Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.
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Friday, March 30, 2012

A country tired of George Zimmerman

Enough is enough. Aren't we all getting tired of the daily news reports about what George Zimmerman did or didn't do before, during and after the shooting of Trayvon Martin? Are we tired of the unwarranted attacks on Trayvon Martin his problems at school as if they had anything to do with what he was reportedly doing the night of February 26th? We need some resolution to this before things get worse. As we watch the video of George Zimmerman walking into the police station, speculation abounds. Did he have a gash on the back of his head? Were those stitches there? If so, did he receive medical attention for the stitches? Since the video was timed at about 35 minutes after the reported shooting took place, was there time for him to be treated at an emergency room? Where was blood on his clothing from his supposed bloody/broken nose and/or from Trayvon? Why did he exit the patrol car in a manner inconsistent with someone who had just been in the fight for his life? Why did police allow him to walk around in the shoes that could have provided evidence? If this video occurred a mere 35 minutes after the shooting, how much time did it take to investigate the crime scene? Was evidence taken from Zimmerman's clothing? Where are the alleged grass stains? Let these things be decided by a jury. Let the process begin and get it out of media speculation on both sides.

And now yet another witness has come forward. This person says that Zimmerman got up quickly right after the shot was fired. Does this square with Zimmerman's story that Trayvon had him pinned on the ground and had been banging his head on the pavement in the struggle right before the shot was fired? If Trayvon had been on top of Zimmerman, how did he get up so quickly under the weight of a dead and bloodied body? If there is a gash on Zimmerman's head it appears to be towards the top of his head. How could that have been the result of someone pounding his head into the pavement? The longer this goes on, the more questions there are and the longer the situation festers in the court of public opinion. The vacuum will continue to be filled by conjecture and opinion and some actual facts.

This article from the Orlando Sentinel, trying to clear up a few things, makes a claim that according to the Sanford Police Dept. the clothing of both men was taken and bagged by police. Really? Then how did Zimmerman still have on the clothing he must have been wearing at the time of the shooting when he was taped walking into the police department? Did he change clothes? When was the clothing taken? If it was taken after Zimmerman walked into the police department, wasn't it already compromised because of the time elapsed? Did it show grass stains on the back of the shirt? From the video it doesn't appear that Zimmerman's shirt has stains on it. From the video, an officer is seen to touch Zimmerman's clothing and wipe something on his own pants. Was that evidence that could be used in a trial? We need answers but we won't get them in the court of public opinion.

Reporter Joy-Ann Reid of DeGrio.com took us to the crime scene as she walked from where the altercation likely began to the place where Trayvon's body was found. As it turns out, it was a sidewalk between two rows of town homes with the back yards of the homes abutting the sidewalk. It is used by the neighbors to walk their dogs and get to other homes by foot. Trayvon was heading to the town home where he had been visiting with his father's fiance. His body was found, according to Reid, face down in the grass, some feet from the sidewalk, with his feet facing the sidewalk. How does this square with Zimmerman's story that Trayvon was banging his head against the pavement? Was there blood on the sidewalk? It was raining that night so it might have been difficult to discover that? We need answers but we won't get them in the court of public opinion.

And then Zimmerman's father makes a political statement as if things were not already becoming too divisive: " I never foresaw so much hate coming from the President." What does he mean by that? Why did he interject that into the conversation? How could President Obama's statement about Trayvon Martin be considered to be hateful?

