Ayoob on Zimmerman

Massad Ayoob, for those who are not familiar with him, is a nationally recognized self defense expert.

And by that, I don't mean the l33tist-of-the-l33t just-back-from-the-sandbox specopsinfrablackwarrior d000dz who will teach you certified Chechen Israeli CQBEIEIO pistol-and-nunchuk drills. I mean a sober ex-cop who has been teaching around the intersection of self-defense and the law for decades.

Today he posts:

http://backwoodshome.com/blogs/MassadAyoob/2013/07/13/the-zimmerman-verdict-part-1/

Several blog followers have asked me why I haven’t written [ about the Zimmerman case ].

[ The answer is that ] Craig Sonner, George Zimmerman’s original legal counsel [ retained ] me on the case as an expert witness for the defense.

… I don’t take expert witness cases until I’ve seen all the evidence, and the prosecution was extremely slow in providing that. I wound up not being involved. However, having been retained by one of the defendant’s lawyers and consulted with another, I felt bound by confidentiality and did not think it would be professional to comment directly on the matter from then on.

I’ve been biting my tongue ever since…

…the next few entries here will discuss some elements of the Zimmerman case which have been widely and profoundly misunderstood.

In the meantime, to get the commentary and analysis of the case that most of the mainstream media denied you, go to the excellent day by day writing of Andrew Branca, an attorney who specializes in this sort of case, at www.legalinsurrection.com.

via

For what it's worth, I've been reading Back Woods Home magazine off and on for two decades now, and recommend it. Not only do you get Ayoob, but also a dose of Claire Wolfe and dozens of others. Chickens! Goats! Solar cells! Generators! Home businesses! The Constitution! Guns! Organic farming! Sustainable permaculture!

The magazine and the website are a wacky left/right/libertarian mix, and I – with no financial stake in it – suggest you check it out.

…but especially keep your eyes open for new Ayoob updates; this should be interesting.

Last 5 posts by Clark

Comments

  1. Moebius Street says

    I've also been a subscriber for many years (longer, even, than I've been reading this blog), and recommend it heartily. Most of the things in the magazine I'll never have the opportunity to actually do. But I still enjoy getting the knowledge and daydreaming. And getting it from people who are dedicated to freedom, self-reliance and -responsibility, makes it all the more tasty.

  2. Passing Stranger says

    Generally this is an excellent blog but actually accepting Massad Ayoob as an expert witness is a stupid idea; he's more than a little bit of a kook and has been justifiably taken to task for his unscientific pronouncements.

  3. says

    What the Zimmerman case comes down to is this: George did not have to get out of his car. You can lawyer the rest of it any way you want, and according to Florida law, George may even have shot Trayvon legally. Frankly, I don't care. George should never have gotten out of his car. He showed terrible judgement and a young man died because of his terrible judgement. Morally speaking, Zimmerman owns Trayvon's death. Finis.

  4. says

    @Troutwaxer:

    George should never have gotten out of his car.

    Serious question: what's the general moral principle here?

    Never leave your car if you see a situation that might be dangerous? Always call credentialled professionals? Something else?

    I repeat: this is a serious question; I'm curious what principle, devoid of the particular facts of this case, you are using.

    Some related scenarios:

    * if I see someone walking in my backyard, may I step onto my porch and ask them what they're doing there?

    * if I see someone pacing back and forth on the sidewalk adjacent to my property, may I step out?

    * if I see someone in my neighbor's back yard, may I step out?

  5. says

    @Passing Stranger:

    Massad Ayoob [ is ] more than a little bit of a kook and has been justifiably taken to task for his unscientific pronouncements.

    I'd love to read more. Links? Thanks.

  6. Munin says

    One one thing which is impossible to know which I would love to know is whether if Mr Zimmerman had been the one to end up dead after this altercation is whether Mr Martin would have ended up with a conviction.

    In any case I'm pretty sure many of the people lining up behind Mr Zimmerman would not have lined up behind Mr Martin.

  7. Tam says

    There's literally years of backstory. Some people in the firearms/defense/training community have a boner for Mas for one reason or another.

    Some of it's strawman, some of it's legitimate differences of opinion, and most of it's schoolgirl hair-pulling.

    I agree with Mr. Ayoob on a lot of things and disagree with him on some things; Mas is just this guy, you know? But at the end of the day, based on all I've read of his actual courtroom experience and having met the man and having followed the various dramas obliquely referenced by the anonymous commenter above, I'd have no problem with Massad Ayoob testifying in a courtroom for me.

  8. Shane says

    @Clark

    Dammit Clark, those are my words … MY WORDS dammit!!! Put them back in my mouth.

    Oh wait that didn't sound right :)

  9. Craig says

    In any case I'm pretty sure many of the people lining up behind Mr Zimmerman would not have lined up behind Mr Martin.

    And vice versa, if it were Zimmerman who had died, many of the people sympathizing with Trayvon Martin would not be sympathizing with Zimmerman. So what? There's unfairness and nastiness on both sides. Some of Zimmerman's supporters are obvious racists, but many of Trayvon's supporters are just as bad.

  10. Shane says

    @Munin

    One one thing which is impossible to know which I would love to know is whether if Mr Zimmerman had been the one to end up dead after this altercation is whether Mr Martin would have ended up with a conviction.

    This question doesn't have enough information to answer.

    Here is my attempt to provide two possible scenarios.

    If the roles were reversed and TM was the neighborhood watch volunteer and followed GZ and then shot him then TM would be let go for self defense and we wouldn't be seeing the absolute insanity that the media is portraying.

    If TM got a hold of GZ's gun and shot him then TM would be up for the charges that GZ is up for now and my guess is he would be convicted. And once again we wouldn't be having a media conniption about the damn thing.

    Does that help your little narrative, so that you can go around assured that you are right?

  11. Shane says

    @Tam

    Since @Passing Stranger is probably just that, could you give some links or even hints as to where to find more info. I like to know the totality of something including the warts.

  12. En Passant says

    Munin wrote Jul 16, 2013 @7:29 am:

    One one thing which is impossible to know which I would love to know is whether if Mr Zimmerman had been the one to end up dead after this altercation is whether Mr Martin would have ended up with a conviction.

    There are not enough factual details specified in your proposed counterfactual hypothetical to address any legal issues.

  13. Jeremy says

    What I don't understand is why it is so difficult for some people to imagine that it is justified to defend your life with lethal force if someone is beating you onto pavement. Don't people remember what happened to Brian Stow in the Dodger parking lot in 2011? You don't need weapons to end someones life. All you need is the ground, and the willingness to beat someone.

  14. Tarrou says

    @ Passing Stranger

    I don't agree with everything Ayoob says, but he has written more about armed self defense than anyone I've ever heard of, and is a well-respected expert for law enforcement. He's one of the grand old men of gun writing, perhaps the most prestigious since Cooper. And he's a police Captain who has testified in several other trials as an expert in use-of-force. I'm gonna need to ask you to back up any criticism.

  15. Tarrou says

    @ Troutwaxer

    So, Z got out of his car. That's quite the crime, right up there with genocide, pederasty and 80's music.

    Let's extend that, shall we? Anyone who shoots anyone, ever, for whatever reason, shouldn't have left their (house, car, moped, bus, own little world). You see the issue?

    Now, maybe leaving the car wasn't the smart thing to do, but Z had no way of knowing, when he left the car:

    1: That M was still around.
    2: That he would meet M
    3: That one of them would initiate a fight
    4: That the fight would make him fear for his life.

    We can play "what if" scenarios all day. Had Martin just gone home, which was less than a hundred yards away, none of this would have happened. Z had a right to walk on a sidewalk, just like M. M had a right to ask Z what he was doing, just like Z had the right to ask M. Whoever threw that first punch had no right to do so. It is that person who bears the responsibility for this outcome. If it was Z, he's morally guilty, even if the law doesn't support the charge. If it was M, then it is on his own head.

  16. Nicholas Weaver says

    The second part is up, http://backwoodshome.com/blogs/MassadAyoob/2013/07/16/zimmerman-verdict-part-2-the-unarmed-teen/ . And whether or not you tend to agree or disagree with Ayoob on the need for self defense training etc [1], he is very right on the self defense case.

    Given that it is effectively certain that Zimmerman was on the ground, Martin was on top, Zimmerman was perfectly justified at that point to act in self defense, as Martin was attacking with a deadly weapon.

    Thus the state had to prove one of two things beyond a reasonable doubt:

    a) That Zimmerman started the physical altercation (with no forensics, no witnesses, and no offensive wounds on Zimmerman's hands to make that case). Its generally not self defense if you are the one who starts the fight.

    b) Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Zimmerman was on top.

    The state clearly did not, and could not, prove either of those two things.

    Zimmerman is a douchebag, busybody, cop-wannabee with a concealed weapon. His life is effectively over. His wife will go to jail for perjury. He will be bankrupted by the inevitable civil suit. [2]. And odds are good he will face a second, even more political prosecution by the feds.

    But the verdict of "Not guilty" on manslaughter and murder is, to my mind, actual justice.

    [1] Off topic, but for the most part, I don't. Most concealed carry types (and most people in general), in my opinion, have a vastly distorted sense of risk probabilities. We live in an overall very safe country. Probably the best thing gun owners can do to "save lives" with their guns is go out in the woods and hunt deer.

    Although the concealed carry types are right on one thing: Cops are slow: I've personally witnessed it taking over 3 minutes for the police to respond to a 911 call, for an active fight, during the day, 200 yards from the front door of police headquarters!.

    [2] Even if the self-defense rules in Florida force loser-pays in civil suits arising from self-defense, the Martin family is judgement proof. So both the Martin family and Zimmerman would be bankrupt, and the only ones "winning" would be Zimmerman's civil attorneys.

  17. says

    BHM is an interesting magazine. Some of the regular writers are great, some… not so great (nota bene: I've written for the mag, and done photography for Claire Wolfe).

    I used to admire Ayoob. He's fantastic on self defense issues. His books should be read by anyone who carries a firearm for defense. BUT…

    He lost me a few years ago. He's a copsucker extraordinaire. He maintains that the actions of police post-Katrina were completely exemplary, refusing to acknowledge proven cases of forcible disarmament of innocent people (including a 60-something woman in her home), police theft of televisions from Walmart, theft of Cadillacs, murder, and tampering with and destruction of evidence (then there's the matter of the cops bugging out; I don't think we ever learned how many bailed out, and how many never existed in the first place… nor where the payroll for the nonexistent cops went). Closer to home, I challenged him to address several police-involved incidents in NH; he refused, but continued to maintain that all cops are great all the time, everywhere.

  18. Jeremy says

    …Most concealed carry types (and most people in general), in my opinion, have a vastly distorted sense of risk probabilities. We live in an overall very safe country. Probably the best thing gun owners can do to "save lives" with their guns is go out in the woods and hunt deer.

