Gun changed the equation in Sanford, Florida

Trayvon Martin is dead. George Zimmerman is not guilty. Except for the people involved in the case — who will be forever marked by the tragedy — the rest of us should move on.

Before we do there is a cautionary lesson to be learned about guns, the people who carry them and the rest of society.

It's easy to see how this tragedy might have been the non-event it should have been. Martin wasn't doing anything wrong that night and neither was Zimmerman.

But the gun changed everything.

What if Zimmerman had followed instructions not to carry a gun while acting as a community watch volunteer?

What if he had simply placed the call to police and stayed, as he was told to do by police, in his car?

Why was he determined and emboldened to follow the teenager into the dark?

His defense team during the trial pointed out that he was short, pudgy and out of shape. Why would a man like that follow a tall, athletic teenager into dim light?

A normal person might have been frightened and felt cautious, perhaps have waited behind.

Not Zimmerman, who felt bold; bold because he secretly carried a handgun on his hip.

What if Florida didn't have its stand-your-ground law, basically an open invitation to gun confrontations? Might Zimmerman have walked back to his car or never left it?

Having a gun changed the risk equation for him, giving him the confidence to do what police clearly told him not to do, to do what a less confident person without a gun might have avoided doing.

Martin likely made a similar mistake, feeling he could confidently confront a shorter, older man, not knowing or thinking that man was hiding a gun.

If Martin had seen a gun, or if the person before him was a police officer carrying a Taser and a gun, it is safe to say he would not have been as cocky about confronting Zimmerman or attacking him.

He likely would have kept on walking or even started running.

But the secret, invisible gun changed the risk equation for both men. Zimmerman was bold when he should not have been. Martin was confrontational when, if he could have seen the gun, he would not have been.

Two mistakes. One man is dead and the other will resume a life effectually ruined by the incident.

All of which must give the thousands of people buying concealed carry permits pause.

Police officers get hundreds of hours of training on firearms, on handling confrontations and when it is legal and justifiable to shoot another person. Then their training is regularly refreshed, even by no-shoot exercises.

They carry their weapon openly, wear a uniform and identify themselves in any confrontation.

The guy concealing a gun under his jacket takes a two-day course that is far from comprehensive, brief training he is never required to refresh or review.

Police know they will face an investigation anytime they use their weapon. Their actions will be reviewed in detail to make sure their gun use was justifiable.

The Zimmerman trial shows that regular people using a gun face the same, if not tougher, scrutiny.

Pull that trigger at the wrong time or in the wrong place and you are likely to face criminal charges, years behind bars and even civil proceedings that can drag on for years and leave a person in debt to lawyers or owing a large civil judgment.

Carrying a loaded gun is a frightening responsibility.

If you go out at night and have a few drinks, you shouldn't be operating a car. Are you in any condition to make the snap judgments involved in shooting another person?

Did you provoke your assailant because you were hiding a gun under you jacket? Did you put yourself in a dangerous situation just because you had a gun? Were you boiling with anger when you pulled that trigger? Where you wearing your glasses? Did you try to retreat to avoid the confrontation? That's the law in Maine.

If you shoot another person, a judge and jury may one day weigh all those factors. You would have had a split second to figure it all out.

The lesson for non-gun-toters among us is simple — never argue with a stranger about anything.

That's the new reality as more and more people carry guns. Is the person armed?

Are they simply a reasonable business person protecting their daily bank deposit, or a seething knucklehead itching to shoot someone?

Because, in reality, they hand these permits out to practically anyone who isn't a convicted felon or has been involuntarily committed.

Low IQ? Drug problem? Rageaholic? Racist? Town drunk?

No problem. It doesn't matter; you get a gun permit.

