Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Trayvon Martin, Guns and Insanity of a Nation

I'm not sure what to think about the Trayvon Martin murder. I call it "murder" because simply, that's what I think it was. However, it seems to me more than that. There is an issue of race here, racism if you will, that has made manifest the same divides that have existed for hundreds of years, notwithstanding Brown v Board of Education, the Voter's Rights Act and so forth.


The kid was murdered by a man who hid out in house afterwards and didn't follow police orders. Send the SOB to jail, today. Get rid of these "Stand Your Ground" laws. And for God's sake, people, let's get this nation to grow up.


John F. Timoney, a former Miami police chief, police commissioner and deputy police commissioner in New York, wrote in The New York Times, "The very public controversy surrounding the killing on Feb. 26 of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, by a crime watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, was predictable.


"In fact, I, along with other Florida chiefs of police, said so in a letter to the Legislature in 2005 when we opposed the passage of a law that not only enshrined the doctrine of "your home is your castle" but took this doctrine into the public square and added a new concept called "stand your ground."


"Use-of-force issues arose often during my 41-year policing career. In fact, officer-involved shootings were the No. 1 problem when I became Miami's police chief in January 2003. But after we put in place new policies and training, officers went 20 months without discharging a single bullet at a person, while arrests increased over 30 percent.


"Trying to control shootings by members of a well-trained and disciplined police department is a daunting enough task. Laws like "stand your ground" give citizens unfettered power and discretion with no accountability. It is a recipe for disaster."


There are many bad streets, or to quote the movie, "Mean Streets," that I have walked in my relatively long life: Harlem, the "wrong side" of Marseille, parts of Washington, DC when it was the nation's "murder capital." I've ridden subways in the wee small hours.


In the 70s I was robbed on a subway at knifepoint. In the 60s I walked away from various violent engagements, none of my own instigation.


Whether it was my imagination or reality, I've felt threatened in many other situations; life-threatened.


However, I have never
felt the need to carry a weapon, even a rolled magazine under my arm. I've never had the desire to own a gun, handgun or otherwise and certainly not the former. I could give you all the reasons for the way I feel, but I'm sure you've heard them elsewhere and frequently.


What I do believe is that handguns, of any sort, should be absolutely outlawed, collected and melted down for scrap. Barring that, anyone owning should have to prove categorically why they want one, the purpose and then prove regularly that they are using it for that purpose – Self-defense is not a purpose. And, they should have to report the weapon every month and take a test to be able to have it.


I hate, and I mean that in all senses of the word, guns. Get rid of the damned things…and don't tell me that old saw, "Well, criminals will get them anyway." Go take a look at the statistics for gun deaths.


And, by the way, get the NRA out of Congress.