by Charlie Leck (St. Augustine, Florida)
In Wyoming, in 1875, in towns all across the state, most men wore guns in holsters hung from waiste belts and strapped to a leg. Law was often conssidered six-gun law. Men were frequently gunned down and no legal consequences, or even questions, followed. We called it the Wild West.
Guns? I've hated them all my adult life. I fired a pistol one time, at the urging of my brother, a law enforcement officer. It frightened me that day and I abhorred the power of the heavy steel instrument and the way it roared and tore through the target at which I shot.
Someone took me pheasant hunting once and I was required to fire a shotgun a few times (missing each time) at beautiful cock birds. The big gun made me tremble. The beautiful birds dazzled me.I can't imagine living in a Wild West society -- "out where a man is a man" -- where folk are allowed and encouraged by law to carry pistols with them and are protected by law if they shoot someone who they feel is a threat to their own safety.
Your state, if it doesn't have such a law already, is probably looking at the possibility. The gun lobby is powerful nationally and in most states as well. It is encouraging these laws. In Florida, one of the results of such a law, called there the Stand Your Ground Law, was the death of the handsome, young boy, Treyvon Martin. Now stories come to light about other such deaths in other places around the country -- sad and stunning stories that make me cringe.
If you live in a state that hasn't passed such an asinine law, don't allow the passage of one. Fight against them, as I will in Minnesota. They're not necessary. Work instead for "brotherhood laws" that encourage us to understand ourselves and other people better -- that encourage us to live peacefully and cooperatively.
"But we face such constant danger and dangerous people," the proponents of such laws will say.
It is so easy to instill fear in people and to make them feel endangered and threatened. It is so difficult to instill courage and compassion.
George Zimmermann, who killed Treyvon Martin, was a frightened and confused Man. He'd been in trouble before. He resisted arrest by a police officer in 2005. And, his wife had to file a complaint against him once after a domestic violence incident. Nevertheless, he was a "neighborhood watch captain." He wanted, as a young man, to be a policeman. Failing that, he got as close to the job as he could get by volunteering as a security observer in his own small community.
Don't put a gun in the hands of such a person! It endangers you and me.
Eugene Robinson, a columnist at the Washington Post wrote about the Treyvon Martin incident from the perspective of a black man.
"But the tragic and essential thing, for me, is the bull's eye that black men wear throughout their lives -- and the vital imperative to never, ever, be caught on the wrong street at the wrong time."Who knows when an over-zealous character like George Zimmerman, carrying a hand-gun, will make racist-based assumptions.
"This guy looks like he is up to no good," Zimmerman said on that fatal night.
Eugene Robinson said it all...
"Please tell me, what would be the innocent way to walk down the street with an iced tea and some Skittles? Hint: For black men, that's a trick question."