Weâ€™ve heard a lot in the last month about Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old man who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a self-appointed, gun-toting neighborhood watch captain. What we havenâ€™t heard, as Markos Moulitsas recently pointed out in a tweet, are the calls from the conservative gun lobby to expand our Second Amendment rights â€“â€“ after all, shouldnâ€™t Trayvon have been armed to protect himself?
Put yourself in Trayvonâ€™s shoes and imagine the situation that night.
Youâ€™re 17 years old, walking home with a bag of Skittles and a soda. Youâ€™ve been told your whole life to be weary of strangers, as thousands of kids are abducted, raped and sold into sex slavery and killed each year in the U.S.
As you walk through the night, you notice a large SUV is following you; you pick up your pace and call your girlfriend to explain whatâ€™s going on â€“â€“ she tells you to run.
You donâ€™t, but youâ€™re pretty sure youâ€™ve lost whoever was following you. And then, a strange person, of no apparent authority, confronts you, falsely accuses you of something and tries to stop you.
Nobody knows for sure what happened next, but itâ€™s pretty clear that Zimmerman felt he had some duty to stop Trayvon from continuing his peaceful walk that night. So the two entered into a struggle, one instigated by Zimmerman â€“â€“ not Trayvon â€“â€“ and at some point Zimmerman pulled out and fired his weapon, killing Trayvon.
Now, if you picture that, itâ€™s clear that of the two, Trayvon is the one who should have had and used a gun.
(And hereâ€™s what the gun lobby would be saying if Trayvon wasnâ€™t a young black man.)
Sadly, thanks to our increasingly restrictive gun laws as Obama and his Democratic minions strip away our Second Amendment, Trayvon had no way to legally carry, as he wasnâ€™t old enough. And isnâ€™t that the real problem here?
Sure, Floridaâ€™s â€œstand your groundâ€ law is great; it managed to triple justifiable homicides and lets people shoot first and ask questions later. And Iâ€™m pretty sure thatâ€™s what the Second Amendment says patriots do â€“â€“ but it only works if youâ€™re old enough to carry.
Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s high time we remove the Constitution-strangling restrictions on gun laws, and take away age requirements to own and carry a gun. And in Florida and other â€œstand your groundâ€ states, commit justifiable homicide with it.
I remember walking to elementary school as a child, acutely aware that I wasnâ€™t allowed to carry a gun with me. Even before that, as a toddler, my mom would walk me around the neighborhood in the stroller, of course Mom had her piece, but why couldnâ€™t I carry?
If anyone really cared about our Constitution, we would all be armed from the minute weâ€™re strong enough to hold a gun. And then finally, kids like Trayvon, who are â€œtoo youngâ€ to carry would finally be able to shoot back when they are stalked, spied on and attacked by older, bigger men carrying guns like George Zimmerman.
You see, in Florida you donâ€™t need a permit to buy a gun, handgun or otherwise. You donâ€™t need to register your firearm anywhere after you purchase it. And the only license a gun owner needs is one to concealed carry.
But, if youâ€™re 17 like Trayvon Martin, none of that matters. You canâ€™t buy a gun in the first place. And you canâ€™t carry one until youâ€™re 21. And if thereâ€™s one thing the gun lobby should want you to take from this tragedy, itâ€™s that we need more guns and less gun control.
So there you go, youâ€™re welcome National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America and the rest â€“â€“ Iâ€™ve laid the groundwork for how you should be spinning this. I can see the signs at rallies now: â€œGuns for Infants!,â€ and â€œInfants for Guns!â€ or â€œMake our elementary schools safe, send your kid packing!â€
They write themselves.
The really sad thing is that we probably wonâ€™t even have a serious conversation on gun control following the murder of Trayvon Martin. Instead of talking about the problems with â€œstand your groundâ€ laws and our nationâ€™s overwhelmingly loose restrictions on gun ownership, the media has focused on Trayvonâ€™s hoodie and how angry we should be at Zimmerman â€“â€“ neither addressing the deeper issues at hand.
Jesse Benn is a senior political science major who doesnâ€™t use emoticons. Ever. His column runs Thursdays in the Collegian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.