Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Since I'm not on Facebook...

This is where you get to hear me rant about the Second Amendment.

I don't hate it.  In fact, I think, given the atmosphere in which we ratified the Bill of Rights, it was necessary.  And, it's so ingrained in our culture that, like the First Amendment, it will never go away, and probably should not go away.

But as I often tell my friends and family, I'm not a fan of the Second Amendment. I'm a fan of the 14th amendment, that gives equal protection of the law to everyone.  I'm a fan of the 1st Amendment (freedom of speech and religion), and it's strange to me that in Western Europe, you can be arrested for something you say.  I LOVE the fourth and fifth amendment, which prevent unreasonable searches and seizures by the police, and give you a fair(er) trial.  I just think that the Second Amendment, of all the Amendments, is completely overemphasized (by the NRA, I'm not afraid to say), and people spend way too much time defending it, as compared to other rights that we have in this country.

And stories like the Treyvon Martin killing murder always leave me preoccupied with this issue. If you're not aware, Treyvon Martin was a 17 year old, who was staying at his dad's house in a nice neighborhood in Florida, when he walked to the store to get some snacks, and as he was walking back the captain of the neighborhood watch shot him dead.  Treyvon was unarmed (unless you want to count the skittles he was carrying), and being followed by this watch captain, who called 911 to report a "suspicious kid" (as he had done several times before).  The 911 dispatcher told this guy not to follow the kid, and he did it anyway (how do we know? the kid was talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone for part of this, saying "this guy is following me").  I haven't heard the 911 call, because I know that it will disturb me even more than this case already does.

In Florida (and Alabama and several other states), you do not have an obligation to retreat when you feel under threat.  And you even have the right to respond disproportionally to the threat, so if someone is coming at you with a fist, you can legally shoot him.  That is why there is speculation that this shooter will not be convicted of murder, if he can convince a jury that he was reasonably threatened (hey, Casey Anthony got off, he could too).

But setting that aside, as well as the obvious racial element here (a black kid in a hoodie in a nice neighborhood is OBVIOUSLY a threat), can we talk about guns?

Why is this dude allowed to walk around a family neighborhood carrying a handgun?  We care about the right to have a gun so much that in some states you can have them anywhere.  That is absurd to me.  Gang members can carry guns, drug dealers can carry guns, people with mental illness can carry guns, and the neighborhood vigilante who thinks he knows how to protect the neighborhood and ends up killing an innocent kid, can carry a gun.  I don't understand how we tolerate this as a society, how our values are so twisted that we want to protect our "FREEDOM" before we protect the safety of our kids and our community.

I once had a discussion with a friend from law school about the 2nd amendment.  He said that perhaps people are so passionate about it because they feel it is the most under attack.  I see cases like this and I beg to disagree. The additional irony is how many 2nd amendment folks also feel so strongly about the "sanctity of life," and yet fight so hard to be able to carry a gun, which I am willing to bet kills more people every year than abortion. It just feels so upside down to me.

There is such a thing as responsible gun ownership, but walking around your neighborhood with a gun ready to shoot anyone is not that.  This is why we need regulation and why the right to "bear arms" should not be unrestricted.


Adelyn said...

Suffice to say, totally agree. I can't believe that a law exists where it's okay to shoot someone, just because you *think* you might be threatened. Definitely wondering about the gun laws in AZ, and if they have a law like that. Very scary and hopefully this case sheds light on the very problematic nature of the law. I heard on the radio this morning that the Florida governor said the legislature might be reconsidering the law, depending on the outcome of the case.

sam c.hart jr said...

I am so sorry for the young man's family! I also hope the vigilante is brought to justice!!!