Those two simple words flowed easily from the mouth of social commentator Bill Cosby during an exclusive interview Friday regarding the Trayvon Martin case, arguably the most high-profile, citizen-on-citizen U.S. slaying facing the Obama administration.
Trayvon was killed Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who told police that a “confrontation” with the unarmed 17-year-old led him to shoot in self-defense.
Mr. Cosby, a Navy veteran, said “the gun” empowered Mr. Zimmerman, whose actions have stirred a firestorm of debate, protests and remarks from President Obama.
“We’ve got to get the gun out of the hands of people who are supposed to be on neighborhood watch,” said Mr. Cosby, whose remarks were the first he has made publicly about the case.
“Without a gun, I don’t see Mr. Zimmerman approaching Trayvon by himself,” Mr. Cosby explained. “The power-of-the-gun mentality had him unafraid to confront someone. Even police call for backup in similar situations.
“When you carry a gun, you mean to harm somebody, kill somebody,” he said.
An award-winning actor and great American humorist, Mr. Cosby, 74, is best know for the ground-breaking NBC sitcom “The Cosby Show,” stand-up routines and recorded performances, all of which are infused with familial humor.
Scheduled to perform April 28 at the Kennedy Center, Mr. Cosby continues to grace multiple platforms, and is scheduled to tickle funny bones as co-emcee at the April 12 gala celebrating the reopening of the historic Howard Theatre in Northwest Washington.
But it was at another celebration, the NAACP marking of the 50th anniversary of the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education school-desegregation decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, that saw Mr. Cosby take a spot on the forefront of controversial social commentary.
In his remarks at the 2004 event, Mr. Cosby pointed out to the audience that blacks had essentially created a new lower rung on the socioeconomic ladder by failing to police their children. Since then, he has traveled the nation and used social media to expound the virtues of personal accountability, responsible parenting and a sound education.
• Deborah Simmons can be reached at email@example.com.