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When Killing Each Other is Legal

July 18, 2013

Zimmerman, packing a handgun, followed/stalked/chased a big, strong kid. The kid got scared or angry or both and attacked Zimmerman. Martin could have killed him and would have got off. After all, he was being chased by a guy with a gun who happened to be blowing off both police instructions and the policies of his own neighborhood watch group. Even without that, Zimmerman’s gun meant Martin was free to kill him.

So Martin had the full legal right to kill Zimmerman. At the same time, once Martin had begun fighting, Zimmerman also had a legal right to kill. After all, he was legally following a man he regarded as suspicious who then turned and attacked him, endangering his life.

So each man had a perfect legal right to kill the other.

Had Zimmerman shoved Martin in a bar provoking a left hook to the face and if Zimmerman had then shot Martin, obviously Zimmerman would have been found guilty since he started the fight. But following someone, the jury found, is not the same as shoving him; it is not a sufficient provocation to make Zimmerman guilty of anything.

Nevertheless, if you have a gun and you follow someone and that person freaks out and kills you, he will likely get away with it: “Your honor, he was following me, he had a gun. I ran, he chased me. I was so scared.” It wouldn’t even go to trial.

So the jury’s verdict puts us all in this strange situation where if a guy with a gun follows you, you can attack him if you want, but you’d better kill him because if you don’t, he can kill you and get away with it.

Is this a good thing?

I’m all for the right to bear arms. But what about responsibility? If you own a gun, shouldn’t the law of the land tell you that you can’t legally follow and/or chase someone? Of course, there would be an exception for extraordinary circumstances written into such a law — “He looked suspicious, your honor” obviously wouldn’t qualify.

If the law prohibited grabbing your gun and following people just because you feel like it, the Zimmermans of the world would either go to jail or, miracle of miracles, let the police handle suspicious teenagers walking to and from the candy store.

The law is not written that way, so the jury had no choice but to let monumental stupidity go unpunished.

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From → Politics

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