"By March 19, the story was officially national news—and so was Fox News’s relative absence. Think Progress ran a story under the headline “All Major News Outlets Cover Trayvon Martin Tragedy, Except Fox News,” which was tweeted more than 1,500 times and picked up by a wide array of blogs and news sites. A chart accompanying the item said that between Feb. 26 and March 19, CNN had devoted 41 segments to Trayvon Martin, with MSNBC airing 13 and Fox News one."
The segments that Fox News did air quickly drew scrutiny. Monday afternoon, anchor Martha MacCallum introduced a piece that tied the release of the 911 calls to a general statement on the shooting by the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “The alleged gunman [is] claiming that it was self-defense,” said MacCallum, “and now anti-gun advocates say the 911 calls from some witnesses prove otherwise—and they’re using them as ammunition in a new attack on the National Rifle Association.”
Los Angeles correspondent Trace Gallagher described portions of the tapes, and then concluded: “Remember, Florida is also a ‘Stand Your Ground’ law state, which means that you can use guns or other deadly force as self-defense without backing out of a confrontation. Now, the National Rifle Association backed that law, and now the Brady Campaign, which is pushing for tougher gun laws, says, ‘That’s the National Rifle Association’s vision for America.’ It’s important to point out that gun sales in this country have never been higher, and the crime rate, says the FBI, is very low.”
Good grief. Can't they do any better than that? The NRA does have a vision for America that includes guns for all and everywhere. Why do we think these laws have been passed in the first place?
As my readers know, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton recently vetoed a "Shoot First" bill similar to Florida's Stand Your Ground law. This was a good thing for the public safety of Minnesota but the NRA ideologue lawmakers who pushed the bill did not agree. This article, written before the veto of the bill, does a great job of getting to the divide in Minnesota about gun bills in general and about the Shoot First bill and how it applies now to what happened in Florida on February 26th in the Trayvon Martin shooting. From the article:
Shooting first, without asking questions, without an objective standard, gives armed civilians more rights as to the rules of engagement than are possessed by the police. The initiative to expand the Castle Doctrine and bring back the Wild West is national, with legislation pending in states across the country. All use the NRA template, and all rely on a shrill paranoia that comes down to doing “everything in your power” to defend your family. Combine that paranoia with an emotion like road rage and you’ve got a deadly combination. And for every anecdote of a street crime halted by a gun, there is a countervailing Chardon, Ohio episode to cite.What it comes down to is a discussion, not about the right to carry guns, but the right to use them based on an internal emotional state, however confused. That’s what subjective determination of threat levels could lead to. One man’s ugly urban encounter is another’s murder.
But I found this article to be particularly on point. Does someone who is carrying a gun become more suspicious that others are also carrying guns? I have written many times about the totally different worlds of the gun rights extremists and the rest of the world ( since the gun rights advocates represent about 2-3% of us). The author has some interesting observations which just became more relevant after the Trayvon Martin shooting. From this article:(...) If the legal issue becomes the good intentions and bad vibes perceived by the shooter, then a brutal new standard of life-and-death becomes the norm. This is the reality of, “An armed society is a polite society.” It’s a loutish civility, a tyrannical politeness. The expanded Castle Doctrine is a porch too far. The bill deserves a veto from (Democratic) Governor Mark Dayton.
He ends it this way:In the study which was carried out well before the shooting, undergraduates at Notre Dame and Purdue glimpsed scenes of people holding objects and had to decide quickly whether the object was a gun. The results showed they were biased toward thinking so if they themselves were holding a toy gun, rather than a plastic ball. Just having a gun nearby didn't make a difference, researchers found.Why is that? Brockmole said people are primed to act in the world rather than just passively see it. So their minds have to contain information both about what they see and what they might do in response. Evidently, each kind of information can influence the other, he said.He said the work is not intended to support gun control, but it suggests that people should know that when they hold a gun "that might change how you're going to interpret what's around you."