    A difficult position to defend, because you'll never know if the rates of incidence for violent crimes are low in this country because of concealed carry rights.

  19. says

    @Bear:

    police theft of televisions from Walmart, theft of Cadillacs,

    Shhhh. Polite society doesn't mention looting when it's done by government officials (even if the Twin Towers are still burning at the time).

    Remember: Cops are there to keep you safe. If you think that them stealing things is wrong, that's because you don't understand the benevolence of the Thin Blue Line…and some men with truncheons will be by shortly to surround your office and explain it to you.

  20. Tarrou says

    @ Nicholas Weaver

    I don't want to sidetrack the thread, only respond to an assertion Re: CCW holder's perception of risk. We know the chance is small. I live in a high-crime area of one of the most violent cities in the country. Worse than Chicago, Detroit, any of those. I have carried for seven years and never seen a situation I might have needed to use a weapon on. I know the risk is small, but it is not about the chances of X happening. We have lightning rods even though the chance is small. Airplanes have flotation devices in the seat for fuck's sake. At the end of the day, I carry because I take responsibility for my own protection. Because I refuse, in the unlikely event of a violent crime against me, to be reliant on others. I do not consider this a perk, or a privilege, but a moral imperative. Every crime unresisted is one more victim later on. I have a responsibility, not only to myself and my family, but to society at large, to ensure that anyone who attacks me or mine never gets the opportunity to victimize another.
    It is not about the odds. It is about being the sort of person willing to defend themselves, their families, their nations.

  21. Mike says

    Oh boy I can't wait to read the website Ayoob recommended, I'm sure it's a balanced and nuanced take on the tragic events of tha-

    'Zimmerman survived the brutal and malicious physical assault backed by the full power of a vicious “wannabe thug” seething with hatred, ill-will, and spite towards this “creepy-ass cracker”.

    welp

  22. Nicholas Weaver says

    Jeremey: I live in urban & suburban California, and have for my whole life. And although IANAL, I do know local gun laws enough [1].

    I could probably get a concealed carry permit because I live in Napa Country, which is rural enough to have the rural attitude on concealed carry permits (basically, an equal-protection "shal-issue" mentality: Unless there is a good reason not to, you'll be able to get one. Pretty much most rural countries in California, plus Sacramento county due to a court case, use a "shal-issue" standard).

    But I work, and lived previously, in the urban areas, where although the state law is technically "may-issue", the result is Orange County and Alameda County (and all other Bay Area and LA area counties) are basically "almost-never" issue: you can get one theoretically, only the few politically connected get it.

    LA and San Francisco especially are effectively "no issue", although you can technically apply, unless you are politically connected (e.g. a former mayor and current Senator can get one, or a unarmed employee of the sheriff's department with a restraining order against a domestic abuser) or something REALLY high risk (a Jewelry store owner was the ONLY person issued a new CC permit in SF last year!), you won't get one.

    Yet even in these areas where there is effectively ZERO legal concealed carry, the risk of violence in most areas is very low.

    [1] If you own a gun, you have to know the local laws. I own a lever action deer rifle and a range-toy pistol. neither are for self defense. I also do security work, so there is the non-zero possibility in the future that I become a specific target, in which case I needed to understand the rules now.

  23. different Jess says

    Serious question: what's the general moral principle here?

    I'm not sure that's the best question to ask. People have equal rights, but unequal capacities. We know there are people capable of investigating a prowler while minimizing risks to their own lives and the lives of others. Many of those are employed as police or security guards. People of many other professions are also so capable, but are unlikely to have as much training as police do.

    In general moral terms, there's nothing wrong with driving or walking (or both) around your neighborhood. (Of course, that cuts both ways.) There is nothing wrong in general with speaking to people you meet in public, even if you're accusing them of trespass. It is wrong to brawl in public, and everyone is well-advised to avoid doing so. One can't always avoid a brawl even while acting morally, but every brawl is proceeded by voluntary actions on one's own part.

    The decision to carry a gun, like all other decisions, has far-ranging consequences, not all of which are foreseeable in general. When I carry, I scrupulously conduct myself so as not to be a greater threat to those around me. That includes an awareness of not only my own actions but those of others, even the potentially unlawful actions of others. I aim never to be in a situation in which I have to use deadly force. I hope never to draw my firearm in public, but if I ever do so I will stop a lethal threat.

    Of course it's possible that through poor judgment, I'll create a situation I'm not mentally prepared to deal with. In such a case, someone might end up hurt or dead who didn't through his own actions earn that result. Since I don't live in Florida, I expect I would go to prison in such a case. I govern myself accordingly.

  24. Dan Weber says

    if I see someone walking in my backyard, may I step onto my porch and ask them what they're doing there?

    I wonder if the answer will be "as long as you aren't armed."

    I can appreciate that Zimmerman lacked wisdom in his acts. The best way to use your gun is to not get into bad situations in the first place so you never have to fire it — and Zimmerman knew something might go wrong, even if he legally entitled to go talk to a stranger.

    But coming up with a generic rule is tough, as Clark's questions point out.

    And Munin does have a point that Zimmerman may not have had the same verdict that Zimmerman got. That's not Zimmerman's fault at all, and we shouldn't make him pay for the way black people suffer at the justice system, but we should make sure that "the state has to prove its case to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt" is something that comes to our lips for black defendants as easily as non-black defendants.

  25. BradnSA says

    Zimmerman's MMA instructor should be sued for taking his money. One of the first things you learn in a class like that is how to get out from under someone like the way Martin was over him.

    If Zimmerman couldn't do that, then the instructor should have refunded his money and told him to never, ever get into situation where he might get into a fight.

  26. Munin says

    This question doesn't have enough information to answer.

    Here is my attempt to provide two possible scenarios.

    If the roles were reversed and TM was the neighborhood watch volunteer and followed GZ and then shot him then TM would be let go for self defense and we wouldn't be seeing the absolute insanity that the media is portraying.

    If TM got a hold of GZ's gun and shot him then TM would be up for the charges that GZ is up for now and my guess is he would be convicted. And once again we wouldn't be having a media conniption about the damn thing.

    Does that help your little narrative, so that you can go around assured that you are right?

    No, it doesn't. In part because as I myself said it is impossible to check.

    To add context to my post. I had just read this post on Legal Insurrection:
    http://legalinsurrection.com/2013/07/post-zimmerman-acquittal-civil-rights-immunity-and-perjury/

    It stated:
    "The moment the non-guilty verdict was read brought to mind that earlier moment, in the early evening of February 26, 2012, when George Zimmerman fired a single, defensive round from his licensed sidearm into his attacker. Because of thats action, and solely because of it, Zimmerman survived the brutal and malicious physical assault backed by the full power of a vicious “wannabe thug” seething with hatred, ill-will, and spite towards this “creepy-ass cracker”."

    There has been a good bit of coverage stating that Mr Zimmerman was in fear of his life when he fired. What I was curious about is whether if Zimmermann had indeed died in the incident as it played out until the shooting occurred whether Mr Martin would have been acquitted.

    My comment at the end about people lining up behind Mr Martin would obviously include the racist contingent but I was more thinking of the very large contingent interested in protecting the right to armed self defence would also have been absent.

    Anyway, thinking about it further it's a not that interesting as, with my admittedly limited knowledge, I think a conviction would have been rather easier to secure. The ability to beat a man to death generally relies on a certain level of physical superiority. You'd then have to get into how the lethal injury was achieved. Anyway, you'd still have the same issue of no witnesses and only one story.

    Just to add, Legal insurrection was linked from Ayoobs post and Andrew Branca, the writer of the linked article, called out for praise.

  27. Craig says

    Zimmerman's MMA instructor should be sued for taking his money.

    Sorry, but that's a silly comment. In the absence of photos, we don't know EXACTLY how Martin was on top of him. Some positions are easier to get out of than others. Also, it was probably a fast-moving situation and Zimmerman may not have been thinking calmly enough to remember his MMA training or act on it properly. There is a huge difference between having been taught some moves and having developed the reflexes to do the moves correctly when they're needed without having to think about it.

  28. different Jess says

    The most troubling of Ayoob's various novel assertions is that we shouldn't call Martin a kid because after all 17-, 16-, 15-year-olds and younger are routinely charged as adults. He would defend one potential injustice by appealing with approval to a vastly larger, more shameful injustice. This is a man without defensible priorities.

  29. Shane says

    @Nicholas Weaver

    Most concealed carry types (and most people in general), in my opinion, have a vastly distorted sense of risk probabilities.

    I think that what you are missing is though these possibilities are very VERY low (as you have suggested) the downside for being caught in them is catastrophic. e.g. It is very VERY unlikely your 10 year old will get leukemia but if he/she does then having health insurance puts the odds in your favor.

    Yes to many see guns as some sort of magical talisman. That is why you get training, and I am not just talking about how to shoot better training, I am talking some sort of Force on Force training. This type of training will quickly eliminate your illusions about guns and deadly violence. But alas most CCWs (and normal people) don't … ::sigh::.

  30. Nicholas Weaver says

    shane: Focus on the risks you face: there are several catastrophic risks that are far more common. E.g. driving. Deer. Natural disasters. But this is OT, so I won't elaborate more.

    Just let it be known I think Ayoob is someone who knowingly panders and encourages paranoia. But in this case, he's right.

  31. Shane says

    … the risk of violence in most areas is very low.

    Can I add: the risk of violence from non law enforcement is very low.

    In my mind the most important purpose of gun ownership is to check the government, though this is a harder idea to support statistically. As a small example since my CHL is tied to my driver's license the police know when they run my tags that I am possibly a CHL. This makes the stop more burdensome to them and they will usually move on to the next vehicle.

  32. Craig says

    The most troubling of Ayoob's various novel assertions is that we shouldn't call Martin a kid because after all 17-, 16-, 15-year-olds and younger are routinely charged as adults.

    Ayoob's logic is a little strained there, but I would argue that there has been, all along, a very noticeable effort to make Trayvon Martin seem like more of a child than he really was. The most common photo we see of Trayvon, even now, is one from several years ago, and this tacitly encourages people to think that Zimmerman shot a smiling, innocent 12-year-old boy rather than the much larger, very different 17-year-old he had become.

    Rather than focusing on legal age (our notion that 18 is the age of adulthood is arbitrary anyway), I think we should focus on the fact that Trayvon was a strong, fully-grown male of above average height. Whether he was 17 or 18 is really beside the point.

  33. BradnSA says

    @Craig Sorry, but that's a silly comment. In the absence of photos, we don't know EXACTLY how Martin was on top of him. Some positions are easier to get out of than others. Also, it was probably a fast-moving situation and Zimmerman may not have been thinking calmly enough to remember his MMA training or act on it properly. There is a huge difference between having been taught some moves and having developed the reflexes to do the moves correctly when they're needed without having to think about it."

