Why is it necessary to be armed at all times? Does it not favor a life of paranoia over a life of liberty? The George Zimmerman trial and verdict ignited various controversies, but the most puzzling is the right of any individual to follow or investigate a person, without cause, while being armed with a deadly weapon. We can differ on all the facts leading up to Trayvon Martin’s death, but what is known from the evidence is that Zimmerman profiled Martin as a criminal based on factors separate from actual criminal activity. Zimmerman then phoned police based on his profile, and followed Martin with a gun based again on his profile. In a nation grounded on the right to liberty, it should be unlawful to profile and follow with a gun an individual presumed innocent.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 decision permitting the use of a gun within the home for purposes of self-defense, some states responded by changing laws to permit people to obtain and carry guns even outside of the home. As a result, instead of expecting civility or at least indifference from people, we use guns to guard against expected hatred and harm. What else can be the reason for needing to be armed at all times day or night? It’s like waiting to see who draws their weapon first in an old western movie. And the argument that guns secure our rights to liberty can only mean that we are not the “land of the free” without the ability to end a life. Well instead of more questions, let’s offer more solutions like statutes restricting guns to houses and locked vehicles.
As Zimmerman and the Juror B37 illustrated, Zimmerman undoubtedly profiled Martin as a criminal without witnessing criminal activity because of his zealous attempt to secure his neighborhood. Guns should not be used as security blankets for individual prejudices or assumptions. That’s not self-defense. While understanding that incidents like 911 and the Aurora and Connecticut shootings invoked a desire or justification for armed citizens, is the world truly better because you can comfortably live alongside people you fear by virtue of their skin color, mental disability, or mannerisms now that the law permits you to have a gun? And while people can march and protest to end racism or judgments based on factors other than merit, the inevitable truth is that the law cannot force people to stop profiling or believing they’re superior by virtue of their physical attributes. Additionally, the George Zimmerman trial is a reminder that many people lack the interest or ability to understand various points of view. But the law should avoid pacifying the insecurities. There should be a reason why we encourage our children to respect the jobs of law enforcement rather than take matters into their own hands. And though history has shown the fallacies of law enforcement, for the purpose of order it should be the only entity authorized to confront, with a gun, “suspicious” behavior.
In evaluating life after the George Zimmerman trial, let’s strive to restore the expectation of liberty. Let’s force people to leave their homes or vehicles armed with either the focus to pursue their happiness or the inability to hinder another’s pursuit. And though restricting people from carry guns won’t stop crime or profiling, an element of freedom is met in knowing that no one armed or otherwise, has the power to take the pursuit from you.