"The couple took firearms training courses and got handguns and concealed carry permits in late 2009 -- three years before Zimmerman shot unarmed teen Trayvon Martin dead -- after a pit bull named Big Boi menaced Shellie Zimmerman near their home, Reuters reported."
To be fair, Zimmerman attempted to thwart the dog with pepper spray. When Big Boi, a run in with neighbor's dog that spooked Zimmerman's mother in law's pooch prompted "the Zimmermans to contact Seminole County Animal Services and to buy pepper spray, the news agency reported. After a third encounter with the dog, Zimmerman called authorities and an officer who came to the house advised him to take up arms."
Wow. The story unfolds. According to Fox News, Zimmerman bought a gun on the advice of the visiting policeman. This raises all kinds of questions. In light of the near daily dog shootings by the police, is this the standard maintained to the public. Get a gun?
"Don't use pepper spray," the officer told the Zimmermans, according to a friend who relayed the conversation to a Reuters reporter. "It'll take two or three seconds to take effect, but a quarter-second for the dog to jump you. Get a gun."
Published in the Fox News article, "the Zimmermans heeded that advice and bought two guns in early December. George Zimmerman selected a lightweight Kel-Tec PF-9 9-mm. handgun. It is not clear if that was the same gun that killed Martin on Feb. 26, after a confrontation. Zimmerman, 28, who claims he acted in self-defense after Martin attacked him, has been charged with second-degree murder. He went into hiding after being released from jail on $150,000 bond.
Once armed, "Zimmerman's attention had shifted from Big Boi to a string of robberies that began to plague the community sometime around June 2011, Reuters reported. He was later asked by the homeowners association to launch a neighborhood watch, and Zimmerman began carrying the 9-mm. handgun as his walked his dog -- a violation of neighborhood-watch guidelines, but not a crime."
While uncontrolled dog behavior is certainly not endorsed, there are far better solutions than either pepper spray or guns. A recent neighborhood class in my own city provided many great alternatives to use of pepper spray which has a faulty history of effectiveness.
Rather that outfit ourselves with guns and tasers, educational classes with actual dog behaviorists will do more for protecting our community than arming ourselves. The defense includes Zimmerman's 'mixed' background and history of being a church alter boy. Trayvon Martin is still dead and blaming a pit bull for that death is not adequate.
The defense to save Zimmerman by blaming a pit bull might backfire much like pepper spray has been known to go sideways and much like the idea of carrying a 9 mm handgun the day Trayvon Martin was shot to death.
Were I on that jury, I would want to hear remorse, sorrow, not blame for some neighborhood dog.