Political Ramifications of Trayvon Martin Shooting

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

The national reaction to the shooting of Trayvon Martin, a Florida teenager shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator who claims he was acting in self defense, will have various and volatile political ramifications throughout the upcoming election season.

The volume of the reaction, and how quickly it spawned large rallies and social media campaigns across the nation, shows that this shooting will spur action on various issues and will do it immediately.

One of the first areas where politicians will feel pressure is in the area of racial politics, meaning laws regarding racial profiling and hate crimes. Some legal pundits are already talking about how Zimmerman, the man who shot Martin, may face a hate crime charge.

The problem with pushing for more action on racial profiling and hate crime laws is that major progress cannot be created quickly on either of those fronts in the forms of legislation. Progress made in those areas over the past years will force politicians to be much more nuanced in how they approach any new proposals.

But the positive side of that political argument is that dividing along political lines isn’t likely, meaning that if someone can find new areas for changes in current laws, political hurdles should not be difficult to traverse. Few politicians will want to stand in the way of new proposals, but the authoring of those new proposals that will provide the biggest challenge.

With real movement on racial politics possibly taking some time, the energy of rallies and other campaigns will likely focus on various gun laws in the United States.

Much of story has already focused on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. As I understand it, the law grants a person to “stand his or her ground” and meet force with force if they “fear death or bodily harm”.

Many legal pundits believe that this law may protect Zimmerman from any charges in Florida. But since many see the shooting as the murder of an unarmed teenager, not of someone defending himself from bodily harm, there are now many Americans across the country who want to see laws like the “Stand Your Ground” law changed.

Since 20 other states besides Florida have similar “Stand Your Ground” laws, citizens in many other states beyond Florida will push lawmakers to take a stand on these issues. Taking those important stands becomes much more delicate during an election year.

In a state like Colorado, gun law issues can have an enormous impact on the election. As a western state, Colorado citizens have routinely supported more independence on gun laws. Colorado isn’t Texas, but Colorado is also not a state that will look to restrict gun ownership and usage because of a tragic event in Florida.

While national politics may swing one way on this issue, Colorado voters may lean in a different direction. Those differences of opinion may make it interesting for some in our Congressional delegation and when national candidates come to campaign in the Centennial State.

The outcry and calls for justice surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin will only increase in the coming days. That energy will certainly affect the 2012 election, but exactly how it changes the debate in each state will remain to be seen.
About The Blogger

– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

  • Kristi

    You say “racial politics” — well, that’s good, but nowhere in your article does it mention that that Mr Zimmerman, the shooter, is Hispanic. A Hispanic dude shoots a young black guy — that is indeed pretty “racial” AND pretty political.

    From the perspective of racial politics, perhaps this could be seen as a retaliatory act, when one takes into consideration the hundreds of innocent Mexican nationals (Hispanics) who have died as a result of the Obama Administration’s disatrous “Fast and Furious” gunrunning scheme. Maybe Mr Zimmerman, a Hispanic, was just outraged at those senseless deaths of his Latino brothers and sisters in Mexico and lashed out senselessly at a young black guy that reminded him of the authors of those deaths, i.e., President Obama and USAG Holder.

    I would hope that is not how it really went down, but you never know.

    If it WAS — just sayin — then how ironic that Mr Zimmerman’s case would simply be added as another statistic in favor of the unilateral gun ban Obama’s administration is attempting to levy on the United States? I mean, ironic on so many levels, ya know?

    But seriously, folks: This case has already been heavily politicized. Our stupid-a** president threw in on the side of Lynch Mob Justice, so anything could happen.

    And just to let you know: Ruger, the famous manufacturer of quality firearms, has suspended new orders for this first quarter of 2012. It seems that they were in excess of one million orders, and reached a limit. Thugs, beware. ;)

  • Sonja

    This will become a “hate crime” if people like Dezzutti turn it into one. A police investigation has barely started, yet Zimmerman is already tried and convicted along racial lines and the liberal left. There’s even a $10,000 price on his head. You certainly seem eager for a race war, Dezzutti. Want to explain why?

  • jeff

    So why is it not a hate crime when a black person shoots a white person?

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