USA Today just contacted me to write an editorial on the Zimmerman affair. The editor’s got two bullet points for me to counter. First, Zimmerman shouldn’t have left the car (not much argument there). Second, Zimmerman wouldn’t have left the car if he didn’t have a gun. Her follow-on concept: increasing Americans’ access to firearms is a bad, bad thing. I’ll reject that assertion like Kimberly Vaughan rejected my invitation to date back in the 70’s (don’t ask). And then I’ll point out that concealed carry allows millions of law-abiding Americans to live their lives with less fear—not bravado. That’s a fine line I gotta walk. I’d appreciate a little help. Did the Kel Tec PF-9 “embolden” Zimmerman? What’s the most convincing argument against restricting Americans’ access to firearms?

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161 Responses to Question of the Day: Would Zimmerman Have Left the Car if He Didn’t Have A Gun?

  1. And if the Trayvon had a LEGAL concealed weapon there would have not have been an altercation. He would have taken a course on what to do in a self-defense situation.

    • Don’t you know? That’s why you go after 16 year old kids–there’s no way he could be carrying (legally) 😛

      • Tell that to the 13 month old baby shot in the face by a 17 yo and 15 you pair of punks. Oh wait, you can’t, they killed him.

  2. All the liberals think that this ruling means that gun owners are going out in force to kill blacks with no repercussions.

    Zimmerman is not a hero. Neither is he a criminal.

    He makes gun owners look bad and we should learn from his example of what NOT to do.

    • “Zimmerman is not a hero.”

      And what have you done lately to protect your community? It’s all so very easy to criticize George Zimmerman when your neighborhood isn’t the victim of a rash of break-ins and you have the advantage of 20-20 hindsight.

      • I think Zimmerman is somewhat sympathetic because of his obvious frustration at the potential for lawbreaking. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions – the people in the local Homeowners Association may be looking at paying millions to Martin’s relatives (family?) because of Zimmerman’s carelessness.

        Sorry, but trying to be a hero doesn’t make you one.

        • So…getting out of your car is now “carelessness.” Good to know.

          The message you’re sending to people who are interested in protecting their neighborhoods from crime is: don’t bother. Because if the worst of the worst happens and you defend yourself legitimately, you’re still in the wrong.

          If getting out of your vehicle while on the phone with non-emergency 9-1-1 in order to keep an eye on a fleeing suspicious person is “careless” and evidence of being “stupid” then we are all helpless prisoners indeed.

        • Actually, I’m pretty sure its the HOA’s insurance company that will pay the million dollar settlement. Big deal.

        • Yup. He was a cop-wanna-be and got over zealous and ended up in a bad situation.

          He would have been a hero if he was protecting people form harm. What he ended up doing was saving his own ass after provoking a fight–legal in Florida but hardly an act of heroism.

        • Trying to be a hero definitely doesn’t make you one. It was a stupid move and now he’s paying for it legally and for the rest of his life.

          Was the kid really suspicious? Yes.

          Was the kid doing anything wrong? No.

          Confronting the kid was a stupid move, he should have just kept an eye on him from his car and waited (probably forever) for the cops.

        • The HOA has already settled with Martin’s parents for $1 million. If they waited until after the trial to settle they may have been able to avoid a payout entirely.

        • @Joe Grine

          I love your articles and I am not saying anything about the details of this case in particular-but… Money is money. The HOA’s insurance may be on the hook for the payoff (after GZ’s family declares bankruptcy) but the HOA is not some entity independent of the home owners in it. They are the ones who are going to have to cough up the cash in the form of higher dues to pay for the increased premium.

        • A lot of people make good decisions and the result is a bad outcome, and a lot of people make poor decisions which result in good outcomes – because when you make that decision you can’t predict the future.

          Following (as opposed to stalking) a person who is suspicious – given the background of a rash of break-ins is exactly what neighborhood watch is all about.

          It sounded like he stopped following and then was asked which way he went – regardless just like Martin he has a right to be out and about.

          The dispatcher can not order anyone but rather make suggestions – as explained at trial.

          What gives Martin the right to pummel him – nothing does – although after a year and a half everyone is trying to flip the scenario to Martin was standing his ground….right…..again no one knows but it would seem unlikely.

          If in the midst of being pummeled and crying for help with no assistance forthcoming you may feel you are in imminent peril – and even if not being pummeled in certain circumstance if you feel in danger you can defend yourself with lethal force.

          Better to be judged by 12 then carried out by six – and as such he was found not guilty because of the lack of “proof”. What really happened no one will know but the evidence points firmly at martin being the aggressor – again apparently that fact means nothing.

          Now trying to flip it on it’s ear to a civil rights case – a witch hunt is ridiculous.

          When I first heard this case a year ago I thought it was unbelievable what zimmerman did and was disgusted but little by little things started coming out – like he’s not 12 (by the pictures) and zimmerman’s extensive injuries – even though technically none are needed – they back up his claims.

          This is a tragedy for sure – for everyone involved – but the justice system worked – Innocent until proven guilty.

          There’s a reason no arrest was made until 40 some odd days until the special prosecutor was assigned – there was no case to begin with – all this was done in the name of political correctness – I only say that after seeing the weakness of the state’s case whose witnesses time and time again seemed to be witnesses for the defense.

    • He doesn’t make gun owners look bad. GZ did everything right- he responded with force out of fear for his life. Just fifty years ago, he would definitely have been considered a hero- even leaving out any racial considerations.

      He looks bad to some because media and government have trained the public to have a negative reaction to self defense, even while we have presidents who land on carriers to celebrate illegal wars and go on national TV to crow about murdering innocents with unmanned aircraft. The American public denigrates their own freedoms while celebrating those who enslave them.

      I would have gotten out of the car. I would have been glad I was armed. I’m glad I live in the US where I can still consider this my right.

        • He makes gun owners look bad because now all the liberals think that gun owners are going out in force on a free-for-all black hunting spree. It was a stupid move on his part and I guarantee CCWers will never hear the end of it.

    • This is wrong. As a neighborhood watch, his JOB (which he took seriously, obviously) was to play a major role in enhancing the security of his neighborhood.

      This is a man’s job and the men of a community should feel compelled to do so.

      I live in a community like that and I feel very, very secure at all times.

      Knowing that the men in my area are confident and serious about ensuring my safety is very important to a woman, especially one with children in the home.

      There is no law that says he cannot and should not follow or track the activity of a suspicious person! Sitting and watching from your car and waiting for the police is for women and panty-waist men.

      clearly, GZ is a man and he took his neighborhood’s security serious – serious enough to put himself in danger in order to ensure it. He is A HERO.

      • “Sitting and watching from your car and waiting for the police is for women and panty-waist men.”

        And chasing after anyone you think is “suspicious” is what vigilantes and crazed fanatics do.

        Part of the responsibility of being a gun owner who also happens to be on the neighborhood watch is learning to communicate and act like a civilized human being. A simple opening such as “Hey, my name’s George and I’m a part of the neighborhood watch. Can I help you?” would have saved GZ a lot of trouble AND allowed TM to live.

        He might not be going to jail, but he FAILED in his role as a neighborhood watch member.

        • did I say “chasing”?

          Shadowing, making sure he’s not heading somewhere to break into one of his neighbor’s houses (maybe one with a woman and children home alone! – hello!!) , observing, tracking (so as to give his location to the police if/when they arrived) are all perfectly OK and NOT illegal!

          Certainly well within his rights. 100%

          I don’t introduce myself to people who are suspicious. Why should I? it’s MY neighborhood. If I wanted to, sure. But that’s not how he chose to handle it. Frankly it’s not your business or anyone else’s.

          He did what he thought was right for HIS neighborhood.

          Your questioning it only puts you in bed with the enemy. Hope you enjoy it.

        • I’m pretty sure the facts of the case determined that after 911 said you don’t need to follow him, he went back to his car. At that point TM ambushed him from the bushes because he was gonna “take care of this creepy cracker”. Where is there the opportunity to say “hey, I’m GZ, you want tea?”

