My View: Neither racism nor guns is the problem


My View: Neither racism nor guns is the problem


Date: May 24, 2012
by: Rod Thomson | Editor-at-Large



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


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Currently 3 Responses

  • 1.
  • First off, I would like to state thatI myself, have a carry permit. I am also a Southerner. I don't claim to be an expert in racial harmony, but I have learned to see things that perhaps other might not pick-up.
    I completely agree that the "race" card has been delt. Mr Martin, was a strapping young man over six (6) feet tall. Even armed, I myself would have been concerned for my welfare seeing someone, such as that coming towards me. Released witness statements state, that Mr. Zimmerman was on the ground, flat on his back. As one witness stated, "the man in the hoodie was standing over the man on the ground, punching him; MMA style."
    Now, I can't speak for the rest of you, but I would have felt as he did, that I might not survive this. The "race" card was delt, when the American Association for the Advancement of Colored People weighed in. The name it self, smacks of racism! Mr Zimmermen is white, therefore, the shooting according to the N.A.A.C.P., had to be racially motivated.
    What a bunch of Hooey!!

    y,"a person of Our race, is in the White House. We CAN'T lose. In the State in which I reside, citizens LEAGALLY have defended themselves and others, 24 times since the first of the year. Even the Police say this action taken by ordinary people, is having a positive impact. Only the Anti-Gun crowd, and the N.A.A.C.P., are denigrating are you saying mustang
  • Selraym Tyjec
    Fri 25th May 2012
    at 4:49am
  • 2.
  • I think your information concerning Florida's Stand Your Ground Law is inaccurate. Florida and many other States do not require you to run or do other things that could put your life at risk. If you believe that you're life is threatened, you've got the right to stand your ground. Zimmerman had that right if he was not the aggressor and from the evidence, he is innocent. He was defending his life. The average response time for a larger Florida city like Tampa is about 4.5 minutes at it's best. Figure about 10 before police figure out what's going on. How much time does it take one man to beat another to death or cause serious bodily injury. I, for one, support the stand your ground law. I hate hearing that this all could have been avoided had Zimmerman stayed in his car. It' more likely that it could have been avoided had Martin not attacked him. So people, you need to think very clearly about how you feel about this issue. What if you're daughter or elderly mother was in a community and you say someone who looked dangerous or suspicious. I don't know about you but a 10 minute response time from the Police wouldn't work for me either.
  • Ronald Bennett
    Thu 24th May 2012
    at 7:49pm
  • 3.
  • In the Trayvon Martin shooting , stand your own ground is a factor. The law extends to where ever you have a legal right to be and was afraid of loss of life or greives bodily harm. In Florida you have no duty to retreat in this case.( although it is always a good idea to try ) I like most don't know all the facts of the Zimmerman- Martin case but it wasn't the law that caused this to happen. It was a man being attacked that caused it. Did he act within the law? Well I guess a judge or jury will have to decide.I hope all Florida residents learn from it in a helpful way.
  • Joseph Vanchieri
    Thu 24th May 2012
    at 7:36pm
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