    I said the first part tongue in cheek, but he trained for several months, and at that point should have been able to escape mount. Even with just grappling training you practice to the point of exhaustion and the escape becomes part of muscle memory. My ten year old daughter can reverse me from mount.

    With the MMA component, he should have been practicing these escapes with light sparing. just horrible all the way around.

  34. Nicholas Weaver says

    Agreed. There has been a huge amount of effort to portray Martin as a child, when he was taller (5'11" vs 5'7") and pretty close in weight (158 lbs vs 185 lbs).

  35. Munin says

    @Jeremy
    Saying that you don't know how much worse crime could be without concealed carry is just as difficult to defend. Homicide rates are rather higher in the US than most other developed nations:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

    Now the high homicide rate in the US is very much tied to a host of other issues but I wouldn't want to lead with the argument that concealed carry reduces crime, and within context innocent citizens being killed by aggressors, when all affluent countries who do not allow concealed carry have significantly lower homicide rates. You'd certainly need more than a bare assertion.

    Also, bloody hell, I never knew that Greenland, Lithuania and Estonia had such high homicide rates. I wonder what the story behind those are.

  36. Craig says

    My ten year old daughter can reverse me from mount.

    Your ten-year-old daughter isn't frightened and fighting for her life when she's practicing with you. I think there's an important difference here that you're not taking into account.

  37. different Jess says

    @Craig: Rather than "a little strained", I say Ayoob's logic is monstrous.

    It isn't a surprise that partisans emphasize Martin's more benign characteristics like his age and his weight rather than less savory aspects like his social media output. That isn't profound, however, since Zimmerman has undergone an even more severe whitewashing. This is a guy who was previously charged with domestic violence, resisting arrest with violence, etc. so this isn't the first brawl he's been in. (You think you don't get the beat-down when you roll against the cops? Try it sometime.) (Also, for a laugh, take a look at those earlier mugshots. Scary.) He was bigger than Martin, older than Martin (there's a reason that teens win gymnastics competitions and 30yos win fights), and unlike Martin had studied MMA. He wasn't nearly as pathetically corpulent at the time of the shooting as he was in court last week: his lawyers must have had him on Dr. Nick's diet.

    But forget about all of that. Of more concern now is the coming rash of "wannabe cop loser shoots unarmed kid" incidents.

  38. Munin says

    @Nicholas Weaver
    Pretty close in weight? Mr Zimmerman was about a fifth heavier than mr Martin. In boxing terms Mr Martin would be a middleweight and Mr Zimmerman a cruiserweight, three weight classes above him. You could argue about their muscle tone and fitness but Mr Zimmerman is significantly heavier than Mr Martin was.

  39. Nicholas Weaver says

    different jess: What incidents?

    Zimmerman may have escaped (the first round) of criminal charges, but he's certainly been punished by society (it will be years before he can show his face in safety), his wife will go to jail, he will end up bankrupt, and all in all his life will be unpleasant.

    How is this not a deterrent for the mall-ninjas?

  40. says

    @Clark: "Shhhh. Polite society doesn't mention looting when it's done by government officials (even if the Twin Towers are still burning at the time)."

    Not to mention just where they got the flag for that heart-warming photo op.

    Oops. Just mentioned it.

  41. says

    @Nicholas Weaver

    Agreed. There has been a huge amount of effort to portray Martin as a child, when he was taller (5'11" vs 5'7") and pretty close in weight (158 lbs vs 185 lbs).

    Height correlates with reach.

    The idea of having an younger, toughter adversary in a mounted position – and then giving him 2 to 4" of extra reach – scares the crap out of me.

  42. says

    @Munin

    Pretty close in weight? Mr Zimmerman was about a fifth heavier than mr Martin.

    If they were both at 4% body fat, that comparison would be relevant.

    Zimmerman, like me, is an American of Girth. I'd bet that his lean body weight was noticeably less than that of Martin.

  43. says

    Zimmerman was never charged with domestic violence. There were mutual restraining orders sought by him and an ex.

    If he'd had ANY domestic violence conviction, he'd have been barred from possession of a firearm.

    His previous arrest for resistance with violence was such a bogus charge it went to a pre-trial diversion. He saw a classmate seized by a person, and intervened, not realizing it was a plainclothes officer.

  44. says

    Correction to 9:50 am post: In fact, it was apparently firemen who broke into the slip and stole the flag from the boat, not cops. (I focused on the Towers aspect, rather than LEO.)

  45. says

    @Bear

    Correction to 9:50 am post: In fact, it was apparently firemen who broke into the slip and stole the flag from the boat,

    I wasn't sure what you were talking about, so I did a bit of googling:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raising_the_Flag_at_Ground_Zero

    The flag came from the 130-foot (40 m) yacht named Star of America, owned by Shirley Dreifus of the Majestic Star, which was docked in the yacht basin in the Hudson River at the World Financial Center. McWilliams cut the yardarm off of the yacht with a K-Saw and then took the flag and its pole from the yacht

    I guess that breaking, entering, vandalizing, and theft is OK if you're a unionized firefighter. Also: Patriot Act!!!!?!!!!

  46. Jeremy says

    @Nicholas Weaver
    Yet even in these areas where there is effectively ZERO legal concealed carry, the risk of violence in most areas is very low.

    Zero legal concealed carry has little bearing on how many weapons actually are being carried in any particular area in the U.S. You can say, "well it's illegal" but that doesn't mean people are not carrying, because illegal guns are about as common as toasters in this country.

    Furthermore, I'm not certain how you say the risk of violence is low.
    I found approximately 291 instances of just assault in only one portion of Los Angeles county in just 1 week.
    http://www.crimemapping.com/map.aspx?aid=3db8cf99-a73b-46d2-b218-bd24cf491577
    This was excluding all other violent crime, just assault.
    Your statement of "risk of violence" in "most areas" being "very low" is so vague as to be meaningless.

    You should be trying to demonstrate that those seeking CCW have an inappropriate assessment of risk, but so far all I see is handwaving. The fact is that violent crime is a risk and for some people the choice between being a victim or dealing with a potential legal defense means they'd rather find a lawyer afterwards than be the victim. I see nothing wrong with that rationale. The law was not put in place to protect you from all bodily harm, it was put in place to try to ensure some measure of justice is done when inevitable conflict between humans occurs.

    Furthermore, there is no way to separate the existence of a low risk of violent crime with the existence of an armed population. Statistically it is impossible to extract which causes the other, you would have to do so by experiment. The best way I can come up with to do that is to compare crime in cities with shall issue CCW to cities without. When I do this with crimemapping.com, and I limit myself to cases of assault, and I further ensure the same magnification on the map, I see that CCW Shall Issue states have less crime in their metropolitan areas than California. In fact, I find that the Bay Area to be one of the worst. I find the argument that because violence is low, guns should be removed from the civilian population is an extraordinarily weak argument, to the point of being an argument from ignorance. You will never know that the legality of civilian issued lethal force is your most significant deterrant to common violent crimes until you remove such a legal right.

    As many smarter people in ages past have said, once a government removes a right, it's quite difficult, night impossible to get it back.

    @Munin
    Saying that you don't know how much worse crime could be without concealed carry is just as difficult to defend. Homicide rates are rather higher in the US than most other developed nations:

    Undoubtedly, but the statement was made that people with CCW permits have a problem assessing risk. I dispute this.

  47. Munin says

    @Clark
    Then he should have stated that rather than commented on the weight. The only issue then is that if you then move into physical capabilities is that Mr Zimmerman was indeed pretty fit and had been taking self defense classes. In any case you move away from a simple, and factually incorrect, narrative that they were "they nearly the same weight".

  48. different Jess says

    …such a bogus charge it went to a pre-trial diversion.

    Do you know what that is? The point of diversion isn't to avoid trying cases for which there's insufficient evidence or indeed the accused is innocent: that's what plea bargains are for. The point is to save resources for prosecuting those the prosecutors believe to be more dangerous criminals. This was a first offense, and Zimmerman was still nominally an insurance agent, so I can understand the decision. I'm sure the plainclothes cop did every horrible thing you're imagining, but my point was that Impunious George has been in a brawl before, not that there wasn't great injustice the night he went out drinking with his teenage friends.

    On the other hand, I'm having a hard time imagining a justification for domestic violence. I realize there are certain rare cases in which the bitch had it coming, but this guy has had three bites at the apple now.

  49. TM says

    @Munin

    The US homicide rate is trending down, even as CCW laws expand. But even beyond that, the US homicide rate has many more causes than simple gun ownership. In fact, if you run the numbers, the homicide rate is negatively correlated with the guns / capita rate both world wide and among just the first world countries (assuming you take out the US. Our homicide rate as a country is so bad that we single handedly shift the correlation from a negative one to a positive one among first world countries). We have issues, but guns aren't it.

  50. different Jess says

    Wow Pharniel, Sanford and Tampa need to get their stories straight!

    (To be clear, I'm not saying both verdicts should be reversed on "racial" grounds, but rather that they should be consistently "guilty". You bring a gun to a fistfight, you should expect at least to get manslaughter.)

  51. Munin says

    @Jeremy "Undoubtedly, but the statement was made that people with CCW permits have a problem assessing risk. I dispute this."

    Similarly to my previous post to Clark I would the say you should avoided that line of argument. First is that there is little evidence link between the right to concealed carry and lower crime rates. Visual examination of crimemapping.com does not comprise evidence.

    Second is that this also has little direct bearing on whether people who concealed carry have problems assessing risk. Pointing to high US homicide rates as you did in some of your other posts is a stronger argument.

    Aside from all that, There is a very large amount of evidence that humans in general are very bad at assessing risk (especially that of rare events). Most of the things that the people against you state apply specifically, or more strongly, in people who conceal carry applies to essentially everyone. The characterisation that people who concealed carry have a skewed perception of risk is unfair because everyone has in any case.

  52. Steven H. says

    "Now the high homicide rate in the US is very much tied to a host of other issues but I wouldn't want to lead with the argument that concealed carry reduces crime"

    If you bother to check crime statistics, one of the things you might find interesting is that during the last 20 years or so when Concealed Carry was becoming a big thing nationwide (more and more States allowing it until this past week when Illinois became the 50th State to do so), murder rates in specific, and violent crime rates in general have been declining.

  53. Pharniel says

    Additionally – From Martin's point of view this guy who'd been stalking him in car started to follow him on foot – what right to self defense does Martin have?
    If Zimmerman was getting pounded into the dirt isn't that pretty much the outcome you'd want if someone stalked you in a car, got out and started to pursue you on foot?
    Since Martin was staying with a relative in the gated community he was at worst a guest of a resident and not trespassing that means that Zimmerman got to decide what clothes he should be wearing (not a hooddie!) where he should be walking and when.