        • Mina, what if someone was observing and tracking you late at night, in a darkened neighborhood? Would that make you feel secure? Would you be proud to know you were being watched for some reason?

        • I would, like anyone who was in someone else’s neighborhood, know enough to stop, turn around and say Hey I am visiting so and so on Green Street. Can I help you?

          IT HIS NEIGHBORHOOD. He has a right to wonder what I am doing there and acting suspiciously.

    • They know better (most of them). It is just a chance to undermine the self defense laws. 911 is the solution they provide. Zimmerman should have called the police that night. Oh wait, he did.

  3. I don’t know that he shouldn’t have the left the car. 20/20 hindsight is great and all, but I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same. Actually, I probably would have driven around to the far side, rather than walked, but that’s because I’m lazy.

    Do I think he was emboldened by carrying a gun? Not really. It’s possible, and there’s no way to say he wasn’t with any certainty. But he wasn’t trying to apprehend TM, he was looking for an address. I don’t think he expected to encounter TM in the dark.

    • Why would he have not gotten out of the car? I check on suspicious noises around my home and neighborhood all the time (I take my rather large dog), is that not my right? Is there a law against checking something out? Or should I live in the constant fear of being attacked by a black teen? Would that fear not be the basis of racism? Is that not ‘profiling’?

      Or should he have stayed in the car because Martin was black? Shouldn’t he have known something bad would have happened when talking/confronting a black person? What is that? Is that type of thinking not the base of racism?

      Here is what would have happened in a normal situation: :Hey? Can I help you with something? – Oh, no. I am just headed to my dads. – Okay.

      But what we got was phone recordings of a clearly angry kid who wanted a racket.

      Race isn’t the issue here at all. Its PC thinking and media gone amuck (which is actually real racism) that caused/causes this retarded way of thinking.

      Two people met one night and one attacked the other. The person on the ground had vastly superior weaponry. The other was thwarted. That’s what happened according to a thorough investigation and jury of our peers.

      This is not a response to you Matt in FL… for some reason it shows up this way… this was to be a new thread.

      • Because he lost control of the situation. Period. He f$&ked up. Period. I’m not necessarily against him watching his neighbourhood. Tactically he flat out fumbled that situation.I really hope you don’t think otherwise.
        The only thing that saved his life was his Keltec, and the only thing that saved his freedom was Trayvon’s bad decisions.

        • Without TM’s bad (violent) decisions, GZ would not have had to save his own life.

        • So you are a racist, Will? Because Zimmerman should have seen this kid who was black as a threat to him? He should have seen him as someone who was going to attack him with great hostility and not someone who he could have simply approached, asked a question to and walked away?

          Tell me, do you live all your life in fear?

    • I think the vast majority of ccw license holder are actually far more cautious about getting a scrap or road rage situation. However he sucker punched and blind sided. The punk could have called 911 instead of talking to Rachel aka Diamond aka DeeDee.

    • Because Farago is determined to squeeze every last page view he can from this story by spamming as many posts as he can dream up every day.

      Look out for “Zimmerman’s top recipes” and “Did Zimmerman’s suit make him look fat?” coming soon to the “truth” about guns real soon!

    • I think that the fact that Zimmerman did not draw or use his pistol until he was being pummeled into unconsciousness on the sidewalk pretty much answers this question.

      Was he possessed of additional self-confidence in the knowledge that he had a pistol in the event he needed to protect himself? Why else carry the thing? Did he resort to that pistol as a first or even second option when things went south? Apparently not.

  4. Why do they always come back to Zimmerman leaving his car? A more valid question is “Why didn’t Martin tell Zimmerman why he was staying with his dads girlfriend? Why not walk over to her front door with Zimmerman to prove he belonged there?” This boy died because he copped an attitude and attacked Zimmerman…Martin made at least as many bad choices that night, and unfortunately paid the price.
    Does CCarry embolden people? If that is true then why everytime a state passes CCW we never see the Wild West always predicted?
    “An armed society is a polite society”

    • I wouldn’t have done either of those things, because so far as I’m concerned whatever I’m (lawfully) doing is none of his damned business. If I were black, that feeling would be combined with the sense of being profiled. That being said, I would’ve just walked away. I’ve been enough schoolyard fights to know that you never throw the first punch–if you can help it.

      • So you should be able to dress like a burglar, and walk through other peoples’ yards at night in the rain like a burglar, in a community that’s been repeatedly burglarized, and when this causes a neighborhood watchman to wonder why you look like a burglar it’s “none of his damned business” and you wouldn’t consider reassuring him otherwise.

        Lawful. But not very smart.

        • The exact same thing applies to George here – maybe lawful (or, rather, not something that can merit a conviction on the charges the state brought) but not very smart.

        • I don’t think a neighborhood watchman choosing to watch his neighborhood falls on anything like the same level of stupid as a guy dressed like a burglar declining the opportunity to tell the world that he isn’t a burglar.

          George’s stupid was not foreseeing that the professional race baiting establishment would decide to turn the violent delinquent bashing his head in into a martyr.

        • Sure, but are you going to acted shocked when you dress like a burglar and hang out back in the rain when someone goes, hey “you look like a burglar.”

        • I don’t know about you, but I cover my head when out in the rain. I don’t own a hoodie, but I imagine he’d have a similar reaction to someone wearing a hooded jacket. Besides, what the hell’s he going to do, hold me down until the police arrive?

      • He could have even legally told him to piss off and walk away. However, the fact is he did run away when Zim was on the phone. He went up to the vehicle and looked in and then ran off. He came back.

  5. If anything, carrying a weapon that can be used to kill someone or, under the worst of circumstances, to kill you, would seem to cause a reasonable person to not inject himself into a situation unnecessarily. Not to mention the legal and financial issues that Zimmerman went through. Concealed carry makes one more cautious, and only a fool would feel “emboldened.” My two cents.

    • Here is an even more important dimension to your point. Unarmed people usually assume that everyone is unarmed. Because the idea of being armed in public never enters their mind, they assume that everyone else operates the same way. Similarly, armed people tend to assume that anyone could be armed. Because the idea of being unarmed in public seems foolhardy, they assume anyone else could have the same mindset.

      So how does this apply to Zimmerman or any other lawfully armed citizen? I always assume that a suspicious person is armed. And since I assume they are both armed and suspicious, the last thing I want to do is barge over to them and confront them. Why? Because if they are an armed criminal, there is a very good chance they will try to shoot me if I barge over and confront them. No matter how much training I have had or how good I think I am, there is always a non-trivial chance that I could lose a gunfight with a criminal. When you apply a simple “risk versus reward” analysis to that scenario, the risk always outweighs any possible reward.

      That is why citizens who are routinely armed in public are even less likely to confront a “suspicious” person than citizens who are never armed in public.

    • Agree 100%.
      How much better off would GZ and TM be today if the neighborhood watch “phone tree” had been activated.
      It goes like this:
      GZ sees something suspicious. Calls his wife and tells her to activate the phone tree and to “call the top three names on the phone tree” then hangs up. GZ calls PD about someone walking and never sees TM again. Next GZ-Wife tells those three neighbors “someone suspicious is walking the neighborhood. Lock you doors/windows and keep an eye out.”
      Those three “neighbors” call the three names on their lists and so on. Within 5 minutes, 300 neighbors are made aware and lock their cars and homes. Someone else sees TM from their own house and calls PD with his location. TM gets to his dad’s girlfriend’s house just as she gets of the phone. She asks him did he see anybody suspicious cause somebody is walking around out there. TM says “no, here’s your skittles.”

      Yea, GZ runs the risk of being “the man that cried wolf”, but that’s where the “neighborhood” in “neighborhood watch” comes from. Everybody puts out the least effort and nobody has to be the hero.

      The Bill of Rights applies to everyone one in that neighborhood, not just GZ. If some folks don’t want a gun to protect their family, fine. It is not your, my or GZ job to protect them. You can if you like. If I see something, I’ll tell PD, then my neighbors and I’m done unless they ask me for help. I ain’t about to go through what GZ is going through when we all have the same 2A rights and opportunities available to us. America is about equal opportunities, not equal outcomes. I’m not a hero. Hero pay is dismal and its rewards seldom equal the risk.
      To all:
      IF GZ had been found guilty, how would your life have changed?

