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The Gift Wrapped Tragedy

Much like the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, the Treyvon Martin shooting is the kind of tragedy that’s positively gift wrapped for our opponents in the gun control movement and the media, and they are exploiting the tragedy to the hilt.

Bloomberg News notes that it shows the weakness of American gun laws. The Tampa Bay Times, who are renowned experts on self-defense law, note the problems with Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, even though there’s no evidence at all yet that a duty to retreat would have played into these circumstances. The New York Times is certainly quick to jump in to blast Florida law, even though New York City’s laws are roughly the same. But of course the New York Times knew that, being such strong experts in these matters. The distinguished law professors at CNN tell us that the stand your ground law seems central to this case. Another post at a New York Times blog who don’t realize their law is the same as Florida’s and always has been. Even the National Review, apparently friendly to self-defense interest when the going is easy, run with their tail between their legs when the going gets tough.

It’s a gift to our opponents because it has folks talking about gun control, vigilantes, and wild, out of control redneck gun nuts. Tragedy may be our opponent’s currency, but demographic stereotypes are their natural manure. Any time they can people to surrender all reason, get angry, and act based solely on their emotions, it’s fertile ground. We should be on guard. I do not defend Zimmerman’s actions, but we have to be prepared to defend our rights from those who would exploit the shooting for their own political gain.

43 Responses to “The Gift Wrapped Tragedy”

  1. Pat says:

    Joan and Company are using Trayvon to rally against a proposed constitutional amendment in MN for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms…they’re getting air time, being called as “experts” in gun “violence”.

    Couldn’t have been a “better” shoot as far as the antis are concerned.

  2. Bram says:

    Once all the facts are made clear, we better be ready to condemn Zimmerman and applaud his prosecution if the facts warrant. The tapes are damning but I’ll wait.

  3. TS says:

    There are two factions of outraged people over this shooting. One is looking for justice for the Martin family through an arrest and conviction of Zimmerman. The other is anti-gun folks who want to use this tragedy for political gain to get self-defense laws changed. They think there are on the same side as the first group, but they are not. They need Zimmerman to go free so that they can blame Florida’s laws. An arrest and conviction proves that they were wrong about Stand Your Ground laws, but we won’t get an apology. They’ll just shut up about the Martin shooting and wait for the next smoking gun with a shooter saying “it was in self-defense” and rehash the exact same things they are saying today.

    Over on Japete’s blog, I threw out the idea that Martin’s actions are protected by Stand Your Ground laws, not Zimmerman’s (based on the claims coming from Martin’s family that Zimmerman pursued Martin). Without SYG, Martin’s duty is to run home from a perceived threat, and Zimmerman has an easier claim that he was assaulted. Japete of course accused me of “nonsense” then hours later posts a link to a liberal lawyer from NYC (who blogs about racial and social issues) who said the exact same thing I said. She doesn’t think Zimmerman is protected by Florida’s laws at all- because she is in defense of the Martin family as opposed to grandstanding for an anti-gun agenda.

    Then Japete posts a link to The Ed Show interview with Charles Blow who goes on to say that SYG does not insulate Zimmerman. He starts to explain that there are three parts to the law, but gets cut off by Ed after explaining how the first scenario doesn’t apply to Zimmerman (being inside a car). It seems the MSNBC crew doesn’t want it getting out that Florida’s laws are reasonable and not to blame. Japete’s comment on the link was “good points all.” I brought to her attention that Mr. Blow was disagreeing with her that SYG plays a role in Zimmerman’s defense, and I think I pegged her irritation meter. I’ll stop bugging her about it- but it is just so hard when she keeps posting links to people who disagree with her as she nods along saying “amen”.

    • Sebastian says:

      There are two factions of outraged people over this shooting. One is looking for justice for the Martin family through an arrest and conviction of Zimmerman. The other is anti-gun folks who want to use this tragedy for political gain to get self-defense laws changed. They think there are on the same side as the first group, but they are not. They need Zimmerman to go free so that they can blame Florida’s laws. An arrest and conviction proves that they were wrong about Stand Your Ground laws, but we won’t get an apology. They’ll just shut up about the Martin shooting and wait for the next smoking gun with a shooter saying “it was in self-defense” and rehash the exact same things they are saying today.

      Very prescient. Thanks for the comment. The only thing that concerns me, Florida laws aside, is that there’s no justice to be found here at all. I don’t think Treyvon Martin needed to die, but the question of whether Zimmerman can be legally held responsible for that is another story. What our opponents are wrong about is just assuming this has to do with the change in Florida’s law. There’s a reasonable chance that will not.