    How does it change if Zimmerman confronted him with the instruction to 'come with me' – I'd react highly negatively because that sounds like a criminal trying to move me to a secondary crime scene which never ends well for the victim.

  54. Craig says

    So we have A Similar Case with the ethnicity reversed – it took 2 hours for guilty of manslaughter.

    Based only on that one news article, it sounds to me like Dooley shouldn't have been convicted. The fact that the other guy tried to grab the gun when Dooley had turned to walk away should have been decisive.

    However, one BIG difference between this case and the Martin/Zimmerman case is that there were lots of witnesses, and their stories (according to the article) were mostly consistent. This means that at least the facts are clear. One of my biggest concerns in the Martin/Zimmerman case is precisely that we don't know exactly what happened, who started the physical fight, etc., and that makes it very hard to avoid a reasonable doubt.

  55. Nicholas Weaver says

    Pharniel: Having witnesses changes the character of the case. Two witnesses stated that the defendant displayed his weapon to the unarmed victim before the altercation became physical.

    If the state had two such witnesses against Zimmerman, it would have been a slam dunk for conviction.

  56. Munin says

    @TM
    Yes, US crime rates are trending down but that is neither hastened nor hindered by concealed carry laws. At least that's what the review by the National Research Council in 2004 concluded.

    That same review also concluded that the data also didn't support the contention that concealed carry laws increased homicide rates either contrary to the contention of mane anti-gun advocates.

    In my original post I did state that "the high homicide rate in the US is very much tied to a host of other issues". I did not state that either high gun ownership or concealed carry is what drove the US high homicide rate.

  57. TM says

    @ Pharniel

    That's why who threw the first punch was the most important question to the trial (and the one the prosecution failed to answer). Self defense is murky at even the best of times, but fundamentally it boils down to you can meet force with force. If someone is following you, you can't attack them but you can confront them and demand that they stop. If they start punching or assaulting you, you can generally fight back with equivalent force (punches and kicks) but at this point there are a whole lot of caveats (for example, a 120lb woman would generally be considered justified in shooting a 250lb linebacker who started assaulting her, disparity of force). If someone starts getting lethal, then you also have the right to defend yourself with lethal force. This also can be true even if you were the person who initially started the fight as long as you (or the fight in general) de-escalated at some point. It basically boils down to the two questions of "were you the aggressor at the time, and would a reasonable person in the same situation have felt the use of deadly force was necessary?" In short, self defense is dangerous, murky and at best avoided at all costs if you can, and when you can't it should be as quick and as much as necessary to stop the threat and no more.

  58. Jeremy says

    @Munin

    First is that there is little evidence link between the right to concealed carry and lower crime rates. Visual examination of crimemapping.com does not comprise evidence.

    Lets first define evidence before we go there. My opponent in the debate was simply waving his arms, so I think crimemapping is a much better source than air between hands. Also, Just because the evidence linking CCW legality and crime rate is inconclusive, does not imply that CCW practice

    Second is that this also has little direct bearing on whether people who concealed carry have problems assessing risk. Pointing to high US homicide rates as you did in some of your other posts is a stronger argument.

    I don't believe I made any argument w.r.t. homicide rates and CCW. All of my posts have referred to violent crime, not homicide specifically.

    Aside from all that, There is a very large amount of evidence that humans in general are very bad at assessing risk (especially that of rare events). Most of the things that the people against you state apply specifically, or more strongly, in people who conceal carry applies to essentially everyone. The characterisation that people who concealed carry have a skewed perception of risk is unfair because everyone has in any case.

    This paragraph is very confusing. However I agree with your last sentence. Accusing a specific segment of human population of a problem with assessing risk is the ultimate in poor arguments. All humans have a problem dealing with probabilities, so accusing a single segment is essentially an ad hominem attack against those you disagree with that could just as easily be applied to the attacker.

  59. says

    @Different Jess

    On the other hand, I'm having a hard time imagining a justification for domestic violence. I realize there are certain rare cases in which the bitch had it coming, but this guy has had three bites at the apple now.

    You're assuming facts not in evidence. There is no evidence that he did in fact commit any domestic violence. Indeed, he may well have been the victim of domestic violence (the requests for orders of protection was *mutual."

    The point of diversion isn't to avoid trying cases for which there's insufficient evidence or indeed the accused is innocent: that's what plea bargains are for.

    I was unaware that plea-bargains were for people who are innocent.

    It's been my (limited) experience that while most first offenses do go to a pre-trial diversion, if any serious "brawlin'" with the officer had taken place, the DA would have pressed for a plea bargain that maintained a conviction on the books, not a diversion that expunged his record.

  60. sorrykb says

    Jeremy wrote:

    I found approximately 291 instances of just assault in only one portion of Los Angeles county in just 1 week.

    I'm at that site — What portion of LA County are you using, and what week? For the most recent week, I had to expand the map to include almost the entire county to get that number.
    With 291 incidents of assault, and using a population estimate for l.A. County of 9.889 million, that means 1 assault per 33983 residents (0.002%). Certainly it could be better, but it's not an epidemic.

    As for concealed carry connection to crime rates, the data seem insufficient to establish any connection, one way or the other. Conclusion from a study by the U.S. National Research Council:

    The committee found that answers to some of the most pressing questions cannot be addressed with existing data and research methods, however well designed. For example, despite a large body of research, the committee found no credible evidence that the passage of right-to-carry laws decreases or increases violent crime, and there is almost no empirical evidence that the more than 80 prevention programs focused on gun-related violence have had any effect on children’s behavior, knowledge, attitudes, or beliefs about firearms. The committee found that the data available on these questions are too weak to support unambiguous conclusions or strong policy statements.[from "Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review" (2004)]

  61. sorrykb says

    Oops – math correction. Edit my second paragraph The percentage is actually 0.0029, so I should have rounded to 0.003%. (Math teacher in my head, you can stop yelling at me now.)

  62. different Jess says

    I was unaware that plea-bargains were for people who are innocent.

    You could pay closer attention.

  63. Munin says

    The reason I mostly mention homicide is because it's a clear and consistent metric. "Violent crime" is much more nebulous and you get into trouble with definitions and also varying reporting rates and measurement methods. That said studies around violent crime come to similar conclusions overall.

    "This paragraph is very confusing. However I agree with your last sentence. Accusing a specific segment of human population of a problem with assessing risk is the ultimate in poor arguments. All humans have a problem dealing with probabilities, so accusing a single segment is essentially an ad hominem attack against those you disagree with that could just as easily be applied to the attacker."

    That paragraph is tangential to the argument that had been going on around crime stats (hence the "aside from that").

  64. Kilroy says

    Ah, the old "plea-bargain" debate. one of the most misunderstood terms used to complain about the criminal justice system.

  65. karma says

    Long time reader, first time commenter, from India. As background, I am a lawyer in India's "Big Law" (for what that's worth) The Backwoodshome page blocks me because i belong to a part of the world that they believe gives rise to a lot of spam (that's what the error message says). Having never come across anything similar am a bit lost for words and a tad bit appalled. Maybe it's an IT screwup maybe these are the values that the website carries but it forces me to question their worldview (without ever having visited their site). Not really adding anything to the discussion with this post, but just wanted to put this fact out there for discussion.

  66. says

    @karma

    Long time reader, first time commenter, from India. As background, I am a lawyer in India's "Big Law" (for what that's worth) The Backwoodshome page blocks me because i belong to a part of the world that they believe gives rise to a lot of spam (that's what the error message says). Having never come across anything similar am a bit lost for words and a tad bit appalled. Maybe it's an IT screwup maybe these are the values that the website carries but it forces me to question their worldview (without ever having visited their site). Not really adding anything to the discussion with this post, but just wanted to put this fact out there for discussion.

    Karma,

    I think you're reading far too much into an IT problem by a very small publisher. I suspect that they don't have an IT guy on staff, but a writer spends a few hours a week doing the work, or they outsource it to a friend-of-a-friend, etc.

    Second, because of the cultural norms of the magazine (back to the land in North America), the advertising of the magazine (guns, tractors, and other things sold in North America), etc. there is zero reason to cater to anyone outside the core demographic. I can easily see shutting off all Asian traffic as a blunt, but really prudent, technique.

    An online magazine about Bollywood in Hindi that blocked me (and thus stopped me from seeing all the ads for Tata cars that aren't imported to North America and are not legal to drive here even if I could get one) would be equally problematic. Which is to say: yes, perhaps less than utterly optimal, but not actually an issue.

  67. says

    @differentJess

    I was unaware that plea-bargains were for people who are innocent.

    You could pay closer attention.

    Now, now, you two. Play nice.

  68. Shane says

    @Pharniel

    If Zimmerman was getting pounded into the dirt isn't that pretty much the outcome you'd want if someone stalked you in a car, got out and started to pursue you on foot?

    So anyone that I see when I am going about my daily business that is looking at me funny or thinks I am suspicious or ::gasp:: follows me, I should just go and pound them into the dirt, because I know that I am not doing anything wrong? That sounds like a recipe for sound decisions.

  69. says


    […] illegal guns are about as common as toasters in this country.
    — Jeremy

    I have 4 guns and 1 toaster. (My neighbors think I'm some kind of peacenik / hippy artifact from the '60s because I'm so woefully under-armed).

    Your argument fails.

  70. Pharniel says

    @shane

    "So anyone that I see when I am going about my daily business that is looking at me funny or thinks I am suspicious or ::gasp:: follows me, I should just go and pound them into the dirt, because I know that I am not doing anything wrong? That sounds like a recipe for sound decisions."

    Right – because someone following you for a bit or looking at you while you walk down the street is exactly like someone following you in car, getting on their phone, then getting out to follow you.
    If you're walking and a car keeps going by or starts to pace you in any suburb or major city in America and you don't know the person and there isn't POLICE on the side of it I'd suggest you were being scouted.

  71. Manatee says

    @Nicholas Weaver,

    a) That Zimmerman started the physical altercation (with no forensics, no witnesses, and no offensive wounds on Zimmerman's hands to make that case). Its generally not self defense if you are the one who starts the fight.

    This isn't entirely true. IANACL, but I do recall that even if you start the fight, if you only used non-lethal force and the other guy escalates to lethal force, that is unlawful, and you can then use lethal force to defend yourself against the unlawful escalation. It doesn't get you off the hook for the battery or assault charges stemming from your original aggression, and I think in some jurisdictions your original non-lethal aggression gives the other guy an imperfect self-defense defense (I think reduction to manslaughter, but again I don't practice anywhere near criminal law.)