      • The only problem I see with this scenario is that everytime anyone sees (profiles) a suspicious person in the neighborhood the response is for everyone to board up the windows and cower in the basement until some overworked cop finds time to investigate and gives the “all-clear”? Is that the America we really want to live in? That would give total control of the streets and neghborhoods to the criminals and gangs.

        • I am with you Cliff. What bothers me most about this case is how willing everyone is to concede their freedoms to make others feel better.

          Should Zimmerman have gotten out of the car? Not my call. I am not about to tell a grown ass man he cant get out of his vehicle in his own neighborhood when someone he doesn’t recognize is there.

          Listening to the audio, you can tell he was already out of the truck when the dispatch told him to go back. Personally, I don’t care what dispatch says. The girl that works dispatch in my county, I grew up with. I know that she has no law enforcement experience outside of a manual she has on her desk. That would be like listening to someone telling you how to preform heart surgery from a “How To” article on the internet.

          Zimmerman did nothing illegal and the fact that so many people find what he did up to the shooting as wrong bothers me. Maybe I was born a generation or three too late as people in my great grandfather’s time would not have sat by and let someone they thought was suspicious lurking around their neighborhood in the rain. They would ask questions. Of course, back then, people actually got to know their neighbors, so they knew who should and shouldn’t be around. People today would sell their mother if they thought they would be safe for a night. It is pathetic.

      • So, you plan is for a very organized, planned, practiced chaos?

        We cannot operate in a society where alarm bells are ringing constantly. I dare you to try this phone tree once in your neighborhood. I am willing to bet it will not work effectively once. Hiding and cowering are not effective. It will cause good families to leave, property values to fall, and urban decay.

        • “hiding and cowering” are your words and I will thank you not to attribute them to me. I merely said to be alert and tell your neighbors. If you want to go through what GZ is at the moment and last 18 months, “you can if you like”.
          You say you bet it won’t work, come up with something better, something that keeps you off of national tv, something that keeps you out of jail. If its better, looks like it would work for me, that would be great.

  6. Its pretty obvious from the cell records that Travon had at least attempted to both buy and sell handguns. The one day Travon wasn’t packing was the same day GZ was. Karma is a bitch sometimes.

    • Yeah, who else read about Martin wanting to timeshare a gun? When I saw that, I laughed. And Sigmas still go bang.

      • Exactly! TM was going to eventually be armed himself. Given his record of getting kicked out of school for dope, stealing and vandalism, I don’t think he was a ccw License candidate when he was 21.

  7. In hindsight, many actions on the parts of both of them seem like a bad idea now but may not have seemed like unreasonable acts at the time. But this is how situations escalate. And they escalate out of control unless one or both make the rational decision to deescalate. That didn’t happen.

  8. It certainly could have emboldened him. I certainly feel stronger/safer than I would without my gun. I guess the important thing is George Zimmerman typical? I don’t think he is. I think most gun owners would not put themselves in the position he did. Zimmerman screwed up, and a person is dead. Did he do anything illegal? Nope.
    It’s unfortunate that this case not only proves you should carry a gun, but also why maybe you shouldn’t.

    • The thing is TM, was already conducting illegal activities on a routine basis including dope, vandalism, stealing, and battery. He also was trying to get a gun. This guy was a time bomb.

  9. I don’t know Mr. Zimmerman or his psychological make-up or state of mind that fateful evening, so I won’t attempt to answer for him. As for me, well I wouldn’t have exited my vehicle without my pistol because, well – I never do regardless of the circumstances. Having a gun itself wouldn’t be cause for me to exit; it doesn’t embolden me but rather makes me more cautious about the situations I put myself in.

  10. Foresight and hindsight, Zimmerman never should have left his car.

    Only Zimmerman can answer whether or not the Kel-Tec empowered him to leave his car.

    • “Foresight and hindsight, Zimmerman never should have left his car.”

      Do you belong to a neighborhood watch? When was the last time you tried to prevent a possible crime in process?

      So easy to criticize Zimmerman from the sidelines, tough guy.

      • What crime was in progress? The neighberhood watch now has stop and frisk authority? We argue that NYPD shouldn’t have that power but citizens now must submit to neighberhood watch interrogations on the street? In some folks rush to make GZ a hero because he shot an evil black man they seem willing to surrender all of our rights to simply walk down the street unmolested.

        And now GZ is going to be used to challenge a citizens rights to carry concealed and SYG. Some hero.

        • Try to read carefully next time before responding, jwm. I said “possible” crime in progress. Martin certainly fit the description of the people committing break-ins in that area. Zimmerman also said he looked like he was on drugs. According to the toxicology report, turns out he was right.

          Who said anything about stop and frisk? “Interrogations”? Good grief, talk about incendiary hyperbole.

          “And now GZ is going to be used to challenge a citizens rights to carry concealed and SYG. Some hero.”

          Why should GZ be held accountable for the tyrannical notions of liberal social commentators? Are we to dictate our every move out of fear of what irrational reactions gun confiscators might have to them? How silly.

        • I said “possible” crime in progress.

          Of course. A black kid walking home must be doing something illegal.

  11. well, residents of bad neighborhoods in Baltimore lock their doors and stay inside, afraid of the drug dealers. That is the opposite of emboldening. Laws are about tradeoffs. I rather suffer 1 Zimmerman to embolden 1000 residents to leave their house and kick the drug dealers off their street.

  12. I would have left the car, unarmed, to see what he was up to, even spoken to him if I didn’t perceive any hostility. That’s what you do when you’re watching the neighborhood. After all, you are looking for a thief, not a violent criminal.

    Keep that in mind, Zimmerman was watching for burglars, not rapists or violent criminals. In that frame of mind he never would have considered that he would be attacked by teen looking for a fight. The fact he was armed had NOTHING to do with it.

    • So Zimmerman, in your scenario, is dead or in coma on the sidewalk with a bashed in skull? That’s a better outcome than a dead wannabe multigenerational gangbanger? I don’t think so.

  13. The gun may have swayed GZ in favor of leaving the truck, but I don’t believe you should separate that motivation from his zeal to play cop. But even if we knew for a fact that it did change GZ mind, it is still not enough evidence to extrapolate a trend (nor suggest what could or should be done). It’s just a single data point.

  14. So what if it did “embolden” him to get out of his car in his neighborhood? The gates on that community probably “emboldened” a few residents to walk their dogs after dark too.. doesn’t mean anyone has a right to punch anyone else in the nose.

    And what about the other side? Does anyone really believe that Travon couldn’t have turned and said “evening” to GZ, and that wouldnt have let the wind out of his sails? Are we supposed to believe all of the fault was on GZ? The racism & unjustified fear was mutual.

  15. I dont think he was planning to shoot Trayvon. Zimmerman isnt really a hater he has a community service record to prove it. I think he would have got out, asked TM what he was up to and TM would have told him he was just passing through. Except TM decided to sock him….. Zimmerman packed his KelTec because he was the watch commander and he probably always did before. Just like a lot of us do, just like I do. He wasnt looking to instigate a shooting, they both did that accidentally.

    • Agreed, you don’t call the cops and tell them to get to your neighborhood ASAP if you are planning on shooting someone, in public, in full view of many houses, when the cops are due to arrive within minutes.

  16. The point I believe left unstated is that of offensive vs. defensive capability. If the writers point is that Z would not have left the car if he hadn’t had a gun, then I believe she presumes Z viewed a firearm as primarily an offensive weapon, something he uses to dispense justice. Given the environmental conditions (weather, lighting, etc.) Z may have been observing M, and may have only done so by viewing his firearm as a defensive tool, as the majority of CCDW licensees do. While there is ample evidence that some may feel proactively empowered with a firearm (Fist of Goodness analogy here), I don’t feel that’s the case with Z.

