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How Gun Advocates Failed The Trayvon Martin Messaging Battle

How Gun Advocates Failed The Trayvon Martin Messaging Battle

A curious thing happened this weekend.  A very obvious, concerted effort has been made to try to spin the death of Trayvon Martin not as a case of a man who considered himself glorified law enforcement acting as a vigilante and causing actions that resulted in a young man being shot to death into a story of a man who was protecting his neighborhood and was attacked and defended himself.

The people most intent on changing the story are the ones with the most invested in the so called “stand your ground” law, a jacked up version of “Castle Doctrine” that has been introduced in numerous state legislatures in the last two years.  Castle Doctrine allows a person to be found justified if he or she shoots someone entering his or her house as a means of self-defense, regardless of if the shooter is in immediate danger.  Just the potential for danger is enough, and rather that violence as the last resort if the victim cannot run away, it can be used even if an exit is an option.

With the expanded Castle Doctrine, this ability to fight first rather than use it as a last resort is extended not just to a person’s home, but in any situation where the shooter feels like he or she is in danger.  It’s that law that allowed Martin’s shooter, George Zimmerman, to shoot Martin and not immediately be arrested for murder.  And it’s that law that gun rights advocates are afraid could be overturned by public pressure.

But it doesn’t have to be, and if the National Rifle Association, the Gun Owners of America and other gun rights advocates were smart, they would stop trying to make Martin into the aggressor and instead use his death as a reason to support the Castle Doctrine and its expansion.

Zimmerman, the self-proclaimed neighborhood watch captain who shot Martin, will never successfully be recreated sympathetic, much less as the victim.  With a 911 tape on file that shows that Zimmerman pursued Martin, regardless of the reason, and especially as he was informed that he shouldn’t do so, and that the police were on the way, Zimmerman was clearly in the wrong.  Even if the new allegations are true, and Martin really was beating Zimmerman at the point in which Zimmerman shot him, it was still murder rather than self-defense simply because Zimmerman, not Martin, escalated the situation into one that became deadly.

Zimmerman lost any right to a self-defense claim when he actively pursued Martin after calling the police. Castle Doctrine or no, shoot first or not, Zimmerman was not enacting the basis of either law at that point because he became the aggressor.

And this is where the pro-gun advocates are both missing the point and missing their opportunity.  Rather than try to make Zimmerman into a victim, a man who was being beaten and shot Martin in self-defense, they too should be condemning Zimmerman.  If they had made it clear that this was an exception to the rule, and that the great, vast majority of gun owners are responsible enough not to instigate a dangerous situation, they may have been able to convince lawmaker that a public outcry for repealing the law doesn’t need to be heeded.  In fact, they could even have claimed that the incident proved the need for the Castle Doctrine in order to have the ability to fight off potentially unbalanced assailants like Zimmerman who believe that they are vigilante cops handing out justice in their own neighborhoods.

I’m not a gun advocate.  In fact, I hate guns, I despise conceal carry laws, and I cringe when my daughter plays make believe that she’s shooting imaginary “bad guys.”  But if even someone like me can see how the gun advocates are mishandling this tragedy, I find it hard to believe that they can’t see it, too.


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5:07PM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

Lee, I was referrring to spike lee posting the alleged address of zimmerman & posting hte wrong one.... nothing about you posting anything like that.

Zimmerman was not "told not to follow" anyone. When asked if he was following trayvan, he was told "we don't need you to do that." It may be an implication, but not an order...

The main pictures everyone got to see for the first few weeks were of trayvan at either 11 or 12 & the weight difference makes no difference whatsoever b/c no one can agree on the actual weights. People who want to see Z fry say he weighed 260+ & T weighed 150, but actual reports put the two closer together like 165ish to ~200 range & again, it doesn't matter. ALL that matters is who attacked who first. IF T attacked Z, then he definitely was big enough to put him on his ass...

I just get sick of seeing everyone paint such a biased picture here. It would be suspicious to see anyone w/a hoody walking through a gated community after dark, white or black. But if one wants to look like a gangbanger, then that makes it even more suspicious... The attack is the part in question.

9:47AM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

I don't remember saying anything about anyone taking anything away from anybody. Look at more recent pics of trayvan & you'll see what he looks like. Many photos I've seen show him clearly sticking his middle fingers up, pants hanging down, gold capped teeth, sometimes tats, & a mean look on his face, etc. IF this was his image on that night, w/hoodie over head, after dark in gated community, then he looked like he was doing something wrong- that garners attention. I say again- none of this has anything to do w/the actual shooting, but it explains why he was followed. Following someone is not the issue. The issue is who was physically attacked. Again, SYG laws have nothing to do w/this case. And I'm just as sick of your insinuations about me & constantly promoting trayvan as an angel when you know damn well he wasn't & NO ONE knows who really started it. At least I haven't made a judgement call on who's guilty. You obviously have. It used to be, innocent until proven guilty. Won't matter what the verdict is now though, will it? We'll never get the whole truth & you know it. But there are witnesses to both sides of this story. How can anyone be so sure that either man was in the right? And most of my comments are about the reactions after the fact. I have a problem w/BP's being able to put bounties on people's heads & lee posting people's addresses making them targets & having to move. Go judge someone else.

2:09AM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

And what does "Regardless of size, a loaded weapon has far greater impact when in fact it can easily still the beating heart of the biggest and burliest of men" mean? What does that have to do w/anything I said, or was that a retort to some other person who is not 110% left wing?

