As the trial of George Zimmerman winds up, it's worth remembering that there was a time when it looked like there might not be a trial at all. At first the police decided all by themselves that it was self-defense - that under Florida's stand your ground law, any charges would simply be thrown out.
In fact, supporters of Stand-Your-Ground were worried that not arresting Zimmerman could start a movement to repeal the law. But as it turned out, the law didn't play much of a role. In fact, the prosecution in closing arguments, challenged the very principle of ordinary citizens arming themselves in the first place.
"Why does this defendant get out of the car if he thinks that Trayvon Martin is a threat to him? Why? Because he has a gun. He's got the equalizer. He's going to take care of it."
The prosecution argued that the gun affected Zimmerman's behavior - made him feel too confident. And instead of protecting him, it clouded his judgment - and actually increased his risk of getting into trouble. He's saying George Zimmerman was a cop-aholic - a wannabe cop, intoxicated by his weapon.
Regardless of the verdict, this trial is a reminder that carrying a loaded gun for self-defense is a risk - even in a stand-your-ground state like Florida.
There are plenty of gun owners who can tell you that displaying their weapon protected them. But this trial serves as a warning that before you pull the trigger, you need to ask yourself - if my actions were picked apart, would they stand up in court?
You may decide that it's better to be alive and in trouble than innocent and dead. But you may also decide that waiting another 30 seconds for the cops might be the wiser course.