Deedy, Zimmerman: About The Gun

It’s all about the gun. Really, it’s always been all about the gun. And the evidence piles up across the country, from Sanford, Fla., to our own Honolulu, Hi., with far too many spots in between.

In Sanford and Honolulu, the lives of four young men have been ruined, two of their lives have literally been obliterated, those of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and 23-year-old Kollin Elderts.


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The Christopher Deedy. AP photos

George Zimmerman, the heat-packing neighborhood watch volunteer of Sanford, dispatched Martin, but was found not guilty of second degree murder or manslaughter. He went free. But Zimmerman will face a civil suit, and he will be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life. Every time a job interviewer looks up from Zimmerman’s resume, the former neighborhood watchman will hear the question, “Are you that George Zimmerman?”

Then there’s 29-year-old Christopher Deedy, a State Department employee in Honolulu to provide security for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. But Deedy first enjoyed a Friday night on the town with an old school-mate from college. A bar here, a bar there, five beers by one count, consumed from Chinatown to Waikiki. At 2:30 in the morning, the friends craved Chicken McNuggets at the McDonald’s restaurant on Kuhio Avenue.

Late night revelers filled the restaurant, and at some point Deedy and Elderts, a Kailua resident, fought. A kick from Deedy, slaps from Elderts, flying fists, taunting. Then, according to Assan Jobe, a Kaneohe Marine and a Muslim who did not drink, no doubt one of the few McDonald’s customers that night who could claim sobriety, things turned serious.

At some point, Deedy pulled a gun from under his shirt. Marines understand guns. “I feel that I’m in danger,” Jobe testified. “There’s a gun around. It’s not a fistfight anymore.” He, and others, fled the restaurant. Three shots were fired, and Elderts died.

“There’s a gun around. It’s not a fistfight anymore.” A continent away, in the confrontation between neighborhood watchman Zimmerman and teenager Martin, a gun appeared and the fistfight stopped as well and a 17-year-old kid, guilty of nothing, died.

It’s all about the guns. Had George Zimmerman not been armed, he might well have heeded the 911 operator’s injunction not to get out of his truck to follow Martin. Unarmed, their fight might have resulted in scrapes on the back of the head, a broken nose, a concussion at the worst. But no one would have died, no one would have marked themselves – for life – and no one would have had his life ended.

Zimmerman, Martin, Deedy, and Elderts were all young men with lives, families, children, careers ahead of them. Joys, and sorrows, to be sure, but lives that two will never know and two others will find deeply scarred.

That didn’t have to be, but we’ve made a fetish out of the Second Amendment, perverted its meaning into an almost unrestricted right to bear arms in an age when militias are unnecessary and in the possibility of, say, a McDonald’s restaurant full of people packing under a right to carry law creating a blood bath.

During the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, despite increased policing of its high-crime neighborhoods, nine people were killed and several dozen wounded. The dead included a six-month-old little girl, shot five times while in the arms of her father.

It’s all about the gun, and who we’ve become to allow these things.