Dennis Proffitt, who studies visual perception at the University of Virginia, said there are many reasons why one person might think another is armed, such as if he is worried about his own safety or if he thinks the other person is a robber. The effect of holding a gun oneself "could be part of the story" in Florida, he said.I asked the question in one of my previous posts about whether George Zimmerman acted more boldly because he had a gun. People who carry guns for self defense in public places appear to think there is danger around every corner and may be more suspicious than the average person. From interactions on this blog via the comment section, I gather that most of the folks who have chosen to comment here see the world as one filled with danger and the paranoia that comes with it; this view can lead to feeling unsafe and therefore the need for a loaded gun wherever one finds oneself. Most people manage their lives without the need for a loaded holstered gun to weigh them down both physically and emotionally. It's a heavy burden and it can lead to tragedy, as it did in the Trayvon Martin case.
As more laws are passed to allow more people to carry guns in more places, more analysis of the gun culture in America is happening. Such is the case with this Christian Science Monitor article. From the article:
But the vast majority of the momentum on guns is on the side of people who want a .30-30 rifle in their cabinet at home and the right to carry a Ruger in their coat pocket – anywhere. It is being driven, in part, by what could be called a "militia of one" mentality. While 20 years ago many people were arming themselves as part of a nostalgic identification with citizen armies, many today see carrying a gun in public as an essential right and a legitimate, even necessary, tool to ease peculiar and particular American fears about personal protection."People are buying guns to deal with their anxiety of feeling they have no safety or they have this need for their political sense of freedom, but not everybody shares that level of personal threat," says Joan Burbick, author of "Gun Show Nation," a critique of American gun culture. "And when you're going to insist upon this in public spaces or shared spaces like a basketball game or a park, then you're really intruding into where other people get their personal sense of safety."
After writing more about how people got involved in efforts to beat back gun control efforts and a little history about the assault weapons ban, the author goes on with more quotes from people interviewed for the article:(...) "There's a kind of Second Amendment reconstructionism going on which has to do with Western individuality, freedom from coercion ... moving about and not having to explain your business to people," says Brian Anse Patrick, a University of Toledo professor and author of "Rise of the Anti-Media," which documents the gun rights movement's underground presses. "They may not think Washington is their friend, and they're certain that bureaucrats are working against their right to own guns. But it has less to do with resisting government authority and more about family: 'I want to be able to defend myself, I want the right to travel and refrain from fear, and this little .38 special here helps me achieve that.' "(...) Yet a little defiance of government authority is mixed in there as well. "The Democratic Party in many ways overinvested in symbolic legislation on gun control, which explains the backlash from hunters or people who have a legitimate reason to feel unsafe and want a gun by their bedside," says Sanford Levinson, a University of Texas constitutional law professor and expert on the Second Amendment. "But the more important thing is what the Republican Party has done over 25 years, which is to really delegitimize national government and make people feel that the national government is not merely incompetent, but also likely to be antagonistic and maybe even tyrannical."The 9/11 attacks reinforced the view among many Americans that dark forces lurk in society that people need to defend themselves against. While the overall violent crime rate is down, a recent poll by Rasmussen Reports showed that 72 percent of Americans feel that local crime will increase in the near term. Some experts say this generalized anxiety is reflected in the popularity of movies and TV shows about zombies and similar topics. The grim mood hasn't gone unnoticed by ammo manufacturers, one of which is trying to capitalize on the zeitgeist by selling a line of Zombie Max cartridges and shells.
And finally this:"You go from self-defense to political freedom. And every step along the way you get to expand gun rights, you have a victory for political freedom. That's a heady equation," says Ms. Burbick, who studies culture and politics at Washington State University in Pullman. "It's simple, it's straightforward, but nobody seems to be able to test if it's accurate. So instead of funding town parks at a level where you can manage the environment and the people in the environment, you come up with this very shortsighted but direct solution, which is carry a gun."
