The ethics of self-defense, or why fighting for your life is the moral choice
In their never-ending quest for cheap clicks and likes, a certain extremely radical leftist blog published commentary yesterday that is sure to puzzle any decent human being. The blog post was a response to a news story about a Chicago woman fatally shooting an armed burglar when he made the foolish mistake of accosting her at a bus stop. Here is one news report on the shooting:
With enough searching, you can easily find out what blog I'm talking about and who wrote the post. I won't publish their names here because they don't deserve the free publicity or clicks. But I will summarize the blogger's argument, which is that the woman was morally wrong to have defended herself from this violent criminal, not only because the criminal died, but more importantly because she used a gun to do it. In his words,
"Conservatives are thrilled a woman with a concealed-carry permit shot and killed a 19-year-old would-be mugger. That’s not how justice works. The penalty for theft is not death, nor do we want it to be."
Naturally, normal people with an intact moral compass took umbrage with this characterization of what actually happened and flooded the page with comments. Many asked if he would feel differently about it if the mugger had attacked his sister or mother. Others correctly pointed out that using a weapon to threaten someone with death goes far beyond theft and instantly becomes, well, a death threat. Our courageous blogger was unfazed by the backlash and, with characteristic smugness, showed his real reasons for criticizing a brave woman who refused to be a victim and chose to save her own life:
"The punishment for armed robbery is not death, though. Of course, I don’t think he should have had a gun either, but if she had let him rob her, even at gunpoint, both likely would have survived. It’s the praise for her gun ownership that bothers me."
Oh. So the writer believes the woman should have "let him rob her, even at gunpoint" in hopes that both would survive the encounter. Because guns are yucky, apparently, unless they're in the possession of the criminals who prey on the weak. Then they're just tools of the trade and the obviously moral thing to do is to just let the bad guy do whatever he wants--the alternative, having and using a gun in self-defense, is indefensible to the gun-grabber. In other words: Die, comrade! You might be dead, but at least you didn't own a gun. Is there anything sicker or more deranged than expecting someone to sacrifice her own life for the sake of flattering another person's political ideology?
Allow me to disagree with this insanity as politely as I can manage. Not only was shooting the threat to stop the armed robber the correct course of action (and likely the only reason she survived the attack), but it was also the moral thing to do. No, death is not the penalty for armed robbery--but armed robbers should risk that fate every time they choose to attack their victims. That risk should be a powerful deterrent to the crime of armed robbery itself. Death or severe injury should be an occupational hazard common to any violent crime. Attacking other human beings with a deadly weapon should carry with it a massive risk of being hurt or even killed in the process.
Why? Because we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Anyone who would try to rob us of that by threatening our lives is risking his own.
To emphasize, we do not shoot to kill our attacker; we shoot to stop the threat. Once the threat is stopped and no longer a threat, we stop shooting! A license to carry is not a license to kill. But if the only way to stop the threat is by shooting and killing him, that's the risk he took when he decided to threaten an innocent person with death or grave bodily harm.
As the intended victim taken totally by surprise by a vicious criminal, you didn't choose the fight. You didn't want the fight. You weren't looking for a fight, and you didn't start it. But you can choose to end it on your terms.
Further, ensuring that an attacker's death is one possible outcome of any violent attack is not only something we must do to protect ourselves, but it's also a moral obligation to the rest of society. Every armed citizen makes those who refuse to carry guns that much safer, because armed citizens pose a very real and deadly threat to evil people. Your choice to carry and train with your gun, and your resolve to use it if necessary, makes antigun propagandists like our blogger friend much less likely to be attacked in the first place. The fact that you are walking around in public as an armed citizen acts as a deterrent to violent crime in itself.
The author of that blog post may not carry or even have ever fired a gun before (and of course he was foolish enough to announce this to the world--not the best defensive strategy!), but the bad guys on the street can't possibly know that for sure just by looking at him. And because they don't know, they may have second thoughts about trying to rob him at gunpoint. They may assume he's one of the millions of responsible gun owners who are willing to shoot someone who presents a deadly threat. Those of us who are willing to defend ourselves with lethal force are largely to thank for that.
And so, unnamed blog post author whose contempt for the Constitution and our American way of life is matched only by your cowardice and refusal to be responsible for your own survival, I say: you're welcome. My choice to own and carry a gun keeps you safer on the streets. Criminals are more hesitant to attack you because people like me are willing to fight for our lives if they attack us.
Carry always, carry everywhere, and stay safe out there!