By Nathan Barton
NOTE: This is the 1,000th published column by me for The Price of Liberty!
Self-defense or defense of others, or revenge? Can we answer that question?
The Blaze reports on a situation at a Dallas-area Waffle House in which a man, after robbing the cafe and several patrons with an AK-47, exited and was followed by a patron who challenged the robber in the parking lot. The robber reportedly turned and pointed his rifle at the man, who pulled his concealed pistol and shot the robber several times. The shooter told police he was concerned for the safety of his wife, who was on her way to the Waffle House.
According to the stated facts, the shooter was acting in self-defense. He said something to the robber (who had already used his weapon in a act of aggression) who responded by pointing the rifle at the man. Who then responded appropriately.
The shooter is also claiming he was acting to defend a third, innocent person, fearing for his wife’s safety if she showed up while the armed robber was still there. Again, the reported facts seem to support that.
But is there more to it? Is the fact that the shooter actually left a place where he was presumably no longer in any immediate danger, following the then-successful robber, an indication that this was a situation not of self-defense nor defense of others, but of vengeance? Or even of taking the law into his own hands?
There is nothing in the story that indicates whether the shooter was also one of the robbery victims. There is no explanation of why the shooter, a customer present in the Waffle House during the robbery, did not respond then to act against the aggressor. Perhaps he was sitting in such a way that he could not easily draw his weapon? Perhaps he did not wish to further endanger others, staff and customers, in the cafe? Perhaps he had to “work up” the courage to respond?
We may never know, and there is no indication of just how the case against the armed robber (still alive, though in hospital) will go. Or whether or not local police, prosecutor, or grand jury will take any action against the shooter. Or whether the robber (or his family) will file civil or criminal charges against the shooter.
But we should consider, if we were in a similar situation, how would we respond? What would we do and how would we justify our actions? Is it moral only to seek to stop someone WHILE they are committing a crime? Or is it morally right to seek to reverse the outcome of the crime? Or… and this did not happen in this situation but can … is it moral to take action to PREVENT a crime in advance? If the customer had arrived in time to see the man getting ready to enter the Waffle House with his AK-47 at the ready, would the customer be morally justified to threaten or even shoot the still “wannabe” perp to prevent the clearly predictable crime of armed robbery? Would the shooter have FAILED to carry out his moral obligation to himself and others if he had not done what he did?
There IS a right answer to all of these questions, but we individual, frail, fallible human beings may not have the knowledge and wisdom necessary to choose that right answer. But we should, as responsible, free people, give some thought to answering BEFORE we are in the situation, to do the best job we can and accept the responsibility that is ours.
Mama’s Note: Excellent, Nathan! I ask such questions often of my self defense class students. I encourage them to do as I do: imagine such situations, from as many angles as possible, and THINK about what would be an appropriate, moral and practical response. Obviously, the more people involved who are aware of their surroundings, able and willing to act, and having the right tools at hand would make a tremendous difference. So, the response in a restaurant or convenience store might well be very different than what would be required in a kindergarten, a nursing home, or a large crowd. The important thing, especially for those of us who go armed, is to Think about it, and understand our options, obligations and the liabilities involved in as many situations as we can imagine.