The media are determined to make a traditional liberal, anti-gun narrative out of the Trayvon Martin shooting and will cobble together any items necessary to keep the flames fanned.
A recent story out of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Tallahassee bureau combined the Martin shooting with Gov. Rick Scott’s “quick rejection” of the Tampa mayor’s request for a concealed weapons ban near the Republican convention in August.
The story quoted, at length, the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the biggest anti-gun group. (The story did not quote the National Rifle Association for the other side of the story.)
But we can move away from the typical media efforts to move the left-of-center agenda forward and just look at the facts of Martin and gun ownership.
In the Martin case, the 17-year-old was shot and killed in Sanford by George Zimmerman, apparently during a scuffle. Because Zimmerman was not charged at first, this became an indictment of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which set about to clarify when someone in his home could use deadly force on an assailant. Many other states have such laws because too many homeowners were being hauled to court and bankrupted by attorney fees to defend themselves for shooting an intruder.
But Stand Your Ground as a cause célèbre was a complete hoax by the so-called “civil rights” establishment. It just doesn’t apply.
Martin did not break into Zimmerman’s home. Zimmerman was not being attacked or under threat of attack when he first came across Martin walking through his gated community. The 911 operator told Zimmerman not follow Martin, and it is not clear if Zimmerman followed those instructions. Whatever happened next, the basic stipulations required in Stand Your Ground were not met and so it is irrelevant.
Yet in the typical media race circus, the law became a news focal point, along with a heavy dose of racism. So Gov. Rick Scott appointed a state panel to investigate the law and its application.
But Stand Your Ground was passed in 2005 — seven years ago. And this is the first brouhaha over it, and it is not even related. What a waste of time, energy and our short attention span.
The story finally subsided some. So, when Scott turned down Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s request for the gun ban around the downtown convention center, the story was back on! Scott was backed by the NRA — again, not quoted in the story.
It’s difficult to determine the number of gun self-defense uses. For instance, a murder or manslaughter goes into the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports. But if the local prosecutor determines it was justifiable self-defense and drops the charges, then it does not. There was no crime, hence it does not go into the crime report database.
There have been numerous studies in recent decades, and their numbers are all over the place.
In 2008, just under 11,000 murders were committed by guns in the United States. A 2000 study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology determined that civilians use guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year. Studies have gone as low as 185,000 times and as high as 1.5 million.
The numbers suggest gun-control laws work against the goal of protecting Americans from harm. So, where there have been draconian gun laws, there seems to be either no effect or a negative effect.
The classic example is Washington, D.C, which banned handguns, even inside residents’ homes, until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the law in 2007. In the years in which the district had the extreme gun-control law, murder and other violent crimes soared. This does not prove a causal effect, but it certainly makes it hard to argue that gun-control laws reduce crime.
Despite the efforts to make Florida look like the Wild West with extreme gun laws, there is simply no evidence. Neither the data nor the anecdotes work. But that does not stop the media agenda.
Oh, and Florida’s crime rate dropped under both its relaxed gun laws and Stand Your Ground.
Rod Thomson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.