The tragedy in Sanford is behind us, but the the lesson is clear — in real life, there are no winners or happy endings, even in a legally justified shooting.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Comments

Steve  Dosh's picture

Gun changed the equation in Sanford, Florida

ed. Thursday drafed 18:18 hst ?
They usually do . Good editorial , per usual. " You can't talk to a man, with a shotgun in his hand ." -- Carole King ' Smackwater Jack ' , a song about a guy some where in these US of A who shot up a church congregation back in ? 1 9 7 0 http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/3530822107858746882/ <- full song lyrics • It's also the name of an album put out by a casual aquaintance of our's , Quincey Jones ( a http://www.berklee.edu grad ) , who produced President Clinton's first inaguration . btw - he's black , too , for any racists in the crowd , Dennis
/s, Steve and ohana , Hawai'i :D

Steve Bell's picture

Stand your ground

Didn't the stand your ground law also apply to Trayvon Martin? Why hasn't this been discussed anywhere? Was he obligated to leave when some kook accosted him on his way home?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Steve ? Dead children can not

Steve ? Dead children can not testify in their own defense . George must pay for the funeral . No insureance company will indemnify him on this one /s Dr. Dosh

Andrew Jones's picture

Come what may for George

Come what may for George Zimmerman but at least he is still alive. I'd call that a win. The acquittal is just gravy.

RONALD RIML's picture

Temporarily Alive. Temporarily Acquitted.

He will again be judged - as we all shall be.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

You sound a bit happy about

You sound a bit happy about your forecast.

Betty Davies's picture

Additional gravy

The NRA is probably recruiting Zimmerman to be a poster boy for all low-testosterone guys who need a "lift."

"Buy a gun today, and you, too, can be a vigilante --you can literally get away with murder!"

Andrew Jones's picture

More like, "Buy a gun today,

More like,

"Buy a gun today, and you, too, can defend yourself from an assailant; and get called a murderer by people who can't respect a verdict!"

RONALD RIML's picture

George is still alive.

For now. No amount of soap will ever wash that target from his body. That's just not how 'The Street' operates.

Andrew Jones's picture

He just needs to lay low for

He just needs to lay low for a while. "The Street" will forget about him once Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson find something else to get them outraged about. He just needs to get his gun back from the state and get the hell out of Florida.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Does that make you happy?

Does that make you happy?

 's picture

The problem in this editorial is it describes the attitude

of Mr. Martin when their was little testimony and only one witness who can be trusted that knows anything about his feelings during the event. There is a second witness, George Zimmerman but has the case revealed nothing he said should have been believed.
Florida law now is a license to kill black folks. The jury made the right decision given that law although one juror has made it clear that racism not the law was her basis for acquittal. "Stand your Ground" needs to be repealed in whole.

 's picture

George Zimmerman.

A true NRA hero.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Stand your ground

The notion that the law can allow someone to stalk another person, goad them into a confrontation and then shoot said unarmed person because now they are fearful is at the heart of this issue. It is a stupid law. The only interesting part would have been if Trayvon had had a gun too. Then the law would have been accurately applied and both parties would have been standing their ground. I suppose that is the intent of the people who promote this law in order to sell as many guns as they possibly can. I repeat stupid, stupid.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Claire ? Ayuh • " You can't

Claire ? Ayuh •
" You can't argue with stupid " -- the Blue Collar Comedy Tour
Jon ^^ " Florida law now is a license to kill black folks. " ^^ also hit the nail firmly on the head • 
The Japanese have an expression , " The nail with the head sticking up gets hit down ."
hth ? Steve , HI

If I recall correctly...

The Florida legislator who introduced and put this law through the legislature was himself quoted as saying, flat out, that this was not a correct application of the Stand Your Ground law. Which is why it was not actually invoked during the trial. However, by law the language of the law is incorporated into the instructions to the jury. That is, the defense was not required to prove that Zimmerman had a chance to get escape or avoid his situation. The jury is only allowed to consider the situation at the moment of the use of lethal force.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

“What if he had simply placed

“What if he had simply placed the call to police and stayed, as he was told to do by police, in his car?”
Police did not issue any command to for Zimmerman to say in his car. Police told Zimmerman “we don’t need you to do that” in regards to the question “are you following”.

“Not Zimmerman, who felt bold.”
How do you know that? Did Zimmerman personally tell you he was emboldened? I think that perhaps you are just speculating.