Behind the proliferation of less-restrictive laws – and guns themselves – looms a question as old as the flintlock: Does having more weapons in people's hands make society more, or less, safe? Partisans on both sides marshal their numbers. Gun critics have long been concerned that concealed carry laws will lead to more routine disputes being settled with a bullet, especially if the weapons end up on the wrong hips.And yet another editorial piece bemoaning the fact that in our current culture, a few lives lost to bullets is just the price our country has chosen to pay in order to allow a few to exercise their unfettered rights to own any gun they want wherever they want. From this Pennsylvania Public Opinion editorial (above):
And the editorial ends with this observation:Whatever gun control battle that might have existed in our state and nation seems to be over, and those who fought to reduce our rampant gun violence have lost.The cost of that defeat, it seems, is that we all must simply accept the casualties whenever some lunatic inevitably goes off his nut and shoots up a school, or a hospital, or a church, or a public appearance by a congresswoman.In recent weeks, an Ohio high school student filched a gun from his grandfather and killed three of his fellow students in their school cafeteria. This week, a man killed one and injured seven others - including a police officer - in a Pittsburgh psychiatric clinic with two guns reported stolen in Texas, Associated Press reported Friday.The Pittsburgh rampage happened mere days after the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee approved a bill to penalize municipalities that attempt to require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to police.(...) You can't even broach the subject of gun control these days without immediately generating an orchestrated defense of gun owners' Second Amendment freedoms that clearly outweigh everyone's freedom to not get shot.
But it's mostly pointless. Apparently no one cares, least of all the lawmakers being lobbied by pro-gun special interests.
And the occasional-but-ceaseless news of gun massacres has seemingly and inexplicably desensitized us to such a point that Pennsylvania's efforts to prevent a sensible local gun control pass without a blip.
If that's the cost of freedom, the cost of losing the gun control battle, then it appears we're willing to pay up.So, dear readers. Is the 30,000 or so gun deaths every year the price Americans have chosen to pay for doing the bidding of the NRA and its' minions? How sad is that? Did Trayvon Martin pay the ultimate price for a law that made George Zimmerman think he was within his rights to shoot a young black man for just walking in the neighborhood unarmed? Remember, now, Zimmerman was suspicious of the boy just because he had a hoodie on and his hand was in his waistband. What that appeared to have meant to Zimmerman, whose beloved gun was at or near his own waistband, is that perhaps Martin, too was armed. Now Zimmerman is paying the price for getting caught up in the vigilantism he took on as a self appointed neighborhood watch program captain. But the price he should pay may not be enough. If he walks away from the shooting because of a law pushed by the NRA that Florida legislators passed happily, a terrible injustice will have occurred. And now, hypocritically, some of the Florida legislators are trying to back away from this dangerous and stupid law. Representative Dennis Baxley was heard to say on a media outlet that the fact that Zimmerman was not arrested is a misapplication of the law and that the statute itself should not be attacked. Come on. Give me a break.
The law should never have passed in the first place and now we are seeing why. It took the Trayvon Martin case to call public attention to a law that has seen many others go free after murdering someone while claiming "self defense".Both co-sponsors told the newspaper, however, that they did not think the law needed to be re-examined."If you want to pass something, pass something that limits their ability to pursue and confront people," Baxley said. "It's about crime watch," he said. "What are the limitations of crime watch? Are you allowed to jump out and follow people and confront them? What do you think is going to happen? That's where it starts."But during the town hall meeting in Sanford, Florida Rep. Geraldine Thompson promised the law's repeal would be a top priority for the state legislature's black caucus."If vigilante justice becomes the norm, will visitors feel comfortable coming to our state?," she asked.
The gun lobby is in a bad place here. They supported a law that has led to more than one shooter of an unarmed person walk free of even a charge or prosecution for the shooting. They supported a law that makes it easy to kill another person and claim "self defense". These legislators need to be held accountable for the laws they pushed and voted to pass. Where is common sense?Florida was the first of more than 20 states to allow people to defend themselves with deadly force anywhere they had a right to be.Credit the National Rifle Association. Backed by the influential organization, the "stand your ground" legislation won broad support from lawmakers and praise from then-Gov. Jeb Bush as "a good, common-sense, anticrime issue."Marion Hammer, the NRA's Florida lobbyist, said the measure was needed to prevent authorities from harassing law-abiding people with unwarranted arrests."The law was written very carefully and it means what it says: You have a right to protect yourself," she said.Drowned out in the debate were the critical voices of law enforcement officials and prosecutors. They worried people would become less sensitive to gun violence and death. They envisioned vigilantism.