Yahoo News asked Sanford, Fla. , residents and others across the nation to react to the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman case and cultural issues surrounding the trial. Here's one response.
COMMENTARY | SANFORD, Fla. -- As a member of the Sanford community, I was at that gated community the night it happened, visiting a friend on the other side of the complex to watch a basketball game. The tragedy allows me to reflect on the blurred lines of "gun law" in Florida.
This case was bigger than George Zimmerman. This case was bigger than Trayvon Martin. In a state where gun laws like "Stand Your Ground" are put in place to protect citizens and allow them to evoke their constitutional rights, the Zimmerman trial shows that as in the past, the lines drawn are more skewed than defined.
Years of lobbying and political pressure have set a precedent that this case could not break through. The prosecution never had a chance. The gun laws in the state of Florida are similar to that of the Old West, where a man could be shot legally for all sorts of offenses like card-cheating or horse-stealing, all with little threat of a trial or jail time. This history made it impossible for George Zimmerman to be found guilty, because had he been found guilty, it would have also blurred the lines of gun laws that have been backed with millions and millions of dollars worth of special interest over decades, an order that the prosecution just could not handle.
There are those who will say the prosecution should have focused more on this or more on that, and that may be true. But what is true is that this verdict was already in place well before the jury began deliberating. The verdict was already in place long before Zimmerman and Martin crossed paths on that ominous night. The law and the way it is written is there to side with the one who pulls the trigger, regardless of the emotional and in this case racial content that becomes involved when we are dealing with real life.
A life was lost. A life was forever altered by deciding to pull the trigger. Mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers have wept for the loss of a loved one and wept for the freedom of a loved one. These emotions are real, and should not be disregarded as we are human with feelings and culture that dictate how we react to these extreme situations. But all this emotion is still not bigger than the "law," and the verdict in this case, right or wrong in the public's eyes, was just another justification in a long history of a state that protects its gun owners and arm bearers at all costs, even when we are left with more questions than answers as to that fateful night in February.
- Society & Culture
- Crime & Justice
- George Zimmerman