For much of 2013, gun-control ideologues all across the U.S. were united by one, defining event of violence that made headlines all over the world late last year: the Newton, Connecticut, school shooting in which gunman Adam Lanza murdered teachers and students at an elementary school. It seems that anti-gun activists now have another choice event to exploit in the interest of their gun-control push: Trayvon Martin’s death, which occurred earlier than the school shooting.
George Zimmerman, previously on trial for shooting Martin in self-defense, was acquitted of murder when it came out during trial that he only acted in self-defense to shoot Martin, who was assaulting him. In spite of this recent verdict, anti-gun groups have twisted the verdict and facts of the trial to push their gun-control agenda beyond what some consider good taste or the record of evidence.
Enter The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a 501 group that promises Americans that it has the power to bring about a “future free from gun violence.” This special interest group has been active in anti-gun lobbying for many decades, going back to its founding in 1974.
Using the wide reach of the Internet, the special interest group has put out an online video that purports to recount the events of February 26, 2012, which was the night that Martin died after being shot by Zimmerman in self-defense. Apparently, the purpose of the group’s release of the online ad is to frustrate the continued legality of the different Stand Your Ground laws across the U.S. Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Martin when the jury believed that he acted in self-defense and the prosecution failed to show beyond the shadow of a doubt that he murdered Martin without any premeditation.
Though Florida’s own Stand Your Ground law was not even used by Zimmerman in his successful defense, it has still become a heated focal point for both proponents and opponents of gun control. Proponents of the law believe the Zimmerman case strengthened the argument in favor of the law since it demonstrated that Americans should have the right to use deadly force to defend themselves, without having to retreat. Opponents like The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence believe that the law can be abused by trigger-happy vigilantes to murder African-Americans at will.
In the group’s ad, actual audio from the fateful night’s 911 calls is used to demonize and rally opposition against 20 states’ Stand Your Ground laws. The audio uses Zimmerman’s and a witness’ actual 911 recordings. At the sound of a gunshot going off, the online ad shows people in hooded sweatshirts lying on the ground (a reference to Martin who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt when he was killed). The ad closes with a list of the 20 states that have the controversial law.
The ad has been criticized by prominent media watchdogs like Dr. Richard Swier, who has pointed out its dishonesty that distorts the facts surrounding the night of the shooting.