I kept thinking about at what angle I was going to blog the Trayvon Martin case. I could not think of an angle by which to approach it that has not been already done and thankfully, I could not find one. I say thankfully because that means that the community, bloggers and the media have really come together getting this story the attention that it really requires. If you are not familiar with Trayvon’s case, I’m not sure where you’ve been hiding but you can read the story on the CNN website.
What I decided that I’d do is address some questions that I have been asked about the case in an attempt to clear up any misconceptions that some people may have about some of the particulars, so, here goes….
Why did Zimmerman have a gun on him in the first place? The shortest answer to that is, because he can. Florida is a conceal and carry state, the 2nd amendment gives people the right to bear arms, so Zimmerman did not need a particular reason to be in possession of a weapon.
Isn’t Trayvon’s case reason enough that the President should push for tougher gun control laws? Absolutely not. Tougher gun control laws will do nothing to get guns off the street. Stricter gun control laws just make it harder for law abiding citizens to obtain a weapon. Criminals don’t give a damn about the law and if the criminals want guns, they will get them. If gun control laws are further tightened, it will inhibit the ability of law abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families.
Zimmerman has a violent past, how did he get a gun in the first place? The best answer that I have for this is, according to my research, Zimmerman has never been convicted of a felony, of anything for that matter. When a background check is done, anything information that the gun shop obtains is all what is available in the public record. A person with a history of mental illness can even get a gun as long as their mental illness does not show up as a matter of public record. HIPAA protects a person’s medical information from being made public, so unless a person’s mental illness has landed a person in court for something, it will not show up on the background check.
Can’t they just charge Zimmerman with a hate crime? If the FBI deems that on the 911 audio that Zimmerman indeed called Trayvon a “Fucking Coon”, then yes. I have heard the audio and I believe that was the comment that Zimmerman made, however, it would not be up to what I or you think, it will come down to what the jury thinks.
A hate crime conviction is not a “cure all”, the maximum penalty for a hate crime used to be 3 years in prison. Since the passage of Title 18, U.S.C., Section 249, also known as the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act , the maximum penalty has been raised to 10 years.
What about those kids in Mississippi, they got life in prison for a hate crime? No, they did plead guilty to a hate crime but they got life in prison for the murder they committed. If you are unfamiliar with the Mississippi case, read it here.
Can the NRA be sued for the “Stand Your Ground” law? No. The stand your ground law is not actually a bad law if you are a proponent of the 2nd amendment. The law states:
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
Zimmerman is no how, in no way, covered by the “Stand Your Ground” law, recently, Zimmerman’s attorney has even come forward to admit that the law does not apply to Zimmerman. Click here to read remarks by Zimmerman’s lawyer.
What I really think is interesting is that this case is being viewed from all sides as a racially motivated “white on black crime”. In these times when racial discourse is used to increase media readership, there is little mention of the fact that Zimmerman’s father is white but his mother is Latina. It is also not hitting the forefront of the media that Zimmerman’s family is not without African American’s.
Why does my observation matter? To me, it matters only in the respect that in a multi-cultural society, like the one in which we live, there is still a need to categorize people on one side or the other of the black and white line, regardless of their true ethnicity. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Zimmerman should be charged and that the judicial system needs to handle this, so I am glad that the case has gotten the attention that it needs to make people sweat and to begin moving in the right direction. I can’t help but wonder, however, if the case would have reached the same fever pitch that it has if Zimmerman had been reported as being Latino instead of white.
One could argue that institutional racism was in full effect since the white police chief chose to conduct a half assed investigation and call the case a wrap, but then how does one explain the African American city manager? The African American city manager has the power to fire the police chief and chose not to do so. I have to wonder, how much institutional racism played into this tragedy in comparison to how many people were willing to sweep Trayvon’s death under the rug in order to protect their own political careers?
I think that there are so many sociological factors involved in this case that down the line, I expect for Trayvon’s case to turn up in criminal justice and sociology textbooks.
At the end of the day, regardless as to who is what ethnicity and who has what job, I do think that Zimmerman needs to be charged and brought to justice. It is my prediction that he will be charged and the first motion that his lawyer will file, will be a motion for a change of venue.