Joan E. Kaufman

Joan E. Kaufman
Silver Spring, Maryland,
August 30
Writer, adoption rights advocate, healthy living proponent and bleeding heart liberal. My drugs of choice are ice cream and chocolate. My memoir - Call Me Ella - is now available on Kindle:, In paperback: and iBooks: Please visit: and


MARCH 28, 2012 3:05PM

It’s not the hoodie, it's the gun….

Rate: 3 Flag

I’ve never been a fashion plate. I am a middle aged woman who dresses for comfort, not style. I prefer jeans over dresses, whether I’m dining at a four star restaurant or the Silver Diner. I wear black turtlenecks in the winter, because I get cold. And ever since I entered menopause, I’ve worn a hoodie. Why not wear a nice jacket or a pretty sweater like most women of a certain age? I wear a hoodie because I have hot flashes. I spend most of my days performing the same routine: hoodie on, hoodie off. When the hoodie is off, I tie it around my waist, thus creating a waistline and covering my butt at the same time. When I am very cold I can don the hood to keep me warm. I even installed a special rack in my bedroom for my hoodies. Since I buy my hoodies in the misses department of Macy’s or the sportswear department of Target, I never realized that I was in danger of being categorized as a “gangsta” by my choice of dress. Or is there more to the story?

Recently I have been sickened by the news about the Trayvon Martin shooting. We all heard the 911 call. Zimmerman was told not to follow the boy. He ignored that instruction. Frankly it shouldn’t matter what happened after that. Florida’s “stand your ground” law doesn’t apply. Zimmerman was in pursuit. It’s absolutely impossible for a pursuer to plead self defense. So why no investigation? Where is the justice? What the hell is wrong with this world? Even if a police officer shot someone, especially an unarmed child, there would be an investigation. If a battered woman shot her husband claiming self-defense, there would be an investigation. In this case, I don’t understand why there was no investigation.

I watched the news reports. I saw the family on Anderson Cooper’s show. I watched Jon Stewart’s delayed reaction to the news and I was sickened that there was nothing I could do. I can’t bring Trayvon back. I can’t change the law. I just sat in front of my TV, day after day thinking, what the hell is wrong with this country? Why do so many people feel they need to carry a gun? Do they have someone in particular that they need to defend themselves from? Are they afraid someone will break in their house and steal their flat screen TV? Do they feel their TV is worth taking a life? Are they worried someone will mug them on the street and try to take their wallet? Is their wallet that valuable? Credit cards can be cancelled with no penalty at all. I don’t understand.

As a child I was taught, when I go into the city, carry some mugging money. At the time it was around $10 or $20 dollars. I should have something to make the mugger happy, but not bankrupt me. I was told if I was in trouble or needed help, I should look for a police officer. Someone in uniform would help me. When the news reported so many black people were told by their parents to “cooperate with the police” or to “keep quiet”, I started wondering if we living in two different worlds? Aren’t police officers there to help people of all colors? Am I that naïve? Yes, I remember the Rodney King beating. I thought that was the exception, not the rule. Was I so wrong there?

I ask again, why do so many people carry guns? Why to they allow guns in bars? Who is the genius who thought mixing fire arms and alcohol was a good thing? What if a shooting broke out on the Washington Metro or the New York subways? On a bus? Should we install metal detectors everywhere? What if George Zimmerman didn’t own a gun? What if he had stayed home that night watching the news? What if he just looked out of his window and reported suspicious activity like other neighborhood watch people do? Bottom line though is, why the gun? I hope my neighborhood watch people don’t carry guns.

I knew there was nothing I could do so I just sat and watched, complaining to my husband, what the hell is wrong with these people? and why aren’t they investigating?, until I heard one of the most ignorant statements I’ve ever heard in my life from Geraldo Rivera. The “hoodie worn by unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was as much responsible for his death as the neighborhood watch captain who shot him.”

The friggin’ hoodie? Like the eighty year old rape victim was dressed too provocatively? I wear hoodies. I turned on the news and saw millions of people, all dressed in hoodies like I wear, displaying solidarity for a slain victim of our misguided gun laws.