“Having a gun changed the risk equation for him, giving him the confidence to do what police clearly told him not to do,”
More speculation, please quote what the police told him what not to do for the readers.

There is only one fact in this story. That is, we’ll never know what really happened that night. The rest is mere speculation on your part.

RONALD RIML's picture

We know what happened that night.

An armed idiot went out of his way to kill some one.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Ronald, Damn you are good. I

Ronald,

Damn you are good. I wonder why you were not called to testify for the prosecution during the trial given you intimate knowledge of what actually happened that tragic night.

Oh, wait! You really don’t know what happened. Perhaps time to put your emotions back in the closet and look at what we do really know whether you like it or not.

Did you operate that was as a cop? No facts, all emotion? God I hope not.

BTW, going out of one's way to kill someone is premeditated and murder for which there was no evidence.

RONALD RIML's picture

I am good. I listened to my dispatchers.

And never shot anyone because I was a freakin' Chickenshit.

But what would I know????

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Iistening to dispatchers

Iistening to dispatchers would be easy if the message is clear. For example, "get back in you car" is a command rather than speak like it is a mere recommendation.

Lastly, to answer your qeustion, you know NOTHING since you were not there.

Jason Theriault's picture

We will never know

We will never know what happened that night because the defendant shot the only other witness.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Two parties in a dispute with

Two parties in a dispute with different stories is still not sufficient to understand truth. Evidence and witnesses are necessary to corroborate one side of the issue.

RONALD RIML's picture

And Zimmerman rubbed out the only other witness.

How convenient and self-serving.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Put forth your proof that

Put forth your proof that Zimmerman is not justified?

 's picture

You need...

...to join the real world.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

What is the real world

What is the real world according to Wood...dy.

 's picture

It ain't nothin'...

...like the fantasy world he's living in.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Your are so obtuse

Your are so obtuse Wood...d..d..dy.

 's picture

Congratulations.

You used a big word. Now look it up and see what it means.

(Did you ever hear a dog with a clef palate bark? He says "Mark, Mark.)

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Greatness emanates from my

Greatness emanates from my pores; everyone and everything wants to call my name. Do your love ones wake at night screaming Mark, Mark, Mark?

America’s Mr. Right

RONALD RIML's picture

Only during 'Battery Alignment'

But you'd have to be a Navy 'Fire-Controlman' to appreciate that......


MARK GRAVEL's picture

SJ: “What if he had simply

SJ:
“What if he had simply placed the call to police and stayed, as he was told to do by police, in his car?”

911 Transcript:

Dispatcher: Are you following him?

Zimmerman: Yeah

Dispatcher: Ok, we don't need you to do that.

The fact of what police told Zimmerman is constantly reported incorrectly. Perhaps reporters need to incrementally tweak the facts to create the story they want to be true.

RONALD RIML's picture

This is exactly what is being reported.

Police Instructions: We don't need you to do that: - i.e: "Follow him"

Nice way of saying: Back the "F**k off, you dumb sh*t!"

Evidently, Mark - you are one of the 10% that never seems to get "The Word" - I had them in the Navy, and when I was a Cop. Most people understand things when I tell them nicely. "I don't want you playing in the street" -- I rarely ratcheted up to "Get the 'F*** out of the Street, you F**ing Idiot!!

You give Zimmerman little credit. But then, you and I have gone around and around about your opinion of Hispanics. Do you think they are incapable of understanding simple instructions? It appears so by your interpretation of his 'inability to follow simple instructions"

MARK GRAVEL's picture

"I don't want you playing in

"I don't want you playing in the street."

Ronald: "Are you playing in the street?"

Person: "Yes"

Ronald: "We don't need you to do that."

Simple commands.....

The dispatcher should have said: "I don't want you to follow him."

Isn't that a clear unambiguous command?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Ronald, I can imagine you in

Ronald,

I can imagine you in the field.

Instead of saying, “get on the ground”, I can picture the following exchange:

Ronald “cop” Riml: Are you standing?

Suspect: Yes.