      • The courts will have to decided whether Zimmerman can be legally held responsible. But I think the issue was that this wasn’t going to the courts initially when there was sufficient murkiness for it to need a judicial review.

        Likewise, I’ve been saying based on the available facts, that I believe Martin was likely the one engaged in self-defense.

        The deciding factor is where Martin was shot. If it was next to Zimmerman’s vehicle, than Zimmerman has a self defense claim. If it was ANYWHERE ELSE, than Martin was in self-defense and Zimmerman needs to face charges of manslaughter or murder.

        Compare this case, to Jerome Earsland whom many threw under the bus. Earsland in no way precipitated his incident. He simply responded with more force than society deemed acceptable after being faced with a direct and violent threat to his life. He is now facing life in prison, which I feel is unjust. I don’t even feel a manslaughter charge is fair in his case.

        http://www.truecrimereport.com/2011/05/jerome_ersland_gets_life_for_g.php

        • Harold says:

          Errr, I don’t think so, at all. I’m not aware of any doctrine that holds in Florida that required Zimmerman to stay in his car or that created a relevant obligation when he exited it and confronted Martin; if you know of any please elucidate.

          The Jerome Earsland case is one I’ve been sort of following since it’s next door. You say:

          He simply responded with more force than society deemed acceptable after being faced with a direct and violent threat to his life.

          (Emphasis added to home in on the point I think N.U.G.U.N. Blog is making.)

          As the article accurately describes, after the threat to his life was over, although, I grant you, almost certainly not in his normal state of mind, he returned to the store, retrieved another gun, went over over to and fired five rounds into the first perp who he’d previously and legitimately shot in the head.

          That’s a execution, or at least close enough to one to count (perhaps his initial round was lethal; I don’t think it matters). I agree that what he did is “more force than society deemed acceptable” (unless it’s done by the police and they disappear the security camera footage … although, really, that’s also the press giving them a pass, to maintain access no doubt). I think that social standard is both proper and held by enough Americans it should be enforced in this way (murder conviction and life sentence).

          Now, if he’d continued shooting after the perp was down and obviously harmless (i.e. dropped his gun) we’d have room for argument; that’s also not allowed of course but it’s while he’s still in flight or fight mode etc. But not this.

          • “As the article accurately describes, after the threat to his life was over”

            When made by a sound mind and evaluation. As I’ve said, there is nothing in the camera view (at least not the ones which I witnessed) to show whether the robber had moved or not. So there is far more doubt in Jerome’s case than Zimmerman.

            Furthermore, I believe that there should be a certain level of grace when one has been violently assaulted in dealing with the assaultee. Expecting a non-law enforcement individual to immediately recover their full cognitive senses and a state of peace is hopeful at best, and often unlrealistic. Heck, even our police officers who are (supposedly) highly trained in this specific area are known to fire magazing after magazine at people who are clearly dead.

            It’s this sort of “jeopardy” at the hands of the law I am concerned about. And for which I feel we should have more protection. Rather than for men like Zimmerman who instigate confrontations.

            “That’s a execution, or at least close enough to one to count”
            Really, so you know without a doubt that Earsland had no fear, and was 100% confident the man was dead?

            Oh wait, let me shatter this whole case.

            1. Earsland hit the criminal in the head killing him and he was no threat. And he merely unloaded a magazine into a corpse. (Sentence, disturbing the peace)

            2. Earsland hit the criminal, he wasn’t dead, oh wait…he’s still a potential unknown and threat. Earsland eliminated threat.

            Furthermore, I do not feel it is fair of society to expect an average person to always react 100% rationally when filled with adrenalin and fear after just having a criminal make an attempt on your life.

            “I think that social standard is both proper and held by enough Americans it should be enforced in this way”

            And I disagree. I believe it was a witch hunt, because the murdered criminal was a kid. And I saw no absolute proof that the murdered criminal was no longer a threat. Not from the videos I saw. Furthermore, as there were two potential threats, ensuring that one of them cannot attack you if the other returns is a sound defensive strategy (even if not a sound legal one).

            Earsland should at most received a manslaughter charge. Heck, if the criminal had shot and killed Earlsand he probably be out of jail by now. And that’s just disgusting.

            “while he’s still in flight or fight mode etc. But not this.”

            All this happened within a minute or so of time. He was still in fight or flight mode, and that’s been medically documented repeatedly. Look up how long it takes for just the chemical affects of adrenaline to wear off in the the body.

            Sorry, Earsland had an anvil dropped on him when he should have had a heavy wrist slap.

            • Harold says:

              I haven’t watched the videos and I suppose I should before declaiming on this case, witness the Rodney King mess. It wouldn’t be a good idea for me to do that, so I’ll have to depend on your viewings.