    In some situations, I think the law makes perfect sense: Someone starts a bar fight, and you pull a gun on him. Definitely not Kosher. In unarmed combat situations, though, it's kind of iffy. Depending on context, the relative size and skill of the combats, and position at any given moment, there is some small chance someone will die, even if nobody is trying to kill someone. If someone does suddenly decide to kill or incapacitate someone else (and if you're incapacitated, death, kidnapping, or sexual assault, which are all lumped under "lethal threat," can easily follow), their chances of success will vary at any given moment based on all of those factors. At what point does a non-lethal scuffle escalate to lethal force? Is it when one person has a greater than 50% chance of success should he decide to kill the other guy? Or is it when one guy actually initiates a course of action that can lead to death? How do you distinguish between a guy putting you in a choke hold because he doesn't want to hurt you and one doing so to kill you?

    I'm a big fan of Massad Ayoob. Aside from being a highly skilled marksman, I admire him gaining so much respect in a community that still tolerates a lot of open hostility to people of Arab descent (and I imagine things were only worse years ago when he was just getting started.) He's certainly an expert on firearms and marksmanship, and while I don't agree with all of his views on self-defense, he actually calls for a lot more caution and restraint than a lot of the yahoos I've met with Florida CCPs.

    That's enough for me to like him despite the fact that he's a huge copologist.

  72. Steven H. says

    @Munin:
    "The only issue then is that if you then move into physical capabilities is that Mr Zimmerman was indeed pretty fit and had been taking self defense classes."

    Pretty fit? BMI of 29 makes him sound rather more like "overweight, middle-aged dude" than "pretty fit".

    No comment on self-defense classes, mind you. Maybe he learned something there, maybe not.

    I'll add this, though. Zimmerman was 1.7m tall. Martin was 1.8m.
    I'm rather taller than either of them, but the last time I met a guy who was as much bigger than me as Martin was than Zimmerman, I found myself intimidated just having to look up that far.
    Conceded, Zimmerman would be much more used to looking up at people, being on the short side of average, but still….

  73. Cameron W. says

    There seems to be so little discussion about the extreme ethics violations of the prosecution. Angela Corey perjured herself by signing an affidavit that had none of the exculpatory evidence that she was required by law to put in.
    The prosecution continually hid evidence form the defense, even after the judge ordered them to turn it over, they still claimed that it didn't exist and turned over the last bits only days before the trial began.

    I agree with Dershowitz right that the prosecutors, particularly Corey and De la Rionda, ought to be investigated and disbarred for their conduct.

  74. Cameron W. says

    @Munin

    You obviously did not listen to the trial. Zimmerman was overweight and his instructor stated that he would give him about 0.5 out of 10 on athletic ability. He also stated that he wouldn't let Zimmerman do shadow boxing since he was afraid that the shadow would win.

    At the same time, Trayvon was a fit football player.

    The bottom line is that all of the witness testimony and forensic evidence proves that Martin assaulted Zimmerman, while there is no evidence that Zimmerman so much as laid a hand on Martin.

  75. Erwin says

    …justice, based on the evidence available, was most likely done*, but…

    …it is perfectly reasonable for there to be people who are uncomfortable with having GZ go free. I don't want a guy with a gun following my teenage child around, questioning them, and shooting them in some sort of altercation. I'm pretty sure that, if you stalk enough teenagers, one is bound to do something stupid that gives you a license to shoot them. On one hand, well, Darwin. On the other hand, I prefer giving people a bit more time to grow up.

    –Erwin
    *Based on the evidence, it is perfectly possible that GZ acted in self-defense. It is also perfectly possible that he started a fight and murdered a child. Given that there's a reasonable doubt, he shouldn't have been convicted of murder. And wasn't. Yay.

  76. Manatee says

    @Steven H.,

    Not relevant to this case since the state utterly failed to demonstrate that Zimmerman attacked first, but how much does the intimidation factor of being substantially taller or heavier factor into making any sort of force potentially lethal? If someone just under five feet tall sucker punched someone closer to six feet tall, what sort of defensive action can you take that can't be considered an escalation to lethal force?

    And I'll probably get roasted on a spit for raising this mess again, but I'm curious whether the issues raised now affect opinions on women carrying guns as a defense against stalkers following them into dark elevators.

  77. Steven H. says

    @Manatee:
    "Not relevant to this case since the state utterly failed to demonstrate that Zimmerman attacked first, but how much does the intimidation factor of being substantially taller or heavier factor into making any sort of force potentially lethal?"

    Actually, my point wasn't that Z attacked M, but rather that Z may have felt more "threatened" by M than, say, I would have been (I'm seldom intimidated by people that are considerably shorter than I am)

  78. Shane says

    @Pharniel

    If you're walking and a car keeps going by or starts to pace you in any suburb or major city in America and you don't know the person and there isn't POLICE on the side of it I'd suggest you were being scouted.

    How would you know that it isn't police following you? Your suggestion to me is to confront them and start a physical altercation, because I know that I am minding my own business and not doing anything wrong. This is a recipe for disaster.

  79. Steven H. says

    By the by, anyone know why the number of comments is never consistent from one side of the page to the other?

    For instance, as I type this, this page is showing 82 comments on the left side of the page, but the link on the right shows 83.

  80. Manatee says

    @Steven H,

    Apologies, I didn't think that was your point and did not mean to imply that I did. I was just curious about your thoughts on how "feeling threatened" because of size disparity should factor into evaluating the threat level of an actual aggressive action.

    When I was five or six I started karate because someone told me that "black belts had to register their hands as deadly weapons." After a couple of decades of training in a few different styles and becoming a lawyer, I've learned that 1) that previous statement is complete crap, unless you're a couple of cops shooting an old Chinese guy with a cane and 2) I still have no clear idea where the line between lethal and non-lethal is in most cases, or when a reasonable stick person should or should not fear for his life. Thus, I try to elicit thoughts on the subject from different sorts of people whenever I get an excuse to.

  81. says

    @Steven H.

    By the by, anyone know why the number of comments is never consistent from one side of the page to the other?

    For instance, as I type this, this page is showing 82 comments on the left side of the page, but the link on the right shows 83.

    I wondered this myself and investigated a few months ago.

    Comments marked as spam, or being held in the moderation queue show up in one count but not the other.

  82. says

    @Erwin

    it is perfectly reasonable for there to be people who are uncomfortable with having GZ go free.

    The trial was not a referendum on whether people like Zimmerman should be free to walk the streets or should be prophylacticly arrested and imprisoned.

    It was a trial to determine if Zimmerman was guilty of murder or manslaughter.

    I don't want a guy with a gun following my teenage child around, questioning them, and shooting them in some sort of altercation.

    Assuming that the facts are as stipulated, there are multiple ways to prevent this:

    1) arrest Zimmerman and anyone who matches his personality type

    2) disarm everyone

    3) teach your child (ideally long before he is a teenager) not to assault people who are walking the same sidewalk they are, even if the person is odd or creepy.

    I'm pretty sure that, if you stalk enough teenagers, one is bound to do something stupid that gives you a license to shoot them.

    True, but prejudicially phrased. We have no evidence that Zimmerman "stalked" even one teenager, let alone lots.

    It is also perfectly possible that he started a fight and murdered a child.

    It's possible. Absolutely agreed. Neither one of us has data to prove it didn't happen that way.

    On the other hand, I find the idea that a chubby short guy attacked a taller, younger, fitter man quite unlikely. YMMV, though – perhaps you find it likely.

  83. Dan Weber says

    Comments marked as spam, or being held in the moderation queue show up in one count but not the other.

    From long monitoring, I believe that "trackbacks" are being counted as comments in one list but not the other.

  84. gramps says

    Regarding the what-if scenario far above, that TM actually succeeded in killing GZ that night. Whether with fists or the pistol the post-event outcome most likely would have been presented as this:

    A man, possibly a participant of the neighborhood watch, was found [beaten//shot] to death in a pathway between two rows of condominiums. Several residents saw or heard a commotion, then a fight. [Add the shot fired wording if that is you choice of mechanism of death] Several called police but none intervened. Several descriptions of the possible assailant were given but nothing more than a thin, average height male with a hooded sweatshirt is known at this time. No race of the assailant could be determined. Anyone with information as to the events or the identity of the attacker is asked to call the Stanford (FL) police homicide unit.

    It would be lost in the shuffle with the only hope of solution, thus prosecution, being that someone snitched off a guy who sold them "bunk".

    Sad, yes… but most probable.

  85. different Jess says

    Wow Clark, Erwin was really bending over backwards there. He started out by saying the trial result was correct.

  86. Charles Buckley says

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/nation-throws-hands-up-tells-black-teenagers-to-do,33125/

    Ayoob made one rather major assumption that is not really indicated by any known facts. There is no outside indication that Martin a) reached for the gun or b) that he stated he would kill Zimmerman. There is only Zimmerman's word for that.

    There was reasonable doubt, so the verdict was essentially correct. There was no witness to this part of the confrontation as related by Zimmerman.

    But, there is a reasonable question as to why Martin would have gone into a physical confrontation while talking to someone on the phone. I would think that someone versed in self-defense and combat would wonder why Martin did not hang up his phone during the initial phases of the confrontation if he planned to assault Zimmerman. Wouldn't you want both hands free in that situation?

  87. Manatee says

    On the other hand, I find the idea that a chubby short guy attacked a taller, younger, fitter man quite unlikely. YMMV, though – perhaps you find it likely.

    Phrased like that, Erwin's position certainly sounds ridiculous. Add "armed" in there, and the calculus changes.

    I doubt Zimmerman threw the first, if any punches, but that's based solely on the evidence in the trial: If he really had minimal experience at the MMA gym, I doubt he'd have developed the callouses/technique to avoid leaving some marks on his knuckles. Assuming only the facts you stipulate to, I have seen way too many little guys pick a fight with a bigger, fitter guy because they had a knife, a gun, or a bunch of friends sitting in a nearby booth ready to intervene if he starts losing to dismiss that likelihood out of hand.

    Also, something my girlfriend the future prosecutor used to joke with me about that I take a little more seriously–if you have a confrontation between a man and a woman with a size disparity of more than a foot and about a hundred pounds, the woman can credibly claim that pretty much any aggression is lethal aggression. Maybe reading about so many people gaming the system here has made me cynical, but to me "A would never attack B first because B had an advantage" doesn't have tremendous probative value–particularly when A had an advantage in a holster the whole time, and A is cognizant of the fact that B's apparent advantage could be used as proof that B must have attacked first.

  88. Manatee says

    But, there is a reasonable question as to why Martin would have gone into a physical confrontation while talking to someone on the phone. I would think that someone versed in self-defense and combat would wonder why Martin did not hang up his phone during the initial phases of the confrontation if he planned to assault Zimmerman. Wouldn't you want both hands free in that situation?

