7 months, 3 weeks ago
Before we deal with the observations of a well-respected self defense expert on George Zimmerman and his case, allow me to make a few observations.
I think that I would have done things differently than Zimmerman. First of all, I try not to be out like that without my dog, who is an 82 pound Doberman named Heidi. She is a significant degree of protection. Second, if you own the light, you own the night. I wouldn’t have been out without a good tactical light. So I usually carry my Surefire light with me at night if I’m out, even if I’m walking my dog in the neighborhood. Finally, my three e‘s are egress, evasion and escape. If I had been there that fateful night and was close enough to have been jumped by someone, I would consider my tactics to have been faulty.
But in the end, it isn’t against the law to walk at night without a tactical light, without a dog, and without a plan for egress, evasion and escape. And it’s also not against the law to carry a weapon, and I do that as well. I said earlier that I think I would have done things differently than Mr. Zimmerman. Suppose that I didn’t have a tactical light or an 82 pound Doberman. And suppose further that I was responsible for my neighborhood watch, having seen my neighborhood ransacked by hoodlums, pilfered by gangsters and terrorized by criminals. And suppose that there was no one else that night, knowing that the police are an irrelevant feature to the security of my neighborhood. Unless we are in Zimmerman’s shoes in that exact situation, it’s easy to say what we would or wouldn’t have done, but much harder to have any confidence in our claims.
So with that setup, let’s turn to Massad Ayoob (via Say Uncle), who tells us here why he has been silent on the Zimmerman case. Mr. Ayoob’s entire article is highly recommended, but some of his thoughts are repeated here.
If I’m your criminal attacker, you don’t have to wait for me to shoot you before you can shoot me to defend your life, and you don’t even need to wait until the gun is in my hand. If I announce my intent to murder you and reach for a gun, I’m bought and paid for right there. And it doesn’t matter whether the gun I’m reaching for is in my holster, or yours. That’s why every year in America, when thugs try to grab a policeman’s gun and are shot, the shootings are ruled justifiable.
Even before Martin’s reach for Zimmerman’s still-holstered pistol, the circumstances that were proven to the satisfaction of the jury showed that Zimmerman was justified in shooting his attacker. Remember when defense attorney Don West said in the defense’s opening statement that Martin was armed with the sidewalk? That sounded ludicrous to lay people, and I would have phrased it differently myself, but professionals understood exactly what he was talking about.
The operative principle at law is called “disparity of force.” It means that while your opponent(s) may not be armed with a deadly weapon per se, their physical advantage over you is so great that if their ostensibly unarmed assault continues, you are likely to die or suffer grave bodily harm. That disparity of force may take the form of a much larger and stronger assailant, a male attacking a female, force of numbers, able-bodied attacking the handicapped, skilled fighter attacking the unskilled, or – in this case – position of disadvantage.
Position of disadvantage means that the opponent has full range and freedom of movement, and you don’t. You’re seat-belted behind your steering wheel while he rains punches onto your skull through the open window…or you are down and helpless in a martial arts “mount” while your opponent pounds you at will.
Finally, we have the clearly proven element of Martin smashing Zimmerman’s head into the sidewalk. If I picked up a chunk of concrete or cement and tried to smash your skull with it, you would certainly realize that you were about to die or be horribly brain-damaged if you didn’t stop me. It would be what the statutes call “a deadly weapon, to wit a bludgeon.” There just isn’t a whole hell of a lot of difference between cement being smashed into head, and head being smashed into cement.
Clearly, Trayvon Martin possessed the power to kill or cripple Zimmerman. That is why, under law, Zimmerman was justified in defending himself with a per se deadly weapon.
Bob Owens has similar observations. When Mr. Martin jumped Mr. Zimmerman and began to beat him, the night could have only ended with one of them dead or crippled and possibly permanently disabled. The gun saved Zimmerman’s life, and that’s why he carried it. It performed the function for which it was designed, and while all of us who carry weapons hope that we never have to put it to such use, if we are ever faced with that situation we have what we need to reverse that “disparity of force.”