The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman Incident Boils Down To “Perceptions About Hoodies.” (You're Kidding, Right?)

Chances are, you're among a growing number of people in this country who have a strong opinion either one way or the other about the shooting death of 17-year-old African American teenager Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old Neighborhood Watch captain in Sanford, Fla. Because the story is loaded with contentious issues – including race, vigilante justice vs. community concern and police corruption/incompetence – people on the fence or with no opinion at all seem to be the exception. 

The Kel-Tec PF-9 semi-automatic, composite handgun. A weapon almost as small and easy to carry in a pocket as U.S. currency. (Photo from nationalgunforum.com)

But let's try something. Just for a few minutes, let's put aside whether George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense or not. Let's put the debate about whether or not race has any bearing on the incident into the cooler for a bit. Let's not focus on whether or not this case is illustrative of a possible growing trend of police coverups. And let's not talk about whether or not private citizens should be patrolling residential areas while carrying firearms. Instead, let's focus on the REAL killer of Trayvon Martin, the gun George Zimmerman used to fire two shots into him: a Kel-Tec PF-9, 9mm semi-automatic pistol.

First of all, if you're not a gun aficionado, law enforcement officer, member of the Armed Forces, survivalist, hunter that favors pistols, gang member or criminal with a career history of armed robbery, you - just like me - will probably be wondering why a 9mm Luger-style semi-automatic (or rapid-fire) handgun is an option for the American firearms consumer. To answer that, I decided it would be wise to get the opinion of people who know a thing or two about the design of firearms and how to use them.

Gunblast.com is a website run by three members of the Quinn family, self-described gun enthusiasts who live in Tennessee. A quick glance through a few posts on the site showed that the Quinns not only like using firearms, they're pretty knowledgeable about how they're engineered and manufactured. And most importantly, the Quinns know how to evaluate a gun's performance and then do a good job of writing about it in terms that those of us who know virtually nothing about firearms can easily understand.

In a 2007 piece about the PF-9, Jeff Quinn provides a wealth of very detailed and fairly objective information on the gun – including scientifically calculated velocity tests that would do the team on “CSI” proud. Quinn says the 8-shot (7 in its magazine and one in the chamber), steel-and-plastic composite pistol is inexpensive, compact, lightweight, accurate, dependable, handsomely designed, easy to fire, has a relatively low-impact recoil and a smooth firing action. More disturbingly however, Quinn also points out the gun “carries beautifully tucked into the waistband and just disappears in a jeans pocket” – and frequently refers to the PF-9 as a good choice for “social work.” 

The PF-9 is so small and light, it can be easily concealed (without any obvious signs it's there) in a pouch worn beneath an ordinary pair of men's slacks. (Photo from journal.drfaulken.com)

And then Quinn very frankly outlines the reason a weapon like this exists and is relatively popular with those who choose to carry concealed weapons in the United States:

“The accuracy of the PF-9 was very good for such a small, light pistol with me doing the shooting. It was easy to keep any and all shots in the kill-zone of a standard human silhouette target out to twenty-five yards, but most of my shooting of this Kel-Tec was done at seven to ten yards as quickly as I could empty the pistol into the target, just aiming for center-of-mass or at the head. I did not try shooting the pistol from a rest for Bullseye groups, as the intended purpose of this handgun is for fighting, up close, fast, and personal.

“There are many who disparage the 9mm Luger cartridge as being inadequate for social work. I am not among them. They would have you to believe that a 9mm bullet will bounce off of humans as if they were wearing red pantyhose and a huge "S" on their chest. The truth is that a 9mm Luger will penetrate as much or more than most .45 ACP ammo, and using a good hollowpoint (sic) or other expanding design is quite effective on flesh and bone.

Chilling words, right? The italicized sentences in the two paragraphs above literally made the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up – not because of their meaning, but because they're delivered as casually as if Quinn were talking about the virtues of using fresh tomatoes instead of canned ones in a pot of chili.

