First, the news: Man Arrested for Firing a Warning Shot at 9 Men Threatening to Rape His Fiancee. 1 That’s pretty much the entire story right there in the headline, but do follow the link and watch the video which includes interviews with both the man and his fiancee. 2
Actually, here’s the embedded video for those who don’t want to go off-site. Please note that it was recorded by an anti-gun source.
Predictably, a lot of people in the gun culture blew their tops about this one, feeling (quite rightly) that it was wrong, wrong, wrong that the aggressors were not arrested. For a lot of very good reasons, regardless of how the would-be victims respond, no one should be able to get away with that!
But is it “right” that this man was arrested for the warning shot? Without getting into any moral questions, I’m going to say it was the correct legal call. That’s because we are responsible for every bullet we fire, not just the ones that hit their appropriate targets. Firing into the air is illegal because it endangers innocent people, people who have absolutely nothing to do with the assault.
If you’re going to carry a gun, you should be 100% prepared to use that gun in defense of your own life and the lives of innocent others. On a practical level, throwing a bullet into the air wastes the bullet (and that’s a bad thing if you later need it to save your life). More important, it endangers innocent people. If the gun is the appropriate tool in the situation, then the appropriate place to put the bullet is into the body of the attacker. Nowhere else.
Just to be clear: given the information available to me as I write this on 11/16/14, I believe this was a deadly force attack (yes, even if the attackers were “only” threatening a rape and not a murder). Given that, I think the gun was the right tool for the job. But I also believe the victim used the gun in the wrong way, because just being threatened does not give the victim the right to endanger other people. Carrying a gun is a heavy responsibility and a serious one, not a choice to take lightly and not one to make if you’re not willing to understand how the laws apply to your use of force.
- As always, like Will Rogers, all I know is what I read in the papers. More information may come out as the investigation goes forward. My blog post is based on the news article linked above which reflects information available to me on 11/16/2014, not on anything that may come to light in the future. ↩
- Firmly resisting the rabbit trail marked, “… but we were well trained!” According to the interview, these folks had taken only a single short class, which is the bare legal minimum requirement to get a carry permit. That’s not well trained. ↩