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An Illustrating Difference

Our Favorite Brady Board member continues to be a window into the minds of our opponents, and I continue to be struck by the contrast in the different ways we think, and the different ways we perceive the world. This incident is such an example. On the surface, I agree with Joan’s questioning of whether this incident was the wisest of actions, which I think it wasn’t. You certainly won’t see me chasing down armed robbers. Once the immediate danger has passed, he’s a problem for the police. But I’m shocked by this from Joan:

Do you shoot to kill at someone who has just robbed a person and injured them while you were watching? The woman in question did not receive serious injuries.

From the article:

 According to police, a caller to 911 said a woman had just been robbed at gunpoint of her purse and pistol-whipped in the parking lot of the Cub Foods.

Emphasis in both quotes are mine. These two highlighted portions are generally mutually incompatible. I don’t know what Joan thinks a pistol whipping is, but it’s not any different than assaulting someone with a club. That the woman was not seriously injured it just an incredible bit a luck. Pistol whipping someone is quite likely to fracture a jaw, break teeth, and is not unlikely to result in brain trauma or death depending on where the blow occurs.

Now the question is, given that there’s a dead criminal, what is justice? That depends highly on the facts and circumstances. While I don’t think chasing down a criminal to recover property is wise, it’s not illegal. You’re permitted to use force to recover property. In many states, you’re permitted to use force to stop someone who’s committed a felony. If the robber escalated the incident to one of a deadly force encounter, that’s entirely on the fault, both morally and legally, of the robber. If I’m on a jury in this case, and the woman agrees the corpse is the guy that robbed her, I’m going to be very inclined to interpret the facts and circumstances in the citizen’s favor, even if I don’t think what he did was all that prudent.

I think the difference between Joan and I is that I don’t think a man who pistol whips a woman because he wants her purse is worthy to enjoy the same benefits of society as the person outraged enough by the idea to do something about it. Granted, I prefer to see the robber rot in prison after a trial before a fair and impartial jury, but things don’t always work out as cleanly as we would like in life. Unless someone can present some evidence that the citizen chased down the armed robber down and executed him, I’m going to vote to let him walk. The life of an armed robber isn’t worth the risk of sending someone to prison who was trying to do the right thing, and who is otherwise law-abiding.

I have to wonder how much our disagreement is that our opponents believe that all men are equal, whereas the traditional view is that all men are created equal. Actions matter, and when you think it’s OK to beat a woman in the face with a deadly instrument for her purse, pardon me if I decide your actions don’t give your life equal weight to the freedom of someone who is essentially a good, if imprudent person.

12 Responses to “An Illustrating Difference”

  1. Pyrotek85 says:

    “Pistol whipping someone is quite likely to fracture a jaw, break teeth, and is not unlikely to result in brain trauma or death depending on where the blow occurs.”

    This is one of my biggest pet peeves with the Antis. You can get seriously messed up or killed from a so called ‘simple fistfight or brawl’. This isn’t the elementary schoolyard where the kids generally aren’t strong enough to inflict fatal injuries.

    Whenever I see them making comments like that, I start thinking that they’ve been watching too much TV. People have even died from a single punch to the head, so when they’re using a hard object as a club, death is a definite possibility, not ‘lol you’ll just have a bloody nose, deal with it’.

    • People have even died from a single punch to the head, so when they’re using a hard object as a club, death is a definite possibility, not ‘lol you’ll just have a bloody nose, deal with it’.

      Also, once somebody’s overpowered you, causing permanent injuries or death isn’t especially difficult. There’s no such thing as “unarmed” when there’s a ground under you that he can hit your head against.

      I know the reality of the law is that a fit man is generally expected to get into a fistfight with an unarmed aggressor rather than using his weapon to defend himself, but that’s madness. I’m supposed to let a criminal beat me, risk being incapacitated, and risk him getting control of my gun rather than shoot a violent criminal who thinks it’s acceptable to attack an innocent person?

      • Sebastian says:

        This is a reason that pepper spray is a powerful tool. It lets you make the attacker think again without having to lay hands on him, and gives you an idea of how committed he is to the fight.

  2. Jake says:

    In many states, you’re permitted to use force to stop someone who’s committed a felony.

    In some states, you’re permitted to use deadly force to stop someone who’s committed a felony. We had a case near my town a year or so ago where a mall security guard was charged with recklessly handling a firearm for firing a warning shot at a fleeing shoplifter, and cleared because it was allowed under Virginia law.

    Judge Clifford Weckstein threw out the charge, agreeing with the defense that there was no justification for it under Virginia law. The judge said the law allows deadly force during a citizen’s arrest if the person making the arrest believes a felony has occurred.