According to Wikipedia there were 52,447 deliberate and 23,237 accidental non-fatal gunshot injuries in the United States during 2000.[4] The majority of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides,[5] with 17,352 (55.6%) of the total 31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007 due to suicide, while 12,632 (40.5%) were homicide deaths.[6]

What about the massacre at Virginia Tech or the school shooting at Chardon, Ohio? When is someone going to do something about the killings? When will there be an end to the violence? When will we learn to “just say no” to guns?

I grieve for Treyvon Martin’s family. I grieve for all the victims of violence. Maybe we can’t legislate an end to bigotry, but we can do something about gun laws. Some say guns don’t kill people, people kill people. I say people with guns are more likely to kill people, or themselves. What if we laid down our guns and learn to let the police officers do their job?

 I won’t rest until Zimmerman is brought to trial.




Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
I so agree with you and some of the media now is really pissing me off.
What happened was wrong and deadly. In Canada you are not allowed guns for social use but if you took them away from some of the cowboys here they would be a HUGE stink.

And ever since I entered menopause, I’ve worn a hoodie.

Mine is now off but it is going back on. I wear my Twilight Hoodie day in and day out and seriously trying to find a Hunger Games on e now..:)
I still can't believe Zimmerman hasn't been arrested and I agree, that if he hadn't had a gun, Trayvon Martin would still be alive (I hope). I am not against the ownership of guns, but I understand where you are coming from. The crazy killer at Virginia Tech was mentally disturbed and clearly should not have been permitted to purchase a gun. Virginia is the easiest state to buy guns in, unfortunately. Medical records and other background checks should be made before selling a firearm to any citizen.
That the hoodie is responsible for the kid's death in nonsense, but the Republican gofers/pundits make a living saying crazy stuff like that on TV. I would like to add though that gangs in inner cities are a huge problem. I live outside LA, and there are areas inside LA that outsiders cannot go in, even in a car. The authorities know the gang members, they know where they live, yet still the gangs own tons of guns and they are shooting at will, but not in wealthy neighborhoods! Inner city gangs must be disarmed...first.

On the other hand, the rule of law must be enforced; you kill an innocent person, you pay the consequences. It is that simple. Excellent post, Joan. R
All well taken but it's not the gun, it's the law and law enforcement.
With all due respect to all of this, it never fails to amaze me how people talk, talk, talk, about this case and it’s mostly race, race, race– which is totally legitimate for that is the ugly underbelly in America. This infestation of racism pollutes our body politic and is a disgrace on a great Nation.

But what troubles me most is that people also talk, and jabber hysterically about this law when they haven’t even troubled themselves to go read the freakin’ statute  so they might at least have a thimble full of knowledge demonstrating they have a clue what they are talking about.  Essentially it comes down to what Randolph McLaughlin, attorney for the family of Kenneth Chamberlain said speaking about that case on Democracy Now and comparing the police there to Zimmerman here. You can’t provoke a situation and then respond to it, "Oh, I had to use deadly force to protect myself."  That really is all of it in a nutshell. Superbly stated.

But if we are going to trash a law (when the real trash is law enforcement) we should at least go read it. This is easy. This is not rocket science.  If anyone is going publish their opinions credibility helps.  The law in question here is really simple enough for a 17-year old to understand.

Read "Trayvon Martin: Defense a Pig-Sty Beneath a Racist Facade?"  as well as the follow up commentary and I think you will agree that the ONLY person who can rely on this law as a defense is Trayvon Martin.

Indeed, even as to the alleged fight that broke out the legal consequence is the same. Under the plain and simple language of this law and the facts as we know them, The ONLY man with a right to stand his ground was Trayvon Martin and the only one legally authorized by law to meet force with force as that 6' 3" 140 lg boy against a 5. 9' 240lb gorilla with a gun.  

“Suspicion” will NOT suffice under this statute. Read it. Much more  must be specifically shown.  Did Trayvon fight back? Is this even a relevant question? If you were 140 lb  skinny teenager  displaying none of the BEHAVIOR SPECIFICALLY required before one can even evoke this statute (just read it!) and 250 gorilla jumps out of a car and comes after you as you are retreated from his aggression what would you do?  What would and person do? Waht they have a right to! Stand your ground and meet force with force if necessary to prevent great bodily harm.

Notice, once you read this simple and clear law, one person and one person only has the factual and legal right to assert on their behalf.  And that ONE person was Travyon Martin.  I rest my case.