Trayvon Martin's vanished smile

Trayvon Martin’s smile is haunting me.  I see it in the photos broadcast on the nightly news programs, in the newspaper, and when I close my eyes.  It’s a wide, shy slice of youth and happiness.  And now, it’s permanently erased.

The person who guaranteed that the smile would be frozen in photos  is a self-styled town-watch volunteer, which in Florida seems to be spelled V-I-G-I-L-A-N-T-E.  The laws in that state, like the laws in many others, make it okay to “stand your ground” in self-defense, and a shooter under those circumstances is almost guaranteed a “don’t even get into jail” card.  But George Zimmerman, the man who erased Trayvon Martin’s smile, might not be able to cower behind that questionable law, because by his own admission on a 911 tape, he was actively following the victim.

In that strange Floridian lexicon, that seems to be spelled “S-T-A-L-K-I-N-G.”

While I sincerely hope that this does not become a battleground between the NRA and the NAACP, we have to face facts.  If Trayvon Martin were white, his shooter would be in custody.  If George Zimmerman were black instead of Hispanic (he was adopted by Jewish parents), Trayvon Martin’s shooter would be in custody.  You can pretend all you want that this has nothing to do with race.  But you can also buy the Brooklyn Bridge at a fire sale. 

Still, I hope that the issues of race and the 2nd Amendment don’t turn this death into a polemic over bigotry and gun violence.  The more important issue is, how do we stop these ridiculous laws which have nothing whatsoever to do with your fundamental right to own a gun from making our children shooting targets?

Personally, I don’t have a problem with a law that allows you to defend yourself against an armed attacker.  I certainly have no problem with one that lets you shoot an intruder in your own home.  But this case is a glaring example of where the law can be used as a weapon, one far more deadly than any firearm carried by any Dirty Harry wannabe.

I’m glad the spotlight is shining in George Zimmerman’s face.  He needs to be taken into custody.  He needs to be asked questions.  This is the gun case the Justice Department should be involved in (to perhaps make up for its deadly blunders in Fast and Furious.)

Then, perhaps, someone can answer for Trayvon Martin’s vanished smile.