Unarmed lethal force

I pulled a lot of hair out of my head in the weeks following the Travon Martin shooting. And not because I have a lot of hair to spare.

One thing that drove me nuts was the repeated mantra of Martin being “unarmed.” As if a gun is the only way a person can kill another person.

Apparently those who were invested in painting Martin as an innocent, young, unarmed boy failed to grasp the fact that banging someone’s head against a cement surface (as Martin did to Zimmerman) has the potential to seriously injure, if not kill, the victim.

Being “unarmed” is not proof that a person can’t inflict serious physical harm to another – potentially lethal harm. Unarmed means one thing: that a person is not carrying firearms. It does not mean they can’t kill someone.

In the case of Michael Brown, we now know that at a minimum Brown (who was 6’4” and weighed nearly 300 pounds) assaulted Officer Wilson with enough force to cause a serious injury to his eye socket -- one that can only be sustained with blunt force trauma.

I have no idea of the details of what unfolded between Officer Wilson and Michael Brown. But no one should underestimate what it means to exert that much force against another person.

To put this in some perspective, here are some stats that reveal just how lethal people can be without a gun.

DOJ stats from 1965 to 2009 show that guns were involved in approximately 65% murders. The remaining 35% of murders were attributed to stabbing, strangulation, force from a blunt object, fists, pushing and shoving, and arson, among others.

FBI stats from 2007 – 2011 cite the following in murders during that time period: firearms, knives, blunt objects, using one’s body as a weapon, poison, explosives, fire, narcotics, drowning, strangulation, and asphyxiation, among others. Like the DOJ stats, firearms were implicated in about two-thirds of the cases.

In other words, a significant number of people inflicted deadly force by using their hands as a weapon to pummel and/or choke another person.

So I would like to invite the chattering masses who assume that Michael Brown was no threat because he was unarmed to go fist to fist with someone his size. For a person of average height and build, that would roughly translate to facing someone twice as big as yourself. (And that isn’t even factoring in the potential impact of adding alcohol or drugs into the mix or a person’s willingness to literally throw their weight around.)

And after facing off with someone that size, let us know how that goes. Then talk about deadly force and all of what that means.

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