    Because, as everyone knows from the Dungeon Master's Manual, a cell phone gives you +2 to hit and no damage penalty, while the bag of skittles gives you -1/-1

  89. Charles Buckley says

    BTW, what is most likely is that both were keyed up and stressed. Based on the timing of the 911 calls, Zimmerman followed Martin for a couple minutes. Martin ran. Zimmerman got out and followed. According to the witness on the phone, Martin lost Zimmerman at least once, but Zimmerman found him again. Indicating a search for him. At no point did Zimmerman ever – by his account, the girl, or 911 – approach Martin and ask him what was going on. The only communication was non-verbal. Following, chasing, then searching. Martin had a reasonable fear at that point.

    Zimmerman was also scared by this point.

    So, confrontation time comes up. Martin approaches Zimmerman. Demands to know what is going on.

    Funny thing about getting startled here is reactions. If I were walking to my car at night in this situation not carrying a gun, I'd most likely bring up my arms to ward of an attack. I would assume a defensive posture of some kind.

    What happened if when Martin stepped out, Zimmerman just basically dropped his hands towards his waist. The wrong response at this point – a wrong twitch – perhaps even involuntary would have been enough to trigger physical violence at this point.

    The real irony here is that Martin, had he gotten the gun away from Zimmerman, had a better case of self-defense. He had tried to retreat. He had tried to hide. He did try to ascertain Zimmerman's intentions. He had been followed, chased, hunted and could not have thought of any non-threatening reason for the level of actions taken by Zimmerman. He only took aggressive action after having a fairly strong case for being scared.

  90. Erwin says

    @Clark
    Agreed. And the trial most likely established that there was not evidence proving that GZ was guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt.

    I'm inclined towards (a) accepting that the world isn't perfect, (b) teaching my child to not behave like an aggressive idiot, and (c) actively discouraging that sort of behavior in our neighborhood watch. Maybe even, if laziness was overcome, organizing a seminar by the local police on how they think the neighborhood watch should operate. Dunno. Someday, there'll be a robbery and we'll probably get more interested. Extra legislation to fix rare problems is usually not the way to go. I might be inclined towards calling 911, reporting a strange man stalking me, who's carrying a gun, and hoping that the police would sufficiently inconvenience the guy to where he'd stop.

    Maybe a bit inflammatory, but, if you, armed with a deadly weapon, follow people on legitimate business through a neighborhood, late at night, describing your behavior as stalking is reasonable. Maybe GZ got really unlucky. But, mostly people make their own luck. So, I'm guessing he made a habit out of following 'suspicious' people in his neighborhood. Most of whom were probably black. Which wasn't unreasonable, but bound to irritate some of the people stalked.* This had and should have basically no bearing on whether or not he goes to jail, but does affect my level of sympathy for the guy.

    Similarly, tall fit guy walking through the neighborhood versus moderately fit guy carrying a gun following the tall fit guy? One with a history of violence? (DV tends to outweigh recreational drug use in my estimation of risk.) I'm very mildly inclined towards GZ questioning, arguing with, and threatening TM, losing a fight (while being in no danger of dying), and finishing it with a pistol, and then lying through his teeth – as neither he nor his wife came across as paragons of honesty. But, I wouldn't take odds worse than 45-55, so, eh.

    I'm more amused by the patterns of polarization in the narrative. The evidence doesn't support much more than…GZ did some legal, but ill-advised stuff. TM, at some point, struck GZ, and did minor damage. GZ killed TM. There's nowhere near enough evidence to either convict for or justify the killing, but there's a ton of people coming down, really hard, on either side. As far as I can tell…everything past that comes from somewhere other than the facts of the case.

    –Erwin

    *One of the family acquaintances is a police officer. Another is an African-American lawyer. One of those two 'randomly' stops cars with black people in them, because they're more likely to be carrying drugs, and easier to convict. The other gets pretty irritated when 'randomly' stopped. One guy's making his life easier. The other's upset because he's the most boring person on the planet, and still gets stopped. (great guy…but…yah.)

  91. Manatee says

    @Craig,

    That is a great point, but not the one I meant to make.

    I was thinking more in terms of game theory and at least one of the two combatants caring about jail as much as they care about winning. To make an exaggerated hypo that has nothing to do with the Zimmerman case (since I suspect that Clark is rather unhappy with my unsympathetic opinion of George Zimmerman as a person, despite the fact that we both agree on the results of the trial), say I wanted to randomly shoot someone and claim it was self-defense. It's completely rational for me to pick a victim who is substantially larger than me, because it is much more believable that random guy, seeing I am much smaller and not knowing I am armed, tried to mug me and got shot, than it is that random guy, seeing that I am much bigger than him, decided to mug me and got shot.

  92. Foog says

    @Jeremy

    You may have a point about concealed carry permits keeping the rate of violent crime low. However, I have near as strong a point about the lucky penny in my pocket doing so.

  93. Cameron W. says

    You've got to hand it to people like Erwin of the anti-Zimmerman brigade for their insistence on perpetuating long debunked myths.

    There was 4 minutes between the end of Trayvon's phone call and him assaulting George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin confronted Zimmerman about 4 minutes AFTER Zimmerman last saw him and at quite close to where he last was. Trayvon told his girlfriend over the phone that he was at his house which given the time is quite plausible. Therefore:
    1) If Trayvon told his girlfriend the truth, he went back from his house to attack Zimmerman.
    2) If Trayvon lied to his girlfriend, he spent 4 minutes planning his attack on George Zimmerman.

    It is ridiculous to claim that punching someone in the face repeatedly and smashing their head on the concrete is "minor" damage. People are killed all the time from far less. I suggest you do some research on how many people are killed every year by just a single punch instead of repeating that stupidity.

    One more point: Zimmerman was fully justified in shooting Trayvon as he attacked him, yet instead he spent 45 seconds calling for help (which never came). So if Trayvon didn't suddenly spot his gun and threaten to kill him, why would Zimmerman have suddenly killed him then?
    And if Zimmerman was intent on killing Trayvon from the beginning, why was he calling for help when he could have just shot him?

  94. Manatee says

    @Erwin,

    I think the problem is precisely that George Zimmerman, some of his supporters, and especially the prosecutors have been rather lacking in the credibility department. When someone lies to me, I tend to stop taking what they say at face value. When you do it enough, I start throwing out every statement you make, and assuming it's something most unfavorable to your case.

    Police found stolen jewelry that Trayvon Martin had. Clark didn't object to me taking that one piece of evidence and characterizing Trayvon as a thief and a bad person with no real future. A lot of people have been robbed, or know people who have been robbed, and many robbers are young black men. Given that the prosecution didn't really have evidence, or credibility, it wasn't a huge stretch for many people to accept the Zimmerman narrative that a scary black man attacked him for no reason. After all, that sort of thing happens with some frequency. And they emphasize with Zimmerman, because in the face of scary black man coming at them, they might do the same thing.

    On the other side, George Zimmerman made some inconsistent statements to the media, according to SOME reports, he had a reputation as a rather aggressive and overzealous neighborhood watchman. Many people, especially in minority communities, have experience or know people who have had experience with racial profiling, whether it's as relatively innocuous as store clerks following you around to make sure you don't shoplift, to wannabe cop types trying to intimidate you and chase you off for being in the wrong neighborhood. For that matter, people of all races have experience with overzealous actual cops using bullying tactics and generally getting high on their own authority. In the state that largely cheered for Bernie Goetz, I imagine it's pretty scary to be black and alone in a nice, mostly white neighborhood, being stalked by an older white guy with a gun. And for many people who wanted Zimmerman in prison, that is exactly the story they accept as true, because he killed the only other witness, and he demonstrated, shall we say, a willingness to recall inconsistent truths.

    Of course, some people are just out and out racists, some people have different political motivations one way or another (gun control, etc.) A few people are like me, disgusted by the prosecutions mistreatment of Zimmerman as a defendant, but not a huge fan of the man as a fellow gun owner and human being. The most vocal opinions, though, come from pretty much the people I describe, the ones who, in the absence of information they see as credible, instead see one guy or the other as their own personal boogeyman, that scary thing they pray never to run into late at night.

    @Foog,

    I honestly don't think we'll ever have good hard facts one way or another. As I understand it, racial homogeneity in a community tends to strongly correlate with rates of violent crime. Left-wing political leanings tend to correlate with both areas of greater local racial diversity (in other words, China-town very close to little Italy, as compared to the black inner city being miles from mostly white suburbs) and a greater hostility towards firearms, while right-wing politics tend to favor strong Second Amendment protections, but often exist in areas of greater segregation (segregation, the tendency of people to self-organize into ethnic enclaves, not segregation, the discriminatory government policy). Good luck finding an organization with the resources and the expertise to disentangle all of those conflating variables, and an unassailable reputation for non-bias.

    Seriously, good luck, and tell me if you do. My gut says concealed carry lowers crime, and I'd love to have something to confirm or disprove that.

  95. Craig says

    We simply don't know enough about what really happened. Can we all accept this and stop devising specious rationalizations to justify pinning the blame on one person or the other?

    It's unfortunate that Trayvon Martin is dead and George Zimmerman is going to be bankrupted by legal fees and stuck for the rest of his life with the public image of being a guy who got away with murder. In all likelihood, they both made mistakes that led to that shot being fired. Neither of them really deserved what happened, but life isn't about getting what you deserve, it's about dealing with the consequences of your actions. Sometimes those consequences seem extreme and unfair, but that's life for you.

  96. Manatee says

    @Cameron
    "I suggest you do some research on how many people are killed every year by just a single punch instead of repeating that stupidity."

    Would you mind just sparing us the homework and giving us the citation you have in mind? Not entirely relevant to the topic at hand, but a lot of my friends and I in MMA routinely argue about the one touch/one hit kill Dim Mak stuff, whether it has any basis in reality, and whether a technique like repeatedly striking the vagus nerve or nose has any viability, and I've never been able to find good data. Even if you don't have a link off the top of your head, since you're using that information to support your argument I assume you have some idea where to look, and I would appreciate anything you can do to point me in the right direction.

    Thanks in advance.

  97. Tarrou says

    Manatee,

    It's not the blow that usually kills people, it's the contact with a much harder surface than a human hand. This can be a corner, a chair, the floor, whatever. You get punched, you fall and hit your head. It takes some serious work to punch someone to death without the mechanical advantage of the environment, which is removed in sporting events like MMA. On soft surfaces (grass, etc.), I suspect you'll find most unarmed killings are kickings.

