Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some Thoughts on the Trayvon Martin Shooting

I'm sure you have heard about the Trayvon Martin shooting last week.  In fact there has been little on the news lately BUT this incident.  And since this relates to shooting, of course I have a few things to say about it.
  • If you are going to shoot someone, you need to be damn sure you are in the right (obviously I am not privy to the investigation so everything I write here is based on what has been reported in the media).  From what has been reported, the shooter was in an "iffy" position at best.
  • Consider a range of "what if" scenarios (especially if you tend to carry a weapon).  My personal "what if" scenario boils down to this: if someone is in my yard, I'm going to call the police and let them deal with the situation (I live in an area that would receive a pretty quick response time; this may be different if I lived in a very remote area).  If someone breaks into my house, I will happily greet them with my firearm of choice (there is no question at that point about their intentions).  If I don't like the way someone is acting in public, I will move away from them, call the police and let them deal with the person if at all possible.  If someone comes up and accosts me, I would be pissed off but still try to diffuse the situation.  Pulling a weapon would be done only in the case of impending death or severe injury. Obviously these scenarios are on a case-by-case basis and each situation is different but I know where my personal line in the sand is and it isn't something I want to have to decide in the heat of the moment.
  • Even if you don't have the duty to retreat (which goes along with some "Castle Doctrine" laws in some states), if you can safely retreat, do so.  Sometimes you get pissed off.  Someone is breaking into your garage, it's the third time it has happened in a month, and you decide you are going to stand your ground this time.  And sometimes the law will cover you if you shoot someone in your garage BUT if you look at the situation logically, you have to consider if what is in your garage is worth the money, time, legal hassle, psychological consequences, etc. of taking someone's life.  I would rather spend my money/time/effort making a garage that is as secure as Fort Knox than shooting some idiot kid that, while he probably had it coming to him, will have to get "it" from someone else.
  • Always do your due diligence.  This applies to all aspects of your life.  When I learned that the police kind of skipped over nearly the entire investigation that should have been done at the shooting scene (read about it here on the 26th) no ballistics, no drug or alcohol test on the shooter, returning the weapon to the shooter, etc. I thought wow, someone didn't cover their ass very well...or at all.  This will definitely come back to haunt them.  If you are in the right, you will often have to prove you are in the right so make sure you have the...well...proof. Duh.
  • Don't underestimate the power of social media.  There are probably some dictators from the "Arab Spring" uprising who should have got this message a bit sooner.
  • Don't overestimate the media.  On a totally different track, I was watching a TV show about the Rutger's student who may end up in prison for a hate crime that resulted in the suicide death of another student.  I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the case but from what was reported in the media, the kid sounded like the most horrible person on the planet.  After I watched the show, I equated his actions not to a bully seeking vengence but a stupid teenager who watched 'American Pie' and thought he would try a similar prank.  There's two--sometimes more--sides to each story.  Before you get all spun up over media reports, seek out the facts first.
  • Geraldo Rivera made an interesting point about the Martin case and got hammered.  I am, however, inclined to agree with him.  People size you up in a split second.  Yes we live in a free country and yes you are free to wear whatever you want BUT hundreds of thousands of years of anthropological conditioning have rendered humans to the point that...well, we still make snap judgments about people by taking one look at them and immediately correlating what we see to our own frame of reference.  I even remember making this point a few time to my sons years and years ago.  While I knew them as intelligent, loving boys with a penchant for tattoos, in the area we lived, kids who looked Asian were either headed to an Ivy League school or part of a gang.  Unfortunately--due to the clothing style that was popular (pants buckled somewhere around knee area), their penchant for tattoos, the fact that they liked to do their own haircuts (and often ended up shaving off the resulting mess)--someone passing them on the street wasn't going to invite them for tea and try to suss out their character, someone passing them on the street, whether it was a cop, a middle-aged white woman, or a real gang banger, was going to make a judgement about them and act accordingly.  Which was a scary thought, hit home by the fact that my oldest son's best friend was jumped by a gang for just this reason, even though he had nothing to do with gangs, he just looked the part because he thought it was "cool".  He ended up in the hospital for nearly a week.  Gah. It's a wonder teenager live to adulthood...
  • And sometimes they don' exhibited by the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin.  The level of responsibility it takes when you choose to carry a firearm is huge and you don't want to regret a rash decision.  So receive training, tactical training if possible, don't go looking for trouble, stand down and avoid trouble if possible if trouble comes looking for you, and think long-term before you act.

1 comment:

  1. Great advice all, but given that so many people don't think before they act, have political agendas that they think can be solved by violence, and are willing to judge others (he probably had it coming to him) wouldn't it be better if there were fewer rather than more firearms in circulation?