A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Monday, July 15, 2013

Criminal Tragedy

Per the most reliable source available to me as a non-lawyer (Wikipedia), second degree murder is a murder that is not premeditated.  Murder is further defined as the unlawful intentional killing of another human being.  However, in the US we have chosen to add a secondary category of "manslaughter" which, when referring to "voluntary manslaughter" is killing without premeditation.  The biggest news story this weekend was the Zimmerman trial verdict.  George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida.  Zimmerman had called 911 and was told to NOT follow the suspicious person he reported to police.  Martin was unarmed.  These facts are not in dispute.  What was hotly contested over the course of the trial was whether Zimmerman was guilty of murder or manslaughter, or whether he acted in self-defense.

In the US, we have laws requiring that a suspect's guilt be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  In my mind, there's no doubt that George Zimmerman was an idiot.  And while I can't judge his motivations, it's certainly possible that the only reason Zimmerman viewed Martin as a threat was the fact that Martin was black and wore a hoodie (and IF that's the case, it's despicable).  But to focus on this one case overlooks a larger important point.  Since the events of February 26, 2012, over 30,000 people in the U.S. have died at the hands of a gun.*  That's an average of 3 per hour.  The rate of death in the U.S. by gun is exponentially higher than every other industrialized nation.  In the category of industrialized nations, America's gun death rate of 10.6 per 100,000 is followed by Finland at 4.6 - less than half!  It's no coincidence that the U.S. has 88.9 guns per 100 people.  The next closest country, India, has FOUR per person.

It's a tragedy that Trayvon Martin is dead, but it is CRIMINAL that we are not doing anything to reduce gun violence in this country.  George Zimmerman successfully argued self-defense and was declared not guilty.  But whether or not he spent time in jail, the truth is that gun violence is a preventable problem.  We can blame politics, blame the media, or blame George Zimmerman,  but it's a colossal problem that is bigger than any one case.  We need to explore "stand your ground" laws, "concealed carry" gun laws, and other laws on the books that contribute to this problem.  We need to examine our hearts, and banish any latent racism we find therein.  It's going to take all of us.

*We don't have published statistics yet for 2012 or 2013, but as over 30,000 people were killed with guns in 2010 and 2011, I feel like this is a rational assumption.

1 comment:

  1. Every night the first 10 minutes of the local news is devoted to who shot someone that day or who is on trial for shooting someone. It never makes the national news, but it's heartbreaking for those involved just the same. You can report a lot of shootings in 10 minutes.