And btw- just b/c someone follows you does not mean you have the right to break their nose & head. T could've called the cops too... But again, I stand by what I've said from day 1, regarding this whole, over-exxagerated fiasco. I won't make a judgement call until I have a better idea of who attacked who. The problem is, most of the nation HAS. IF trayvan attacked z then z should get a medal. IF z attacked t then z should get prison. Simple as that.

2:04AM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

Lee- don't be an idiot! Whoops... Too late. The "agenda" here is to start $h!t w/the NRA, legal gun owners (who had nothing to do w/this), to try to repeal a law (SYG) that is not even being used as a defense to begin with, & to start a race war.

People dress to appear certain ways for a reason. Why does one wear gold-capped teeth, gangst-tats, hoodies, etc? To look mean & scary- well, trayvan got his wish. Tough $h!t! His being black was also part of it- that's just fact. Had he been white in a black neighborhood where several recent break-ins by white males had occured, then he'd have been suspicious too. The hoodie, after dark, etc, just added to it all. Had t been white & killed Z who was black, we'd never even have heard about this- like you liberals whining about it have often never heard of Channon Christian & Christopher Newsom- that got more press in England than here FFS! Whatever your liberal media allows... Had trayvan looked less "gangsta," he wouldn't have looked as suspicious. Suspicion is why z followed him & it makes sense. Don't like it? Don't dress like a "gangsta," yoyo.

But none of this has ANYTHING to do w/the shooting. That COMPLETELY & TOTALLY depends on whom was attacked first. And you weren't there either. The biggest tragedy here is how people have acted about it afterwards. We've made great strides to stop this racial crap, but since 2008, we've reverted about 50yrs!

And what does "Regardless of size, a loaded weap

12:02AM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

The NRA has nothing to do w/this, nor do SYG laws OR castle doctrine laws. Z is using self-defense. Plain & simple. A suspicious looking person was walking through a gated community after dark, so he followed him & called the cops- that's the way it should be. YES, trayvan was suspicious- he was a large black man (not the 11yr old kid in the BS liberal media) w/gold capped teeth & tattoos, wearing a hoodie in a gated community (where several break-ins had occured by black males in recent past), after dark. How much more does one need to do to be suspicious...?

The only question here is, did trayvan attack Z or did Z attack trayvan? It doesn't matter who followed whom. What matters is who was physically attacked first. IF trayvan attacked z, then he got what he got & the tragedy is that z is now on trial. IF z attacked t, then z should be punished. But at this point, b/c of all of the suppositions of the left wing media & racial idiot POS a$$wipes like sharpton, lee, jackson, BPs, etc, we will never find out the truth & z will never get a fair trial.

And btw- I've seen pics of Z's broken nose & the back of his head. It looks like he got hurt. And broken noses do not always bleed. I've broken mine (crushed completely on one side) & didn't have a single drop of blood. Do not be so naive &/or stupid to think that lots of blood has to show for it to be broken...

Stephen D- I wish the anti-gun-nuts would listen to people like you who

4:23PM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

Hi Jamie

I am afraid that you have a horrendous misconception of what "Nonprofit" means. If you don't know where the money is coming from, you don't know who is pulling the strings.
The NRA has long been and industry-supported industry mouthpiece; much admired by the Tobacco lobby for being able to tell regular people what to think and get them to pay for being brainwashed. I have been particularly offended by their revisionist takes on history and have repeatedly had to show people that totalitarianism and police states come first, not gun limitations in various countries around the world that the NRA use to convince people that we are always *Just About* to lose our guns.

The real gun issues do not lie in absolute ownership but in the city/country issues of guns NOT being a good means for people to interact in urban settings, while in the country we need guns for dealing with downed animals, rabid critters and a dozen other country-specific situations. In the city we may need a gun to protect our homes, but there is some pretty good evidence that guns in the home are often more trouble than they are worth. Unless you have an astoundingly good reason, (have a stalker, carrying a million dollars ect.) you really shouldn't be carrying outside the house, in the city.

11:04AM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

There is something seriously wrong when any mentally disturbed, insane, angry, vengeful, perturbed, low intelligence, mean person can go into a Walmart, or a gun show, and walk away with a gun. They can buy glocks,spell, that fire twenty, thirty bullets in a couple of minutes. The NRA has gone crazy, they fight against any sensible gun laws. Even cop killer bullets, machine guns, and all other killer type guns. My family has always gone hunting. They have a normal rifle, that is put away when the hunting is done. The NRA bears some responsibility for all the murders of children in our schools. I am sure I will feel the heat from the gun nuts, but don't bother. I am more concerned about the kids being killed than I am about the feelings of the NRA.

10:48AM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

It is almost impossible to run away from a speeding bullet fired from a gun.

9:40AM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

The NRA has not taken any position on the zimmerman case, but it did say this. "Responsible gun owners know the limits of their right to carry a weapon and are well aware that they cannot use deadly force indiscriminately, without reasonable, justifiable cause. Sane and upstanding gun owners also know they shouldn’t take their guns to go pick a fight then expect to use a self-defense law as protection." Sounds like a far cry from what you people are trying to claim they are saying. I support rights to keep arms even though 90% of my views are progressive. I don't think the right wing should be the only ones to have guns. I think that eventually Zimmerman will face his day in court but these investigations take time as they have to make sure they get all the facts.

9:29AM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

If Trayvon Martin had a gun and shot Zimmerman he would have had a better argument at using the Stand your ground law since he was being chased and not the other way around. Arm everyone.

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