Ronald “cop” Riml: “we don't need you to do that”

A command should be clear and concise, otherwise it is a mere suggestion.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Hey, how about this

Hey, how about this one:

Instead of saying, “Pull over”, I can picture the following exchange:

Ronald “cop” Riml: Are you driving?

Suspect: Yes.

Ronald “cop” Riml: “we don't need you to do that”

Didn't your training teach you to give clear, simple commands?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

How about simply saying, “I

How about simply saying, “I need you to get in your car and wait for the officer to arrive.”

Boy, no need to lose your temper! I hope you did not act like that when you were a cop, no wonder people dislike them.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Ignoring the facts don't

Ignoring the facts don't change them.

RONALD RIML's picture

And ignoring Police Dispatchers is a trait you and

Zimmie would have in common......

Welcome to the "Offishul Armed & Dum-Fugg Club"

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Perhaps the dispatcher need

Perhaps the dispatcher need to be a bit more clear - you think?

By the way, I've never heard about that club you are in. Good luck with that.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Hey, here is the full

Hey, here is the full transcript in text... no where did the police tell George to stay in his car.

http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/326700-full-transcript-zimmerman....

RONALD RIML's picture

Zimmerman reported it to the Police

Thus effectively turning it over to the authorities - he was told "We don't need you to do that" (continue surveillance)

Zimmerman took it upon himself to disregard that instruction.

I don't know what world you live in, Mark - but Zimmerman had just bought himself a heap of civil liability. Bet yer britches not a day goes by that he regrets not taking that advice....

MARK GRAVEL's picture

How do you know that he did

How do you know that he did not take that advice?

You do hear Zimmerman breathing heavily in the 911 tape before the dispatcher made that comment, but not after. How do you know he did not stop and the other individual did not approach Zimmerman.

You need proof then Ronnnn....nnald Were you a fly on Zimmerman's ass that night?

RONALD RIML's picture

On Zimmerman's Ass.....???

Couldn't get your nose out of the way.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

That is real mature there

That is real mature there Ronnn...ald.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

So true

The statistics on women and children killed in domestic violence murder-suicides are appalling. This is another example of a crisis made deadly by the presence of a gun often combined with intoxicants and mental illness. We have had parents shot by their own children who sought mental health care for them and veterans suffering from PTSD and addictions who also made split second decisions with guns that tragically ended their lives. Each one of these incidents break your heart and should remind gun owners of the immense responsibility they take on when they own guns.

 's picture

Strictest gun laws in the country are where?

Four Children Gunned Down in Chicago During Zimmerman Trial

In the 20-day period of the George Zimmerman trial, four minors – three teens and a five-year-old boy - were gunned down in Chicago, according to Homicide Watch Chicago, a Chicago Sun-Times publication, which details every murder that takes place in the city.

Jason Theriault's picture

So

If the 5 year old was armed there would have been a different outcome?

Or is your argument people get shot anyway, so why limit handguns?

Which means you would be in favor of legalization of all drugs, because people get high anyway, why limit drugs?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Isn’t the message clear?

Isn’t the message clear? Strict gun regulations do not necessarily mean safer streets.

Yes, I am for decriminalizing drug possession, which a major source of violence in this country from both law enforcement and the citizenry. In fact, the war on drugs is the number one factor in the militarization of our police forces, knock less entry, and SWAT style raids to serve warrants to non-violent suspects.

Jason Theriault's picture

True

Strict gun regulations do not necessarily mean safer streets. That however, doesn't mean that strict gun control doesn't lead to safer streets or less crime. It just means that it's part of the puzzle and that there is no silver bullet.

