Trayvon Verdict

Zimmerman Verdict: Actor Jason Alexander Says We Should Blame the Gun

The former ‘Seinfeld’ actor says Zimmerman wouldn’t have pursued Martin without the gun in his pocket.

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Although he is best known for playing Jerry Seinfeld’s self-absorbed sidekick George Costanza, Jason Alexander has been in the news recently for a quite different reason: his ardent support of gun control. The veteran actor got both the blogosphere and mainstream news organizations to sit up and take note a little over a year ago with a 1,700-word rant after a gunman shot up an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater with an assault rifle, killing 12 and injuring scores more.

The target of his latest exposition is George Zimmerman, the man acquitted of murder charges in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Alexander took to TwitLonger on July 14 to express his frustration with Florida’s now much-debated Stand Your Ground law and Zimmerman decision to loaded weapon.

“Emboldened by the gun in his pocket, he exited his vehicle and pursued Martin in some way. And now we have the end result,” writes Alexander, who says he respects both the jury and its verdict. “Would Zimmerman have pursued if he did not have that gun his pocket? Who knows. I believe he would not. He certainly would not have put himself in a situation where there would be a confrontation. The gun in his pocket is what caused this death. Without it, this would not have gone down this way.”

Alexander’s point is essentially the inverse of gun advocates’ well-worn adage “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Without the gun, at least in Alexander’s mind, Zimmerman probably wouldn’t have felt safe enough to follow Martin, even if the neighborhood-watch volunteer thought he was just observing someone he believed to be an intruder.

The 1,200-word essay begins with an admission that Alexander doesn’t really know what happened on February 26, 2012, when Zimmerman fatally shot Martin as the teenager was on his way home from a convenience store. But that’s part of Alexander’s point. We can’t know, he argues, because the other person involved is dead. In Florida, and 20 other states, it’s legal to use deadly force if you are defending yourself. Alexander wonders what is there to stop people from killing yet more and just saying they feared for their lives.

Like many celebrities who take on causes, Alexander says he knows his outspokenness may lose him some fans, but that hasn’t stopped him from speaking his mind on gun control. After the shooting in Aurora, he wasn’t silenced by the outpouring of criticism when he questioned why people needed to own assault weapons. Instead, he wrote more.

“There is no excuse for the propagation of these weapons,” he wrote the day after the tragedy. “They are not guaranteed or protected by our constitution. If they were, then we could all run out and purchase a tank, a grenade launcher, a bazooka, a SCUD missile and a nuclear warhead. We could stockpile napalm and chemical weapons and bomb-making materials in our cellars under our guise of being a militia.”