What Martin was actually doing while walking home that night, and why Zimmerman followed him into the complex, have absolutely zero bearing as to whether or not Zimmerman's use of his firearm falls under the legal definition of self defense. I'm just not sure how many times and in how many different ways I can say the exact same thing before it sinks in.
But it does have a lot to do with people's issues with the laws and the drive to have them looked at and better defined, limited, etc.
Sure. And that's a legitimate point we can discuss. I guess I just take issue with someone assuming a position on that aspect of the issue and then projecting that assumption onto me
. Alma clearly believes that Zimmerman (while armed) is only justified to follow Martin if he has proof that Martin is committing or will commit a crime, and if he didn't have that proof, any conflict that results must be his fault, and thus any claim to self defense on his behalf is nullified. But that's Alma's assumption, not mine
. Yet he's demanding that I prove a condition that he and I disagree is relevant (whether Martin was committing a crime or about to commit a crime when Zimmerman followed him) to the question at hand. And that gets frustrating as hell.
As to the issue itself, I have extreme problems with it. In order to say that Zimmerman was wrong to do what he did (following Martin while armed) basically requires that we toss out the entire concept of arming ones self in the first place. Obviously, there are actions people can take that may be completely legal and within their rights, but which we might say aren't such a great idea. Walking down a dark alley late at night in a bad part of town is probably not a great idea, right? We'd certainly recommend that someone not do that if they can avoid it. Yet it's legally absolutely within your right to do that, and if someone beats you up and takes your money, they're the one's committing a crime, not you.
My concern with the concept of blame on Zimmerman is that you're basically saying that the victim (or potential victim) is at fault for being assaulted/robbed/mugged/whatever because he should have known that he was putting himself at risk. By walking down that dark alley he's "creating a situation" where he's likely to be beaten and robbed. That's true, but he's still not the one breaking the law and we really need to recognize that fact. And the argument gets really twisted when we add in a concealed weapon. If we assume that it's dangerous to walk down that dark alley, but that I'm completely within my right to do so, should I not reasonably decide to carry a concealed weapon when/if I decided to walk down that alley? I'm carrying a weapon in order to protect myself *if* someone decides to violate my right to walk down that alley.
Is that wrong of me? The argument some folks are putting forth is that since I know there's a risk that I might get beaten and robbed walking down that alley, that by arming myself prior to doing so, this proves that I *want* that robbery to happen so that I can shoot someone. But that's a huge stretch, isn't it? What if I have to walk down that alley as part of my job? What if it's on my way home? Hell. What if that dark alley *is* part of the neighborhood I live in? While it's entirely possible that some people *might* choose to intentionally arm themselves and put themselves in dangerous positions so as to act as some sort of vigilante, I think it's begging the question to assume that anyone who arms themselves and walks down that alley *must* be motivated by vigilantism. Yet that's a lot of what we get in this case.
It's like starting out saying that a woman wearing a short skirt is increasing her odds of being raped, and then going further and saying that the same woman carrying a concealed weapon should know that she's increased her odds of someone attempting to rape her, so her motivation for carrying the weapon can't be the obvious (wants to protect herself from rape), but must instead be that she wants to shoot someone. You (not you specifically, but anyone making this form of argument) are essentially arguing that instead of arming herself she should instead not wear a short skirt or ever be in an area where someone might try to rape her. I think that's an unworkable legal standard. Doubly so when I assume most people on this forum would never argue that the woman in that situation was at fault for "causing a situation in which she might be raped", yet the same people seem to have no problem blaming Zimmerman for "causing a situation in which he might be assaulted".
It's the same legal standard you're talking about though. Does carrying a concealed weapon negate your right to do things which would otherwise be legal (but perhaps not smart ideas) if you were unarmed? If so, why? I'd think most people would argue that the woman absolutely has a right to carry a concealed weapon and no blame at all if someone decides to try to rape her and she uses said weapon to defend herself. So why is Zimmerman's case different? He had every right to walk through that complex. Every right to approach Martin. Every right to talk to Martin. The issue should resolve around the particulars of the fight itself, and whether self defense was justified.
IMO to argue that Zimmerman was (or should be) legally at wrong to do what he did leading up to the fight purely because he was armed, is a completely different and problematic argument that has ramifications well beyond the specific case before us. As I've said before, you're basically arguing that carrying a concealed weapon automatically makes you at fault if/when any sort of conflict occurs. I think we need to actually look at the particulars of the conflict itself, not the mere fact that someone was there to be in the conflict and was carrying a gun.
But the pro gun crowd won't have any of that (*). Gotta be able to use your gun!
(*)The only people who have ever talked to me about this case in person have only done so from a gun rights point of view.
You can make the exact argument in reverse regarding the anti-gun crowd though. It's not like the pro-gun folks are jumping around going "yee haw! Gun rights!!!", all on their own. They are responding to anti-gun folks basically saying Zimmerman was wrong more or less because he was armed. So yeah, that's going to create an argument, but it's not like it's just one side involved. Just look at how many people in this thread who've more or less pinned their whole argument to the fact that Zimmerman was armed, period. He shouldn't have chased Martin "while armed". Apparently, it would have been fine to do so while not armed, thus increasing his odds of becoming a victim, which I find strange. Edited, Jul 15th 2013 5:15pm by gbaji