What can actually be learned from watching this unfortunate case unfold. I have some opinions: It is likely that Zimmerman created a confrontation where one was unnecessary. The police were on their way, and as we know, Martin was innocent of any wrong doing. That confrontation spiraled out of control to the point of Zimmerman shooting and killing Martin.
The question is why? I would propose that Zimmerman's carrying of a concealed weapon gave him the "courage" to confront Martin as opposed to simply staying in his car. And, worse, the concealed nature of his weapon led Martin to have the "courage" to confront Zimmerman with the affront to this liberty.
Had Zimmerman not had a weapon, or had Martin clearly known that the weapon existed, it is likely that one of them would have backed off from a confrontation.
In retrospect, Zimmerman probably had good intentions when joining a neighborhood watch group. And, it's likely that his desire to be in law enforcement raised his interest. It's also likely that had Martin been white, and not wearing a hoody, that Zimmerman would have looked the other way. As well, it's likely that had Martin been stopped by the police he would have been justifiably angry, but passive in offering any resistance.
This unfortunate episode is a composite result from our legacy of slavery and idiocy concerning gun laws. One we can only hope to repair, the other we can effect immediately.
I do have some suggestions for a resolution through changes in Florida's (and other state's) laws. It should be required that a carrier of a concealed weapon, especially one who is acting in the surrogate role of the police, be adequately trained in police methods for minimizing and not escalating the likelihood of physical violence when confronting a suspect. For example, from the "cop shows" that I've watched, it's likely that a trained officer in Zimmerman's position would have:
1. Informed the suspect that he had a weapon and was prepared to use it if approached. It's likely that the weapon would be visible to the suspect, either in an unstrapped holster, or drawn.
2. Stayed a minimum distance from the suspect and instructed the suspect to drop to the ground until help could be obtained.
In retrospect, I do believe that Zimmerman was guilty of manslaughter because, much like the drunk driver of a several-thousand pound vehicle, Zimmerman had a duty when in control of a lethal weapon, to properly manage its use in a way that protects the public. Like the drunk driver, his actions were irresponsible and involuntary manslaughter would probably have been a proper sentence. As well, a short incarceration would have sent a clear message to all communities that this behavior is not tolerated.