But the question we should be asking is: What if George Zimmerman didn’t have a gun?
If Zimmerman wasn’t armed, we can imagine that the encounter might have gone very differently. Or there might not have been an encounter at all. If Zimmerman wasn’t armed, would he have felt as confident getting out of his car to follow Trayvon? Or would he have followed the advice of the 911 dispatcher and let the authorities respond?
One thing seems painfully obvious: If Zimmerman didn’t have a gun, he wouldn’t have shot to death an unarmed 17-year-old, leaving behind a grieving family and a community forever scarred.
Of course, George Zimmerman did have a gun, and a boy is dead. When guns are on the scene, violence is more likely to become lethal violence. A fist fight becomes a trip to the morgue.
The evidence presented in the Zimmerman trial may have been murky. But the evidence of the role that guns play in our levels of violence in the U.S. is clear. Dozens of studies show that where guns are more readily available, there are more incidents of gun homicide, as well as suicide and accidental shootings.