George Zimmerman called into the Armed American Radio show Sunday to speak with self-defense expert Massad Ayoob, with the result being a half hour impromptu interview in which Zimmerman talked extensively about the profound changes that have occurred in his own life and the lessons he has learned after he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman’s is perhaps one of the most well-known self-defense cases in the country. He was acquitted of murder in July 2013 for the February 2012 shooting death of Martin, but some still say the justice system acted unfairly and racial undertones were even displayed – Zimmerman is half white and half Mexican and Martin was black. Prosecutors argued that Zimmerman pursued Martin before he fatally shot the unarmed teen, but the defense argued that Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense when he feared for his life as his head was being beaten on the concrete below him.
In a seemingly foreshadow of the call which was about to come in, Ayoob attempted to paint a grim picture of reality.
“The image that had always been portrayed in the entertainment media that you shoot the bad guy, the scene fades out as the last piece of grass rolls across the pavement and you get on that horse with a pretty girl and ride off into the sunset,” Ayoob said.
“Even if you have the best possible outcome you’ve still had to do something that is going to change the way you’re seen by others,” he added.
Minutes later, Zimmerman called the show and discussed those issues, including how he believed the media has impacted his life and portrayed him in a bad light.
Zimmerman started the conversation by thanking Ayoob for the work that he has done and the education he provides for Americans choosing to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Zimmerman, who admitted that although he once enjoyed being a “productive, taxpaying member of society” but is no longer working, said he believes most gun owners fall short when they obtain a firearm. He said they simply become proficient with their gun, but never arm themselves with the knowledge surrounding when they can and cannot legally use that firearm and what happens after the trigger has been pulled.
“Don’t just arm yourself with a firearm,” Zimmerman pleaded with fellow gun owners. “Arm yourself with the education, arm yourself with the mentality, and arm yourself with the Constitution.”
The conversation then moved to what happens after the smoke clears and the legal battles begin.
“Your family is as concerned about you as if you were diagnosed with a potentially terminal illness,” said Ayoob, who pointed out that he has seen families who were completely bankrupted by legal battles over the use of force.
“You are financial guilty before you’re proven innocent,” Zimmerman added.
But Zimmerman also explained how, due to the case being so publicized, many of his immediate and extended family members lost their own jobs over other employees’ differing opinions of the incident involving Zimmerman and Martin. In addition, younger family members have had to change schools and other family members have repeatedly relocated altogether.
“From what I’ve heard from a lot of supporters, no matter what the incident is or what scale it’s on, you do receive a lot of threats, fear of retaliation,” Zimmerman said.
In hindsight, Zimmerman recommends, above everything else, to “invest in getting some type of self-defense insurance, and again, arming yourself with the knowledge of what you can do and what you should or shouldn’t do after the incident.”
“No one person can do this alone,” Ayoob said as he reiterated Zimmerman’s thoughts. “When you see those papers filed against you that say ‘State vs. You,’ you have an idea of just how much of a David and Goliath thing that you’re in for.”
The conversation concluded with what host Mark Walters referred to as “the destructive ability of the mainstream media.”
“Do not talk to media,” Zimmerman said. “Period.”
“Anything you say to them … it would be turned, massaged to fit their agenda, and completely distorted,” he said. “There is absolutely no benefit to talking to the media.”
Zimmerman also encouraged anyone who fires in self-defense to stay away from even watching television coverage about the incident, as well as avoid reading newspapers, blogs, even comments on websites.
“Those are all people that have never been in your situation,” he said. “It’s unfair to Monday morning quarterback or armchair quarterback to put yourself through that, you will drive yourself mad.”
Zimmerman said he has had hundreds, if not thousands, of people tell him that they wished they would have spent five minutes talking to him, to get to know him, rather than drawing their conclusions about him based on what they read or saw through the media.