  17. I honestly don’t think it emboldened him. I think this whole entire situation was just the result of two people making bad decisions simultaneously. Zimmerman shouldn’t have been following the kid or have gotten out of his car after he called the cops and Martin shouldn’t have started a fight with someone he didn’t know. Once Zimmerman started getting his head bashed into the concrete, the law was on his side though. If Zimmerman had tried to stop Martin while he was just walking along then i think Zimmerman would’ve been in the wrong and been convicted. But i don’t think the gun emboldened him, if it were the gun that were the only thing making him get out of the car, i think he’d have been holding it (in his waistband) to reassure himself and would’ve shot Martin long before he could’ve sustained the wounds he did. But i wasn’t there, none of us were, and no one knows what both of them were thinking.

    • Those two “bad decisions” are far from equal. One is at worst unwise, the other violently illegal.

  18. With regard to the last question, I think the most convincing argument is that every major prediction made by gun control advocates has been proven wrong. Over the last few decades we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of Americans carrying concealed firearms, owning scary black rifles and “high” capacity magazines, as well as the elimination of many of the strictest gun control laws (such as D.C.’s effective ban). We have not seen a concomitant increase in crime, lawlessness, and “wild west” shootouts. Well, except in Chicago, that haven of draconian gun control.

  19. But isn’t that part of it, though? Keeping a concealed carry is to make you feel secure and thus “embolden” you to live normally and therefore feel secure. You could go on to argue that it would be the same if he had a knife, or mace. The gun provided peace of mind that when he left his car, to find some identifier of where he was at, he would be ready for any threat, and obviously be safer than without one.

    By the same token, did Martin’s trust in his somewhat seasoned fighting experience “embolden” him to walk home, and not work harder to find a ride home in the dark rain? Would that have changed this if Trayvon had been around different surroundings and had a less confrontive stance?

    As for your first point, yes, he didn’t have to leave the car, however, he did what he believed was the best way to figure out his location. The only other thing he could have done was have a GPS that told him what road he was on.

    On the other hand, should Trayvon have confronted Zimmerman? Should he have just gotten home quickly, and got away from that “creepy ass cracka”?

  20. It does not matter that he shouldn’t have left the car. He was well within his rights to do so.

    I’ve heard that he was “stalking” the alleged victim. No, he wasn’t.

    • Well, stalking is subjective.

      She said I was stalking; I said I was just appreciating the female form through a window, and the discomfort of standing in the bushes just enhanced the sublime feeling of joy I got from gazing upon her unclothed curves.

      Or something like that.

  21. I believe Zimmerman did neighborhood watch before he got a permit. He got the gun because of a dangerous pit bull in the neighborhood. So that is evidence in favor of the notion that he would have gone anyway.

    • That’s actually a good and valid point, tdiinva. In that light, I have to agree that he probably would have, even without the gun.

  22. I’ve carried concealed for more than a dozen years. I’ve called 911 (now I’ll just call the relevent dispatch directly and save a call transfer)while carrying concealed, I’ve been a good witness, I’ve stood in between and broken up fights, de-escalated “road rages”, and interrupted crimes in progress. I’ve even made a few citizen’s arrests while CCing off duty. My bottom line? I’m less likely to escalate because I am carrying a gun. Given the arrest rates of CC permit holders being 6-7 times lower than the general populace, it is evident that the vast majority of permit holders take their rights and responsibilities very seriously.

    I can’t speak to Zimmerman personally, but the statistics simply do not support CC / CHP / CHL holders being vigilantes who operate above the law to satisfy their own selfish fantasies. When arguing with anti-gunners, the facts still are on our side, so stay with the facts.

    The possibility does exist that Zimmerman got away with murder, but I consider that possibility to be highly unlikely given the totality of the (factual) circumstances. So sayeth the Sanford PD, FBI, and the jury of 6. I do not believe that Zimmerman exited his car for any other reason than to be a useful witness for his neighborhood. I might have done the exact same thing under the circumstances. In fact, I have. Zimmerman had a right to be out and about, just as Martin did (unless he was past curfew or some other such thing). The advice of a 911 dispatcher is not legally binding, as has been covered as nauseum.

    • A81, you put it best. Even though GZ was not an officer, I believe that his motives were not malicious or reckless. If anything, he was somewhat naïve, given his lack of physical prowess.
      The counter-question that begs to be asked is “Would TM have attacked pudgy GZ if he knew that he was packing?” There was a certain naïveté in his actions, as well. And I do believe that he felt empowered by his self-perceived physical superiority.

      • A juror has anonymously told CNN the same thing, that it wasn’t about race, but about ‘profiling’ a guy that looked like he was on drugs, cutting through people’s yards instead of staying the paths, turning and looking, etc.

  23. It’s a speculative question. Does not having guns ever make a situation worse? Yes. Does the fact police have guns ever make the situation worse? Yes (See the shooting in NYC last year where innocents were shot for starters). Or how’s about every unnecessary know knock swat raid that results in a young black man’s death? When they could have grabbed him any number of different ways?

    BTW, I don’t necessarily think Z getting out of the car was a bad thing. It was Treyvon’s own fault he’s dead.

    While we’re speculating, Maybe Z saved some lives? What if Treyvon’s course got more and more thuggish and he ended up a murderer like so many young black men? On and on.

  24. As a ‘quasi’-security guard, his duty was to observe and report. He had the operator on the phone and was in the process of ‘reporting’ when he lost sight of Martin. In order to continue ‘observing’ what he was ‘reporting’ it was necessary to regain visual contact with Martin. I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that, and reading the gun into it is over-thinking the situation. Unarmed security would do the same, and in fact does so on a routine basis every day and night in this country.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s pretty disappointing to see so many people here falling for the “he never should have gotten out of his car!” nonsense.

    • What’s the point of a neighborhood watch if you can’t keep your eyes on a possible criminal? And as long as this is still a free country, Zimmerman can go walking about his own neighborhood as he pleases. Guy was trying to protect and improve his community from a known history of crime. Sadly alot of people don’t have the gumption to do that nowadays, they think the police and the government can make everything better. Probably because that’s the exact line the government pushes.

  25. Whether he “should” have left his car is irrelevant to the case.

    Whether he was “emboldened” is irrelevant to the case.

    Engaging in a debate or discussion about “what ifs” is unwinnable. Such discussions are impossible to resolve.

    I prefer to stick to FACTS (evidence) and LAW. Those are the ONLY things that matter in a court of law.

    Answering this question is little more than taking the bait and guaranteed to degenerate into two resolute camps that will never agree on anything.

    • You are right on with the last part. If someone believes that GZ broke the law after that sham trial or that Treyvon did not contribute to the escalation in any way, they are unreachable. Why argue?

  26. My take on your questions, take it or leave it:

    Did the Kel Tec PF-9 “embolden” Zimmerman?
    Of course it did. He knew he had an edge to detain or shoot Martin as necessary. He did NOT know if Martin was armed, so he was meeting force with counterforce. This is called reasonable and prudent action.

    What’s the most convincing argument against restricting Americans’ access to firearms?
    If you take away the tool of protection (i.e, the legal gun), the murder and assault with wounding rate will spike. Happens every time restrictive gun laws are passed. Zimmerman would likely be severely beaten or dead had he not fired. And had he not fired, Martin, the gangsta wannabe, would have walked home with an illegal gun. And the editor would never have asked the questions, because there would be no divisive story on Page One, just a small item right before the classifieds in the Police Blotter section.

  27. I am more situationally aware and avoiding of the possibilty of a lethal encounter when carrying a gun (all the time) than without one. Since the beginning of my carry days I have understood that such a powerful tool of self defense takes great preparation and involves immense responsiblity.

    If I am put in the situation by another party, I am entirely prepared to act. It’s a serious matter for only the gravest of circumstances, but that circumstance can come hard and fast. You’d have more time to react than you would to think.

    GZ broke NO laws. If there is something (we dont know) that he could have done differently, he will certainly be paying an idiot tax on that the rest of his life.

  28. I doubt Z anticipated the altercation at all. According to his narrative, he had lost sight of Martin and was checking for an address. I doubt the fact that he was carrying entered much into his thought process at the time.

