Gun violence remains an acute, pressing issue in the United States. Thousands upon thousands of Americans lose their lives to it every year — so far in 2018, the total is at 11,530, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Somehow, some have found it in themselves to stick up for guns above the victims. One such “gun rights” advocate is Lakeland, Florida City Commissioner Michael Dunn — who was caught on camera murdering a shoplifter in cold blood. Apparently that’s the world at least some of these people want — one in which they can take someone’s life if they dare take the shooter’s stuff.
The incident unfolded on October 3 at the Vets Army Navy Surplus store, which Dunn co-owns. The now deceased Christobal Lopez attempted to steal a hatchet, which Dunn confronted him about in an exchange that quickly ended in gunfire. Lopez tried to leave the premises, but while struggling at the door, Dunn shot him dead. He’s claimed that his victim posed an imminent threat and thus forced his hand, but available video contests that assertion. Lopez was just trying to leave, some observers conclude, with no obvious intent to harm Dunn.
Former prosecutor with the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office Bill Loughery noted:
‘Just from the video it doesn’t look like Mr. Dunn was in fear and wasn’t justified in shooting Mr. Lopez as he was leaving. It appeared that, because he had his gun, Mr. Dunn was in charge of the situation from the standpoint he was directing Mr. Lopez what to do.’
And Dunn murdered him.
He has not, as of Monday afternoon, been charged with a crime, but an investigation remains ongoing. State Attorney Brian Haas explained that he expects authorities inquiry to wrap up soon, probably by Friday.
Florida maintains a controversial “Stand Your Ground” law that authorizes lethal self-defense in the event that the perpetrator believes it’s needed. Florida gun legislation has come under national scrutiny time and time again in cases like that of George Zimmerman, who escaped consequences for shooting black teenager Trayvon Martin dead back in 2012.
In the time since that incident, the Parkland school shooting unfolded, with 17 left dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February of this year. Survivors of that incident and their allies have taken in large part to activism in behalf of common sense gun control in the shooting’s wake — an effort that Dunn has very explicitly opposed. On the same day that a “March for Our Lives” rally unfolded in his town earlier this year, he held a pro-gun event at his store — and remains so committed to the cause, apparently, that he’ll murder you if you cross him.
Despite the best efforts launched by Dunn and the people like him, Florida did update their gun laws slightly in the wake of the Parkland shooting. The minimum age to purchase a gun went up to 21, and authorities were authorized to ban certain volatile individuals from purchasing guns for up to a year at a time.
Going into the midterms this year, gun safety is likely to remain a pressing issue for many.
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