OTOH, your personal approach gives you no standing to trash those who take a different approach. At least Sebastian is willing to admit he might have been a bit…ah…premature. Good on him!
If George Zimmerman were the only one on trial, I might be more forgiving of him taking a different approach. But anyone who holds a permit or straps on a firearm for self-defense is now on trial, as are the laws we’ve advocated to support that endeavor. Because of that, I think advocating smart practices in this area is important. Certainly I’m not going to come be anyone’s mommy, and follow them around to make sure they always do the smart thing, nor am I going to advocate laws that could punish someone for not adhering to best practices. But I am definitely going to advocate for those practices as others have advocated them to me.
Jeff Cooper’s advocacy of four simple rules for gun handling, which were spread by folks like gospel through advocacy, have reduced shooting accidents substantially over the past several decades. Shooting accidents are now a far weaker argument for the opponents of gun ownership now than they were in the 1970s, thanks to Cooper and a lot of evangelism for a culture of safety in the shooting sports. I believe in that kind of advocacy, and the Zimmerman case has been useful in pointing out mistakes he made and talking about smarter practices. I don’t think it’s so much a priesthood of self-defense, so much as the fact most of us realize we all have to be evangelists for what the community generally accepts as smart practices that will keep people out of trouble.
I think most of us understand that self-defense situations are not cut and dry, and real life situations are always a lot more complex than the classroom or shooting range. I think we’ve all been willing to give Zimmerman the benefit of doubt on his self-defense claim, even while simultaneously being critical of him for failing to practice avoidance.
The one conclusion I’ll admit was premature on my part was concluding his motivations for finding Matin suspicious were racial, and couldn’t have been objective. Now that more information is coming out that Martin may have been involved with drugs, if he was on drugs that night, that could have provided an objective basis for Zimmerman’s suspicion. But I stand by my assertion that this killing was unnecessary. Had Martin been approached by someone in uniform, it’s likely we never would have heard about this, and both Zimmerman and Martin could have their respective lives back. But whether it was unnecessary or not is a completely different matter than whether it’s legally self-defense. I’ve never been willing to convict Zimmerman on that count, and believe his claim is plausible based on the evidence we’ve seen in the public. But I don’t think it’s wrong or elitist to advocate for smart practices that are taught by most self-defense instructors around the country, especially when the consequences of not advocating good practices is that we all risk getting put on trial.