  29. “Shouldn’t” have left his car? Why not? HE LIVED THERE. Are law-abiding citizens now to stay behind locked doors at night. He had every right to leave his car and walk down the sidewalk in his own gated community. The fact that the prosecutor relied on it to support an inference of evil intent is a pure red herring–and the jury so concluded.
    Wouldn’t have left his car if he didn’t have a gun? We have no way of reading George’s mind–all we have to go on are the statements made to the police. Anything else is utter speculation. The flip side of this question is to ask whether George should have reasonably anticipated, at the time that he left his car, that Trayvon would attack him? I think it is fair to say that most burglars wandering through a nice neighborhood don’t want to be caught–and the best way to do that is to not be seen. Wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that most burglars would flee rather than engage in an altercation? And that the vast majority of law-abiding people who have a reason to be where they are won’t suddenly attack when an inquisitor asks them what they are doing there? If Trayvon had merely stated, I’m staying at my dad’s place around the corner,” that would have been the end of it in almost any scenario. Instead he threw a punch. The gun changed nothing.

    So instead we should be asking is, what prompted Trayvon to start throwing punches? What kind of a chip on his shoulder did he have to have to engage in such a violent reaction. Now maybe I am just a regular law-abiding citizen, but I could not imagine doing what Trayvon did. Is this part of the current gang culture that demands “respect” that if not given is cause for a beat down? This is not a racist comment–it is an observation of what has become the norm in certain segments of the population, and is the only logical explanation for what occurred. And if this is indeed the case, we cannot justify such misconduct by blaming the gun or George Zimmerman.

    The mob has convicted George Zimmerman of murder. The evidence does not, and nor did the jury so conclude. Why has the mob no respect for the rule of law?

  30. Is she suggesting that if he didn’t have a gun, he’d probably stay locked in his bathroom like his neighbor did when her home was burglarized? Then sure, he was emboldened to leave his car instead of driving home, locking his door behind him and shivering in fear.

  31. One or 2 more hits on the concrete and the gun wouldn’t have mattered at all and Trayvon might have had a new picture of it on his cell phone.

    The reason a gun doesn’t embolden you is because you don’t know if the other person might have one.

    • Exactly. The media will entertain every possibility except that Zimmerman could be the dead man in this situation if he didn’t have a gun. No one in the justice for Trayvon crowd seems to care about what stupid decisions Trayvon Martin made that lead to his own demise that night. I guess it’s easy for them to hide their heads in the sand and pretend Zimmerman is a liar because Martin isn’t alive to tell his side of the story.

  32. Slippery slope. Agreeing that he should not have got out of the car is a losing game. On the non-emergency line call recording, he clearly thinks that Martin has bolted. He didn’t get out to confront Martin, only to specify the location. There was no intent to have a confrontation- he thought the risk of that was over, and was upset that the suspected burglar (which TM had already proven to be in Miami) had fled.

    He didn’t do anything wrong legally, and if he was emboldened to check an address- so what? Isn’t the intent of the 2A at least partially about allowing citizens to do things like move about their community without fear of being hurt or killed? Most normal folks just don’t expect to be attacked in their neighborhood; some of us prepare anyway. USA Today suggests that we should cower in our vehicles so as not to insult those who appear to be a threat to our family and community. Solzhenitsyn lamented going along with this totalitarian intimidation while freezing in the gulag.

  33. I hate to say it, but I think the wannabe-cop-neighborhood-watch-captain was emboldened due to the fact that he was packing heat.

    As for me, and most people I’m sure, carrying a gun actually makes me more likely to avoid any confrontation whatsoever.

  34. How many women CAN get out of THEIR cars tonite BECAUSE THEY have a gun with them?

    Are we supposed to live in the world or live in our cars with doors locked and homes with curtains drawn? Are we to never interact with blacks because they MIGHT take offense? Are we to take our beatings and not complain because we carry some sort of collective guilt?

  35. First things first: I see absolutely nothing wrong with getting out of a car and casually shadowing someone at a distance, say 100+ feet, to make sure they are not a burglar deciding which neighbor’s home to burgle. It’s called looking out for each other — something that more citizens in our nation should do.

    As for whether or not Zimmerman would have exited the car without being armed, only Zimmerman can answer that question. I can say this: I know lots of people who are not armed who will casually check on situations to make sure everything is okay. It really depends on someone’s style and everyone’s style is different. Lots of good Samaritans assist other citizens every day and most of the good Samaritans are not armed.

    Would I personally get out of a car to check on something without being armed? It depends on the location, the time of day, and the particular situation. Being armed simply means that you have an effective self-defense tool available if the suspicious person that you investigate turns out to be a bad apple, nothing more, nothing less.

  36. I don’t know Zimmerman and I do not know what effect carrying a gun had on his getting out of the car. However, I think most people carry in the event the unexpected happens. Based on the evidence as I understand it, I think Zimmerman intended to keep an eye on Martin until the police arrived. There is no evidence that he actually intended to confront Martin. The gun did not embolden him, but it did provide the protection for which he carried it.

    • “The gun did not embolden him, but it did provide the protection for which he carried it.”

      CORRECT!

      I live in very rural area and many of “us” follow “strangers” behaving weird who obviously don’t belong to make sure they 1. leave the area or 2. belong somewhere … In an neighborhood like mine it is very obvious if someone is “out of place” which yes, makes them suspicious.

      If you are going to ensure the security of your community you bet you watch them and maybe track them for a bit. That is NOT unusual. Esp since out here it takes > 45 minutes for the police to come (county sheriff.)

      If someone elects (key word here!) to react violently to your watching them, well then. Defend yourself. That is a no-brainer and might I say WHAT WE STAND FOR!!

      (sorry for the caps, but come on, men. this is obvious stuff!!)

  37. “First, Zimmerman shouldn’t have left the car (not much argument there).”

    As you can see by the majority of comments, you’ve received plenty of well-reasoned argument on that point. Nothing wrong with Zimmerman exiting his vehicle to try to keep an eye on a fleeing suspicious person.

    • This isn’t the Kitty Genovese case, and you’d have to be dense not to see the multiple potentials for bad outcomes on top of the slight potential for any positives. I think people are forgetting that this case began just like the average case where somebody “suspicious” actually turned out to be within their rights to be in the area. Zimmerman didn’t have a good reason to pursue his “suspicious” person – like knowledge of a crime just committed in the area, sight of a crime in progress, or something specific other than his halfassed attempt at profiling to lead to a good argument that he was stopping a person likely to commit or have committed a crime.

      Robert Farago just pointed out that Martin’s behavior and attire is the kind that could make people suspicious, but at the same time that doesn’t give anybody the right to swallow those stereotypes whole and attempt to restrain that person for essentially just breaking (your) social norms.

      I’d also like to make the uncontroversial argument that if you’re carrying a handgun you had better have already thought out what your responses would be in various situations you will likely find yourself in – that’s just simple preparedness. It seems pretty obvious that Zimmerman didn’t think it through and now a kid is dead. (Dead people don’t shoot themselves.)

      It’s just like when you get stopped by police on the highway while you’re carrying a gun. You don’t think with your gun. We can say “there’s nothing wrong with telling the officer you have a gun,” for example, but try telling Massad Ayoob that. There is a smarter way to handle that situation.

      • You appear to be unaware that Zimmerman’s neighbors were being burglarized. You appear to be unaware that TM fit the description of the people committing those crimes. Zimmerman was on the neighborhood watch specifically to protect his community from this threat.

        And yet you’re telling me he shouldn’t have brought this suspicious individual–who was walking aimlessly in the rain and the dark as if he was on drugs–to the attention of the police?

        Cry me a river about the supposed evils of “profiling,” I don’t care. If Trayvon Martin didn’t want to be profiled, he should have done a better job of making himself appear less suspicious, not only in his dress but in his behavior as well.

        “It seems pretty obvious that Zimmerman didn’t think it through and now a kid is dead. (Dead people don’t shoot themselves.)”

