the press has been reporting on and people have been obsessively talking about every single piece of information that's come out is because no one trusts the police and their judgement in this situation.
Also, as it took WEEKS for this to make it to the mainstream media, the people who have been advocating for Trayvon aren't going to stop, as it's clear that the system has mismanaged all this at every step of the way. Zimmerman's side is also putting out truckloads of misinformation, so that's even more incentive to keep a close eye on all available details.
Why you feel the need to insult this urge says more about you than it does about the people doing so.

checkonetwo (#3,234)

@deepomega If Trayvon was white, no one would have had to post pictures of his Twitter account– the shooter would have been arrested and charged.

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@cherrispryte – Sorry, I'm not really interested in arguing about the details of the case. Not because I don't think it's a tragedy; it certainly is. One of my neighbors lost her son to street violence, and it's absolutely heartbreaking. I just don't think the type of speculation that's going on benefits anybody.

By any reasonable standard, George Zimmerman should have been charged with manslaughter at the very least. The rest of it just seems like a cultural Rohrschach test where people affirm their previously held views on race, guns and the criminal justice system.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

Wait, I'm confused, you're saying that more people having guns and the rights to use them in more situations will lead to MORE people getting shot?

23abraxas (#16,293)

@stuffisthings This is why I hate liberals. You dish up some supposedly common-sense platitude as eternal truth in utter defiance of real reasoning.

You know who is responsible for the most violence on Earth? The U.S. government. You know who thereby has the most right to defend themselves. Everyone else. The liberal argument always goes that people generally are too stupid and unpredictable in their use of guns, and that the monopoly on the means of violence should belong to the state. Well, that state is rapacious and mass-murderous, and by all rights should be abolished. Only people with a retarded, out-dated sense of loyalty to it still push such a line.

Fuck you.

roboloki (#1,724)

@23abraxas i don't believe that is the only reason you hate liberals. let me know when your state passes a "stand your flame" law so i'll know not to respond to any more of your screeds.

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@23abraxas – Aw, I was going to guess insects.

23abraxas (#16,293)

@roboloki Well, let's just say that it's a reason that I hate liberals. I also hate their support of capitalisma and of bourgeois democracy.

shostakobitch (#1,692)

The magazine was full post-shooting? Speculative indeed. Even if he put one in the chamber and then refilled the magazine, there'd be one missing from the clip after one shot. The clip would be minus two bullets if he hadn't had one in the hole to begin with. And, even if he was cruising for victims with a round chambered, he'd still have to flip the safety, unless he was ready to Plaxico Burress his dick off (is that a point of debate in the concealed carry community?).

Abraham, you obviously don't have a brother named Sigmund.

Abe Sauer (#148)

@shostakobitch Wildly speculative but from what I understand that Kel-Tec is notorious for easy magazine drop and misfeed. So, if one were speculating, a struggle involving the gun MIGHT have resulted in either of these which would result in chambered round fired and yet empty. Again, purely speculating .

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

I'm not sure that the circulation of American Rifleman is much of an indicator of anything, since you get it free with an NRA membership.

In a similar vein, the Violence Policy Center's numbers may not be particularly meaningful either. Even if all 293 were guilty of murder, there's somewhere on the order of 5 million concealed carry permit holders in the US.

From most of the studies I've read that aren't obviously biased one way or the other. Neither shall-issue or gun control laws have much effect on crime.

deepomega (#1,720)

@Ham Snadwich Right. This piece is a pretty great example of falling for culture war bait. "White rednecks want to create militias and shoot everyone! Look how many reality shows there are about it!" How much easier democrats would have it if they said "Hey, white people, go ahead and arm yourselves! NBD! Just don't shoot anyone or we will drop the fucking hammer."

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@deepomega – The bigger problem, in my view, is that both sides have become so entrenched that neither is willing to give an inch on sensible regulation.

Here in MD the legislature wanted to tighten record-keeping requirements for gun dealers and people wigged out like they were suggesting that the governor should have the right to bang your mother every Tuesday.

deepomega (#1,720)

@Ham Snadwich Completely agree. I mean, shit – name one restriction on guns the Obama administration has passed, and yet Fox thinks there's enough of the "people scared Obama will take their guns!!!!" to run a piece on it. It's ridiculous. But, then, saying "both sides are entrenched" without suggesting who makes the first move is also useless. I would love it if the democrats would come out and say, "listen, we don't think guns or gun ownership are a priori scary, go ahead and own them – but do so responsibly."

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

America's 1st Freedom

It says so right in the 2nd amendment!

23abraxas (#16,293)

So Abe Sauer believes that the mass-murderous, imperialist U.S. government should have a monopoly on the means of violence. What a stupid, stupid liberal point of view.

