Of the issues raised by the tragic Florida shooting death of Trayvon Martin by "neighborhood watchman" George Zimmerman, at least two are appallingly self-serving consequences of the actions of special interest groups with a particular ax to grind and those who submit to emotion in lieu of rational thought.
The first tragedy is one of an acquiescent media, coupled with the racial demagoguery inflamed by the usual outside agitators, thus enabling yet another controversial case to be tried and decided in the press. The most troubling aspect of this pre-judged guilt is that it has beclouded the issue to the extent that the truth of what transpired will either never be known or rendered largely irrelevant — the initial clamor is etched in public memory.
Sharing commonality with virtually the entire U.S. population in having not been present at the scene, I choose not to offer an opinion of the relative guilt or innocence of either party. That is the responsibility of local law enforcement, subject to review by higher authority. However, on the second issue, that of added and more stringent gun control regulation demanded by the usual supporters in the anti-gun crowd, I do object.
As one might expect, led by the editorial staff of The New York Times and The Baltimore Sun*, the Brady Bill aficionados, Sen. Charles Schumer and even former President Bill Clinton, the left and progressive wings of the Democratic Party are greasing the skids to use this sad event to overturn individual state "Stand Your Ground" (self-defense) and concealed carry statutes. Keep in mind that, as yet, no one has been indicted.
The ageless homilies of the anti-gun lobby never seem to change — from the "you don't need an assault weapon to hunt," to "the hundreds of children killed annually by guns" to bashing the National Rifle Association as a collection of extremist gun nuts.
In reality, no hunter buys an assault weapon to hunt and the number of "children's" deaths by guns includes 19-year-old gang members (more children drown in bathtubs than are accidentally killed by guns). The NRA has long been in the vanguard of promoting safe, responsible firearms use and the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment, which, unlike the implied "right to privacy" and "separation of church and state" is actually spelled out in the Constitution.
Truth be known, most "assault weapon" ban proponents are not able to distinguish one from a semi-automatic .22-caliber rifle.
The goals of the anti-gun crowd range from the extremist banning of handguns and gun ownership altogether to restrictions on concealed carry, individual self-protection and even to the number and types which may be purchased. That these aims are at odds with the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Second Amendment and the individual states' regulatory powers seems to be of no relevance.
Fortunately, contrary to that which we are led to believe by the left, there is a veritable equal number of Democrats and Republicans who support the right to keep and bear arms. The notion that the majority of American citizens cannot be trusted with firearms borders on the absurd.
As to the purported need for sweeping new statutes regarding gun ownership, the last time I looked, using a firearm to commit murder, robbery, intimidation or in any other manner while in commission of a crime was already unlawful. Moreover, there are laws preventing felons, people with mental disabilities and children from owning guns.
Additionally, and of far more consequence, not one proposed new or present restriction on gun ownership will make one iota of difference to the professional criminal, the gangster-wannabe or the teenage knucklehead who wants to appear "cool" and dangerous.
The only practical solution to the criminal offense of unlawful use or discharge of a weapon is one advocated by the much-maligned NRA. That organization has long supported adding five years to the sentence of an individual who is found in possession of, and 10 years to one who uses, a firearm in commission of a crime.
Finally, there is this quote from Thomas Jefferson, a statesman and former president that progressives and liberals like to claim as one of their own, quoting Cesare Beccaria: "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes ... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
What reasonable person can argue with that logic?
J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.