In separate statements, both President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for the nation to reflect and talk about the issues raised by the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
After the second-degree murder “not guilty” verdict was announced on Saturday, Obama expressed his personal views about the case.
“I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher,” said the president. “But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son.”
Obama then went on to suggest that the nation focus on ways to reduce gun-related violence, which to many gun owners is tantamount to implying that the country revisit the gun control debate months after the Senate rejected the president’s push to reform the nation’s gun laws.
“We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis,” said Obama. “We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us.”
At an address before the African-American sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, Holder made a similar plea to the American people, urging us to have an open dialogue in the wake of the verdict.
“I believe that this tragedy provides yet another opportunity for our nation to speak about the complicated and emotionally-charged issues that this case has raised,” said Holder.
Holder also commented on the Justice Department’s probe into Zimmerman’s motivations to determine if they were racially charged and whether he violated the civil rights of Trayvon during the encounter at the gated community in Sanford, Florida.
“We are determined to meet division and confusion with understanding and compassion — and also with truth,” Holder said of his DOJ.
“We are resolved, as you are, to combat violence involving or directed at young people, to prevent future tragedies and to deal with the underlying attitudes, mistaken beliefs and stereotypes that serve as the basis for these too common incidents,” he continued.
Not surprisingly, conservatives weren’t too pleased with Obama and Holder’s comments. Many argued that the latent calls to rehash the gun control debate were misdirecting people from the real sources of violence in this country, i.e., gangs and drugs.
“Now we’re getting down to it. Gun control. A Hispanic guy shot a black guy who was beating his head against the sidewalk, so let’s grab up all the guns. Let’s keep people from being able to defend their own lives,” Daily Caller blogger Jim Treacher wrote about Obama’s statement.
Meanwhile, Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin lambasted Holder’s investigation, arguing that Zimmerman is not a racist but has been portrayed as one in the mainstream media.
“I would just warn that Eric Holder’s rhetoric has never matched the reality,” she said while appearing on Fox News. “Under his tenure, in every public office he has held, he has warped the rule of law.”
Malkin accused Holder of having a “particular grievance when it comes to racial politics,” bringing up his failure to charge the New Black Panther Party with voter intimidation as one poignant example.
Looking ahead, gun owners should not be surprised if the White House or the DOJ use Trayvon Martin case is used as a rallying cry for tougher gun control laws or as a means to gut common sense self-defense law like Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.