Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Why Must Self-Defense Be Lethal?

“Trayvon Martin,” says a New York Times editorial, “was an unarmed boy walking home from the convenience store. If only Florida could give him back his life as easily as it is giving back George Zimmerman’s gun.”

Much of the furor over the verdict has focused on racism, as it surely deserves to be, but in an even broader sense, we are back to guns again. In an age obsessed with self-defense, is killing a perceived attacker the only way to stop him? In the heat of feeling threatened, is murder the best and only answer?

In a healing statement on the case, the President observes, “We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis.”

The answer, of course, is no. George Zimmerman was carrying a concealed Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm semi-automatic pistol that night, which costs about $239 and fires lethal bullets. For as little as $19, he could have armed himself with a stun gun that would have immobilized Trayvon Martin without murdering him.

As distasteful as the image of electronically zapping human beings may be, we live in a society that finds it more acceptable to spare cattle by controlling them with such devices than human beings.

What all this suggests is that, since Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia reinterpreted the Second Amendment into a NRA slogan in 2008, we are living in a country that values a previously non-existent right to shoot people dead over the victims’ right to life.

George Zimmerman won’t be the last lost soul to benefit from that distortion.

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