I also am for decriminalizing drug possession. Any societal ill caused by drug use could be cured 5x over for what we spend on drug enforcement and punishment.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

the chicken or the egg

The argument that strict gun laws don't prevent gun deaths because the highest number of deaths occurs in the cities that have the strictest gun laws is not valid simply because the reason those cities passed those laws, in the first place, was to try to mitigate the carnage that occurs when you put a dense population together with unfettered gun access. You could just as easily say that it would be worse without those laws and that the problem lies in the fact that people have easy access to weapons from places that have looser gun laws and that those guns migrate to the cities.. It basically says that the massive number of gun deaths in the cities are not important enough for people who don't live in the cities to bother with. It is the conservative answer to all problems that occur in society.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Now that you have these

Now that you have these strict gun laws, why don’t we see a substantial decrease in gun violence in cities like Chicago?

RONALD RIML's picture

Must be because you're not there teaching them gun safety.

So how about doing your part - set up a few seminars - and teach proper use of firearms in Chicago.

GARY SAVARD's picture

Good point, Rex. Although the

Good point, Rex. Although the Zimmerman/Martin case pushes the self-defense envelope to the extreme, the lesson in this tragic event is that just because someone is bigger or stronger than their adversary doesn't necessarily mean that they will be able to beat them senseless. As the saying goes, " It wasn't God who made all men equal, it was Col. Colt".

RONALD RIML's picture

Actually it's our Constitution....

No doubt the 'Estate of Trayvon Martin' - though it can never be made 'whole' - will be awarded compensatory and punitive damages from Zimmerman et al.

Jason Theriault's picture

"All of which must give the

"All of which must give the thousands of people buying concealed carry permits pause."

Pause? They see it as a victory. The hoodie wearing thug was to blame, and poor Georgie was just protecting himself.

Well, you can't have it both ways. You can't ask us to respect your right to have a gun and hold up Zimmerman as an example of responsible gun ownership.

My only hope is that Zimmerman's life is ruined. He may have been legally justified, but that doesn't mean he is morally off the hook. And I hope the Martins sue his ass for everything he gets off of NBC and any other deal

MARK GRAVEL's picture

“My only hope is that

“My only hope is that Zimmerman's life is ruined.”

I hope someone feels the same about your life too.

Zimmerman just needs to put all assets in his wife's name. Can't get money out of a turnip.

RONALD RIML's picture

Damn, Mark - You're just full of Felonies......

Can I Transfer My Assets to My Wife if I'm Getting Sued?

"State and federal courts may consider transferring your assets to your wife after the commencement of a lawsuit or in contemplation of a lawsuit a fraudulent conveyance under the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act. Insolvency, or the inability to meet your financial obligations, at the time of transfer increases the risk of a court considering a transfer fraudulent. If the court determines that you have taken overt steps to hide your assets or place them out of reach of your creditors, it may pursue felony charges against you."

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Has someone filed suit yet? I

Has someone filed suit yet? I think not. In fact, I would have done it as soon after the incident.

There are other ways, just divorce the lady and give her everything.

Jason Theriault's picture

I, unlike Zimmerman, have not killed anyone.

We're American's, first off, so of course there are millions upon millions who wish our lives ruined.
Secondly - I didn't kill anyone. Having a gun carries responsibility, legal and moral. And he failed that moral responsibility because he put himself into a situation where he needed the gun unnecessarily. He didn't need to be there.

So I do hold him accountable. I'm not saying I want him to eat his gun or for someone else to "stand their ground". But he ended a life... There will be repercussions, and there should be.

At the very least, he will answer to God, and "Thou shall not kill" trumps "Stand your ground"

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Same goes all those solders

Same goes all those solders who kill the enemy?

AL PELLETIER's picture

Great Editorial Mr. Rhoades.

As long as our society continues to allow gun toting vigilantes things will never change, the NRA will see to it.

David  Cote's picture

Why doesn't Obama take on the NRA?

It's not as if he has anything to lose since he can't run again. I don't understand all the belly-aching about the NRA and how they operate when the tools for how they operate were handed to them by government. Taking on the NRA was something I expected Obama to do, especially after Sandy Hook. The result? Nothing. Obama failed to show proper leadership. He had it all within his grasp, and in the immortal words of Dennis Green, "We let'em off the hook."

AL PELLETIER's picture

Before you pass judgement.

Look at our "do nothing" congress for the reason the Obama proposed gun legislation was voted down. It's a difficult thing to show leadership when the rats on board are trying to sink the ship.

