Trayvon Martin: The Issue Is Gun Control

We all should be outraged about the Trayvon Martin case--for more than one reason.


In his new book The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt postulates that we’re not really reasonable people. Turns out the advertising people were right all along: we make decisions emotionally. The reason your arguments don’t convince the other side is that their minds are already made up. They have their own logic that adds up to what’s right in their own minds.

But let’s pretend we’re reasonable people here, anyway. Let’s set aside our moral outrage at the racial profiling that led to the murder of Trayvon Martin. Even if, as new evidence suggests, Martin attacked George Zimmerman, Zimmerman profiled and pursued Martin. Was there racism involved? Even if Zimmerman was defending himself, the answer is “yes.”

I have a different bone to pick.

Even if Trayvon Martin was in the neighborhood to commit a burglary–and there’s no evidence to suggest he was–he did not deserve to die. Even if he jumped George Zimmerman and broke his nose, Trayvon Martin did not deserve to die.

Listen: I understand the frustration of the neighbors at The Retreat at Twin Lakes. But, I have to tell you:  when I heard one of Zimmerman’s neighbors talking about “eight burglaries in fifteen months,” I nearly broke a tooth laughing. Sometimes in my neighborhood, we have eight burglaries in a day.

But I’m not going to walk my street with a concealed weapon, and neither are my neighbors. And the fact that packing heat on the streets is even legal is appalling. I’m not going to argue about hunting rifles, and if you want to protect your home with one, that’s just great. But the only reason to carry around a pistol is if you’re planning to shoot someone with it.

Trayvon Martin did not deserve to die. We do not need vigilantes roaming our neighborhoods looking to shoot people. Period.

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8 Responses to Trayvon Martin: The Issue Is Gun Control

  1. Janie Fedosoff says:

    You make a great point. No matter what and even based on the most outrageous version of events being passed around, this young man did not deserve to end up dead.

    As a Canadian, I’ve never understood the American gun culture. The only explanation I’ve heard is based “the right to bear arms” or some nonsensical love/need to have guns around blah blah blah. Personally, I’m more in favour of the right to bare arms.

  2. Steve Vinson says:

    True.  Trayvon did not deserve to die.  But George Zimmerman did not deserve
    to die either. Without his gun, Zimmerman would be dead.

    • Ken Honeywell says:

      That’s pure conjecture, Steve. Trayvon Martin was not armed, and there’s no evidence to suggest he was a murderer or had any intention of killing George Zimmerman. Zimmerman allegedly says Martin went for his gun. But how would Martin know he had a gun? And, if he did–then, again, Zimmerman was the one who brought deadly force into the situation.

      Your wallet is not worth anybody dying–you or your assailant. Someone walking through the neighborhood–even someone who doesn’t belong there–does not deserve to die, or even to be threatened with death.

      One thing we can say for sure: without Zimmerman’s gun, Martin would be alive. I imagine Zimmerman would be, too.

      • Steve Vinson says:

        Ken, I agree it is conjecture.  Is that not what we are doing here?  Is it not conjecture that “Zimmerman profiled and pursued Martin”?  Is it not conjecture that Zimmerman was “looking to shoot people”?
        So, of course my comment is conjecture. But it is conjecture based on your hypothetical.  “Even if he [Martin] jumped George Zimmerman and broke his nose…”  One witness says Martin was pounding Zimmerman’s head onto the sidewalk. Maybe Martin was justified.  Maybe Martin felt his life was in danger and he was defending himself.  If this version is true, one of those guys was going to win the fight.  Zimmerman won because he had the gun. Had Zimmerman not been armed, I imagine Martin might have continued until Zimmerman was unconscious, possibly dead.  And I would have supported Martin’s claim of self defense.

        • Ken Honeywell says:

          Steve, it’s not really conjecture that Zimmerman was profiling. He was following a black kid in a hoodie, and he has a record of this sort of behavior.

          It is certainly my conjecture that the reason someone carries a gun is that he or she is at least willing to shoot someone; otherwise, why carry it?

          And I reiterate: Zimmerman brought deadly force into the altercation. Is it possible that Martin would have killed Zimmerman if neither had been carrying a gun? Sure. But…it’s pretty unlikely.

          • Steve Vinson says:

            Ken, maybe you are right. Maybe I am right. In any case, I am certain we agree on at least two things (probably many more than two, but at least two):
            1. The killing of Trayvon Martin is an unimaginable tragedy for his family and friends and for all of us.
            2. The entire first paragraph of your original post.

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