I read with great interest the letter written to the Sun by Rick Crotts and I read it about six times. Other than a missing word, which I filled in, and the unintentional implication in the opening paragraph that a person might use the Oscar Pistorious trial to kill a person, it was definitely food for thought. Incidentally, I am not following the trial, so I can’t answer any of the six specific trial questions Mr. Crotts posed and I am not sure anyone else can either.
For instance, the question of, “How many times did this man prevent a tragedy using a gun and how many times did he create one instead?” can only be answered by the Almighty. I say that facetiously, as I see the points he is making in his two question sentence. The same could be said of anyone using diplomacy instead of a “gun” however. The answer would be the same, “Who knows?”
The letter was intended to show a parallel between using a handgun for self-defense and outright murder and of the fifteen questions raised in the letter; I am going to address the nine that would apply to me as a concealed handgun permit holder and thus most everyone else who possesses one. Mr. Crotts’ letter was heavy on questions and equally absent of solutions, but that is my opinion and you may have felt he spoke to your heart. I do not agree entirely and I’ll explain in a bit.
I do agree with the intent of his letter and that is the “awesome responsibilities associated with using a gun in self defense.” Back years ago before my physical abilities began to wane, I was a proud black belt martial artist with the confidence to handle most anyone who decided I was a target, but then, there wasn’t the proliferation of armed assailants we are seeing now in the news.
The CHL permits were just becoming available and I put off getting certified for the very reason Mr. Crotts wrote about. I didn’t want the responsibility of killing someone on my conscience. For years black belt holders were viewed as loaded weapons, with “registered hands” and the responsibility of not using unjustifiable force was upon us, both socially, legally, and personally. It was enough and many black belts take this responsibility seriously past the point of fighting.
In other words, they don’t fight anymore than most CHL owners look for opportunities to “blow someone away”.
Second, I want to take time to say that anyone with a real black belt, after years of study, is fully capable of maiming, crippling, or killing another human being. Don’t believe the hogwash you see in Hollywood movies where two or more practitioners beat on each other for ten minutes and even the mixed martial arts bouts have many rules to safeguard the fighters. Real combat is short and swift and if both have skills, both get hurt, regardless of who wins.
About 99% of having the ability to bring severe or fatal harm to a fellow human will be dependent on the mental state of the person with the skills or gun and their confidence level. As an alpha personality with a black belt and a CHL, I can’t for 100% certainty say I will be up for the confrontation if and when it happens, or if I will make absolutely the right decision.
I, as a degreed self-defense practitioner would like to think I will and I have years of extensive training to possibly bolster my assertion – but I can’t say for a certainty until that time comes and I think that pretty much answers this question, “Does the average individual even act rationally when they are mortally afraid, justifiably or not?” No one can say for sure they will do the right thing until it happens, regardless of what they tell themselves they will do – unless there are children involved. The violence is then immediately justified without thought.
On these questions, “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?” The answer to the first one is you arm yourself, hunker down, and call the police. If it is indeed an intruder and you do not have other people living in your house and they come through the door, you shoot them by aiming for the center of their body. If you have other people in the house, you are going to be forced to investigate exercising great control.
“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?” If you don’t have confidence or the ability to identify a noise or intruder, you simply cannot use a firearm to “recon by fire”. Call the police and hunker down. Don’t yell out or turn on a light. Wait for the police. As far as waking up and thinking straight goes, that is what the hormone adrenaline is for. It’s God’s auto-pilot to warn and equip us to run from or react to danger.
Unless you are a B.A.S.E. jumper adrenaline equals fear and it should. Everything in you will make you want to run and this is normal. Having a gun in your hand doesn’t negate this over-whelming feeling.
“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?” I’ll answer the first one, first. Nope, call the police and hunker down. Don’t do a thing unless you are personally threatened. If the armed robber turns their gun on you, you will be forced to engage them or be a victim.
On the second question, if you are observed shooting a gun, you are potentially a bad guy to everyone at the scene regardless and will be treated as such until and when the police arrive. Put the gun in plain sight and keep your hands out of your pockets until the police can sort it out. Only talk when spoken to.
Like I said, earlier, I see the gist of what Mr. Crotts is writing and believe I understand he is attempting to educate by getting people to define what they would do and thus my take on it. Your views may differ from mine, but that’s okay with me. In the meantime, I will continue to arm myself and as always, stay out of trouble.