David  Cote's picture

Unacceptable excuse, Al...

Obama should be smart and resourceful enough to overcome that. He had a great many people standing beside him last November, and again this past April. Congress or no Congress, Obama's yhe guy that needs to step up and make it happen. Successful leaders are borne from being strong persuaders.

AL PELLETIER's picture

"Congress or no Congress"?

David, you better go back to high school and take a class in American government. But I agree with you in one regard, sometimes it would be nice to not have the congress and senate undermine issues popular with the majority of Americans.
That being said, If our president could enact laws without them he would be King Obama.

David  Cote's picture

Dude...

The remark about my education wasn't neccessary. I've read your other stuff of the past. You're better than that.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

What do you speculate will

What do you speculate will change? This is a very vague and emotional comment.

Jim Cyr's picture

"Allow Gun toting" ??

And just how is your gun control working in Chicago ? On the 4th of July there were 72 shootings and 12 deaths with the other 60 wounded in Chicago alone. Where is your and the "lame stream media's" outrage about this statistic ?

One would think 72 Shootings

One would think 72 Shootings with 12 deaths & 60 wounded all on one day would be news worthy nationwide. Why isn't Al Sharpton marching there?

RONALD RIML's picture

Probably for the same reason you're not marching there.

.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

To answer your question,

To answer your question, liberalism is a mental disorder?

AL PELLETIER's picture

I thought the same thing Dennis.

When Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were seeking press attention the same thought went through my mind. Race, race race. They are making the race card a big deal for their own agenda. They both portrayed Trayvon as an innocent little boy who was victimized by some bad ass, gun toting, cop wanna-be. Neither mentioned a word about Trayvon sucker punching George then trying to crack his skull on a cement sidewalk.
As far as I'm concerned they're both a couple of racial agitators who, obviously, followed the trial and evidence without hearing the defense and the jury.

We finally agree on something

We finally agree on something AL!

RONALD RIML's picture

If you see "Gun Control" as the only factor at 'play' in Chicago

You need to go on a 'Field Trip' there to do some in-depth studies.

'Carry Concealed' and see how it works out for you..........

MARK GRAVEL's picture

You are correct there is more

You are correct there is more going on - Chicago is a blue state. Liberalism is a mental disorder.

RONALD RIML's picture

Chicago achieved 'Statehood?'

Dayum - when did that occur???

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Chicago, like Maine, is the

Chicago, like Maine, is the byproduct of decades of liberal policies. Who’d would have thought that was the road to destruction?

RONALD RIML's picture

Strikebreaking and World-War I

were liberal policies???

Who'da thunk it????

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Chicago is in a blue state.

Chicago is in a blue state. Better?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Don’t you have some LED light

Don’t you have some LED light bulbs to install there in Boothbay. Why are you wasting your time here?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Mark ? Back on topic now .

Mark ? Back on topic now . ...
Fact : 200,000,000 guns , 300,000,000 people in these US of A
Q: When is enough , enough ?
A: _____________________ ?
/s, Steve , aging army brat • 

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Let's do some math for the

Let's do some math for the age inflected Steve.

~(34,000 gun deaths/200,000,000 guns)*100% = 0.017% gun owners are problems, 99.983% of gun owners behave.

Again, what is the problem?

RONALD RIML's picture

You neglected gun injuries.

And how many owners own how many guns????

Back to the calculator there, Bub.......

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Hey Ronald, looks like the

Hey Ronald, looks like the IRS scandal is approaching the Whitehouse, something we all knew. Remember these scandals are like icebergs, we only see 10%. If the 10% we see is huge, it is really something big.

RONALD RIML's picture

Hope in one Hand, Defecate in the other......

See which one fills up first.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

No matter how you slice it,

No matter how you slice it, the percentage of guns involved in mishaps or crimes are trivially small compared to the number of guns Steve claims are on the street.

RONALD RIML's picture

They can't all be on the street......

Seeing how you're hoarding them in your series of secret underground bunkers.......


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