Gun folks love a hero. They want a hero so badly they're willing to put anyone up on that pedestal, no matter how troubling.
Case in point: George Zimmerman. He couldn't exercise a little discretion by staying in his car and letting law enforcement do their jobs. He had to be Neighborhood Watch Hero, and now his future hangs on the line while attorneys from both sides hump a mannequin on national television.
We'll never know exactly what happened in those few seconds leading up to the fight and the ensuing gunshot. Sure, we know what Zimmerman says, and we know what the lawyers say, but that's not necessarily the truth. A criminal trial isn't about truth; it's about selling a story to a jury in order to get a verdict.
Sure, maybe statute says you can shoot if X happens. Maybe that guy I met who took a class from a guy who used to know a cop said I can shoot if Y happens. There's a gulf between what a statute says and how a hostile prosecutor or jury will interpret it.
It could turn out that Zimmerman didn't do anything wrong. That could even be the truth. No matter. He's been charged with murder. Even if exonerated, that's a stigma he'll always carry. It will affect his personal and professional life for quite some time. One can only imagine the legal bills.
Then there's the crippling civil suit Martin's family is sure to bring. Sure, Florida has a Stand Your Ground law that provides immunity from such, but Zimmerman didn't invoke that. The immunity granted by 776.032 is established in a pre-trial evidentiary hearing, which is something Zimmerman chose to forgo in favor of a jury trial.
The jury will now rule whether or not he is guilty of murder (or possible manslaughter by imperfect self-defense), but they will not rule whether or not the shooting was justified. If acquitted, Zimmerman can request an immunity hearing, but given the political pressure, the chances of that are slim at best.
So, it's either a long prison sentence or a future of loneliness and financial ruin. All because of a split-second lapse of judgment. Herein lieth the lesson: if you pull the trigger, expect your life to take a drastic turn for the worse. Every person who carries a gun for self-defense needs to look closely at the details and implications of this case.
Remember one thing: had Zimmerman minded his own business and walked away, and none of this would have happened.