Bill Cosby, who lost his only son to gun violence, says that gun possession was the determining factor in Trayvon Martin’s death and that George Zimmerman’s gun, not his views on race, killed the unarmed 17-year-old.
While he never mentioned Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchmen charged last week with second-degree murder in the February shooting death of Trayvon, Cosby alluded to key facts in the case when he told CNN’s “State of the Union” that it “doesn’t make any difference if he’s racist or not racist. If he’s scared to death and not a racist, it’s still a confrontational provoking of something” that made the gun owner use deadly force.
Cosby insists he has nothing against people having firearms in their homes to protect against intruders; indeed, he said he once had one of his own in his own home to “protect his family.” Still, he said, carrying a gun in the street changes people—making them bolder and much more dangerous. “When a person has a gun, sometimes their mind clicks that this thing… will win arguments and straighten people out.”
Of course, Cosby’s comments come as the nation looks to Trayvon’s death in considering just how lax gun laws harm, rather than protect, American citizens. Just last week, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, joined by the NAACP and the National Urban League, launched a national campaign against gun laws he says, “justify civilian gun play.” Bloomberg’s campaign, called Second Chance At Shoot First, aims to repeal the controversial Stand Your Ground law, which allows gun owners to use deadly force when they feel they’re under threat of serious bodily harm or death. Twenty-five states have the law.
Still, even as legislators with sense call for more reasonable legislation that would hold accountable people who shoot the crap out of others just because they can, the NRA is busy, busy, busy pushing through gun legislation that puts more weapons in more peoples’ hands—even in places where people really have no business having guns. The highlights, as listed in a recent post by Talking Points Memo:
— In 2009, President Obama enacted legislation permitting firearms in national parks.
— In 2009, Arizona and Tennessee passed laws letting people carry guns in bars.
— In 2010, Louisiana approved a bill letting people carry firearms in houses of worship.
— In 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, with considerable bipartisan support, a bill that makes a firearm-carry permit in one state valid in every other state.
— In 2011, Mississippi enacted legislation allowing people to carry firearms on college campuses, and in bars and churches. Later that year, the measure was expanded to include sporting events, polling places, airports, courthouses and other government localities.
TPM notes that the list does not include NRA victories at beating back gun-control efforts, such as prohibiting people on a government-designated terror watch list from buying a firearm, or closing a loophole that allows sales of weapons at gun shows. Right here in Georgia, politicians are still pushing legislation that would allow students to carry guns on college campuses.
What does this mean for African American parents and parents of children of color? More guns in the hands of the very people like George Zimmerman, who take one look at our kids, assume they’re thugs and criminals, and, with the blessing of the good ol’ boys—our state governments—shoot to kill and then get away with murdering our children. I’m going to go ahead and call it what it is: state-sanctioned lynching. Except it’s done with bullets instead of rope.
I grew up in a house with guns. I have family members who carry them with them wherever they go and one who even sleeps with it under his pillow. While I recognize their right to own and carry them, their weapons make me uncomfortable as hell. Always have. And it scares me to no end that my college student son or my young nephews or my African American husband could be walking down the street and some fool like Zimmerman could feel “threatened” enough by their skin or their clothing or their prejudices to shoot to kill—with our state’s blessing.
Bill Cosby said it best: “When you tell me that you’re going to protect the neighborhood that I live in, I don’t want you to have a gun. I want you to be able to see something, report it and get out of the way.” While I still believe race was the impetus for Trayvon’s death, I agree with Cosby that America’s obsession with guns is what made his killing possible. [Note: mainstream media is making quick work of twisting Cosby's words to make it seem as if he's suggesting race didn't have anything to do with the Trayvon Martin case—probably because it makes them feel really awesome to have their beloved Dr. Huxtable seemingly discount the corrosive effects of racism in this case. I urge you to watch the video, because Dr. Cosby DID NOT say race didn't have anything to do with Trayvon's killing; he simply said Trayvon died because Zimmerman, whether he is racist or not, had a gun. See for yourself HERE.] And it’s high time that we really consider what we lose when we allow people to walk into churches, campuses and yes, neighborhoods, with guns up in their waists.
1. Deadly School Shooting in Ohio—Yet Another Example of America’s Gun Obsession (UPDATE)
2. Boy Shoots His Mother at Point Blank Range—And Puts Our Parenting Conflicts In Perspective
3. Black Boy Swagger, Black Mom Fear
4. Teenager Killed in Florida by Neighborhood Watch Brings Terror To My Heart