              But there’s one point and one comment I’d like to make:

              The perp being dead is not the legal standard, he just has to be “stopped”. Only the courts are allowed to deliberately kill (although the distinction becomes extremely fine in e.g. sniper situations where the brain stem must be targeted to prevent a hostage taker from pulling a trigger or whatever).

              The comment is that I assumed there was something more than “a minute or so” of time elapsed, although, yes, it would still be in the range of time before “fight or flight” is over; I could well be wrong, in which case this is closer to the line I drew. I still have to wonder how long it took him to reenter the store and retrieve the 2nd gun (the account indicates very little time or movement elapsed between that and his shooting the first perp again).

              Other things a prosecution might bring up: why go back into the store? Well, it sounds like he was out of ammo, but then again, if this guy was still a legitimate threat did his path put him back in danger? Balancing those risks, though….

              Beyond that, it’s just never going to look good if you shoot someone who you’ve smashed to the ground unless you can make a good claim they are still actively dangerous. If he wasn’t moving (much) and he’d released his gun that would be rather difficult.

              But I wasn’t there nor have I reviewed any videos.

        • Alpheus says:

          That article ends with “Do you think the clerk was a hero or a murderer”? Based on that one article–where he shot the guy in the head, and then chased off the other two criminals, but then came back and shot the guy on the floor five other times, I would say: First shot, self defense hero; other five shots, cold blooded murder.

          When you are using lethal force, you should only use the amount necessary to end the threat, and maybe a little more is excusable if it’s the result of adrenalene pumping through your veins. I would even understand it, if you shot another bullet, just to make sure the guy was dead, if you had just come from a war theatre, and that’s standard soldier training.

          But to come back, get out another gun, and shoot some more? Cold blooded murder. There’s no call for that.

    • Diane says:

      The Martin family only wants Zimmerman arrested. The mother has said repeatedly that a jury will decide the rest.

      I don’t know how it is in Florida, but where I live, Zimmerman would already be out of the country. There is nothing to stop him from leaving.

      • Sebastian says:

        He was arrested, and questioned. Police released him because his statements and the evidence they had didn’t leave them with any evidence to arraign him on charges. This actually isn’t uncommon in claimed self-defense cases where there’s little evidence. I’ve certainly heard of question and release happening before, even here in Pennsylvania before we passed any castle or stand your ground law.

        Even in the case like Gerald Ung here in Pennsylvania, he was arrested and charged, but was out on the streets again. The only difference is Ung had to post a bond. The police arresting Zimmerman isn’t going to get him off the streets. He’s just going to post bail and walk. Bail won’t be very high because he’s not a flight risk.

          • Sebastian says:

            How do you question someone without arresting them? An arrest is really any time police hold you and you’re not free to leave. That’s the legal definition. Brief arrests are sometimes referred to as a “stop,” such as when a cop pulls you over.

            Zimmerman was handcuffed after police arrived and taken into custody for questioning, but was released by police without being charged. Police have interviewed Zimmerman twice since then.

            Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Rights-leaders-keep-up-pressure-in-Fla-shooting-3420912.php#ixzz1pmOflYUt

            Legally, that would be an arrest. The complaint is that charges haven’t been filed. He was arrested. He was just released. That’s not uncommon in a self-defense claim where police don’t have probable cause to show the self-defense claim is untrue.

            • Diane says:

              If you go back to news reports from the night this happened, Zimmerman “surrendered” and was questioned.

              http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/seminole_news/022712-man-shot-and-killed-in-neighborhood-altercation

              People get voluntarily questioned all the time if you watch Dateline or 20/20 or any of those crime news programs. You don’t have to be arrested to be questioned.

              • Sebastian says:

                The description from the other paper says cuffed and taken into custody. That’s an arrest legally. I’m also wondering how they got the mugshot they keep showing. Zimmerman was 21 during his 2005 arrest, and that shot looks older. So pretty clearly they processed him, even if they ultimately didn’t charge him with anything (yet).

                • SPQR says:

                  That’s correct. But what Diane wants is for Zimmerman to be punished in advance of charging by being jailed.

          • Sebastian says:

            I should also clarify that a “stop” only requires a reasonable and articulable suspicion, on the part of a law enforcement officer. An arrest that is not brief requires probable cause. It’s arguable that standard is met here, and that Zimmerman should have been arrested. Probable cause is not that remarkably high a standard. But it’s still a standard.