    • Sebastian says:

      Most of the statutes I’ve seen, you’re allowed to use deadly force to stop the commission of a felony, meaning you’re free and clear to shoot if the robber is actively robbing the woman. I do think there are states where you can use deadly force to prevent a person who has just committed a felony from fleeing, but I don’t know a count offhand.

    • Sebastian says:

      Virginia is an odd state in that, if I recall, its self-defense law is common law, rather than statutory law. And for the most part, Virginia follows the traditional common law model in that regard, which is far more lenient than the statutes that were largely adopted when the states started codifying most of their laws.

    • Andy says:

      This is not a defense I’d want to rely on in front of a NoVA jury.

  3. StanMN says:

    http://www.sctimes.com/comments/article/20111022/NEWS01/110220046/-Good-Samaritan-who-shot-killed-robber-could-charged

    Check what the locals in Saint Cloud, MN are saying. Some of them want us to go the way of The country formerly called Greta Britain.

  4. Dave says:

    As far as I know, regardless of where you are in the US (sorry England), you are still allowed to use physical force to defend yourself from force or the threat of it. This may or may not include deadly force, as your use of force must be “reasonable.”

    What is “reasonable?” Ask the court of law that you will be appearing in. What? Don’t have the luxury of clearing that up in advance with the court that will be trying you? Welcome to the real world.

    Whether you are being shot at, pistol whipped, or beat down with bare hands, you will have to be able to articulate (convincingly) why you felt you were in fear for your life or serious physical injury to justify shooting someone.

    And you’d better be double sure that you are allowed to pursue a felon and use deadly force to stop them in your jurisdiction, if you plan to do so. As far as I know, the use of force or the threat of force is what makes it robbery in the first place and I know of no jurisdiction in the US where robbery is not a felony of some degree.

    That can vary between jurisdictions, but you need to know the law where you live, and be comfortable gambling your freedom that a jury will support you running down a robber and shooting them once the immediate threat is over, simply because they are a felon. My hunch is that most courts are going to want you to show that you were in reasonable fear of death or serious physical injury when you shot that bad guy…not just that he was a felon.

    Furthermore…even cops are not normally allowed to shoot a fleeing felon (with a specific exception). If it can be shown that as a civilian, you created a situation by chasing after the felon after he left you (and thus no longer a threat to your life), and that situation resulted in you shooting him, you might have a problem in court.

    I’m not siding with bad guys. I think more violent felons getting shot for their trouble is a good thing, and I don’t think law abiding citizens should give them an inch. But a good guy going to prison for shooting a bad guy is not a good thing, either. Know the law.

  5. Braden Lynch says:

    I dislike her accusatory statement that “Do you shoot to kill at someone who has just robbed a person and injured them…” as if you are supposed to shoot to wound? I am convinced there are numerous examples out there of trying to do this, but it still resulted in the death of the assailant or this misguided action has led to a gun retention issue.

    The only reason that I believe that a citizen’s firearm should be revealed and aimed at someone committing a crime is to make them stop, and if that requires firing it, so be it. The gun is not for show, not for idle threats, not for warning shots. So, if the gun comes into play; it had better be justifiable.

    I’ve ranted before that the anti-freedom gun grabbers are free to never own or touch a firearm and rely entirely on the police for their protection and the eternal tender mercies of their government. They have absolutely no authority to dictate that I cannot have a firearm to use for self-defense or in the defense of others (e.g. my family). For them to suggest that they have any moral, ethical, legal, historical, or societal authority is easily disprovable. They have emotion, but no persuasive facts.

  6. Sigivald says:

    In this case, especially, it seems a bit much for even Joan Peterson to say that it was just a little assault.

    The robber had, and used, a firearm to commit that robbery. You’d think Miss Anti-Gun wouldn’t be trying to gloss over that little fact…

    Assault with a deadly weapon, plain and simple.

    Also armed robbery, and the implicit (possibly explicit, depending on his words) threat of murder.

    Given that the robber was known to be armed with a deadly weapon and willing to use it feloniously, I find it hard to imagine a jury deciding that shooting him was beyond the pale, short of him being videotaped with both hands in the air begging for his life when being shot.

    Given the lack of any reason at all to believe he was in such a harmless state when shot, it seems that justice was done, in the sense that he got what he was asking for.

    (Indeed the most plausible scenario, given his known actions, was that he threatened his pursuer with the firearm, and was shot quite properly as a result of it.)

  7. SPQR says:

    Its pretty clear that Peterson thinks her job is making the world safe for armed robbers, not their victims.

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