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National Rifle Association Convention Attendees Talk Trayvon Martin; Bad Taste Ensues

The gun lobby has been quite busy...

Shortly after news broke that New York pols get more cash from the National Rifle Association than any other state, self-professed Second Amendment enthusiasts spent a weekend full of firearms festivities (and fun) at their annual convention.

Of course, attendees had a lot to say about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin -- none of which is all that unpredictable (or tasteful, for that matter.)

To be perfectly clear, the NRA has not made an official, organizational statement on the Martin case, though the group accused "the news media of sensationalized reporting."

Still, the organization's agnosticism on this incident hasn't stopped its members from yammering on about "bandits" and their continued support of stand your ground-style laws.

Indeed, interviews in the New York Times give the sense that participants fear for their lives even when strolling through the park, so they wind up treating day-to-day existence like a Clint Eastwood movie or first-person shooter video game.

The evidence?

"Eager to explain the benefits of carrying a concealed weapon, hikers discussed how they feared bandits more than bears on the trail. Aging men rattled off hypothetical situations requiring self-defense; the details varied, but all involved some version of a younger, more muscular aggressor," the Times reports.

Some more specific pearls of wisdom something.

--"'The danger is potentially reversing the laws that it's taken us decades to get in place and the further erosion of my rights...I'm a 61-year-old fat guy with a bad back with a little bit of shrapnel in my leg. There's no way in hell I'm going to be able to run away from a 20-year-old.'"

--"'This whole thing rests on who threw the first punch. Either the gun saved Zimmerman's life or we had a cowboy, someone who thought because he had a gun things could escalate.'"

--"'Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch guy trying to defend his neighbors...I'm sure he didn't set out to see what happened happen. I just hope they're fair to both sides.'"

--"'I wasn't there, so I can't say. People are jumping to conclusions and shaping it into whatever they want it to be.'"

--"'This whole thing rests on who threw the first punch. Either the gun saved Zimmerman's life or we had a cowboy, someone who thought because he had a gun things could escalate.'"

Let's also not forget this tried-and-true refrain: "'Guns don't kill people, people kill people.'"

Now, we understand the Constitutional right to bear arms, and our intent is not to make fun of its supporters. We get it.

What's a bit worrisome, however, is that the focus of the pro-firearm position post-Trayvon Martin certainly seems to be defensive and reactionary, rather than proactive.

Martin, an unarmed teen, died from a gunshot wound amid a very controversial set of circumstances. Now does not seem like an appropriate time for anyone to bemoan that his death might impact gun ownership.

Another way: if a kid gets killed, people should not mourn America's potentially changing relationship with the device that facilitated his death. That should not be the focus of this discussion.

To do so just suggests a skewed set of values that puts an ever ephemeral principle over human dignity.

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.


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