My takeaway from The Trial



ASSOCIATED PRESS / POOL George Zimmerman, right, is congratulated by his defense team after being found not guilty during Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford on Saturday night

George Zimmerman, right, is congratulated by his defense team after being found not guilty during Zimmerman’s trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford on Saturday night

The trial is over. The jury has spoken. Here is my takeaway from the proceedings:

Never have I seen a case that better exemplifies the need for ongoing training.

Far too many concealed-carry licensees attend one course that meets the state’s requirements for their CCW license and then stop, never to take another handgun or self-defense class again.

In my opinion, this is morally wrong and could result in massive civil and/or criminal liability.

A basic pistol course should be seen as a portal, a gateway to more training. Armed citizens should continue their firearms education, constantly learning advanced skills with their handgun and other weapons. They should also blend unarmed self-defense disciplines into their personal training program, such as defensive tactics and weapons retention.

Many of today’s more-reputable firearms trainers offer unarmed self-defense classes, because they realize that a pistol is not the solution for every problem.

I am not saying that a CCW licensee needs to become trained to the level of a Tier One operator or even a police officer, but a Krav Maga or ground-fighting class adds tools to the tool box – it gives you options – so the pistol is not the sole means of protection. The classes are also tremendous self-confidence builders.

Advanced firearms and self-defense training eliminates the 0-60 nature of a use-of-force encounter that occurs when all the licensee knows how to do is pull their pistol.

Police officers used to be trained in the Use of Force Continuum, which taught officers there are different levels of force. Nowadays, the continuum is passe and somewhat discredited, since the courts have said that the test for any use of force is reasonableness, and police are not required to try less-lethal force options before using deadly force. However, the old continuum spells out that there are many, many different levels of force.

Carrying a firearm for self protection is a heady decision. You should realize the responsibility and the liability that comes with it.  You should add as many tools to your self-defense tool box as time and money allow. It’s purely in your own self interest.

If, God forbid, you are ever forced to use deadly force, your training records will almost certainly become part of any criminal or civil proceeding.

Hopefully there will be more there for the attorneys to argue and debate than just the bare-minimum, state-required course.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Lee:

    I agree 100%. Deploying a gun should be the absolute last resort. The best choice is always, if possible, to call 911. I would note that some, like me, suffer from illness or disability which will prevent full on fist fighting or martial arts training. There is also nothing dishonorable about running away to safe place if you can. My dad always said that as concealed carry holders we should be “biggest cowards on the street” implying that there are many ways to escape a conflict or to use de-escalation techniques to defuse a situation. Even though Florida allows a Stand Your Ground defense (which I agree with) it’s often far easier to just give up the ground and let the professionals handle the job. There is a lot less paperwork involved anyway. Thanks for the reflection.

    Gus Kein
    Fort Lauderdale, FL

  2. Robin 'Roblimo' Miller on

    As new Bucs player Tom Crabtree ‏tweeted, “How cool would it be to live in a world where George Zimmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night.”

    Ah, well.

  3. I have hung around the toughest parts of Detroit….White….no firearm….and have defended myself with my words….my feet….and every so often…my fists…

    The issue is not that we will have less kids like Martin….but now we will have more Georges out there….ones that do not know how to handle themselves in a fight to the point where they have to pull a gun on a kid and kill him….

    oh…as for the article Lee….that is in a nut shell….one of the biggest issues I have with the NRA….the NRA should be doing a much better job to explain to the new firearm owner that they are just a few hours away from being an imbecile with a firearm.

  4. lee,
    although I believe I know the answer to this question, I would be interested in your comments.

    ever since the date of the Zimmerman/martin shooting, the media, prosecution, defense and everyone else described martin as “unarmed”.

    question: when was the exact moment that Zimmerman, police, et al learned that martin was actually unarmed? before/after the shooting? interesting that no individual or group cared to make this point.

    also, I noticed during the televised case that although Zimmerman fired the gun with his right hand, he was taking written notes left-handed. I don’t know if that had any impact on the trial- just curious. (right eye his dominant eye?)

    thx, bob m.

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