May 10 2012
A lot of my readers do not understand why I have such confidence in the fact George Zimmerman was rightly charged in the death of Trayvon Martin. Most of their angst is due to the fact they let politics enter into their thinking and – whether they admit it or not – they don’t want Al Sharpton to be even partially right on this. So they defend the indefensible.
Personally I could care less about Sharpton. Whether he is right or wrong has no bearing on this. What does matter is how the incident played out and what are the laws when it comes to concealed weapons and the right to stand your ground.
Some background is in order, because I am not naive to these kinds of situations. I have had a gun pulled on me, and one threatened to be pulled on me. A passenger in my car pulled a knife on some guys harassing us late at night, and I hung out on the wrong side of the tracks at times. Sadly these kinds of incidents are not unknown to me.
There are two kinds of gun owners: (1) the quiet and serious type and (2) the show-offs covering up for their insecurity. Zimmerman strikes me as the latter. Zimmerman has a history of using excessive force in his role as bouncer – on a woman yet. That is not the act of a confident and in control person.
The guy who pulled the gun on me was a classic gun-toting idiot with delusions of grandeur.
The picture above is a loose representation of my encounter with the insecure, show-off types. I was in my car and – get this – merging onto a highway (Rt 66 in Northern Virginia). There was one other vehicle on the highway within site. It was a pickup truck and he was in the right lane – the lane I needed to merge into. My timing was perfect. I came down the ramp a little ahead of him and started to accelerate.
Then the idiot in the truck started to accelerate, too. I was driving a Pontiac Trans Am – so I accelerated even more and got onto the empty highway in front of this upstanding citizen.
Apparently, my getting in front was too much for this guy. Like Zimmerman when he ‘snapped as a bouncer and threw a woman against the wall, this guy felt the empty two lane highway was not big enough for the two of us (as I recall it was a Sunday morning when this happened). So “Joe Good Citizen” comes right up on my bumper. I tapped the brakes to warn him off with the lights – not slowing down at all.
And the fool was caught off guard! He hits his breaks way too hard and starts to lose control of the car (he already had lost control of his temper). He does recover, but now he is really pissed. I moved to the left lane and the guy pulled up on my right – now with his gun out and pointed at me.
I was not really panicked but more amused, so I simply hit my breaks, swung in behind him and took down his license plate. I then turned him into the police who went to visit our foolish gunslinger. He claimed the gun fell off the seat and he simply picked it up – never brandishing it. The cops did not buy it and he was charged.
I tried to make the court hearing, but did not make it. I have no idea what happened, but this fool went from full on arrogant to blabbering apologist in 2 seconds when the real law showed up. And he was making up all sorts of BS the entire time.
Today in Florida he would have committed what is called Assault with a Deadly Weapon. If the gun had fired and I died, it would be manslaughter – or worse.
Here is one of thousands of like incidents that occur all over the country all year:
Jeffrey Craig Hatcher also was charged with two counts each of felony aggravated assault and terroristic threats in connection with the incident shortly before 4:30 p.m.
The 48-year-old Hatcher told the deputy he is a security guard who carries a firearm as part of his job, and that the gun was in the center console of the Tahoe. The deputy retrieved a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver and a guard’s badge.
The two men in the Chevy accused Hatcher of pointing a chrome revolver at them, but Hatcher denied displaying a gun, the incident report said. Hatcher told deputies that he had tried to pass the other car, but it would not let him pass. He was placed under arrest.
This guy has some legal reason to have a gun on him outside the home, and he was correctly arrested for misusing it. These incidents involved just the threat of a gun, and the punishment is harsh. Use it and things get much worse. Kill someone and you are in deep trouble. So you better have a bullet-proof excuse – or else.
I grew up around guns. I like using them and have been trained since a wee lad on what to do and not do. I proudly live in a state that allows concealed weapons, one that also has severe punishments for misuse of those weapons by civilians. I believe in both the right and responsibility. I have low tolerance for fools with guns – they play right into the gun control zealots hands.
Also, my family has its shares of law enforcement members. From police chief, mayor, state and federal prosecutor, judge and US congressman we have a deep understanding of where those lines of legal behavior are. More than most.
Here is a very, very important statement from the government of Florida regarding concealed weapons and why Zimmerman is in the trouble he is in:
To carry a concealed firearm is to take on an immense responsibility. It is very important to understand that a license to carry a concealed weapon does not give the license holder discretionary authority to use that weapon. It is my sincere hope that you will never find it necessary to use your weapon in self-defense; however, if circumstances require you to do so, you should know that the law will protect you only if your actions in using deadly force have been consistent with the law.
