Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Stupid CCW Tricks

Warning shots at fleeing shoplifters is a good way to lose your permit, and possibly your firearms.

Despite my philosophical reservations, I have taken a CCW class and am on the list at the county sheriff's office to get my permit.  However I did not need the use of force section in the coursework to know that I have no business firing a weapon in a situation where there is not even a potential threat to anyone's life or safety.

This is one of the downsides to so many people getting permits.  The ratio of stupid to sensible starts to come into play.  I am happy that so many honest, law-abiding citizens are preparing to defend themselves.  I agree with Heinlein that an armed society makes for a generally safer, more respectful, and courtesy society.  Keep in mind, though, that half the population is below average when it comes to anything.  I, for example, ride the back of the short bus when it comes to dancing and most things musical.  To quote Harry Callahan, "A good man knows his limitations."

When it comes to use of force and use of deadly force -- two different things, by the way -- most of the time, it is not that difficult to figure out.

  1. Never initiate force.  Never be the aggressor.   
  2. If you can leave, LEAVE. 
  3. Property can be replaced.
  4. The only excuse for deploying a weapon of any kind is an immediate threat to life or of serious physical harm.

I started to say "an immediate, credible threat".  That's where it starts to get muddy.  A threat to me is very different from a threat to a frail, seventy-year-old lady or to my 95-pound granddaughter.  Being backed into a corner in a dark alley by four or five thugs is pretty clearly a threat -- unless all they want is money.  I can hand over my wallet and cancel my credit card a lot cheaper and easier than I can retain an attorney to defend me in a shooting.  Purse-snatchers, shoplifters, burglars (as opposed to home invaders), smash-and-grab robbers -- none of those, in my opinion, pose a reasonable threat.  In some cases, use of physical force might be justified, though it is not necessarily wise.

Here is the problem:  if I decide to initiate physical force, such as attempting to detain a fleeing perpetrator, what happens if the person is willing to cause significant physical harm in order not to be detained?  This was one of the arguments in the Zimmerman case -- that Zimmerman had "started" the confrontation then shot Saint Trayvon when it went bad on him.

The trouble is that a person has only a few seconds to react.  You don't really have time to sit around and have a discussion.  That is what will happen in court when your every utterance and movement for the past twenty years will be analyzed, dissected and beaten to dust.

I have said this before, that if a person has a weapon, he or she should spend a lot of time with that weapon.  Your main weapon is your brain, and, for the cost of a cup of coffee or two, you can run through and game scenarios in your head.  You can write things out on a piece of paper, too -- just make sure you burn the paper when you are done. 

It's important to know what your state statutes say about self-defense, what its "castle doctrine" is, how it defines a weapon, etc.  It is equally or more important to know what your own boundaries are, what you think justifies taking a human life, because -- make no mistake, if you point a firearm at someone you have decided you are willing to kill him or her.    

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