Just in time for the 2016 Presidential election, the NFL has added some fuel to the fire in the gun debates. The killing of former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith after a traffic accident has put the right to bear arms back at the top of the headlines.
Smith rear-ended the driver, Cardell Haynes, then was shot to death by Hayes just minutes later. Hayes’ attorneys claim Smith had a gun in his vehicle and was the aggressor in the altercation after the fender bender.
Let’s get this out of the way first. This little accident should have ended with both guys waiting on the cops, getting a police report, and exchanging insurance cards. Instead, the worst possible outcome occurred. One man was left dead after a reported seven shots in the back and the other sits in prison on a million dollar bond. Not to mention Smith’s wife being wounded by two bullets herself.
So now we get to debate who was in the wrong for the next 12 months or so.
On the surface, it may appear an open and shut case. Will Smith never fired a shot if he did have a weapon on hand. Hayes unloaded on the former Super Bowl Champion until the he was down for the count. You might think Hayes’ lawyers would be trying to convince their client to cop a plea deal.
It appears likely that this case will dive into the “stand your ground law,” similar to what we saw in the George Zimmerman / Trayvon Martin trial. To make it simple, this law allows a person to use whatever force necessary against an attacker. That means using a gun or other weapon to defend one’s self. The onus is put on the criminal avoiding criminal activities, not on the innocent to run away from an aggressor.
For example, if I’m walking down a Louisiana street and a guy threatens me if I don’t hand over my wallet, I would be justified in shooting him in the face. For situations like that, these “stand your ground laws” are needed. Why should innocent folks stand by and be assaulted, robbed, or threatened with no recourse?
The actual cases that involve justified shootings are anything but simple, however. It’s unimaginable to some that Cardell Haynes could be justified in shooting Smith in the back multiple times. Hard to see Smith as an aggressor in this situation.
Yet none of us were there. And the conflicting details from the opposing lawyers will only serve to confuse the public as we try to figure out what really happened from sound bytes and Nancy Grace tirades.
Only those in the courtroom will get to hear all the evidence and testimony. Even then they can’t know for sure what really happened when they will be listening to two different camps with very different versions of the same event.
As for the gun debate, it will only fire up those who would like to outlaw guns. They will reason that no one would have died if not for guns being involved in this incident. That’s most likely true, but guns do exist and can’t be made extinct. If illegal drugs can make their way into prisons, how can making guns illegal ever really keep them out of people’s hands?
The “stand your ground laws” were not set up for situations like this. Simple traffic accidents shouldn’t involve gunplay. Using a gun to defend one’s family, self, or property from criminals would be the common sense use for such laws.
However, this case shows just how little common sense comes into play when emotions get heated. There is no reason Will Smith should be dead. Did a gun make that death come much easier? Yes.
But it was the decisions of the people involved that led to the nasty ending. It’s one thing to blast a group of thugs with buckshot who target your house for a home invasion. Quite another to escalate a fender bender to a murder scene.