  98. Manatee says

    @Tarrou,

    I am also guessing that most of Cameron's examples will be precisely that. I've heard of two incidents in my lifetime (both before internet made news searches easy, both in the dubious form of "a friend from X city read in their newspaper that…") where it was the punch that killed someone. One involved two preteens and a blow causing cardiac arrhythmia. The other involved a blow to the head and some sort of freak brain hemorrhage I think.

    Still, it would be very cool (in a morbid sort of way) if Cameron can direct me to a source that can show me more legitimate single hit fatalities. Ideally, in an easy to search format like Westlaw's directory of body-part tort-values.

  99. granny weatherwax says

    From Ayoob's perspective, it seems that if there are two people and one gun, if either reasonably suspects that the other would try to use the gun, then either of them can then legally pick up the gun and kill the other and claim self defense.

  100. Cameron W. says

    @ Manatee

    Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg of King County, which includes Seattle, Washington, says King County has four to six one punch homicides every year. If King County's one punch homicide rate is average for the U.S., which is impossible to tell because no one in the U.S., including the FBI, keeps statistics on the subject, then the U.S. has between 500 and 1,000 one punch homicides every year. Although this isn't a huge number, it has other implications. Most single punches don't result in a death, but for every death by one punch, how many other people experience serious injuries, including brain damage, because of one punch – 10, 20, 50, 100, or more?

    http://www.onepunchhomicide.com/

  101. Steven H. says

    @Manatee
    "Apologies, I didn't think that was your point and did not mean to imply that I did. I was just curious about your thoughts on how "feeling threatened" because of size disparity should factor into evaluating the threat level of an actual aggressive action."

    Can't speak for anyone buy myself, but I tend to react more vigorously to an attack that I consider a serious threat.
    Someone who is four inches taller than me and in much better shape (I was in Z's general condition five years ago, but my cancer has pretty much cured my weight problems, (while replacing them with other problems, mind you.)) would appear to be far more threatening than someone who is four inches shorter than me and in lousy shape.
    Which would make me much more likely to do something like pull out a gun (assuming I were carrying one) if I were being attacked by a much larger guy….

    @Clark & Dan Weber:

    Thanks. Appreciate the info.

  102. Manatee says

    @Cameron,

    Thanks for the link. I'm a little afraid to submit my credit card info on such a sketchy site, but there was a link with a list of victims that I can start searching for.

    Hopefully I don't get on some sort of watch list for being too curious about the mechanics of how the victims died.

  103. Jeremy says

    @Foog

    That's an interesting argument considering I know of no criminal who is afraid of a lucky penny.

  104. says

    Hi Clark,

    I've been working all day and I'm sorry for the late reply. That being said, I'm going to rephrase things a little:

    George Zimmerman, the lame-ass, gun-toting, cop-wannabe should never have gotten out of his truck to interrogate a total stranger, at night, in the rain, when that stranger might be "…up to no good or he is on drugs or something" after being advised by the police dispatcher that "We don't need you to do that." Note that Zimmerman also lied to the police dispatcher and indicated that he was planning to obey the dispatcher's suggestion. ("We don't need you to do that."/"Okay.")

    Reading between the lines, George was pissed-off ("…those assholes, they always get away.") and looking for a confrontation. This is not a good state in which to approach a total stranger while carrying a gun.

    George had a whole host of better alternatives that started with rolling down his window and saying, "Hi, how's it going? Are you new in the neighborhood?"

    Upon receiving any answer that might be remotely interpreted as friendly, George could say "It's wet and you look miserable. If you jump in the back of my truck I'll give you a ride home." Or something. My suspicion is that between Zimmerman's belief that his gun made pleasant behavior unnecessary and his anger over the crime wave in his neighborhood, he handled things without any thought at all to being polite or using intelligent conversational tactics. It's very easy to start out friendly and escalate as necessary. Doing the reverse is damn-near impossible.

    As for the issue of whether you can interrogate a stranger in your neighborhood/driveway, etc., I don't have a problem with that, though I say so with the assumption that your social skills are good enough to start out by being friendly, pleasant and appropriate even if you have suspicions that someone is up to something. I also say it hoping that if you have a gun, you're not using it as a mental crutch in the style of Sanford's number-one mall ninja.

    TL;DR – Sometimes it's not what you do, it's how you do it.

  105. Trent says

    So, confrontation time comes up. Martin approaches Zimmerman. Demands to know what is going on.

    According to Jeantal Williams and Mr. Zimmerman the person that asked the first question was Mr. Zimmerman asking Mr. Martin what he was doing in the neighborhood.

    Funny thing about getting startled here is reactions. If I were walking to my car at night in this situation not carrying a gun, I'd most likely bring up my arms to ward of an attack. I would assume a defensive posture of some kind.

    According to statements by Zimmerman after asking the question about intent it was at this point that Martin sucker punched him and knocked him down. I should also point out that Williams testified at trial that this was shortly after telling Martin to run because the creepy ass cracker following him was probably a gay rapist out to rape him.

    What happened if when Martin stepped out, Zimmerman just basically dropped his hands towards his waist. The wrong response at this point – a wrong twitch – perhaps even involuntary would have been enough to trigger physical violence at this point.

    Do you walk around with your hands up at chest level like a zombie? I don't know about you but I walk around with my hands at waist level and I routinely engage in conversation (even when nervous) with my hands in the same position. If you consider hands at waist level threatening behavior I'm surprised you aren't in jail for assault. Now if you intent was to say that Zimmerman sticking his hand in his pocket was reason for concern you might have a point but again, the default reaction to fear of a weapon would be to run, not to engage in a fight. Dead people and only the incredibly stupid pick fights with people they believe are armed.

    The real irony here is that Martin, had he gotten the gun away from Zimmerman, had a better case of self-defense.

    Taking a gun from someone is not grounds for a self defense. Particularly when that person has a permit to carry it concealed, has a broken nose and cuts to the back of the head consistent with having their head impacted with cement. If Martin took the gun from Zimmerman and shot him with it he would be in jail if he was stupid enough to hang around and admit to shooting someone with their own gun.

    He had tried to retreat. He had tried to hide.

    Zimmerman had lost contact with Martin for several minutes, Ms. Williams testified that he had told her he was at home several minutes before the altercation. Zimmerman was walking back to his truck so he could meet the police where he'd arranged with the dispatcher when he claimed Martin jumped out and sucker punched him. This timeline is confirmed by the phone records and witness statements other than Zimmerman.

    He did try to ascertain Zimmerman's intentions.

    There is no evidence Martin said even two words to Zimmerman. The only statements allegedly said by Martin come from Zimmermans statements. No other witness can confirm he even spoke a word before the altercation.

    He had been followed, chased, hunted and could not have thought of any non-threatening reason for the level of actions taken by Zimmerman. He only took aggressive action after having a fairly strong case for being scared.

    Reasonable people after being followed retreat to safety and seek help. Even if Martin didn't trust the police he could have easily sought the assistance of his father who was a few hundred feet away. Only very foolish people seek out confrontation after being scared. I am concerned that you believe it's appropriate to attack someone you *think* is following you. Such an idea could easily be extrapolated outward to allow violence for other behavior such as being cut off in traffic. Do you have anger management issues? Are you mentally ill? Because frankly I cannot reconcile your belief that violence is the appropriate reaction to simply being followed.

  106. Ibidem says

    @Troutwaxer:

    George Zimmerman, the lame-ass, gun-toting, cop-wannabe should never have gotten out of his truck to interrogate a total stranger, at night, in the rain, when that stranger might be "…up to no good or he is on drugs or something" after being advised by the police dispatcher that "We don't need you to do that." Note that Zimmerman also lied to the police dispatcher and indicated that he was planning to obey the dispatcher's suggestion. ("We don't need you to do that."/"Okay.")

    I see at least two falsehoods here:

    Zimmerman had already gotten out long before the "we don't need you to do that"; in fact that was in response to "Are you following him?"/"Yes". He got out when asked "Which way is he heading?"

    Additionally, "cop-wannabe" is pretty tenuous when you consider that
    -he was offered a position that was much closer to being a cop, and turned it down.
    -according to one of his criminal justice professors, he had stated his desire to become a prosecutor.

  107. Anony Mouse says

    Everyone's heard the joke about a boxer's hands being "registered deadly weapons". Hell, the entire reason Nick Cage's character went to jail in ConAir was because he was a trained soldier. Everyone's seen martial arts masters do crazy things or seen a kung-fu movie. We've all seen the "punch the nose into the brain" or a neck snap.

    The concept of fists, feet, and surroundings being used to deadly effect is not alien to our culture; quite the contrary. Why does everyone toss it out the window here?

    Do people deny that Martin was beating Zimmerman into the pavement? Do they think that was strawberry jam on his head? Are they just so hung up on the getting out of the truck thing (and the false media misdirection that he got out after being told not to)?

    Or do they really just see a dead black guy and a living not-black guy? I thought we entered a post-racial world back in 2008.

  108. 205guy says

    Clark wrote: "Assuming that the facts are as stipulated, there are multiple ways to prevent this:

    1) arrest Zimmerman and anyone who matches his personality type
    2) disarm everyone
    3) teach your child (ideally long before he is a teenager) not to assault people who are walking the same sidewalk they are, even if the person is odd or creepy."

    If Clark included #2 just for/because of me, I'd be honored to vote that. Although do note that I don't support disarming, rather I support change in society that leads to less gun ownership in the US (c'mon, sing with me: Kumbaya, my Lord, kumbaya).

    Otherwise, this thread has has been a refreshing change from the previous Zimmerman-Martin thread. Instead of dry heaves, I could at least swallow again before another comment made me throw up in the back of my mouth again.

    Granny Weatherwax wrote: "From Ayoob's perspective, it seems that if there are two people and one gun, if either reasonably suspects that the other would try to use the gun, then either of them can then legally pick up the gun and kill the other and claim self defense."

    Lovely, I just love the effect that guns have on our personal relations and social discourse–not!

  109. James Pollock says

    "On the other hand, I find the idea that a chubby short guy attacked a taller, younger, fitter man quite unlikely. YMMV, though – perhaps you find it likely."
    Depends on what you mean by "attacked". If "attacked" includes "tried to detain him by force to either ask questions or wait for police to arrive", then, yeah, I think the chubby short guy "attacked" a taller, younger, fitter man.

  110. James Pollock says

    "Or do they really just see a dead black guy and a living not-black guy? I thought we entered a post-racial world back in 2008."

    I can only speak for myself, but seeing just a dead guy and a not-dead guy is troubling enough. Especially since I think the odds that Martin's physical attack on Zimmerman was legally justified when it started are about 50-50.

  111. James Pollock says

    "Additionally, "cop-wannabe" is pretty tenuous when you consider that
    -he was offered a position that was much closer to being a cop, and turned it down."
    If you wanna be a cop, you wanna be a cop, not a position much closer to being a cop.

