This was a kid doing nothing but walking down the street. Well, walking down the street while black.
Some puffed-up, self-important vigilante with a gun thought that he was suspicious and called the police. So far, no problem, not really. You can, and should, call the police when you think you're seeing something suspicious.
But this guy, this George Zimmerman, had a gun. And so he followed Trayvon Martin in his car and ended up shooting him dead. The boy was unarmed.
There was no reason for this, none whatsoever. Did they get into a fight? Maybe, but so what? Martin was unarmed and on foot. Zimmerman was in a car, with a gun. If there was a fight, he had to have instigated it.
But the crazy thing is that he hasn't been arrested for murder. The Florida legislature, like so many Republican legislatures around the country, is making murder legal. Yeah, it's this macho bullshit about "standing your ground." And, of course, everyone needs to be carrying a gun, right?
This is just complete insanity. This is what we've come to - the obsession with guns and gun rights, combined with racism and fear, leading to bloody tragedy yet again. Yes, Zimmerman is at fault here, but so is every Florida legislator who voted for that "stand your ground" law.
There's more at Mother Jones. An excerpt:
Zimmerman told police he'd acted in self-defense. ABC News reports that he had wanted to be a police officer, and Sanford police didn't test him for drugs or alcohol after the shooting (such tests are standard practice in homicide investigations). He was licensed to carry his gun, and police initially told Martin's father that they hadn't pressed charges because Zimmerman was a criminal justice student with a "squeaky clean" record.
That wasn't entirely true, however; in 2005, Zimmerman was arrested for "resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer"; those charges were dropped. Media investigations and Martin family attorneys suggest that Zimmerman was a vigilante with "a false sense of authority" in search of young black men in his neighborhood. Police records show Zimmerman had called 911 a total of 46 times between Jan. 1 and the day he shot Martin. (Florida guidelines for licensed gun owners state: "A license to carry a concealed weapon does not make you a free-lance policeman.") ...
Zimmerman may have benefited from some of the broadest firearms and self-defense regulations in the nation. In 1987, then-Gov. Bob Martinez (R) signed Florida's concealed-carry provision into law, which "liberalized the restrictions that previously hindered the citizens of Florida from obtaining concealed weapons permits," according to one legal analyst. This trendsetting "shall-issue" statute triggered a wave of gun-carry laws in other states. (Critics said at the time that Florida would become "Dodge City.") Permit holders are also exempted from the mandatory state waiting period on handgun purchases.
Even though felons and other violent offenders are barred from getting a weapons permit, a 2007 investigation by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found that licenses had been mistakenly issued to 1,400 felons and hundreds more applicants with warrants, domestic abuse injunctions, or gun violations. (More than 410,000 Floridians have been issued concealed weapons permits.) Since then, Florida also passed a law permitting residents to keep guns in their cars at work, against employers' wishes. The state also nearly allowed guns on college campuses last year, until an influential Republican lawmaker fought the bill after his close friend's daughter was killed by an AK-47 brandished at a Florida State University fraternity party.
Florida also makes it easy to plead self-defense in a killing. Under then-Gov. Jeb Bush, the state in 2005 passed a broad "stand your ground" law, which allows Florida residents to use deadly force against a threat without attempting to back down from the situation. (More stringent self-defense laws state that gun owners have "a duty to retreat" before resorting to killing.) In championing the law, former NRA president and longtime Florida gun lobbyist Marion Hammer said: "Through time, in this country, what I like to call bleeding-heart criminal coddlers want you to give a criminal an even break, so that when you're attacked, you're supposed to turn around and run, rather than standing your ground and protecting yourself and your family and your property."
Again, the Sunshine State was the trendsetter: 17 states have since passed "stand your ground" laws, which critics call a "license to kill" or a "shoot first" law.