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The Morning News Wants to Know: Would Trayvon Martin Have Been Allowed to Drive Away from Forney Traffic Stop?

A still from the dash cam of a Forney police car shows an officer talking to George Zimmerman during a traffic stop Sunday.
A still from the dash cam of a Forney police car shows an officer talking to George Zimmerman during a traffic stop Sunday.

We'll probably never know why a recently acquitted George Zimmerman was speeding through North Texas on Sunday afternoon with a gun in his glove compartment, not that it matters much. He was the subject of a run-of-the-mill traffic stop. That it happened in Forney and there was a gun involved is funny in a random kind of way, but the incident is just an empty piece of celebrity gossip that probably doesn't deserve anything by way of serious discussion.

That hasn't stopped at least a few commentators from mining the case for broader implications. The Dallas Morning News offered two examples yesterday afternoon by its editorial board members, Jim Mitchell and Ralph De La Cruz.

Mitchell takes the "Why-the-hell-am-I-writing-about-this??" approach:

I feel a bit unclean by writing about a TRAFFIC STOP -- the kind that takes place everywhere. Even as I say "enough is enough," merely mentioning this story adds to the circus coverage.

I'm assuming that having the gun in the glovebox and being stopped in Texas -- which has a reciprocal weapon-carry agreement with Florida -- is why the officer didn't make a bigger deal about the weapon. And I'm not going to wade into whether another person with a lower profile would have been treated differently. We will never know.

My main point is this. Think what you will of George Zimmerman. When do we allow this guy to blend into the crowd?

That's an easy one: once the celebrity Zimmerman unwittingly stepped into when he shot an unarmed teenager fades, which will be a while.

De La Cruz, meanwhile, asks the same question of the traffic stop that the rest of the country was asking of the Trayvon Martin verdict: Would he have gotten off if he were a black teenager?

The whole thing took about five minutes and Zimmerman was let go with a verbal warning and a "have a safe trip."

Which left me wondering ...

You know how everybody played the "what-if" game during and after Zimmerman's trial in the death of Trayvon Martin?: What if Martin had been white? What if Zimmerman had been black?

Well, what if it had been a black teen who had been caught speeding while carrying a gun in the glove compartment?

What if?

That one's also easy. Considering that teenagers, black or white, can't get a concealed handgun permit in Florida or Texas (unless, in the latter case, they're in the military), the discovery of a gun in the car would have led to an arrest or, at the very least, seizure of the weapon.

There's an interesting conversation on race to be had about Zimmerman's acquittal for killing Trayvon Martin. About Zimmerman's traffic stop, there is not.


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