So the longer this goes on, the worse it will get. With pro gun commenters and bloggers making incendiary and racist comments like this on the Facebook page of Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, how can the communities and the country come together and solve the problem of potential racial tensions? ( language taken from the quotes and not mine):
Pro-gun activist Thomas O'Neill found the topic of shootings involving children hilarious and commented, "Did you guys know that there is a new kind of bullet that is actually built with technology that can pin-point the trajectory to people's heads?! 1 to 4 year old specifically!"
McKenzy Mallon had a good laugh, too, writing, "NO! Guns are evil devices made by evil people! If Zimmerman was not allowed to carry an assault machine gun Trayvon would still be ALIVE!" 
"FAMAS [a French assault rifle] assault clips killed mah baby jamal," said pro-gun activist James Butterscotch, mocking the loss of African American children to gun violence. On his Facebook profile, Butterscotch lists his high school as "FUCK SCHOOL NIGGA IMA BE A DOPE DEALER."
With the extremes taking sides on the issue making statements such as the ones above and the ones by the Black Panthers, below, how can we solve the problem of people shooting each other?
Members of a group called the New Black Panther Party are offering a $10,000 reward for the “capture and citizens arrest” of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch coordinator who shot Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26.
“We cannot sit back as men and allow Zimmerman to remain free and on the loose because he is a danger to himself and others ... We must use our constitutional rights and Florida law to organize a citizens arrest in order to see that justice is done,” said group spokesman Chawn Kweli, according to a press statement on the group’s website.
The court of public opinion is not making things better. But it may just be reminding Americans of the many gun deaths in general in our country as it did for these California parents. And speaking of the many gun deaths in America, today is the 31st anniversary of the assassination attempt on President Reagan and the shooting of his Press Secretary James Brady. Let us remember the life long struggle of the Brady family as they have coped with the after math of that high profile shooting. Let us also remember that President Reagan favored reasonable gun laws.
As reported in the media, after mentioning he was a member of the NRA, President Reagan stated the following at a George Washington University ceremony on March 28, 1991, marking the 10th anniversary of his near assassination: "With the right to bear arms comes a great responsibility to use caution and common sense on handgun purchases. And it's just plain common sense that there be a waiting period to allow local law-enforcement officials to conduct background checks on those who wish to purchase handguns." 
Let us remember that the system of requiring background checks for sales of guns by Federally Licensed Firearms dealers was named for James Brady- the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993. Let us remember that Travyon Martin's case, as polarizing and senseless as it is, is one of the many that happen every day in America. Let us not make Trayvon's case just another case that gets forgotten and that some of our elected leaders would like us to forget. It might remind some of them that they have voted in favor of weakening our laws that have put more guns into the hands of some who should not have them and have created an atmosphere of acceptance for guns everywhere. This has created communities where fear and paranoia cause more people to carry guns and more people to think of shooting someone over stuff or over a suspicion or because of too much to drink, or because of mental illness, or because of anger or a domestic dispute. Guns are not the answer. Guns are not the solution. Guns are the problem.

With the NRA ( and ALEC) under scrutiny because of its' roll in helping to write and push gun laws that allow shootings like this to happen, how can we believe anything the organization pushes in the future? And yet, they keep at it. I guess to these folks, Trayvon's shooting was justifiable and the Stand Your Ground laws are just fine. Five states are still pushing for Stand Your Ground laws after the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Where is common sense? The laws are working just fine- for some- but not for the increasing number of victims. Not for Trayvon Martin's family.

This case should not be tried in the court of public opinion. If justice is to be done, Zimmerman needs to be arrested and then the legal system should be allowed to work. People of many different viewpoints share the view that it's time to have the case dealt with by the justice system and not the rumor and innuendo system as it is now. This blogger from the Chicago Tribune agrees that the court of public opinion is not helpful and can be harmful.
But the unofficial judges in the court of public opinion deserve similar criticism. Consider, for example, the case of Richard Jewell, tried and convicted by the masses of setting off a bomb at the Atlanta Olympic Games though he had nothing to do with the crime; the case of the Duke lacrosse team, prematurely convicted in the media of gang rape; or the case of John and Patsy Ramsey, widely reviled after their daughter JonBenet was murdered.
Consider any number of other cases where we all just knew the outrageous truth until suddenly — gulp — we didn’t anymore. With apologies to those whose lives we left in ruins.
Yes, the Trayvon Martin case still demands more answers. But when those answers come, fairness demands that we listen to them.
As my readers know, I have taken a side in this case. My side is that Zimmerman should have to answer the questions in a court of law. My side is that  because Zimmerman had a gun and had the mind set of so many who carry loaded guns in public just about everyone seems suspicious. Suspicion paired with a gun and Trayvon Martin is now dead ( and expressed in the above video of Brady Campaign President Dan Gross). It is my belief that part of the reason we have been left with all of these questions is because the Florida law assumes that the person who claims self defense is right and therefore the usual attention to the crime scene is not given. Chris Hayes of MSNBC sums it up well in this video:
If self defense is claimed and then determined by law enforcement to be true, as it was in the Trayvon Martin case, that can be the end of the case and the families and friends of the victim have no closure. This case just doesn't pass the smell test and the public is demanding answers. Let us hope that they will come soon so we all get a little rest and let the process of justice begin. And let us also continue to call attention to the dangers of guns everywhere in our communities. Then let common sense work it's way into the discussion and the process.


13 comments:

  1. Japete: “His body was found, according to Reid, face down in the grass, some feet from the sidewalk, with his feet facing the sidewalk. How does this square with Zimmerman's story that Trayvon was banging his head against the pavement?”

    Zimmerman’s story (as relayed by his father) is that he was able to move himself off the concrete during the struggle, and in the process Martin noticed his gun. Martin then went for his gun and said something along the lines of “you’re going to die tonight.” You don’t have to believe his story, but it does square with it.

