Monday, July 11, 2011

Killing Over "Stuff"

Weerd has a good read about the use of Lethal Force over "stuff". He points to this story from Sean S. about a robbery where the thugs killed shot* the victim after he complied, ostensibly because they could. It raises a pertinent question, especially for those of us that carry a weapon for self defense:

At what point is it worth killing someone?

On its face, and this is a point the anti-gun folks like to make, is that the contents of your wallet are not worth killing someone over. From a very superficial standpoint, this is absolutely correct - I tend to not carry much cash on me, maybe $20-30 at any given time. That's not worth taking someone's life.


When someone threatens me with deadly force for my wallet, I have no guarantee that handing my wallet over ends that threat (this is Weerd's point exactly). The gentleman in Sean's story thought that by giving up his wallet he'd be okay; that he'd be out the cash and the cost of the wallet itself, but he could cancel the credit cards, get a new driver's license, etc. Instead, they shot him anyways, all over the contents of the wallet (incidentally, this is the kind of story that showcases why I favor the death penalty. A criminal that would shoot a man over a goddamn wallet needs to be put down like a rabid animal).

It's the same when someone breaks into your home. Sure, they might just be after whatever consumer electronics and/or loose cash you might have lying around. Or they may be sickos like the bastards that murdered Kimberly Cates or Half and Susan Zantop, bored kids who decided that murdering people in their homes for fun was a good Saturday night.

I'm not about to gamble my life - or the lives of the people I love and care about - on the good graces of the goblin kicking in my door.

My property isn't worth killing someone over, no. The day when I can divine whether the person sticking a gun in my ribs only wants the $30 in cash I have on me or just wants to kill me so there are no witnesses, well, then I'll rethink my position. Until such a time, I will infer that anyone threatening violence upon my person is after one thing and one thing only - a snoot full of .45 ACP - and give them exactly what they're asking for.

As the late Colonel Cooper was fond of quipping: "I would like very much to ensure that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy."

That is all.

*NOTE: Commenter "anonymous" (boy, that guy is prolific!) actually READ the story at Sean's and points out that the person who was mugged and shot twice was not killed, but merely (???) injured and is in stable condition. The point is the same, of course, it's only by sheer luck he wasn't killed outright.


Tango said...

This reminds me of stories we see ALL the time... most recently in/near Yellowstone.

When an animal kills a human, it is hunted and killed because it's tasted the blood of man and theoretically will enjoy it more.

Why is man held to a lower standard? If you kill a man in cold blood like that, you need to do exactly as Jay said... put them down like an animal.

Lokidude said...

For me, the line is when you have to threaten me to get my stuff. If you're jacking the rims from my car in the middle of the night, I'm not justified in using lethal force if I see you from inside my house. If, however, you're inside my house uninvited at or around the witching hour, the safe bet is on you leaving in a horizontal position.

Pam said...

Great post, I've had this discussion many times and come to the same conclusion. Gun in hand tells me the low life has more than just warm and fuzzy intentions. I have no choice but to defend myself.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Well, the Judge in Va. Beach said that "if I was in Fear for my Life, that was good enough reason to pull the trigger." It's NOT the Victim's job to discern the Criminal's Intentions, just that the perp/perps have the "Means, Motive and Opportunity " to impose Harm or Death upon me or mine.

Good enough Standard back in '83, good enough today. Of course , it's a lot easier if your State has "Castle Doctrine" and "Affirmative Defense."

And Open Carry, and Shall Issue CCW Permits,and Ranges nearby so that one can keep up one's Proficiency....

McThag said...

I am totally fine with shooting them over stuff.

Violating my rights should be fatal.

I don't set a minimum value on the item either, the important part is that it is MINE, not theirs.

No criminal activity should be perfectly safe for the perpetrator.

The value equation is expressed backwards in "is it worth killing someone for the $50 in your wallet?" The proper valuation is, "is it worth dying for $50?"

Or less.

I might be less bloodthirsty about it if I felt the police would do a damned thing besides record some basic facts after the theft.

