Five views: race, guns, ‘Stand Your Ground’
The Monitor continues to receive mail on the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case. Here’s a sampling:
An unasked question
When President Obama was running for office in 2008, first lady Michelle Obama was, in the course of a TV interview, asked whether she feared that her husband could be assassinated during the campaign or as president, should he be elected. She responded that as a woman married to an African-American man, she feared for his life every time he left the house and always had. At the time, I was amazed that the interviewer wasn’t aghast, didn’t stop and have a conversation about why she would feel that way. Instead, the interviewer went on to her next question.
Now? Now can we have that conversation? Now can we ask the next question? Please, now can we talk about race in this country, in our state, in our towns, in our neighborhoods?
BARBARA A. LAVERICK
‘Stand Your Ground’ opponents are wrong
The opponents of New Hampshire’s “Stand Your Ground” law said that if we had such a law, it would be abused and crime casualties would increase because irresponsible gun owners would take it as a license to kill. Well, guess what? Stand Your Ground has been the law, and it has not been abused even once.
State Rep. Steve Shurtleff of Penacook and others of his ilk should stop cloaking their anti-Second Amendment sentiments and admit that they do not like citizens carrying guns. To that end, they will make every attempt to make it difficult or uncomfortable for law-abiding citizens to legally have or carry a defensive weapon. Massachusetts seems a better place for them and their ideas; I suggest they would be happier living there.
Questions about ‘Stand Your Ground’
New Hampshire has a “Stand Your Ground” law similar to Florida’s. Here is my question:
Before his trial, George Zimmerman’s co-counsel Mark O’Mara stated emphatically several times that they would not use the “Stand Your Ground” defense but rather plead self defense. I was shocked to hear “Stand Your Ground” in the judge’s instructions to the jury. In New Hampshire, will “Stand Your Ground” instructions be included in every self defense case?
If so, I have a few more questions. If your 17-year-old son happens to play football and happens to be in good physical shape and is coming home in the rain with his hoodie raised, would you expect him to become fearful when he notices he is being surveilled by a 28-year-old man? Have you taught him there are predators out there? Have you taught your boy not to talk to strangers?
The keyword in neighborhood watch is “watch.” Would you expect your neighborhood watch people to carry guns? After a watch person has reported a stranger to the police, do you want the watch person to stay in place or surveil the stranger? Once the watch person and stranger make contact, do you at least want the watch person to identify himself and ask what the stranger is doing there?
More important, if your 17-year-old son believed he was being stalked by an older man, felt threatened, feared for his life or limb, if he had a gun on him, could he shoot and kill the “predator,” claiming “Stand Your Ground”? I am curious to know the opinions of the other million or so New Hampshirites. My opinion: Repeal “Stand Your Ground.”
Biased view of fight
When I was in the sixth grade, we were coming home from school one December day after performing our Nativity play. I was a shepherd in the play, wearing a chair cover for a robe and holding a mop pole for a shepherd’s staff. After getting off the school bus, my friend Rick took my mop pole from me, threw it over a snowbank and refused to retrieve it. So I challenged him to a fight.
Rick wanted to change clothes first, so we went to his house. When he came out, we wrestled around in the snow for a while and ended up in Rick’s garage with me pinned against the wall staring at Rick’s fist cocked and ready to let me have it in the kisser. Rick’s brother appeared and said, “Hit ’im, Ricky, hit ’im.” Rick said he couldn’t because his hands were cold (from rolling around in the snow). I wiggled myself free and got Rick in a head lock. I was a fairly strong kid. Rick started crying, gave up and I won the fight. Which worked out for both of us, for we were able to become good friends and had many high adventures thereafter.
But now to the point of my writing. There was a girl on the school bus, the prettiest girl on the bus. She apparently like Rick better than me. The next day she came up to me and said, “You’re a dirty fighter. You cheated. You got Rick’s hands cold so he couldn’t fight.” Her view was less then unbiased, and it reminds me of those still pointing the finger at George Zimmerman. The question is: Do we want our justice to be that?
When I first heard about Trayvon Martin’s tragic death, I reacted like many others and assumed it was another incident of racial profiling. However, in the ensuing months, I have come to accept the testimony of George Zimmerman’s family that he is not a racist. Racial profiling definitely does exist. However, in this incident, it is possible that racism did not cause Zimmerman’s actions.
If not racism, what did lead to this tragedy? I would argue that both Zimmerman and Martin were victims of the pro-gun culture that pervades our society. This culture encourages to us to carry guns wherever we are. It encourages untrained individuals to arm themselves and act as vigilantes confronting anyone they see as suspicious. This culture also encourages people (like both Zimmerman and Martin), who are “where they have a legal right to be” and feel afraid, to “stand their ground” rather than withdraw to safety thus preserving one’s life and that of a possibly innocent stranger.
We will never know for certain exactly what happened after Zimmerman ignored instructions to stay in his car until the police arrived. However, we do know that until the gun culture is changed, the lives of all our children (white, black and Hispanic) will be in danger. How many more innocent lives must be lost before we recognize the folly of “Stand Your Ground” laws and pass reasonable restrictions on gun purchase and use?