Honor Trayvon Martin: Work to end gun violence
Despite being out of town this weekend with limited access to television or the Internet, the one piece of news I did manage to hear about was the “not guilty” verdict returned in the trial of George Zimmerman, who fatally shot teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
Reactions have been polarized and present everywhere. Protests erupted across the country from New York to San Francisco. People, from ordinary citizens to celebrities to Martin and Zimmerman’s family members, took to social media to express their reactions both in support and in outrage at the verdict. Race is at the heart of the issue, some claimed. It’s not about race--it’s about following the letter of the law, said others. “We are all Travyon Martin” was one rallying cry. “We are not Trayvon Martin” was another response, prompting conversation on power, privilege, and profiling. People were quick to point out the discrepancy that while Zimmerman admitted to killing Martin and was not convicted of a crime, another Florida woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot into the air at an abusive husband.
The fact remains that a young teenager guilty of no crime was shot dead by a man with a gun, a man who will not face any legal consequences for his actions. While it’s impossible and unwise to boil this case down to race, or law, or prejudice, we should be able to universally agree that any young life lost is always tragic--a reality that far too many in the country face, particularly at the hand of gun violence.
President Obama took the position in his official statement that “we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.” This is true. But Obama also said: “We should ask ourselves if we're doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that's a job for all of us. That's the way to honor Trayvon Martin."
Whether it’s a young man walking home in the rain, or a young person walking through a neighborhood with gang activity, each person deserves our best effort to prevent the loss of their life. Especially in light of Obama’s remarks, is now finally the time to address our nation’s gun control policies? Take our Sounding Board survey on gun control and let us know what you think. And yes, ask yourself if you are doing all you can to stem the violence. And if the answer is no, work to change.