Perspectives: Zimmerman’s cautionary tale to gun owners

OPINION – George Zimmerman may have been acquitted, but his troubles are far from over.

When the neighborhood watch leader called 911 to report a suspicious person walking through his neighborhood on a rainy night, he was concerned about recent burglaries. In the process of keeping track of the individual he was calling police to check out, Zimmerman had a face-to-face encounter with Trayvon Martin that ended in a fight. The fight ended with a single gunshot from Zimmerman’s pistol that killed Martin.

Illustration by trial

The trial has provided a convenient soapbox for the folks who actually promote racism by seeking it everywhere — spurred on by the media and a few activists. Media sensationalists sought to portray the story of a legally armed vigilante taking out his racial frustrations on a 17-year-old young man. Justice was to be defined by the court of public opinion.

Media producers and editors carefully showed childhood photos of Trayvon Martin while showing mug shots of George Zimmerman. NBC doctored 911-dispatch audio to create racial overtones in Zimmerman’s speech where there were none. Many media outlets even granted Zimmerman honorary white ethnicity to preserve their narrative of how white racism was to blame.

Those who actually watched the trial footage for themselves may have been mildly surprised to learn that Zimmerman’s alleged racism wasn’t what was on trial. The real question that the six-woman jury had to decide was whether Zimmerman was in fear for his life when he fired the fatal shot.

The jurors found him not guilty of second-degree murder, and refused to convict him of any of the lesser options offered by the judge.

But this is not a time for chest bumps or high fives for those who had hoped to see Zimmerman exonerated. This case is a good illustration of a couple of essential things every concealed firearms permit holder should consider.

The first consideration is the value of good quality defensive training if you plan to carry your firearm regularly. Quality training is as much about preparing your mind as it about learning proper gun handling and marksmanship skills.

Situational awareness

A key part of the self-defense mindset is a thing known as situational awareness. This is the ability to be perfectly aware of your surroundings; especially when encountering a potential threat.

According to trial evidence, Zimmerman lost visual contact with Trayvon and exited his vehicle to search for a house number to guide the police to his location, and was surprised by the youth. There were no witnesses as to who initiated the violence, but Zimmerman was clearly getting the worst of the fight when he fired his pistol.

Had Zimmerman better maintained his awareness, he could have kept his options open by keeping his distance. But in allowing himself to be surprised, his choices quickly narrowed to trying to protect himself from a younger, stronger opponent.

Self-defense is not ‘a win’

This brings us to the second consideration that concealed carry permit holders must remember. There are no winners, in the truest sense of the word, in a self-defense shooting. Front Sight firearms training school teaches its students that the best gunfight is the one you avoided. This is valid advice.

Even in the most justifiable circumstances, a person involved in a self-defense shooting will face some very undesirable consequences; not all of which are legal problems.

People who have had to shoot someone in self-defense will often face marital troubles, job loss, and being seen in a new and different light by everyone they know. They may suffer nightmares or depression; this is often also the case even with police and soldiers who are trained to use lethal violence.

There may be threats of retaliation to oneself or family members. There may be civil problems that arise.

Remember, this is a sampling of what can be expected in a justifiable shooting, if there are questions of legality, it only gets more complicated and expensive.

In the final analysis

With all of these considerations, it’s a wonder that anyone would still consider defending himself or herself. But with all of these things that we stand to lose, it’s still better to suffer them than to become a victim of a life-threatening criminal attack.

The real test will be years from now whether George Zimmerman’s conscience still tells him it was worth the price he has paid financially, emotionally, and physically.

If Zimmerman knows that he did nothing illegal or unethical at the time he was forced to kill Martin, his answer should be in the affirmative.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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  • William July 15, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Excellent observation and advice.

  • J July 15, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Well written article. Thank you.

  • Paul Jensen July 15, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Very well put. After reading this, I have what I consider a better perspective of what actually took place and why it happened.

  • Lady K July 15, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I am glad at least one person in the media knows the truth about this case. Thanks for your article. Well said.

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