I am posting a letter to the Baytown Sun published 4-15-14 for your consideration. It poses 15 questions about gun ownership and whether a person should defend themselves. In the following blog post, I will answer the majority of the questions.
A case study in guns & self defensePosted: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 12:00 am
Having written recently about the awesome responsibilities associated with using a gun in self defense, I note the trial of Olympian Oscar Pistorius as a case study in the associated issues. Any handgun owner who proposes to use it to kill another person when they deem it necessary should be watching this tragedy closely.
Numerous details surround any use of deadly force in self defense or to prevent a crime. One very important such detail most certainly is the probability of this type tragedy occurring from gun usage the probability that gun usage will actually prevent a tragedy.
How many times did this man prevent a tragedy using a gun and how many times did he create one instead?
Those who encourage more and more private gun ownership as a deterrent to criminally induced mayhem might consider another question right along with the one raised above. As guns proliferate for the purpose of self defense, what is the almost certain result in terms of accidental and later regretted maimings and killings?
What do I do if I wake up in the middle of the night with a loaded gun nearby, hearing an unfamiliar or unanticipated noise? Is that a legitimate reason to shoot somebody?
If I want to be sure that I don’t make a mistake in shooting, how do I do that? Turn on the lights and get a good look? Do I call out for someone to identify themselves?
Do I even wait to wake up good, so I can think straight?
So many real life questions which maybe I haven’t considered in the rush to arm myself.
Any scenario in which one might propose to use a gun to deter crime has the same issues.
Serious considerations attach to the use of deadly force by private citizens no matter what the situation. If I observe a crime, even a violent one, out in public, do I really want to blaze away with my gun, perhaps escalating the violence or hurting a bystander? If someone else with a gun sees me firing a gun, what prevents them from seeing me as a threat and joining in, with me as the target? These questions are the essential ones.
There is no need to even worry about the actual facts surrounding the Pistorius trial.
The issues are all there regardless of whether the defendant is a murderer or the victim of overzealous defense. The young woman remains dead, and he remains scarred for life, even if actually a murderer.
Even if murder was committed, the claim of fear and the right to self defense, may well absolve Mr. Pistorius of legal responsibility, much as happened in the recent prominent case in Florida.
There are no witnesses to dispute that claim, so absent some concrete evidence to the contrary, what is a jury to do? Was the defendant rightfully afraid for his life?
Was he legally justified in trying to protect himself with deadly force?
Did he exercise the good judgment of the average individual?
Does the average individual even act rationally when they are mortally afraid, justifiably or not?
Every last one of these questions and many more are essential to any real discussion of guns.
As gun owners, we might do well to consider and answer them for ourselves right now instead of later, in the middle of a dark fear filled night.