Failures of Law

A brief word: I’m no legal scholar, and I invite DUFL readers and contributors with legal backgrounds to weigh in on this post, but it is a sad state of affairs when a law degree is needed to understand or discuss this country’s legislation.

On September 22, 2010, Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University, committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge. His roommate, Dharun Ravi, was accused of setting up a “viewing party” to spy on Clementi’s intimate encounter with an older gay lover the evening prior. Last Friday, Ravi was found guilty of multiple counts of invasion of privacy, witness tampering, evidence tampering, and bias intimidation. For his homophobic actions, Ravi faces up to 10 years in prison.

On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman, a crime watch volunteer from Sanford, Florida, confronted, shot, and killed a “suspicious” black male in a hooded sweatshirt in his neighborhood. The victim was a 17-year-old high schooler named Trayvon Martin. Martin was armed with a bottle of ice tea and a bag of Skittles. For his racist actions, Zimmerman cited self-defense and has faced no consequences.
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Why was George Zimmerman carrying a gun?

Two sentences of background, just in case:

George Zimmerman is a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida. Three weeks ago, he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black boy, as Martin was walking home from the convenience store.

If you’re familiar with the Contributors section of DUFL Press, you’ll know that it says I work in law enforcement. I do.

I don’t carry a gun for my job, though I am statutorily entitled to. Many of my colleagues do. To do so, they had to attend a multiple-week-long police academy, and pass physical and psychological examinations. They are tested for firearm accuracy at a gun range every six months. And they spend most of their time at a desk.

If you want to go out on patrol, like Zimmerman wished he could, the training is much more rigorous. The NYPD academy, for example, is six months long, with accuracy re-certifications at least every six months after that.

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