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Gary Horton: American gun laws are a license to kill

Posted: July 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Last Friday, Americans learned that those wishing a license to kill have two choices. They can join Her Majesty’s Secret Service, arduously working their way to 007 status, or they can move to Florida, purchase and conceal a weapon, initiate a fight, and when the fight turns bad, shoot from "self defense."

Of course, Judy Dench’s "M" character would demand a "00" applicant undergo strident conditioning and psychological testing before arming and deploying a "00" killing machine onto U.K. streets.

Florida, by contrast, allows a police wannabe Adderall and Tamazepam (speed and downers) user to conceal a gun and literally go out to the streets looking for trouble — when he’s apparently got trouble enough ringing between his ears.

You’ve got to appreciate the formalities of the British for keeping murder down and rule of law up. Britain, a country with strict handgun control, has a gun homicide rate 1/70th that of the U.S.

You read that right: Britain suffers .013 percent of U.S. per-capital gun homicides. Score one for the Queen’s Team for effective common sense toward crime management.

As every American now knows, 28-year-old white-Hispanic George Zimmerman was acquitted last Friday of the murder of the 17-year-old black Trayvon Martin.

Certainly, the initial appearance of this case sends jolts of race-laden emotions to all sides of the black/white divide. Unjust violence against blacks goes back centuries in the U.S., and most blacks feel it just needlessly happened again, while many whites, in contrast, feel Zimmerman simply protected himself from a suspicious troublemaker turned unexpectedly violent.

It’s an age-old American theme that we’ve heard much too often.

As racial emotions subside, most Americans will eventually see a teen boy, not that much different than many of our local youth, tragically killed for literally walking down the street — with absolutely no penalty accruing to the killing side.

For vagaries of law, the self-defender/killer/murderer walks home free and even gets his gun back.

One might wonder why it’s OK in America for a person taking prescription speed to be trusted with firearms, let alone a testosterone-boosting concealed pistol.

Here’s an American tragedy bigger than George Zimmerman’s thoughtless provocations: America has been duped into valuing gun freedom more dearly than freedom of life itself.

It is proven that Zimmerman ultimately acted in self-defense after first provoking the incident. Police photos show the 200-pound Zimmerman with frightful cuts to the back of his skin-head, lacerations to his forehead, and what appears to be a bloody, broken nose.

By contrast, the 158-pound Trayvon, other than the lethal bullet hole through his chest, suffered only minor scratches to his ring finger.

At some point, Zimmerman felt justified to pull the trigger of his pistol to defend against the beating he himself mistakenly initially triggered.

Yet Zimmerman remains the unpunished initial provoker.

This killing was a mistake on all sides that didn’t need to happen. Zimmerman viewed the hooded Trayvon as "out of place" and followed behind him in his car.

Trayvon, visiting his father’s fiancée, was walking back from a 7-Eleven after purchasing Skittles and a soda. Trayvon got nervous with the unknown car trailing him and made a run for the house.

Zimmerman thought he caught a thief red-handed and pursued the frightened teen, despite police instructions to him to "not follow, and to stay in his car until they arrived."

The unarmed Trayvon ended up the dead one, shot to death 70 yards from his father’s fiancée’s house.

How would any of us feel about a person of unknown authority and intent trailing and stalking our kids on a dim street? Zimmerman is guilty of ignorant, provocative action — fueled by his sense of power and authority from his hidden gun.

No gun hidden in Zimmerman’s coat means no George Zimmerman risking a Dirty Harry play against Trayvon Martin.

Florida law rightly acquits self-defense. Yet Florida is silent on stupid provocation, silent on ignoring police instructions, silent on vigilante intrusion — all in this case multiplied to deathly consequence by loose hidden-carry laws allowing even psycho-drug using semi-vigilantes to carry hidden pistols on patrol.

Trayvon packed Skittles hidden in his pocket while Zimmerman packed a gun — with both products nearly equally distributed in the U.S.

But Trayvon’s Skittles didn’t escalate this conflict, while the hidden pistol surely ramped Zimmerman’s macho, aggressive approach.

Score one more senseless American gun death, bringing down one more American kid who never should have died.

Sometimes, it’s crazies doing the shooting. Often, it’s gang members killing rival gang members. This time, it was an impaired Neighborhood Watch enthusiast making a dumb mistake empowered by the swagger of America’s easy gun laws.

There have been 6,211 gun murders in America in the seven months since the Newtown massacre. During all of 2012, the U.K. had 51.

America’s lack of gun control has become an effectual license to kill unknown in the rest of the modern world.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. "Full Speed to Port!" appears Wednesdays in The Signal.


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