Let's set aside the issue of race for just a moment in the Trayvon Martin case. Strip away the hyperbole on the left and the right and cut to the facts.
Here is what the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial tells us.
In the state of Florida, a grown man can stalk a teenage boy whom he thinks "is up to no good" in his gated community. He can disobey a police dispatcher who tells him not to follow the 17-year-old. When the teen, who happens to be visiting the man's neighbor, gets upset that some stranger is following him and the two wind up in a brawl, the man can pull out a concealed gun and shoot him dead. Then he can claim self-defense even though he was the one who provoked the confrontation. Walk away scot free with the law on his side.
On Saturday, a jury of six women found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder. A number of legal experts -- among them civil rights attorney John Burris -- have said the prosecution failed to make its case.
A legal finding of not guilty, however, does not absolve Zimmerman of the fact that he took the life of a teen who was simply returning from the store with a box of Skittles. A teen who would be alive today if the neighborhood watch member and wanna-be-cop had not initiated a confrontation, then escalated it by pulling a gun.
The tragic circumstances of Martin's killing just three weeks after his 17th birthday are deserving of the national protests since the verdict was handed down.
Most of the demonstrations have been peaceful. Except, of course, for in Oakland, where the usual peabrain remnants of Occupy used the occasion of the verdict -- on the heels of the release of the movie "Fruitvale Station," about the 2009 killing of Oscar Grant -- as an excuse to trash downtown and attack people.
More than 350,000 people have signed a petition by the NAACP calling on the Justice Department to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman. They believe that Zimmerman, who is half-white and half-Peruvian, singled out Martin and ultimately killed him for no other reason than that he was African-American and wearing a hoodie.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called Martin's killing "tragic and unnecessary" and said the department is investigating to determine whether to file federal charges.
A lot of the debate has been about the role that racial profiling played in the killing.
Yet I think the main focus ought to be on the insanity of Florida's gun laws.
Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law allows people to defend themselves with force, including deadly force, if they feel threatened in their home, business, car, or a place where they "have a legal right to be" -- rather than retreat if they fear for their lives. The police in Sanford waited 44 days to arrest Zimmerman, in part, because of the right to use force under "Stand Your Ground," although his lawyers did not use that defense in the trial.
At least 21 states have versions of the same law, which are an open invitation to vigilantism.
The Florida law is so broad it can be interpreted to allow people to use lethal force anytime if they believe their lives are in danger. Nine months after Martin was killed, Jordan Davis, another 17-year-old African-American was gunned down in a gas station parking lot in Jacksonville, Fla. Michael Dunn, 45, who is white, is accused of shooting into a parked car where Davis was sitting because he and his friends wouldn't turn down their music. He has been charged with second-degree murder and goes to trial in September. He is using the "Stand Your Ground" law in his defense. Dunn claimed that he thought Davis and his friends had a gun but none was found in the car.
Dunn, at least, was arrested, unlike Zimmerman, who wasn't charged until the case generated national outrage.
But his arrest isn't going to bring Davis back.
How many more Martins and Davises must there be?