        So this is Zimmerman’s fault? Gotcha. You sound like another irrational Trayvonite, blaming Zimmerman for things he did that were neither illegal nor unreasonable given the circumstances, while ignoring Martin’s thuggish behavior that led directly to his death.

        How about we look at things a little more rationally? If all else stays the same but Martin “thinks it through” and decides not to commit felony battery on Zimmerman’s person, he would still be alive today. Let’s start there if we’re going to examine how the death of Martin could have been prevented, rather than focusing on the well-meaning actions of a man who was just trying to protect his neighborhood from criminals.

  38. Embolden? No. I think it gives a person peace of mind and confidence. And, please, please, please – do NOT repeat the bogus claim that Zimmerman left his car after calling 911. He was already out of the car. The 911 operator asked, “are you following him?” Martin, said, “yes,” and 911 said, “we don’t need you to do that.” And then Martin said, “OK.”

  39. There is nothing I would (plan to) do while carrying, that I would not do when not carrying. A gun is (part of) an insurance policy against the unforeseen, not a reason to do stupid crap. From everything I’ve read about Mr Zimmerman, he is also a responsible gun owner, and likely feels the same way.

  40. A weapon of any sort may make one more reassured, even
    emboldened, but it all comes down to the individual. If a
    person doesn’t have a certain mindset, simply having a
    gun won’t make them get out of the truck. Some people
    have something about them that lets them go toward
    danger. It’s what allows soldiers to flank and charge an
    enemy position. It’s what allows firefighters to go into
    burning buildings, or policemen to go towards gunshots
    or sounds of b&e. These professions may attract people
    willing to encounter danger but anyone can exhibit this
    trait. When I see something that looks off, I don’t
    hesitate to investigate. A firearm, or lack thereof, has
    never caused me to stop from keeping an eye on the
    suspicious. I think Zimmerman has this same trait. Even
    if he didn’t have a gun, I still think he would have gotten
    out of the truck.

  41. If TM had responded to GZs presence in ANY other way he would have been fine. Anything other that what he did wouldn’t have resulted in a lethal response from GZ. He immediately chose to use violence for no reason.

  42. If anything, when I CC, I’m far more CAUTIOUS than emboldened. But assuming GZ is the same requires either reading his mind or projecting that GZ has the same good judgment as 90% of other gun owners.

  43. First, Zimmerman shouldn’t have left the car (not much argument there).
    According to uncountered testimony Zimmerman did not get out of the car until Martin was out of sight. If Zimmerman intended to have a conflict, relying on his sidearm, there was no reason not to have it during the first contact. We know Zimmerman called the PD non-emergency number before the incident occured, and clearly expressed his intent simply to see which way Martin went, so that he could tell the PD when they showed up to meet “at the mailboxes.” It didn’t seem that a fight was contemplated. Who calls the PD when they intend to attack someone? That isn’t credible.

    Second, Zimmerman wouldn’t have left the car if he didn’t have a gun.
    It does not appear that having a sidearm was something Zimmerman intended to rely on or thought of. Indeed, even after he was down, his head banged on the concrete, his nose seriously injured, abrasions punched into both sides of his head, Zimmerman was still screaming “help me.” Only AFTER Jonathan Good called out for Martin to stop, and only after Good had gone back into his house with the announced purpose of calling 911, rather than coming to Zimmerman’s aid, did the gun come out. It was obviously not Zimmerman’s first choice even after being knocked down and enduring a bit of ‘ground and pound.’

    (Third, should Zimmerman have realized that the single parents of out-of-control urban teenagers having known problems with theft, drugs, and fighting…were going to be sent to his formerly-safe gated neighborhood to cool out? Once the restrictions upon the admissibility of evidence are put aside, there is extensive public evidence from Martin’s own messaging and Facebook page that he was involved with some recent fights, proud of his fighting ability, fond of drugs (as was Jeantel according to her tweets). It is easy for the affluent, people like me, to criticize the fear and frustration of Retreat at Twin Lakes residents. But when the gated neighborhood containing your home, stretching your budget thin, quickly (2010-2011) starts converting to rental housing for poor people (displaced Section 8 housing recipients) the frustration is understandable. What is more honorable, to make an attempt at discouraging crime by non-residents, or to be first in line to abandon the neighborhood fleeing to a slightly more affluent one? Should Zimmerman have had any ability whatever to foresee that he was not keeping an eye on an unfamiliar Sanford denizen, but rather a troubled young man from Miami sent to Sanford because he’d repeatedly caused trouble in Miami and had become over-proud of his own punching prowess?

  44. In order to be emboldened you’d have to believe that you are doing something inherently risky where the gun would somehow ameliorate the risk, leading you to do this activity with the gun where you wouldn’t without it. Did GZ really think that walking around his own neighborhood was that risky? There were break-ins but nothing violent I don’t think. People walk around their neighborhood all the time me thinks. He probably keeps the gun handy at his bedside for the same reason he carries it, you never know when you’re going to need it. Not for partaking in dangerous situations that you wouldn’t otherwise partake in.

    • Great article; thanks for sharing.

      What bothers me about the question of GZ exiting the car is the broken logic suggesting that just because something bad happened in this case that something bad is a likely outcome any time someone gets out of their car to interact with someone whose intentions are unclear. Are we really such a broken, scared and distrustful society that questioning someone’s business in our neighborhood constitutes a threat inviting violence?

      • Broken scared and distrustful? Maybe not completely yet, but were definitely going that way. Just sit in your house and watch Dancing with the Stars and honey boo boo while big brother government takes care of it, cause they know best for you. I think most people in this situation wouldn’t have acted violently, and may have confronted zimmerman non violently(perhaps cautiously) or just ignored him. But from everything that’s been brought up about him (martin) he was already going down this path of violence and this was the culmination. We’ll see what the future holds.

  45. I scope out my neighborhood if I think something is amiss. Now I can lawfully carry a gun, which does not increase the number of times I will check out a noise, only make me safer if that noise is a threat.

    Once I investigated a loud noise – before I had a CCW – and found two punks breaking into my neighbors garage. All is well, but a gun would not have made me more aggressive – in fact I think I would have been more likely to hang back.

    I think the whole “emboldened with a gun” thing is booshwa, a projection of the liberal mindset. I am who I am, gun or no gun.

    • I’m thinking Zimmerman would have been more reluctant to leave his vehicle if he did not have a firearm. Not saying he would not have left his vehicle, , but I think the pistol gave him a sense of security he wouldn’t have had without it.

  46. “Emboldened” doesn’t equal “vigilante”, which is the undertone of that question.

    If GZ had any intent to use the gun when he exited the vehicle, it would have been in his hand, and he wouldn’t have suffered any injuries at all.

  47. We were on fumes when I had to use an inner city gas station late at night after my woman and I went to a baseball game. There wasn’t a lot of business at that station at that time – close to midnight. My fiance asked me: uh, you are carrying, right? I said, yes, I have my ‘good pistol’ with (my favorite pistol, my EDC, and constant practice companion). She sighed in relief. Regardless of how may cars pulled in and out and how many of whoever were in the cars that were at that station, she knew that I was keeping an eye on the surroundings. We stuck out like a sore thumb compared to the other clientele, but hey, we were just gassing up and were on the road back home. I wouldn’t say I was emboldened. I say that having my worst case scenario back up equipment allowed me to have a significantly lower stress level, which allowed me to appear calm in front of my fiance – and I consequently did not have that deer-in-the-headlights look when I was observed by other patrons. I’d have rather gassed up beforehand, but considering that I had a long day of: going to work early, picking up my fiance, get to the game in time, and then get home, it had to be what it had to be.

  48. I keep hearing it said Zimmerman was emboldened by the gun. But, I have to ask this question: “Was Martin emboldened by the fact it was most likely he was encountering someone who was unarmed?”

  49. Zimmerman wouldn’t have left his car without a gun? Because an unarmed 17 year old “victim” was also such a threat that one must be “emboldened” before stepping out of their vehicle? Should GZ have expected a violent confrontation?

  50. 1) after dozens of calls, where you keep getting asked the same questions and your inability to provide information to actually catch the people committing crimes, either because you can’t see where they went or what they looked like. Taking additional steps to provide the information the operators ask on every call is not a wrong thing.

