Zimmerman – It’s Only Just Begun 

By  Dennis Brislawn

George Zimmerman’s plight is far from over.    The Martin family is in agony, and our country is polarized.

We who are focused on this case are divided into those who think he acted appropriately in self-defense, those who feel he escaped justice, and those who just aren’t sure.  But it’s a tragic event no matter what… and for George Zimmerman his life as he knew it is over.  And, Trayvon Martin’s life is simply over.

For Zimmerman, he will be angel or devil until the day he dies.  Right now, every dollar he has ever made or ever will make is at risk in the upcoming civil lawsuit for strict liability, negligent liability, and every other legal theory supporting an award of money to somebody for the life taken.

For me, as an armed citizen, I think about decisions made, and if other options might have provided a different outcome.

Use of force in society is the issue.  Whether its a polite inquiry, or all the way up to deadly force, confronting another person that does not know you and who you do not know increases the chance that things might go out of control.  I am not saying that you or I should not choose to act… just saying that we should each have a number of options to pick from.  The question for you and me is, as a citizen acting lawfully to protect yourself or your property, ask what you SHOULD do rather than what you COULD do, if your goal is to go home every night?

Gun owners face special risks.  A gun can take a life, and even when justified in self-defense this usually means for criminal, not civil, purposes.  So with that in mind, most of us who believe in protecting ourselves and others should carry defensively… just like a driver should drive defensively.  You never know exactly what the OTHER person is going to do, so you plan accordingly.  You leave yourself with ways out of a fix.

Think about options… you can call the police, report, observe.  You can walk (or run) away.  You can maintain separation, i.e. distance.  You can stand your ground if someone confronts you (note: not  the actual issue in this case).  You can approach and inquire.  Consider that once escalation occurs, it’s too late to back pedal.  Things take on a life of their own.

If what I heard is correct, when George Zimmerman chose to get out of his vehicle to further observe/follow Trayon Martin, there was no immediate risk to life or property.  A person was moving through the neighborhood in a manner reported as suspicious behavior.

One observation is that a person outside of his or her home might want to do only what appears necessary to protect life.  I cannot say that George Zimmerman, based on all the information I have read from both prosecution and defense, acted other than in self-defense.  But the consequences of his particular decisions were extreme for everyone.  Were other, better options available?

What are your thoughts about decisions made, and results?

About the author 

Dennis Brislawn

Dennis is a partner in Northwest Gun Law Group.

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