@23abraxas idk man, they do a reasonably good job of not killing US civilians

23abraxas (#16,293)

@Bus Driver Stu Benedict Not really true, but I like the motivation behind your post.

cherrispryte (#444)

No, Abe. Racism killed Trayvon Martin.

Gun culture in this country is fucking horrible and a huge problem, but it's not the only factor here.

Yes, if Zimmerman hadn't been armed, Trayvon Martin would (probably) still be alive. Though, who knows, Zimmerman had 100lbs and ten years on the boy.

If Zimmerman hadn't thought Trayvon Martin was "suspicious" – which, from Zimmerman's history of calling 911, clearly means "black" – Martin would still be alive.

While the first part is true, denying the second part is wrong and destructive and nauseatingly privileged.

Race is a huge factor in this murder. As a white person who tries her damn hardest to be anti-racist, it's my job to sit down and shut up and listen to people who deal with the effects of racism every day, not spout off on a pet topic of mine, even if it is related to the murder.

You're derailing the conversation, and that's a huge mistake.

Abe Sauer (#148)

@cherrispryte Who's denying that? While it's clear Zimmerman had his biases, the depth of his racist is really an unknown that's been exploded by all involved. For example, it's now common knowledge that Zimmerman told the 911 dispatcher that the guy was black. And he did, but only after being asked by the dispatcher what race he was. And even then he said, "he looks black." Does that exonerate Zimemrman of his racism? Of course not. But it is a detail nobody seems to care to get right. There is only one almost sure thing in this case so far, if Zimmerman didn't have a gun, he almost certainly would have been more cautious and waited for police.

23abraxas (#16,293)

@Abe Sauer Again, leave it up to the liberal columnist to change the subject from something pertinent (racism) to seomthing more needlessly complicated. You are a useless human being.

Terry Crews, the automatic-shotgun-toting star of the kill-em-all flick The Expendables…

How about "Terry Crews, best known as the adorably penny-pinching dad from Everybody Hates Chris, a 4-season family sitcom in which no guns ever appear"? Or maybe just "Terry Crews, star of a popular deodorant campaign in which, again, the only guns in evidence are being flexed by Mr. Crews." This seems like a weird callout, y'know? Maybe the guy just has range.

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@Gef the Talking Mongoose – Or as President Hector Elizondo Mountain Dew Camacho.

ffasgwyre7 (#230,989)

I like the motivation behind your post.

roboloki (#1,724)

dammit! power goes out at work and i miss all the good shit. sadsy face.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

A lot of good points here, if you can get past everyone telling everyone else how stupid they are!

dequnadu (#231,022)

wow nice work great jop please share me more …

r&rkd (#1,719)

It occurred to me yesterday to think about the number of people killed by gun violence and how that compares to the number of people killed by cell-phone using drivers. Sure it's hard to calculate precise figures, but it's probably roughly an order of magnitude. And sure it's often more painful to lose a relative to a malicious shooter than to a reckless driver. But I think I'd rather lose 1 relative to a shooter than 10 to drivers.

Maybe this just comes out of the fact that I've never been shot at, but I'm nearly run over by cell-phone-using drivers on a weekly basis!

SeanP (#4,058)

@josiah Surely it's true that people are considerably more likely to die in a traffic accident in a shooting. That doesn't change the fact, though, that laws such as "stand your ground" are kind of insane. We ought to be able to find some middle ground in which gun ownership is fine, but where the law doesn't ACTIVELY ENCOURAGE people to shoot each other.

Also, racism or out of control gun culture? The obvious answer here is "all of the above".

that pesky ol' second amendment!

musicmope (#428)

@Byron Durham@facebook And even peskier misinterpretation of it by the NRA!

El Matardillo (#586)

Guns are fun! Grab two or three before they're all gone!

To me he did not do his job right, if was in danger, he should of call for back up, now they trying to make up stories so he can walk free , Trayvon had a a a past, so its ok to look at him and jug becouse of that, No! polices are not God, they think becouse they have the right to carr a gun they can do as they please, not all but some, Guns are not bad if you use them the right way

Recently the news agencies have released the un-doctored photos of George Zimmerman, showing the blood and tissue damage on his face and the back of his head. These photos support Zimmerman's claim that Martin sat on his chest and pounded his head into the pavement beneath him. The fact that news agencies published doctored photos of Zimmerman, with all the blood and signs of tissue damage removed in order to support their race-baiting agenda, is totally outrageous. This deceptive and misleading behavior by news agencies inflamed racial tensions across the nation. It led to more acts of violence, which might not have happened otherwise. Its time to hold news agencies accountable to lying to the public.

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