While the PF-9 is less easily hidden when carried in the rear pocket of a pair of men's slacks, it's no more unsightly than the overstuffed wallet lots of American men cram into their pants every morning. (Photo from howlandhomesteadfarm.com)

If “the intended purpose of this handgun is for fighting, up close, fast, and personal,” and when such a weapon is combined with hollow-point or another type of expanding ammunition it “is quite effective on flesh and bone,” what then, does that say about the motivations of the person who chooses to carry one? For those of you not familiar with them, hollow-point and other “expanding” ammo are designed to maximize tissue damage, blood loss and shock once the target is penetrated AND to keep the bullet from traveling “through and through,” thus insuring maximum percussive impact by transferring all the kinetic energy from the high-speed projectile into the target.

In other words, the PF-9 is a cheap, comfortable, really efficient, almost foolproof firearm that's good for causing a lot of damage – quickly and face-to-face. Now I don't know about you, but that sounds like a weapon that should be used for international espionage and/or assassination or self-defense in a very, very dangerous environment. The last time I checked, neither of those things applied to Sanford, Florida, (an Orlando suburb). In fact, I feel pretty confident in stating that those things don't apply to about 99 percent of the United States of America – so selling an easily concealed handgun that's made to kill or seriously injure someone (or several people in rapid succession) isn't really justifiable.

This is what a Winchester T-Series SXT 9mm jacketed hollow-point bullet looks like after it strikes a target. I found this particular model of bullet offered for sale at theoutdoorstrader.com, where the seller notes it is "designed for law enforcement,"  is not marketed to the public and "is one of the most deadly bullets ever made" - but is still "100% legal to own." (Photo from theoutdoorstrader.com)

As far as I'm concerned, George Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter at the very least. Many others are beginning to agree in light of eyewitnesses coming forward with testimony that calls into question the initial story of Zimmerman and the Sanford Police Department, analysis of a 911 call revealing that it was indeed Trayvon Martin and not George Zimmerman screaming for help, video showing a clearly uninjured Zimmerman in police custody and a growing number of reports that Zimmerman is a young man with a “temper” who has been known to overreact and respond with “pure rage."

I didn't need any of that evidence to help me make up my mind. All I needed to hear was a 911 dispatcher asking Zimmerman, “Are you following him?” and then – when Zimmerman answered yes – telling him, “You don't need to do that.” Apparently, George Zimmerman decided he knew better.

In the end though, I believe this entire event should boil down to a question few seem to be asking: If George Zimmerman hadn't been able to easily buy, freely carry and then almost effortlessly use the Kel-Tec PF-9 to shoot an unarmed Trayvon Martin, would we even be having this conversation? I think not.

I won't debate the intent of our Founding Fathers when they included the Second Amendment in the Constitution. I would, however, like to point out that "arms" in those days consisted mainly of untrustworthy cannons (which exploded and killed those firing them as often as they hit their targets) and single-shot muskets (which tended to jam, were extremely difficult to conceal and took a considerable amount of time to reload with ball, shot and black powder). If all the Second Amendment proponents in this country want the right to own either of those - I'm fine with that.

"The guns and the bombs, the rockets and the warships, are all symbols of human failure." - Lyndon B. Johnson

A popular bumper sticker reads, "Freedom isn't free" - taking a human life shouldn't be either.



  1. Great post! Lots of good information to evaluate the kind of weapon used and the reason to carry it in the first place.

  2. When society broke down after Katrina, people needed guns to protect themselves and their property. During the Rodney King riots, the people who didn't get looted were the gun owners, mostly Koreans, who guarded their shops with shot guns. You think the fascism is bad now, take away 2nd Amendment rights and see what happens.

    And, having family in Louisiana, I know a man who carries this same gun when he goes fishing in the bayou. Can you guess why? GATORS. You need to be quick to save your life, and if they knock you out of the boat (where you left your shot gun? Rifle?) you're as good as lunch.

    The problem is the stand your ground law. Some people are more able to stand their ground than others, even with guns removed, some one is always bigger, someone could have a knife. I don't suppose you want to licence chefs after reading this? http://www.inquisitr.com/209207/floridas-stand-your-ground-law-claims-another-victim/

    And lastly, Zimmerman's family have been protecting him. They are people of some influence. By rights he should have lost his right to carry that weapon years before now. To deprive everyone of their right to bear that weapon because of this family's cronyism, and likely mental illness? Hardly fair. Nice try, though.


Dissenting opinions are always welcome and even encouraged because they help keep the author honest and can be a source of enlightenment. However, be advised that openly hostile and completely off topic comments or ad hominem attacks will be summarily dispatched to the Forbidden Zone.