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Massad Ayoob on Guns

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.



Massad Ayoob

ZIMMERMAN VERDICT, PART 2: THE “UNARMED TEEN”

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

It seems that the verdict of a sworn jury in our criminal justice system means little to the haters, who are still screaming that George Zimmerman killed “an unarmed seventeen-year-old.”  Given that seventeen is old enough to enlist in the Marine Corps and to be tried as an adult – the Gainesville Sun recently headlined that a “sixteen-year-old man” was to be charged with murder in the selfsame Florida criminal justice system – the age issue doesn’t hold a lot of water when seen through a clear glass.

“Unarmed?” Actually, NO.  The history of adjudicating deadly force actions shows that Trayvon Martin was “armed” two or three times over.

First, the haters (like the prosecution) assiduously ignored George Zimmerman’s statement that while Martin was “ground-and-pounding” him, Martin saw Zimmerman’s gun in its now exposed holster, told Zimmerman that he was going to die tonight, and reached for his victim’s pistol.

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.

The jury got it. Too bad the haters didn’t understand…or didn’t want to understand.

104 Responses to “ZIMMERMAN VERDICT, PART 2: THE “UNARMED TEEN””

  1. Bruce Tiller Says:

    Technically, one cannot pick up a chunk of Cement. Cement is the soft, sticky substances that dries into Concrete. I suppose Cement could be used as a deadly weapon if a victim’s head is held in it for a period of time.

  2. Jay Says:

    Bottom line: one less thug to worry about.

  3. Kerry Grissett Says:

    Thank you Mas for your, as usual, logical and correct assessment of this case.

    It is sad that anyone died, but at least the outcome was just.

    And I especially thank you for calling the real haters out. I am so tired of hearing that term used by the ones who perpetrate it.

    Thanks again!

  4. Don Russell Says:

    George made some severe tactical errors, but was within his right to do so. You strike people at the risk of your life, reqardless of what they said or (legally) wer e doing. If you can’t control yourself to even that amount, you need to be shot.

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