As I’ve explained before, I have always had a gut-level conviction that if a thing is not shameful to do in the first place, there is no shame in doing it competently. A job worth doing is worth doing well, as they say. It’s even biblical: “Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”
All of this is important because there’s an undertow on the good-people side of the self defense world, where okay, yeah, we believe we can act to save our own lives if we need to do that. But we’re ashamed of saying so, straight up. Perhaps deep down, we believe we should save our lives poorly, badly, without any kind of preparation. Maybe we even find it a little suspect if someone studies ways to avoid criminal violence. Too many true-crime books on the shelves, we think, maybe it means someone secretly has criminal tendencies at heart…? But does this make sense? Is it really more moral to stay ignorant about how crime works, and to avoid learning how to protect good people from the deadly behavior of bad ones?
Speaking of morality, there’s this. The reason so many self-defense people believe it’s okay to shoot an attacker, after you add up the cold equations and come to the inevitable conclusion that someone is about to die, isn’t because we have flexible moral compasses. Nor do we study criminal violence because we secretly feel fascinated by evil. Not at all! The reason we accept using deadly force to defend the innocent is because we believe it’s actively good to save innocent lives, including your own. The reason we study past criminal events and try to understand how they happened is because we want to know how to save the lives of innocent people during future criminal events. The reason we learn the physical skills of self-defense is because we want to protect the lives of people we love. The key for each of these things is in the goal: saving innocent life.
Yes, using a firearm to save an innocent life might result in the death of an attacker. But that’s not our primary choice, and it’s not the goal. When you use a firearm in appropriate circumstances, you face an attacker who has already made the most important decision of all. That person made the decision that someone is going to die or be seriously injured today. Given the time you have and the situation you face, you cannot change that person’s decision or undo it. The choice that death will happen has already been made, and not by you. That means there’s only one choice left for you to make: whether or not you will save the life of an innocent person, a person who would surely die or be permanently maimed if you failed to act.
Making the decision to save an innocent life is not a sin. It’s not a crime. It’s not an evil. It’s an active bit of good you can do in the world, saving an innocent life. And if the job of saving an innocent life is a good thing that may need to be done, it’s not wrong to learn how to do that. It’s not evil to prepare to save an innocent life as well and as safely as you can. It’s not bad to study how to save lives efficiently and competently. It’s not a sin to save a life whole-heartedly, with everything you’ve got. Those are actually all good things.