    Second, I would like to comment on the Rachael Maddow video. As I said in an earlier thread, the SPD didn’t charge him that night because they said they didn’t have probable cause. The video shows the actual text of the law with the “probable cause” language. This is true of any arrest. The police need probable cause. Does he suggest the police should be able to make arrests without probable cause? We need not debate whether there was ample evidence for probable cause, because I’ll end up agreeing with you that there was- but again, this is not some special limitation given only to self-defense laws.

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  2. You asked "Since the video was timed at about 35 minutes after the reported shooting took place, was there time for him to be treated at an emergency room? Where was blood on his clothing from his supposed bloody/broken nose and/or from Trayvon?"

    He was treated at the scene by the EMTs while in handcuffs in the back of the patrol car according to the police report.

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    1. So they say. Treated for what? There was still no visible blood on his clothing.

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    2. You asked "So they say. Treated for what? There was still no visible blood on his clothing."

      "While I was in close contact with Zimmerman, I could observe that his back appeared to be wet and was covered in grass, as if he had been laying on his back on the ground. Zimmerman was also bleeding from the nose and back of his head...

      Zimmerman was placed in the rear of my police vehicle and was given first aid by the SFD"

      He was wearing a red jacket, do you think the blood might not be obvious?

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    3. His jacket was a 2 tone jacket which was open and no blood on the shirt that could be seen. The shirt was a lighter color. If you think you can find some blood on that jacket, let me know. I haven't heard one person who observed the video who found that the jacket looked like it was wet or bloody. It was raining pretty hard that night. I suppose it could have dried off in 35 minutes- maybe.

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    4. Why is the video so much more important than what the reporting officer stated? Are you suggesting the officer fabricated the report?

      Besides, Murphy's law only states that ketchup will always end up on a white shirt before a job interview, not that a bloody nose will always end up staining a shirt.

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    5. And yet it doesn't matter what we can see. Either he was injured or he wasn't. That will be for a grand jury and or a jury to determine. The police report says he was and that will be entered into evidence. You can bet the police have close up photos of any injuries he received.

      Fortunately we have due process in this country and we don't throw people in jail based on public opinion.

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    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. T S. I just don't think that works. Robin- why do you think I wrote this post? Too many questions- they need to be answered at some point. Due process would be better served without SYG laws that have prevented some of the usual process of investigation.

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    1. You keep saying "Due process would be better served without SYG laws that have prevented some of the usual process of investigation."

      What part of the investigation was effected by Stand Your Ground? You said that the clothes weren't bagged. They were. You stated there were no photos. There were. You stated that the police did not have the gun. They do.

      Precisely what part of the investigation was effected and what documentation do you have for that? Because all that I know was effected is that Zimmerman wasn't arrested without probable cause. Is there some part of the investigation that would be helped by him being jailed?

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    2. I don't believe we know any of that for sure, Robin. As you know, the reason this case blew up is because Zimmerman was not arrested and allowed to walk away. The police dept. stated that Zimmerman claimed self defense and it doesn't appear that anything else was going to happen until the case became public. He wasn't arrested and it seems likely that he wouldn't have been under the law. That could have been the end of the story. And therein lies the problem.

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  4. I've enjoyed the twists and turns of this story. Between the Spike Lee stupidity and the video showing no "head bashed in" it's almost too much to follow.

    The bottom line for me is Zimmerman got out of his car when he should have stayed put. That's vigilante wannabe policeman behavior. You don't even have to bring the racial element into it for that to be the determining factor of where it all went wrong.

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  5. "Aren't we all getting tired of the daily news reports about what George Zimmerman did or didn't do

    Let these things be decided by a jury. Let the process begin and get it out of media speculation on both sides."

    Hey - we agree perfectly! Happy Spring!

    "Does this square with Zimmerman's story that Trayvon had him pinned on the ground and had been banging his head on the pavement in the struggle right before the shot was fired? If Trayvon had been on top of Zimmerman, how did he get up so quickly under the weight of a dead and bloodied body?"

    Have you seen Martin's Twitter account? He appears to be a wanna be thug, not a real gangster, but one influenced by the popular media version. Zimmerman also appears to be a punk, but of the wannabe cop type. This would explain why Martin didn't seriously hurt him, and why he was able to recover so quickly. He probably could have just laid there until Martin spent his energy and not even gotten moderately hurt.

    "How could that have been the result of someone pounding his head into the pavement?"

    Improper technique. Very few people these days know how to fight. I recently watched a documentary called "Hood Life 2" which showed a great many fights - and not one person threw a punch correctly, not one kicked correctly, and no one even stomped correctly.

    It's impossible to say what happened, but it sure looks like two punks, one who thought he was a badass and one who thought he was a hero, both made a series of terrible mistakes. Morally and legally it should seem that Zimmerman had the greater portion of responsibility as he was 1) an adult 2) a gunslinger 3) neighborhood watch and 4)a graduate of the citizen's police academy.

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