A Right that Saves Lives

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A single event case study

Often we hear that defensive gun uses are either: a) rare, b) likely to backfire, or c) unnecessary, just call the police — what are you, paranoid? Vigilante! Often, it’s all of the above plus a comment about penis size (it’s not the size we’re compensating for — it’s the inability to launch projectiles at thousands of feet per second from our penises). But, lo and behold, I woke to this news:

Felon Killed By Armed Citizen. Their headline isn’t snappy enough. Let’s go over the story, then look at alternatives. The summary: A felon and an armed citizen got into a heated discussion. The felon drew a gun, the other man drew a gun and fired, and the felon is now dead. This happened at a gas station. Assuming the Florida law is like the Mississippi law the shooter is in the clear: he had a permit to carry concealed, he was in a place he had a legal right to be, and he was in a reasonable fear of his life.

A few highlights:

Bernard called 911 and waited for officers to arrive at the North John Young Parkway Circle-K.

Clearly, this guy was calm headed and reasonable about the situation — he didn’t try to run, he didn’t behave in a way that indicates he has a guilty mind. That’s good for him.

Channel 9 found out Broner had been arrested numerous times, and he shouldn’t have even been carrying a gun.

IMPOSSIBLE! Human beings ALWAYS obey all laws regarding firearms — if they were just illegal, this whole thing wouldn’t have happened! Oh, wait.

Now, for an alternate ending: Presume Bernard wasn’t armed. An angry felon with a lengthy arrest record (“arrested numerous times”) draws a gun during an argument. Now Bernard and the others in the gas station are at risk, and the confrontation could end with Bernard or another innocent person dead at the hands of a violent jerk. Or someone could be maimed and have permanent disability. Or someone could be robbed or pistol-whipped (which is no minor injury if it’s to the head). There is no ending which is better for all the law abiding citizens in and around the confrontation.

Finally, a few possible frequently asked questions about nearly every shooting:

But why didn’t he shoot to disable or injure?

How? Shooting in the shoulder with most self defense rounds can be just as deadly given they are designed to expand on impact — and you don’t want people shooting full metal jacket rounds into bad guys in gas stations, either, as they can over penetrate (especially if you’re trying to “wing” someone or hit them in the arm/shoulder). That puts everyone else in danger.

Further, aiming is not some automatic thing like it is in many video games. Three dimensions, time, and the fact everyone is moving and lives are at stake. Aiming at a smaller target (arms, hands, or laughably, the other guy’s gun) takes a great deal of time relative to the amount a person actually has in this situation. Most human beings are incapable of that sort of magic.

Also, he may have tried not to kill the guy — he shot several times, maybe he was trying for the low-odds disabling shot.

Why didn’t he just scare him off with a warning shot?

Warning shots are both illegal and stupid. You should never just fire a gun unless you are sure of where the bullet will go — and that takes time, when seconds are critical. That’s dumb and puts innocent lives at risk.

The police should have handled it!

You know that sample sentence used to show off every letter in a font: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. In the time it took you to read that, most adults familiar with a weapon could have shot you several times with a gun they’ve already drawn. Even a single-action revolver could be discharged twice by a halfway awake, all the way drunk cowboy.

The police do not currently posses faster than light travel capabilities.

He should have run!

Yeah, right — turn your back on the lunatic with a gun and a clear disregard for law and the value of human life. My dad ran (he was unarmed) and got shot in the back — he’s lucky to be alive and able to walk. An inch in any direction and it would have either killed him or permanently disabled him in some way.

The human body is resilient in many ways. But once you start damaging organs, the central nervous system, or letting the blood out of it things get scary fast. If criminals don’t want to get killed maybe don’t put people in fear for their lives.