Bill Cosby Says Guns Are Key Issue In Trayvon Martin Case

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 2010, Arizona passed a law letting people carry concealed weapons without a permit. In 2011, Wyoming enacted the same law.

— 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

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. Guns are how they have gained control of every continent and its occupants. Why now are all these laws being put out here. Do they feel like they have less control now? So is all this behind the President? Scary thought!!

  2. The problem with race the way I see it is this: I’m a white guy and if another white person is rude to me or cuts me off in traffic – I think to myself: that person is a jerk. If the other person is black, however, I have a subconscious tendency to somehow equate it to the person being black. (That’s a wrong feeling and something I have to make a conscious effort to overcome). When the police pull me over for going 5 mph over the speed limit, I think to myself: that cop is a jerk or the police department must be low on their quotas of tickets for the month (not that I’m being singled out because I’m white). I think black people might be chalking up a similar exchange as an example of being pulled over for DWB. I think at a primal level, we all make oversimplified connections that cloud our judgement. I could be wrong. Trayvon did not deserve to die. Like most people, he probably wasn’t a saint. He probably did have a great heart and promising future. He also was not a child. He was over 6 feet tall and looked like a man. Although people have every right in the world to wear a hoodie (and a lot of people do), wearing a hoodie can make you look more like a ‘hood’ than if you didn’t wear one. Sometimes, people wear hoodies to mask their identities if they are up to no good. That’s just reality. Cosby is right. This isn’t about white people targeting black people. This is about whether Zimmerman should have had a gun. If the gun made his behavior different and the horrible outcome more likely. Additionally, (many people will not agree) the possibility exists that Trayvon’s response to the circumstance contributed to the outcome. I’m not a bad person, but I make mistakes and made many when I was young. I have stood up to questionable people when I should have walked away. Luckily, I wasn’t killed – but I could have handled it better. We don’t know the facts. There is a difference between what your rights are and what is prudent in a given situation. Trayvon should be alive today. Maybe we need to rethink the sanity of people like Zimmerman walking around armed. And at the same time we fight for the rights of people like Trayvon to wear a hoodie and explore any public place they please, that we also consider the idea that discretion is sometimes the better part of valor. I disagree with the idea that white people somehow target black people any more than black people target whites. I think the idea that whites target blacks has a similar genesis to my illogical (primal) generalization that if a black person cuts me off, that it somehow has anything to do with that person being black. I’m trying to work to be color blind. I apologize if I have said anything offensive. Peace to you.

  3. The fundamental problem is the proliferation of “guns of mass destruction” and the brainwashing and purchase of the Congress by the NRA. Not everyone (non-felon) should own a gun. Some people are not mentally capable of showing constraint and the common sense to deal with the power of life and death within their hands. The writers and signers of the Constitution did not envision the reality of sub-machine gun pistols with the ability to squeeze off 15 shots in 5 seconds. The Constitution was written in the era of the frontier infrastructure, no police departments, no telecommunications, and a large part our society was agricultural and rural therefore the need for instant and immediate protection via the ability to obtain a firearm.
    In a modern society the need to carry a gun should be restricted because of the new realities of our modern society.
    Yes, bad guys do have guns and that will never change but the ability to purchase a gun should be so severely restricted so that the cost and punishment for carrying a non-licensed firearm is so prohibitive that the average person will be deterred and the seller of firearms held civilly liable for guns sold illegally. If a person knew that a unlicensed fire-arm carried a 7-10 stretch without parole you will have many people not taking a chance. The branding of a gun in a crime 10-20 without parole many people will think twice. The firing of a gun 15 to 25…..
    The ability to to be the judge and jury under the ‘Stand Your Ground Law” is dangerous to law abiding citizens who just happen to get in fight with or disagreement with some mental midget with a gun. Dead people are not the most reliable witnesses despite what you may see on CSI.

    Zimmerman did not have to kill Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman wanted to kill Trayvon Martin!! Zimmerman was not in a police uniform and he was following Trayvon, who was stalking whom. Zimmerman had no legal right to detain Trayvon so he took the laws in his own hands and executed Trayvon because Trayvon more than likely did not recognize his authority and resisted.
    Zimmerman would not have killed Trayvon if he did not feel he could get away with it. He was sanctioned by the State to execute if in his mind he felt that his life was threatened. Does that same law apply to Trayvon’s defense if had kicked Zimmerman to death because he felt his life was threatened by some man following him with a gun in his waistband?

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