They won't even start a burglary investigation here for less than $10k stolen. I don't think everything in my house is worth that much; but I know I don't have enough money to replace it should some scumbag steal it.

Daniel in Brookline said...

Of course, in Massachusetts you can get in a lot of trouble if all you're doing is defending "property"... oh, for a castle doctrine!

If lethal force is threatened, or a "disparity of force" exists, of course you're justified in doing what is necessary to protect yourself.

The question then becomes: what if the punks who break into your home are clever? What if they have a crowbar, chains, etc., but they never overtly threaten anyone? What if they just smile at you and say, "Hey, man -- we're taking some of your entertainment-center stuff and we'll be on our way."

In the absence of a castle doctrine, what should you do then? Do you just smile and reply, "Oh, that's all right. I've already called 911, and right now I'm busy memorizing your faces and descriptions for them"?

Old NFO said...

If I'm threatened with deadly force over a candy bar, I'll react with deadly force... My LIFE is more valuable than anything else, and there is NO expectation that I would not be killed anyway.

Sean D Sorrentino said...

Thanks for the link. I always wonder why people make the silly statement that a wallet isn't worth killing over. It's not like the robber has asked politely and has no intention of harming you if you fail to comply.

David said...

All I have to say is: ROGER THAT.

Joshkie said...

One of the lest taught skills in any SD course is the ability to explain your split second decision to the authorities.

First, you need to know the law is it stands in your state, then...

Second, you need to practice explaining those actions to your peers.

A really good book that covers this is "Facing Violence" by Rory Miller.

It's not enough that we feel justified in defending ourselves We need the ability to explain our actions in a court of law.

Something to think on,

Anonymous said...

To set the record straight, they did shoot the victim twice, but he is in stable condition, according to the article. What creeps me out the most is that I work in Winston Salem where it happened...

Jay G said...

Ooh, good catch, thanks Anon.

Will update.

Dr. Feelgood said...

My standard response to this "conundrum" is that (1) I don't set the terms of the encounter and (2) I'm not shooting to kill, anyway.

If a goblin thinks my stuff is worth a human life then who am I to argue while he's presently threatening me with deadly force. It's only his fault if he mistakes my life for his own.

And when I do refuse his terms and defend myself from his violent, deadly attack my only goal is to stop the danger and render the attacker impotent. If he dies in the process then, again, it's only his fault.

I don't relish the thought, but I've determined that my life is worth protecting, and I will protect it.

Same calculus applies, but none of it matters if the goblin threatens someone I love. I will put him down and sleep like a baby that night.

Mikael said...

Re: Dr. Feelgood
I doubt your last statement, not because I suspect you'd feel remorse about it, you'll be having trouble sleeping due to the reality of your loved ones being so close to being injured/killed finally sinking in, suddenly the safety of your loved ones will seem a lot less sure.

Mrs. Widget said...

A person points a gun at me, I can kill him under my state laws. I have no promise that he will not shoot me even if I cooperate.

My husband's attitude is "I work hard for my stuff." and he will kill to keep it (not sure if he's right but understandable).

And there is a difference between somebody pilfering my truck and threatening me to take my wallet.

Or is there? I remember a case (think in Texas) where a robber was killed going through a truck. Robber was killed. The truck owner was a contractor. Some was stealing his tools. That means somebody was taking food out of his children's mouths. That is definitely something worth killing for.

Anonymous said...

Here is another good example:

Anonymous said...

Didn't work last time, sorry.

Larry said...

I think the good Doctor Feelgood has the right of it.
It is said that property is not worth someone's life, but if you stick a gun in my face demanding my property it is not I who assessed the value of it.

Montie said...

By virtue of my chosen profession,I had this conversation with myself a number of times early on, due to the fact that I might be faced with killing somebody over YOUR stuff.

My conclusion was the same as most of your commenters. I am paid to keep you AND your stuff safe when possible, and in the case of a robber / burglar taking violent exception to my intervention... well, I plan on going home at the end of my shift in the same general physical condition that I started it.