    "-according to one of his criminal justice professors, he had stated his desire to become a prosecutor."
    Then someone should have told him that not only was he not taking the right classes, he wasn't even in the right school.

  112. James Pollock says

    "the default reaction to fear of a weapon would be to run, not to engage in a fight."
    That's ridiculous. Adrenaline creates "fight or flight" syndrome.

    "Dead people and only the incredibly stupid pick fights with people they believe are armed."
    This claim is not backed by fact. See, e.g., every person who has ever served in the military on a combat tour.

    "Reasonable people after being followed retreat to safety and seek help."
    Adrenaline destroys the ability think and plan rationally. If you're in a neighborhood you're not familiar with, locating safety or assistance is not easy.

  113. James Pollock says

    "The concept of fists, feet, and surroundings being used to deadly effect is not alien to our culture; quite the contrary. Why does everyone toss it out the window here?"

    A substantial majority of Americans have witnessed one or more fistfights. A very, VERY small number have ever seen a fistfight that involved a fatality.

    Analogy: It's definitely true the speeding can lead to horrific, fatal car accidents. However, most of us have experience with speeding which was not concluded by fiery twisted metal and dead bodies. The fact that something CAN happen does not mean that it WILL happen, A fistfight that ends in death CAN happen, but for most fistfights, even ones that end with someone on the ground, death does not occur.

  114. Passing Stranger says

    Re Ayoob.
    http://www.firearmstactical.com/tacticalbriefs/2006/04/03/0604-03a.htm; a detailed critique of Ayoob's history, expertise and testimony. Especially his 'Miami Massacre' article, that was filled with numerous inaccuracies.
    Dodson published a number of other examination of Ayoob's articles, e.g. http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs8.htm

    Ayoob, along with Ed Sanow, often misquotes the Fackler/IWBA wound ballistics tests to suits his own opinions. Ayoob also advocates the scientifically discredited "stopping power" work of Sanow and Marshall.

    His real world LEO experience is also minimal; he served as a reserve officer in a small and quiet New Hampshire town; his background is (like his father) in jewelry. His first published article (in an NRA magazine) was about jewelry store security. This lead to his lucrative writing career.

    Many of the cases he "cites" to support his views lack verifying details such as participants, locations et cetera. He's also very quiet on cases where his "expert testimony" has been eviscerated by real experts.

  115. Troutwaxer says

    @ Ibidem

    You're nitpicking.

    Zimmerman had already gotten out long before the "we don't need you to do that"; in fact that was in response to "Are you following him?"/"Yes". He got out when asked "Which way is he heading?"

    The major point here is that Zimmerman deceived the police dispatcher. When he did it is immaterial. The act of deception strongly implies that he is the bad actor here.

    Additionally, "cop-wannabe" is pretty tenuous when you consider that
    -he was offered a position that was much closer to being a cop, and turned it down.
    -according to one of his criminal justice professors, he had stated his desire to become a prosecutor.

    I'm standing by "cop wanna-be." He's got that vibe and his behavior screams "wanna-be." (I've dealt with the type before.) We don't know why he turned down a particular job; there could be any number of reasons for that decision.

  116. Munin says

    Yeah the "he wasn't that fit and strong" argument works far better than the "they were similar in heft" argument.

    I indeed haven't been following the ins and outs of the trial but I am always leery of the accuracy of hyperbolic statements like "I would score him 0.5 or of 10". He may not have been that fit but not being able to run 800 meters at any rapid speed does not mean you can't throw a punch or use your weight to bullrush and bowl someone over.

    Anyway, I don't think you can argue that Trayvon Martin was particularly built either. What you have is a situation where two people, neither of whom are in any way experienced brawlers, end up in a physical altercation. These kinds of fights are always messy and who ends up with the upper hand is always more down to luck than skill.

    To move on to something else, I like how one side always state on about how the restraining order etc is of no import (with some solid justification) but then harp on about the "stolen" jewelry for which Trayvon Martin was never even charged and for which there was absolutely zero evidence it was stolen (other than a police officer apparently assuming that a piece of jewelry in a youths backpack must have been stolen and the a screw driver could only possibly be a burglary tool…).

    Did anyone work out whose gun Trayvon Martin had photographed btw or was that ultimately deemed to be irrelevant? I also find it highly amusing how that was pushed as evidence that he was a thug, often by the same people who are all for guns is basically any other context.

  117. Shane says

    @Munin

    I also find it highly amusing how that was pushed as evidence that he was a thug, often by the same people who are all for guns is basically any other context.

    I am not, nor do I think other law abiding gun owners are "for" guns in the hands of criminals. And if that gun is not TM's parents gun (or friend over 18) then that gun is illegal for TM. Believe it or not the rules for gun ownership are pretty stringent.

  118. Munin says

    @Shane
    But you immediately jump to the conclusion that this gun is probably illegal…

  119. Shane says

    @Munin

    Nope, I stated the possible conditions of it's legality. Just because someone purchases a gun legally doesn't mean that it necessarily stays that way.

  120. different Jess says

    @Clark

    @Passing Stranger

    Re Ayoob – a detailed critique of Ayoob's history

    Excellent; thank you.

    Perhaps you'd like to update your original article with this new assessment, for those wise enough to avoid the comment section?

  121. James Pollock says

    "Believe it or not the rules for gun ownership are pretty stringent."
    Not really. There are limitations on transactions, generally, and not ownership. Even felons are allowed to OWN guns, even though they may not lawfully POSSESS them.

    As anecdotal evidence, there is the recent case of the young child who shot his sister with his rifle… which revealed that there is at least gun manufacturer who specializes in guns for children.

    Heck, a long time ago I used to go to a summer camp that had a rifle range.

  122. Cameron W. says

    @Munin

    There were text messages on Trayvon's phone of him attempting to buy and sell guns. There was also nude images of underage girls, texts that his own mother kicked him out of the house, and him talking about fighting and calling himself "a gangsta."
    When you combine that with the fact that he was on drugs, kicked of school, and then violently assaulted someone who made no attempt to fight back, he was a nasty thug.

    I find it ironic and offensive that some individuals are trying to paint Trayvon as a stereotypical black kid.

  123. 205guy says

    I'm not very knowledgeable of the details, but could Z have turned down the block-watch position because they would not allow him to carry his gun?

    In the context of the photo found on M's phone showing a hand holding a gun (do we know it was M holding it?), Shane wrote: "I am not, nor do I think other law abiding gun owners are "for" guns in the hands of criminals."

    So not only do you jump to conclusions that the gun was illegal, but you also insinuate M was a criminal. From my reading (admittedly limited to wikipedia), M had some issues at school, but no crimial record. Given that you speak of TM in your very next sentence, that statement is borederline libelious (though I'm sure a bunch of lawyers around here will correct me).

    Just as an aside, I read this on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Trayvon_Martin): "When he was later searched by a Miami-Dade School Police Department officer, looking for the graffiti marker, the officer found several pieces of women's jewelry in his backpack, which Martin said a friend had given to him. A screwdriver was also found, which was described by the school police investigator as a burglary tool. The jewelry was impounded and given to the police, but no evidence ever surfaced to indicate that the jewelry was stolen."

    First of all, school districts with sworn officers? I guess it ain't Mayberry. But mostly, when will we see an article by Clark about the rights of students and their rights not to be deprived of their property?

    Shane wrote: "Just because someone purchases a gun legally doesn't mean that it necessarily stays that way."

    You make it sound like our 2nd amendment "militia" isn't well regulated enough.

    Cameron W. wrote: "he was a nasty thug."

    So then it's OK for upstanding citizens to follow thugs, whom they don't even know to be thugs, and shoot them? I find it offensive that some individuals are tyring to paint Trayvon as a someone who deserved to be chased and killed by a vigilante.

    Shane wrote: "@205guy Do you live in this country?"

    With much deference to the civil rights movement, is that what they asked Rosa Parks? But yes, I live in "this" country called the Internet.

  124. James Pollock says

    "First of all, school districts with sworn officers?"
    This is common in suburban high schools and nearly universal in urban ones. Staffing levels for police departments are usually on the order of 1:1000 citizens, and a big high school usually has more than 1000 citizens in it. (By comparison, NYC has between 30,000 and 40,000 officers (depending on how and when you count) and a population of about 8.5 million, which is a ratio of somewhere between 1:212 and 1:283.

  125. Cameron W. says

    "Someone gave it to me" is the meek excuse that every thief gives. But no one gives up jewelery that is theirs and no one just allows officers to take expensive properties from them. He wasn't suspended for school for no reason. Few screwdrivers are considered burglary tools. If he had one that was there was a reason for that. Common sense says that if he had one of those with jewelry, he likely stole it.

    The fact that a slim jim (burgulary tool) was found close to where he was shot is not a coincidence as is the fact that he spent so long outdoors in the rain. It doesn't take 45 minutes for a fit young man to walk less than half-a-mile. Any reasonable person could conclude that Trayvon was stealing to support his drug habit.

    Zimmerman had good reason to suspect that Martin was a thief. He wasn't shot for being a thief. He was shot for attempting to murder Zimmerman.

    The only reason that Martin didn't have a criminal record is because officers in the school don' give criminal records to underage criminals.

  126. Manatee says

    @Cameron,

    Not disagreeing with your larger point, but I do find this point unconvincing:
    "But no one gives up jewelery that is theirs and no one just allows officers to take expensive properties from them."

    We should all aspire to be the sort of person who will stand up for all of our rights, no matter how scary or unpopular that position may be. The reality does not reflect the ideal, nor is it fair or even rational to assume that the people who fail to fight for all of their rights are presumably guilty of something.

    Lawyers know that cooperating beyond what the warrant requires gets a lot of innocent people in trouble. Most people don't. Lawyers know that when you hand over all your photography equipment to prove you weren't producing child pornography, your expensive stuff might end up staying in evidence long after you are exonerated. Most people don't. Lawyers tend to forget that most people don't know the best way to avoid jail, or have other priorities. Imagine if the police had made a big show of going to Mitt Romney's house and asking him to search his house for some missing kids, without a warrant, and without enough evidence of exigent circumstances. I'm pretty sure his refusal to comply would have made him look bad, and certainly would have been used against him come election time.

    Of course, this is all assuming that people are always able to calmly and rationally weigh each course of action. When you have a dozen automatic weapons pointed at you, some by officers who know how to use them, most by ones who really, really don't, I imagine the first reaction is to comply so that you can live.

  127. Michael says

    @ Cmaeron W. 1035 Hadn't heard of this. Do you know the times for the video camera finding Martin at the store and the time of any of the 911 calls in ref, Martin and Zimmerman, distance from store to dad's house or incident? Also curious re: the documentation for the jewelry and the slim jim/ screw driver.

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