Category Archives: police

>OBSERVATION: Turning the guns on criminals

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One of the repeated complaints I get for thinking it is okay for honest and sane citizens to have guns in public is that it potentially turns them into vigilantes. They will be popping off criminals with excessive lethal force. To which, I answer: “So?”

It is a tragedy when a construction worker falls to his death while working on a skyscraper. It has happened before, and will happen again. Yet, no one says we should stop building skyscrapers.

I look at it this way. Crime is a profession, too, and it has risks. One of the risks is death. Certainly, the death of even a criminal is a tragedy. Hell, the misspent life is a tragedy. If gun ownership increases the risk for the criminal, so be it. Then a would-be crook can look at the risk before entering the profession. Maybe the risk will be too high. Good!

There is no shortage of construction workers, even though they know the risk of their profession. The only difference between the crook and the construction worker is that society is better off if we minimize the risk to the worker (hence safety standards), but we maximize the risk to the criminal (armed citizens).

Now don’t get me wrong. I am way not in favor of going out and gunning down every kid stealing a hubcap. But, I think every kid who steals a hubcap should know that being killed is a possibility. Nothing wrong with making crime a little more dangerous for the criminal. When a person is engaging in a criminal activity, they should understand that they are subjecting themselves to possible on-the-spot street justice.

Have you ever had a person point a gun at you? I have, in a street stick up. It is a very, very scary feeling. Believe me. You’re paralyzed. You can’t attack and you can’t out run a bullet. You just hope and pray that the guy is not going to pull the trigger for the hell of it. I think every criminal should have to face that feeling during the commission of a crime. Like they say in the old cowboy movies, “One false move and your dead.”

We train our police to exercise restraint, and use minimum force. There is sort of a theory that if you are not committing a death penalty crime, you should not be subjected to lethal force. I guess that is okay for a well trained police officer, but we cannot expect frightened citizens to respond in the same way.

If a person breaks into a house, a trained, bullet-proof vested police officer (with back-up) will likely point his gun, announce he is an officer, and yell “You’re under arrest.” But you don’t have a cop sitting in your home when the break-in occurs. An armed citizen is more likely to shoot the intruder with out asking a lot of questions to determine intent. I think both have acted appropriately under the circumstances.
And even as a tragedy, the death of a criminal may have a benefit to society. Since most criminals are repeat offenders, and often become more dangerous as their careers advances, there is something to be said for the potential of precluding future crimes.
When growing up in the ‘hood in Chicago, there was a widely held belief that gangsters killing each other was not the same level of tragedy as gangsters killing innocent people. Actually, mob hits were not considered much of a tragedy at all – unless a bystander got whacked accidentally.

I really do not see where the right to carry and conceal makes us all vigilantes. This is about personal protection, not community-based volunteer crime fighters. Police are rarely at the scene of a crime as it is unfolding. We are. That makes a gun the real “first responder.”