Don’t Blame “the Gun” in Trayvon’s Death; Blame the Hucksters

Like a spectator at a gladiator fight in the Roman coliseum, I have sat back and watched the finger-pointing unfold in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. 

With his budget shot down 414-0 in the House of Representatives, his approval numbers in free fall, and a portion of his health care legislation of the verge of being ruled unconstitutional, President Obama wasted little time weighing in on Martin’s tragic death, even though the federal government arguably has no jurisdiction in the matter.  

And, of course, the usual suspects—Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton—could hardly resist jumping into the fray. Jackson would rather talk about an unjustifiable intervention by a self-declared neighborhood watch captain than a love child.[1]  While Sharpton—damaged goods in the minds of many after the Tawana Brawley debacle—is always on the lookout for ways to raise his profile.[2]

It is, however, the recent remarks of Bill Cosby—a celebrity whose candid comments regarding bigotry and personal responsibility have opened a dialogue on race relations—that are, unpredictably, off base. 

Yesterday, Washington Times columnist Deborah Simmons noted that Cosby believes that “the gun” was the impetus for Trayvon Martin’s death.

“We’ve got to get the gun out of the hands of people who are supposed to be on neighborhood watch,” Cosby told Simmons.[3]

True, guns do not belong in the hands of some people. Individuals convicted of felonies and/or domestic violence, those abusing drugs, and persons suffering from mental health issues are ticking time bombs when a firearm is figured-in to the equation.  

Yet if Cosby had taken the time to research the background of the shooter, he might conclude that, had the system done its job, “the gun,” at least lawfully, would not be an issue.

“Charged with resisting arrest without violence,” in July 2005, the Los Angeles Times reported, “he [Zimmerman] avoided conviction by entering a pretrial-diversion program, something common for first-time offenders.”[4]

Zimmerman’s former girlfriend also filed a domestic violence injunction against him. Zimmerman countered with his own injunction, although it appears the police did not investigate.[5]

Had the system done its job by placing Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, on an extended period of probation for the incident outside a central Florida night spot, the court, in all likelihood, would have prohibited him from possessing firearms while serving his sentence.

Ironically, Jackson and Sharpton continually take the criminal justice system to task for its treatment of minority offenders—often times encouraging prosecutors to send those charged with acts of violence, such as fighting with law enforcement officers, into diversion programs.  

In the Zimmerman’s case, it appears that a Florida prosecutor bought-in to the charlatanism of the Jackson/Sharpton school of justice—the ugly results of which are now in plan view for all to see. 

Unfortunately, Bill Cosby chooses to blame “the gun” instead of Jackson and Sharpton—the hucksters of criminal justice diversion, who then go on to incite the populous when those sentenced to the same diversion programs they advocate for predictably reoffend.   

Some might call it a conspiracy of sorts, while others, rightfully, the revolving door of ignorance and the politics of self-pity.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012 


[1] “Jesse Jackson Confesses to Love Child,”  January 18, 2001.  7 April 2012.

[2] Kennedy, H. “Rev. Al Shrapton: I Won’t Apologize for Handling of Tawana Brawley Case.”  May 19, 2011.  7 April 2012.

[3] Simmons, D. “Simmons: Bill Cosby Weighs in on Trayvon Martin Case.” April 7, 2012.  8 April 2012.

[4] Muskal, M. “Trayvon Martin Case: George Zimmerman, Mystery Gunman.”  March 23, 2012.  8 April 2012.,0,6326075.story

[5] Sieczkowski, C. “Who is George Zimmerman? Florida Shooter has Checkered Past of ‘Vigilantism’ and Domestic Violence.”  March 23, 2012. 8 April 2012.

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