Tuesday marked exactly one year since the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman shot Martin, which he says was in self-defense, while controversy ensued across the United States after prosecutors initially decided not to charge Zimmerman due to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
While Zimmerman awaits trial later this summer, I think the question that most people are forgetting to ask is why did he have a gun with him in the first place? Whether he thought Martin was a burglar or not, why did he feel it was necessary to track down somebody with a gun?
There is a gun culture that needs to change. There are too many instances where people shoot first and ask questions later.
In the manhunt for former ex-Los Angeles police officer turned murderer Christopher Dorner, the LA Police Department shot at people twice due to mistaken identity. In one of the shootings, police saw a truck that loosely matched Dorner’s gray Nissan. Except the truck they shot at was a Toyota and aqua blue. Inside were two Hispanic women, whom the police fired an estimated 20 to 30 rounds at.
In November, another teenager, Jordan Davis, was shot twice in the parking lot of a gas station in Jacksonville. Davis and three other teenagers got into an argument with a 45-year-old man over how loud their music was. The older man fired eight or nine shots at the teenagers because he believed they had a shotgun in their car. They were unarmed.
Globally, evidence of the same problems exists. For example, look at South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius. According to his version of events, he heard noises in his locked bathroom. His next move was to grab a gun and shoot through the bathroom door, which happened to have his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp behind it.
Examples like the ones above are endless. How has the gun culture changed in the past year since Martin’s death? Have we learned anything by his shooting?
There are legitimate reasons to use a gun in self-defense. But I think people are confusing that with a need to shoot without thinking first.
While President Barack Obama and Congress try to write out gun control legislation, nothing positive will happen if the gun culture doesn’t change. If people stay trigger-happy, it won’t matter if people have semi-automatic weapons or passed a background check.
The examples above aren’t criminals with illegal access to guns. For the most part, they were law-abiding citizens, or a part of the police, who decided to shoot first before asking questions.
It’s a serious problem in America that needs to be fixed. It comes down to attitudes toward guns and that it’s better to be the shooter than the person being shot at.
In a year after Martin’s death, people need to look into the reasons why we are a trigger-happy society. For all the people that walk to a 7-11 to grab something as simple as Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea, I think it’s a question we need to ask so that we aren’t that teenager shot while walking home wearing a hoodie.
Bobby is from Bloomington, MN and is the assistant sports editor. Diret question, comments and other responses to firstname.lastname@example.org