Last week’s post sparked great discussion. It is so gratifying tackling these issues with so many friends. Throughout those conversations, the following three points emerged:
First, as per usual, I am entirely unimpressed with the issues that the media and public choose to care about. Obesity, to name just one issue, kills millions and costs the US economy at least $300 billion a year and is treated primarily with those two incredibly cost-prohibitive treatments: diet and exercise.
Horrible and solvable issues abound and the Trayvon shooting is not one of them. All the ranting about this being part of a larger issue about gun control and “Stand your Ground” laws is silly. Perhaps we will get more cases like this because of these new laws, but right now each year about 56.5% of gun-related deaths in this country are suicides, a majority of what is left is drug or gang related, only 14% of gun deaths involve strangers, and on the whole violent crime like this has continued to decline across the country since the 1980s. The rise of homicidal neighborhood watch volunteers is not likely to be an important public health issue in the future.
Second, we must be slow to judge what happened and why it happened (this video was something that made me pause). This story has inspired racial outrage prematurely. Of course, it very well might be racism that killed Trayvon Martin. If so, when that is discovered to be the case, I will agree that it is part of a disturbing, larger trend of racism. But the trends that I see right now are an America who jumps to conclusions when the victim of a shooting is black and progressives who jump to conclusions about gun owners. So, my progressive friends, take it from me: I find the second amendment archaic, stand your ground laws unwise, vigilanteism foolish, and the modern Republican Party upsetting. But nonetheless, Zimmerman deserves to be tried based on the laws of his state and not your sense of what is right and wrong. He should have his day in court and, if you are truly an open-minded liberal, in the court of your opinion.
Third, I have something to say to Zimmerman himself. (If he is anything like me, he probably spends too much time looking at his story online, so I hope he finds this.)
Zimmerman, I don’t know you, and I don’t know what happened, but please know that I’m feeling for you man, for the fame that has rushed in on you, and for the tragic circumstances that led to it. Two years ago, I almost hit a baby in a stroller while pulling out of a gas station. I cannot imagine what you are going through having actually killed a 17-year-old. And now it must seem like your whole life is out of your control and you don’t know who your friends are. I am sorry so much has been taken from you so quickly without a conviction to justify it.
But do me a favor. I know my little traffic accident made me think about giving up cars entirely–that perhaps it just wasn’t worth speeding around at high velocity in large hulks of metal if I could destroy something so precious with it–but I ultimately didn’t because it was too inconvenient. But you could succeed where I failed. I am wondering, has this experience caused you to reflect anew on whether owning personal handguns is worth it? If you came out against gun ownership right now, or even sold your own guns, it would send a strong statement. If you don’t change your mind on guns, I respect that, but you should still think about it. Very soon your 15 minutes of fame will be gone, your national audience will dissipate, and you will lose the chance to effect enormous change. Don’t waste the moment. ; )