            • Diane says:

              Here’s something from a Florida lawyer:

              http://www.ericmathenylaw.com/Criminal-Defense-Blog/2010/April/Stand-Your-Ground-An-Absolute-Defense-in-the-Sta.aspx

              “3)In either case, a person using any force permitted by the law is immune from criminal prosecution or civil action and cannot be arrested unless a law enforcement agency determines there is probable cause that the force used was unlawful.”

              According to this, Zimmerman could not be arrested once he claimed self defense.

              • SPQR says:

                No, you are wrong. Zimmerman could not be arrested without probable cause that his use of force was unlawful. If the police had evidence that contradicted his self-defense claim, he could be arrested.

                You don’t seem to understand your own links.

            • Diane says:

              Just for the record, I think the police did a horrible job investigating this.

              I can’t believe they had this kid’s cell phone and didn’t bother to look and see if his parents were on his list of contacts to let them know their kid was dead? They didn’t call the girlfriend he was on the phone with? (She was never interviewed by the police. They never contacted her.)

              What else did they fail to do?

              • Diane says:

                Geez….. Could Zimmerman be more of a gift? Here’s another new news story about a domestic violence complaint back in 2005 http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/21/2706141/trayvon-martins-shooter-had-a.html

                • SDN says:

                  DIane, if Zimmerman (or any other male with assets) goes into the divorce system, the first thing the woman is advised to do by a lot of lawyers is file a domestic violence / sexual harassment complaint so he can be removed from the home and induced to “cooperate”. I’d be doubtful if it involved anything other than “actual physical harm”.

                  • SDN says:

                    Don’t believe me? Check this out, and believe me, that “preponderance” standard she discusses is the de facto normal one.

                  • Harold says:

                    Actually, it’s “legal malpractice” not to be the first one in this situation to tell your client to file a DV/harassment complaint, and this has been true for decades, or so I was told by a feminist friend who follows these sorts of things.

                    And you point about “actual physical harm” is the one to watch; if she couldn’t produce that and actually get him charged I too am doubtful.

              • SPQR says:

                A lot of the claims about the PD “failing” to do things are simply false or misrepresentations of what they actually did. There is a lot of false reporting going on.

  4. Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true!
    —Homer Simpson

  5. Weer'd Beard says:

    If it was truly “Gift Wrapped” there wouldn’t be so much need to push fraudulent data (like all the race crap, and all the various claims of Mr. Martin calling for help when no concrete evidence being presented) or open subterfuge like constantly publishing what appears to be middle-school sports pictures of a person who was 17 at the time of his death, and claiming that the Castle Doctrine has jack crap to do with this case.

    To the demands for mob justice and subverting due process by pushing the petitions to demand Zimmerman’s arrest and imprisonment, as well as claiming that Zimmerman shouldn’t have had his carry permit because he was charged with a crime once.

    And of course there’s all the info that’s rarely discussed that could be VERY relevant, like Zimmerman’s injuries, or Martin’s suspension from school, or the general oddity of going out after dark in the rain for a bag of candy and a can of tea.

    Its not a pretty case when you look at Zimmerman’s mall ninjary, but man the other side is looking just as dirty and biased. If that wasn’t necessary why do it?

    Like everybody else I’m looking forward evidence being presented in court.

    • Sebastian says:

      The truth matters little when it comes to the gift wrapping. People aren’t that remarkably concerned about truth. If truth mattered, the gun control groups would have faded a long time ago. What matters is the narrative.

    • Bram says:

      You have not listened to any of the recordings, have you? During the neighbor’s 911 call, you can clearly hear cries of “help” in the background until they are cut off by a gunshot.

      • Sebastian says:

        There’s little evidence who was crying for help. Could have been Zimmerman, could have been Martin. People will make an assumption that surely the person crying for help was the guy that got shot. I’ve heard the family claim because the crying for help stopped after the gunshot that clearly it was Martin who was crying for help. I don’t find that persuasive. I don’t think the evidence that’s been presented the public is conclusive about who was crying for help.

        • Bram says:

          Hey – I’m not prejudging the guy – but there is concrete evidence somebody was calling for help. I’m just warning you that there are already some very unpleasant facts here and they might get worse.

          • Weer'd Beard says:

            Bram that’s the point I’m making. SOMEBODY was calling for help. There have been multiple news reports, not to mention people from the angry brewing race riots claiming it was definitively Martin.

            I have no doubt SOMEBODY was calling for help, and it could be either man depending on who’s story is true.

            • Harold says:

              Can’t you notice that this is also entirely consistent with the concept that Martin physically attacked Zimmerman, even got him on the ground, and it was the latter calling for help until he was able to draw his gun, shoot and terminate the physical assault? After which he obviously didn’t need to call for that kind of help any more.

              We don’t know, but I don’t think we should strongly push either concept absent more “facts”.