    2) If GZ is like most CWP holders, that you have a gun in your pocket does not make you do things. If anything it makes you NOT do things that put you into a dangerous situation.

    I would highly doubt that he got out of his car because he had a gun, if he had been carrying for some amount of time. That gun becomes nothing more important than your wallet.
    However you know that you don’t pull it unless you have no other choice, so you avoid those situations at all costs. Especially with all the LEO friends he had, i suspect he knew that very well.
    I suspect another person would have pulled out the gun as soon as TM approached him, or once he was hit in the nose. GZ waited to use deadly force until he truly had no choice. Nobody was coming to his aid, even the ppl that he saw, went back into their homes to call 911 instead of helping him.
    I would suggest that most of us would have fired far sooner than GZ did, we would not have taken 40 secs of a beating. One aggressive move of force, especially one that busted a nose, it is a done deal.

    if you really want to dig really really hard to find some cause/effect, I would point to the dispatcher asking questions GZ could not answer unless he further investigated. If the police would have caught someone every time he called, I doubt he would have felt he need to get out of the car so this potential criminal would not get away.

    If I run into someone, at some place I am new at, and they ask what I am doing, I will be as polite as possible to ease their fears or concerns that I am up to no good.

    Why this action or lack there off is ignored by the media is just beyond me.

  51. I don’t know about any one else but I was taught that it is better to stay away from trouble so that way you don’t have to fight any one.

    This has come from my martial arts instructors growing up and my firearms instructors.

    I would hope everyone else’s firearms instructors have recommended that they try to do what they can to avoid or prevent altercations so they won’t have to be forced to use their gun. Just saying.

  52. Based on the information regarding Martin available in the public record,I would say that if Zimmerman profiled Martin as a criminal he was spot on.
    Zimmerman may or may not have made a mistake in getting out of the car, but if you took the violent thug out of the equation, his error would not have turned into a life or death situation.
    I have not followed this closely from the beginning but can any of you answer this question: Has any coach, teacher, guidance counselor, friend or fellow student come forward or been interviewed to attest to Trayvon Martin’s good character? It occurred to me yesterday that this is a glaring hole in the narrative.

  53. Would Martin have attacked if Zimmerman were open carrying?

    The government knows that it is not supposed to have the power to “debar men the use of arms.” Doing so has turned this society upside-down. We now feel socially compelled to defer to the police in nearly all situations and the police are quick to abuse that power. Open carry is anathema to so many gun owners because they have been socialized to believe that righteous violence is “bad”. Carry in any form shows society that the person doing so is serious. The problem with this mentality of deferral is it emboldens the criminal and allows the criminal activity to flourish at all levels of society.

  54. After listening to the Non Emergency call he made to the P.D., he doesn’t sound like he’s scared, but he doesn’t sound like he’s acting brave or macho. He sounds like he’s concerned about the neighborhood and a little bit overwhelmed with the excitement of reporting a suspicious person. I doubt he thought about the gun at all before exiting the car.

  55. Let’s address each bullet point made by the USA Today editor. Point one: Zimmerman shouldn’t have left the car (not much argument there). My first question to you Mr. Farago is why did you needlessly write that this action was unnecessary? Because of the outcome? How else was GZ supposed to maintain visual contact (awareness) of the individual (TM)? Cars simply cannot go everywhere, sometimes even humans have to exit them to do mundane things like enter buildings and swim in water etc. Are we as a society asking citizens to merely be non-compliant bystanders in their communities, watching helplessly as suspicious individuals have access to their homes? Oh wait, I forgot…. it is the job of the average police department to “serve and protect” us. Problem with that is that the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) and other federal courts have adjudicated that it is NOT the responsibility of ANY local PD to provide protection. See the following for background:

    -In Warren v. District of Columbia (1981), the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled, official police personnel and the government employing them are not generally liable to victims of criminal acts for failure to provide adequate police protection… a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular citizen.

    -In Bowers v. DeVito (1982), the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled,[T]here is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen.

    -Castle Rock v. Gonzales, 545 U.S. 748 (2005), was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, in which the court ruled, 7-2, that a town and its police department could not be sued under 42 U.S.C.§1983 for failing to enforce a restraining order, which had led to the murder of a woman’s three children by her estranged husband.

    -In its landmark decision of DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services (1988), the US Supreme Court declared that the Constitution does not impose a duty on the state and local governments to protect the citizens from criminal harm.

    Point two: Zimmerman wouldn’t have left the car if he didn’t have a gun. How does this editor know this? Was this addressed during the trial or previous interviews with GZ? I did not see this point investigated by the Sanford PD or anybody else, I didn’t see this asked of him on any video recordings. Let’s all be clear, there are thousands of petite female police officers (and some men too) in America that interact with very large suspects. Can we assume that they would NOT do their job without the safety and security that that sidearm provides?

  56. I applaud Zimmerman for getting out of his car. It shows he felt it was worth protecting his property and his neighbor’s property. Its the same reason I pull over and check out strange vehicles parked near my property. We have a poaching problem and poachers are dangerous. We also have copper thieves, meth labs, and vandals out in the country. It is as much concern of a resident in the area to be a witness and participant to decreasing crime in your neighborhood as it is the police to arrest the criminals. The more crime you have, the more it attracts. The more crime you have the more dangerous it is for kids, pets, and your property values.

    I think back to the time I pulled into the local grocery near the college I was attending years ago to a “situation”. A guy was slapping a woman around in the parking lot. He continued to beat her, twisting her arm, yelling, etc. Inside the store the people cowered, called the police, and looked on. She wasn’t going to be able to take much more of this. Nobody said anything, not one person. I got out of my car. Let me say that again… I got out of my car. A yelled in the most threatening manner at the guy to leave the woman alone. He stopped, shocked at the intervention and then ran off. He got in his truck, scared of what I might do. His wife sat on the curve sobbing from the beating she took. The police arrived 20 minutes later. I found out from her statement he was an elementary school teacher. She made some excuse about his temper while the police took her statement. I went home with the knowledge I had done something good that evening. Bad things happen when good people do nothing. Too bad most of the members of this forum have forgotten that.

  57. I think you and USA Today should call up Zimmerman and ask.

    But I agree, Most use their CCWs for protection. People not familiar with firearms always make the claim that when a person gets a hold of a gun they are drunken with power – it’s just ridiculous.

  58. Having slept on this question overnight I have come realize that it is the wrong question. The real question is who owns the streets? Everyman or the punks? The “Justice for Trayvon” crowd does everything it can to avoid facing who Trayvon Martin was. We know he was a punk because he left a record of it. On the night of his death Martin may not have been a threat to anyone. He just went out to get the ingredients for a concoction to get high. On another night he may have gone out to cause mayhem. The facts in evidence show us that he could have gotten home before Zimmerman got to him. He could have explained himself if Zimmerman asked him who he was. Instead he chose to be a punk and attack the “cracka” because he felt disrespected.

    George Zimmerman is Everyman. He goes about his day to day business, cares about other people and his community. His life demonstrates that he was a good citizen.

    I hear a lot talk from the small government folks about how the police are too many and too militarized. Well if you want a smaller, less militarized force than citizens have to step up to give a street presence that keeps crime in check. That is what neighborhood watches are all about. If you are out on the streets then you always face the possibility that bad guy you spot won’t run away but will come after you. Zimmerman did not get out of his truck thinking that “I am going to get into fight for my life” but it turned into that. Liberty is not about getting high if you want to, have sex when you want or “getting the government out of marriage. It is about taking responsibility for you community so the government doesn’t have to. Taking that responsibility involves risk. Frankly, I would much prefer George Zimmerman for a neighbor than many of the self-proclaimed Libertarians who post here. George Zimmerman may have voted Democratic but he embodies more of the Libertarian spirit than may who call themselves by that name.

    Remember, “You sleep peacefully in your beds at night because of the rough men who guard the City’s gates.” You want fewer rough men then be prepared to take their place at the gate. That is a risky proposition and that is why there are more people who talk the talk than walk the walk.

