If this verdict was appropriate, though, what about verdicts in cases that were similar except for the color of the defendant? What happened to the "stand your ground" law when the jury reached its verdict against Marissa Alexander--an African American woman from Jacksonville?
And anyway, why should fear of attack justify shooting to kill? It didn't in the case of John White--an African American man from Long Island, New York--who shot a (white) teenager in 2006 (accidentally, he says, when the boy was trying to grab his gun).
John White, it appears, had good reason to fear the boys who showed up on his doorstep that night. That's probably why the governor commuted his sentence after he had served five months. And White no doubt should have served some time, according to New York law--his gun was unregistered, and if he hadn't been holding it when he went to the door, a scuffle probably wouldn't have escalated into manslaughter.
But, some say, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Is this true?
- Imagine that Trayvon Martin lived by that principle and was also armed when he met George Zimmerman. Imagine they both pulled out their guns and fired, and Zimmerman went down. Do you think the jury would have found Martin guilty?
- Imagine that Marissa Alexander's husband had come after her with a gun. Would she then have just fired warning shots? And if she had actually killed him, what would her sentence have been? Remember than Florida allows capital punishment, and that Governor Rick Scott recently signed a bill that speeds up the process.
- Imagine that the boys who came after John White's family had all had guns. Would they have used them? Would White have been able to stop them?
- Imagine that none of these people had guns. Who would be dead? Who would be in jail?
America, we have a problem with race. And with guns.