              Scare quotes since people are claiming there are “brewing race riots” and we know from Rodney King that truth is seldom well known in these sorts of situations. But as I’ve noted in a previous discussion there’s a whole lot of stuff out there, officially recorded and all that. Which I presume includes the police report written for this incident; it sure would be interesting to see it, yes?

              But I will add the observation that I keep making: the police looked at the situation and local evidence absent an autopsy, listened to Zimmerman and released him without charges. One hopes an autopsy was done (it should be routine) and that it was congruent with this.

              I guess I am probably putting too much faith in local police competence; they certainly can be but I know nothing about this unit. And if this had happened in Mississippi I wouldn’t trust an autopsy further than I can throw my once and future apartment building (see Balko and other’s reporting on this).

              • Bram says:

                That is possible. We know that Zimmerman got out of his car and chased Martin. If that is really true, who has the legitimate claim of self-defense?

                You have no self-defense claim if you have started a fight, stalked or attacked a person. I’m sure that is the direction any investigation will take.

              • The issue, is we have a situation in which both parties could have been acting in self-defense. That requires a judicial review of the situation. And should have been determined that way.

                It wasn’t at first and because of that it’s become a “movement”.

      • Jake says:

        There is an eyewitness account (the first one to be reported that I know of, and also the only person I am aware of who actually saw any part of the events) stating that it was Zimmerman who was calling for help. Barring any other evidence or better witness accounts, I would trust the person who had eyes on at the time to be better able to determine who it was more than the people who only heard it, and certainly more than simple audio recordings.

        • What does this prove?

          In the recent case where the 18 year old shot one of the two men with a bowie knife breaking into her house. The police received a 9-1-1 call that “his friend had been shot”.

          Numerous people pick fights, get their butts kicked and cry for help.

          The question is not whether Zimmerman was being beaten, but whether he was being beaten in self-defense by Martin.

    • Diane says:

      From what I’ve read, Martin just turned 17 a couple of weeks before this happened. He was in 11th grade. Middle school wasn’t that long ago for him.

      He was suspended from school because of excessive tardiness, according to his school.

      You never go out after dark in the rain? I find that weird. You have some sort of dark/rain phobia?

      • Sebastian says:

        I’m not that persuaded by the argument that it’s somehow unusual to run to the store in the rain, or in the dark. And as for the pictures, my family has very few pictures of me from the time I was young until I graduated. Once you stop getting school pictures taken, around high school, yearbook photos are pretty much it. And a lot of teenagers aren’t keen on sitting still for pictures.

        • TS says:

          I actually like walking in the rain. There is something therapeutic about it for me, so long as I can keep my head dry. I would expect anyone to have a hood up if they have it in lieu of a hat or umbrella.

          This picture with the white hoodie seems to be the most recent. He looks more like 17 in this picture than in the other pictures circulating.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/21/trayvon-martin-hoodie-march_n_1370266.html

        • Harold says:

          I don’t drive (relevant since Martin was walking), and personally avoid going out after dark unless it’s important because that’s generally when bad s*** like this happens!!!. If I do go out it’s after donning my body armor and/or arming myself.

          Now, I’m in a position to do all that, by design and where I am in life, and if I drove without concern beyond the normal I’d probably be more willing to go out and about when it’s dark (there’s a degree of safety gained by being in a N thousand pound vehicle). But almost never to the store to buy my equivalents of tea and Skittles (I think I’ve done that once in the last 5 years).

          • Harold says:

            Err, I’m not sure if I’m hitting the wrong reply buttons or if WordPress is wonky, but the above was supposed to be a reply to Diane.

            To Sebastian, I say I don’t find it strange but I do find it unwise. Granted, this is in part “street smarts” gained by a lot of pedestrian experience in fairly high crime areas (Cambridge and Somerville, MA (the latter less so, but parts of it changed after the subway was extended into it)), and in fact one of those incidents was in a convenience store a couple or so blocks from my house (the one right across from the Davis Square “T” subway stop)), where it was robbed without my realizing it while I was in the back.

            I don’t expect a 17 year old to limit himself this way, and I myself didn’t exactly when I was a few years older although I did observe various guidelines having to do with which areas were more and less safe, times (early evening, never late night unless work required it … and if I could I’d delay until early morning when no one of bad will seems to be about), going in groups when possible, etc. But I did know I was taking a risk.

            • a) I remember my high school days. We did this alot. Especially, when I was hanging out with friends who smoked

              b) I also remember doing similar stuff when I wanted to talk to my girlfriend/fiance on the phone, and not conversations I wanted others to hear. Which is what I think likely happened here.

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