  59. Never get out of the car! Safari rules apply whenever young Negroes are about! Your safety cannot be assured when there are Negroes about! Cower and live!

  60. I don’t think it emboldened him. In fact, I don’t even think the fact that he was carrying even factored in his mind. Had he been propping his bravery up on his gun, he would have cleared his holster a lot earlier in the altercation. He also may have even informed the non emergency operator that he was armed.

    I find it more likely that he got out of the car because he knew he had police on the way and that emboldened him more than anything. Particularly because of how late in the game the pistol made an appearance.

    • That’s absolutely foolish. Statistically it’s well shown that people with guns are emboldened, but that’s almost irrelevant to your point. Are you seriously suggesting that people should forget they are carrying a gun? That should always factor in your mind. Again, that’d be negligent on Zimmerman’s part to pretend as if he was going on watch unarmed. It clearly was his plan for how to get out of any situation.

  61. I think you have a lot of good information and thought from JustLeaveLawfulGunOwnersAlone, tdiinva, Cyrano, Frank McGhee, Accur81, Ropingdown, and several others.
    My only addition: the decision to get out of the car and see which way the suspicious person had gone is a judgement call, and different people will come to different conclusions for themselves — especially when “filling in” the situation as they might see it. However, it does remain a reasonable decision in that situation, as well as lawful, so I would delete the “not much argument there” comment and replace it with a discussion of reasonable differences.

  62. He didn’t keep following. He lost sight of him at about the “T” walkway intersection. Z went straight on to check out the street address of the house that was at the top far side of the “T” while M went down the leg of the “T” to his father’s girlfriend’s place.

    Z was then headed back to his truck to await the cops when M, having come back up to the intersection confronted him and sucker-punched Z knocking him to the ground. M then straddled Z and proceeded to beat him until Z was in fear of his life.

    M saw that Z was armed when his shirt got pulled up and told Z that Z was going to die. Z got the gun first and shot M who then collapsed to the side. Z then got atop M to control him as he didn’t know how badly M was injured.

  63. The question is: How does an “emboldened by a firearm” act?

    By all accounts Z made it all way to the ground with his gun still holstered. He was out of his car and then headed back when told not to follow. He fired one shot.

    Does that sound emboldened to you?

    The only thing that likely would have change without the gun is that Z might be dead. That’s it.

  64. Any analysis of anything must examine the good and the bad–the cost and the benefit. The failure of so many is that they only look at the cost…sometimes even denying there is any benefit. With this ‘bad math’…they inevitably draw a faulty conclusion.

    It may be true that he was emboldened by the gun…if not him surely someone else will be. I’m not sure that’s bad (despite the unfortunate outcome), but even if it is–this does not mean he shouldn’t have been allowed a gun.

    We must consider all the good that comes from armed citizens to properly evaluate their merit. Yes, allowing citizens cars means some drunk will kill somebody. As unfortunate as that is, we still allow access to cars because of the tremendous benefit. How many lives are saved; how many crimes would have been committed…except for the presence of guns in the hands of civilians?

    While it is difficult to get an exact talley…there is no question in mind that the limited number of ‘make my day’ people who will actually use their weapon is grossly outweighed by the benefits. Especially to the most vulnerable–the elderly and women.

  65. A couple things I wanted to reply to earlier which don’t have available replies for some reason:

    1.) Waiting until after the verdict wouldn’t have made settling with the HOA any cheaper for the homeowners. People are getting confused about what Zimmerman’s acquittal means. It doesn’t mean Martin was a thug or that Zimmerman was doing the right thing. The questions of law likely to come up in a civil liability trial would have been different from what was heard in the murder case.

    2.) There’s no established fact that Zimmerman went back to his car or that Martin actually ambushed him. Zimmerman, unsurprisingly, says that is what happened, but nothing else points to it. The fact is that Martin was killed 70 yards from where he was staying, which also highlights that other old chestnut, “Trayvon didn’t have a right to be there.” He was staying in the neighborhood, and certainly did have a right to be there!

    I have to agree with G and those who point out that Zimmerman’s initial response of stalking after Martin long enough to arouse suspicion – and not being prepared for any physical confrontation outside of shooting Martin – did absolutely nothing to enhance the security of the area. Reporting Martin was fine.

    I feel for the lady whose home was robbed and I like that Zimmerman wanted to do something to prevent that, but he clearly wasn’t ready for the big time.

    Zimmerman put himself at risk – the “somebody had to do it” defense doesn’t matter because your first duties are to yourself, and to ensure that you actually can follow through. Not having the right training and physical capability is like going to fight fires in spandex – your ass is getting burned.

  66. You are asking the wrong question, IMO. The real question is whether or not having the courage to do what is right is wrong, regardless of circumstance. Did the posession of a firearm give him that courage, probably. Still, does that make his efforts to protect his neighborhood any less noble?

  67. Why is the Media focused only on Zimmerman’s actions? From the testimony given at the trial, and the evidence presented to support it, Mr. Z was doing what most Americans should be doing after their neighborhoods have been repeatedly victimized by criminals. He was being vigilant and watching.

    USA Today is barking up the wrong tree. If its editors are truly interested in trying to prevent such occurrences in the future, it will focus on REAL problems. You know, problems that are supported by facts.

    Media giants need to stop hunting for “white racism,” and seek to answer the questions asked by Dr. Martin Luther King himself.

    At least the Wall Street Journal is making an attempt: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323394504578608182550247030.html

  68. Has it occurred to anyone else here that even if they were both armed, that the administration and the mainstream (liberal) media would have still pushed this to trial, simply, because, even though they were both armed, it was still a white-hispanic man killing a black teen? Because this is all you would hear from the media:
    A WHITE ADULT shot and killed a BLACK baby with a GUN?

  69. If he was a cop wannabe commando like the media wants us to think he was, he would have flashed that gun long before he ever did. Treyvon never knew it was there until the end, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

    Besides, where will that argument end? It could also be said that, if “so and so” didn’t have a gun, he wouldn’t have been embolden to sleep with his doors unlocked, or if “so and so” didn’t have a gun, he wouldn’t have been embolden to drive that route, etc… Getting out of the car was his choice and right, even maybe his responsibility as a concerned citizen, resident, and volunteer with his neighborhood watch. It wasn’t against the law for him to get out of the car, it was his right, and as such, it doesn’t matter. Zimmerman didn’t break the law, and he was forced to defend himself while doing what he thought was right. That’s all that matters.

    • I agree with Chuck. IF any of us who have a legal carry permit find ourselves in an unfortunate situation when we have to defend our life or the life of a family member the administration and media could decide to use the tragedy as an opportunity to fuel their anti-gun agenda and paint you as a wanna be cop, simply for feeling you have to carry a firearm. Complicate that even more if the self defense shooter is white and the threat was black, because then you will be painted as a racist too. Was Zimmerman guilt? NO! Did he do certain small things which put him in that situation? YES and I bet in hindsight, he would do certain things differently. The point is, that what the administration and the media are doing to Zimmerman, could easily be any one of us who carry for self defense. A perfect example of how any one of us who are pro 2A could be villanized by ignoring facts is what Kirsty Alley post on twitter….She tweeted, ” White people use to make black people drink out of different water fountains, now it’s okay for us to just shoot their children.” This shows the ignorance of the anti-gun liberals, their willingness to ignore facts and let emotions rule their point of view.

  70. The media’s and public’s insistence on judging Mr. Zimmerman continues to startle me.

    While some people are judging Trayvon Martin for his criminal/delinquent history, I’d like to focus on Martin’s actions of that night: Martin could have easily just kept walking. He would have reached his father’s home by the time Zimmerman got halfway there. Instead, Martin came back to confront George Zimmerman, then assaulted him for no good reason.

    Some people have said that Zimmerman was “stalking” or “confronting” Martin, but the physical evidence and the timing of the incident better support Zimmerman’s explanation. Even if Zimmerman’s behavior had made Martin suspicious of him or had offended Martin, the kid still had no right to escalate things into a physical confrontation.

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