Emphasis mine. Zimmerman has no right to use the weapon – even in self defense. Yes, he can try the self defense angle, but it is not a given it will work. And most likely it will not work in this case.
First off, Zimmerman was not in a defensive position through most of the event. He was not being attacked by Martin, who was walking through the neighborhood eating candy and talking on the phone. This fact cannot be dismissed or ignored. When the incident began Zimmerman was not in danger. He put himself into the situation against the wishes of Martin.
Zimmerman was not in a self defense situation when he got out of his car – armed – and tried to chase down Martin. At this point in the sequence of events, it is Martin who is in the self defense position because he is the one being chased by an armed man. Zimmerman has no authority to go after someone armed. None.
The threat is real in Martin’s mind and backed up apparently by testimony of the girlfriend on the phone. Zimmerman has no “right to stand” from here on – but Martin does.
Martin tries to flee, Zimmerman continues to chase for many minutes and against police direction. Zimmerman is also angry at Martin without any hard evidence – it is all a state of mind for Zimmerman.
This is the law as applied equally to Zimmerman and Martin. When the physical conflict finally occurs, Zimmerman has been chasing and Martin has been fleeing. The encounter could have been avoided if Zimmerman stayed in his truck, waited for police and followed their directions. Remember the warning above:
if circumstances require you to do so, you should know that the law will protect you only if your actions in using deadly force have been consistent with the law.
Zimmerman’s actions up to the confrontation are not consistent with self defense. You cannot create a conflict and then claim the conflict threatened you.
790.10 Improper exhibition of dangerous weapons or firearms.—If any person having or carrying any dirk, sword, sword cane, firearm, electric weapon or device, or other weapon shall, in the presence of one or more persons, exhibit the same in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense, the person so offending shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
This is also a very key statute. Zimmerman cannot use the fact he is armed to detain or question Martin. He cannot use the threat of a gun to detain Martin. There must be some evidence that has pushed the prosecutor to go from manslaughter to 2nd degree murder. And my hunch is that extra evidence is the fact Zimmerman brandished the gun to try and alpha-male Martin.
I also have serious doubts that the gun was in Zimmerman’s waist band when he pulled it – being on his back and pinned down by Martin. Take that for what it is worth, but to pull a gun under such conditions is really hard.
The gun could have been pulled, which then created the physical altercation as Martin used his right to stand. It would explain a scenario where Martin is screaming for help, even though he is winning the physical battle. It would also explain why Martin was being so hard on Zimmerman. The presence of a gun would make bashing Zimmerman unconscious a smart and prudent plan of defense.
What we don’t know is if the presence of the gun was made known prior to the physical altercation. And this is where the testimony of Trayvon’s girlfriend is probably the key. If Zimmerman let it be known he was armed, then the self defense claim goes all the way to Martin and Zimmerman is in serious trouble.
He cannot use self defense when he makes the threat of harm.
I will end this with some sage advice from someone on Free Republic:
* YOUR CONCEALED WEAPON IS FOR PROTECTION OF LIFE ONLY.
Draw it solely in preparation to protect yourself or an innocent third party from the wrongful and criminal activities of another.
* KNOW EXACTLY WHEN YOU CAN USE YOUR WEAPON.
A criminal adversary must have or reasonably appear to have:
A. The ABILITY to inflict serious bodily injury. He is armed or reasonably appears to be armed.
B. The OPPORTUNITY to inflict serious bodily harm. He is positioned to harm you with his weapon, and,
C. His INTENT (hostile actions or words) indicates that he means to place you in jeopardy – to do you serious or fatal physical harm.
You cannot be wrong on these matters when the weapon discharges. There has to be a real threat, not one in your head. It will be impossible for Zimmerman (who was armed) to claim Martin was a threat at any time before the final, physical altercation – which Zimmerman instigated by following Martin.
One last item. People don’t understand how Zimmerman and Martin finally connected up after Zimmerman lost Martin (who was between the buildings) as Zimmerman walked over to the far parking lot. Minutes went by and they should have not re-engaged.
Except Martin probably hung out outside his house, and when the coast appeared to be clear, went back to walking and talking to his girlfriend. Zimmerman was on his way back to his truck after losing Martin. That is how they fatefully met the last time. But that will not save Zimmerman from his responsibilities as the armed person, nor his many opportunities to avoid conflict.
If he only stayed in or with his truck – as directed by police. And that is the essence of this case.