When is self-defense NOT?

By Nathan Barton

In California, convenience store owner Min Kim was just convicted of manslaughter for gunning down the criminal who tried to rob his store, and he will be in prison for eight years.  As reported in Freedom Post, the store’s surveillance cameras saw the robber come in, try to steal something, get accosted, get into a fight during which he tried to take Kim’s gun (and failed), then tried to escape.  Kim shot and killed him in the doorway of the store.

It is a sad situation, and Kim admitted he had done wrong and that the shooting was not self-defense.  To make matters worse, a previous robbery had seen Kim’s wife shot and wounded just a month earlier.  And the dead robber had been convicted for trying to kidnap a young girl – a crime for which he received a “horribly severe” punishment of eight months in jail.  Kim’s community is better off with the scumbag dead, no doubt.

But today, even cops (well, sometimes) are convicted of unjustified killing when they gun down someone in the back, fleeing.  I think that the jury had a pretty open and shut case.

This happens much too often.  People do not understand just what self-defense means, and when there is a moral justification for using deadly force.  Why is this?

The primary reason is a lack of education.  First, of course, parents do NOT teach their children (and probably don’t know themselves) when using force – of any kind, not just deadly – is justified.  Second, schools – neither public (government-run, tax-funded) nor private – are teaching children essential information like this. Nor are churches teaching children (or anyone else) the answers to essential moral questions like this.

And when you get right down to it, neither are the political special interest groups – with the possible exception of the JPFO and The Zelman Partisans  – teaching the morals of using weapons and deadly force. Yeah, we have Eddie Eagle teaching safety, and we have Grandpa Jack teaching constitutional rights and the need for self-defense.  But we have very, very little to teach people, ESPECIALLY children (but adults, as well) when it is morally right to pull out that gun (or knife or spear) and use it against another human being.

Mama’s Note: Poor as it is, too often, the NRA training available all over the country DOES make a good effort to teach the legally (not necessarily the moral) appropriate use of deadly force in self defense. Unfortunately, that training comes in the second of the three part “Personal Protection” training sessions, and most people never take more than the initial “Basic Pistol” class – usually to qualify for a concealed carry permit. There are a good many other training opportunities (though I have no idea how much time is spent in them on the legal/moral use of force), but most are far more expensive and are not generally available nationwide.

So, far too many people are carrying a gun without that vital information.

But children and adults DO learn about using weapons – nature abhors a vacuum.  You know they are, and you probably don’t like it because you can guess where.

They learn how to and when to use guns from three sources: government, media, and their peers.  (See, I knew you wouldn’t like it!)  I’m going to look at these in reverse order.

People learn from their peers – especially in the inner cities and even the suburbs.  And not just their immediate, segregated-by-age peers in schools and the ‘hood, but from those immediately older.  People who are operating on the dark side: peddling drugs, committing petty crimes, and fighting for turf and markets.  Just the sort of people you want to be mentors, teachers, and examples.

People learn from the media in two venues: the daily (and hourly) news, and the popular side: the television and movie fictional genres.  The news is saturated with reports of violence committed by criminals, including the police, against others – and almost NONE of these reports involve morally-right self-defense or other uses of deadly weapons.  Indeed, especially when reporting on the military and police, the use of aggressive force is glorified.

Yes, at the same time as the mere ownership of weapons by non-police and non-military persons is vilified. The theme pushed is that non-government weapons use is always evil, even in the situation of self-defense. But we know that people are able to hold two totally-contradictory ideas at the same time.  And the movies and television are filled with incidents of violence, and that violence is almost always aggressive in nature.

So, having the media as the primary teacher of when it is right to use deadly force makes as much sense as using the media as the primary teacher of when it is right to have sex, or how to drive a car safely.

But then we have the government teaching us (by example, at least) how to use force.  The government that burns out communes filled with children, that kills women using snipers, that has drones attacking wedding parties, and boasts of all the foreign leaders it has killed off.  That justifies police gunning down people (but pays off the family with three million in taxpayer dollars). Of course, this is all couched in terms of “defending the nation” and “protecting our freedom” that everyone is so envious of.  And in all but the explicit words, claiming to be divinely anointed – even while denying the existence of God on a daily basis.  Of course we can trust government to show us how to use deadly force!

In the future, I’ll discuss what we should be teaching our children, our students, and our neighbors and ourselves about the moral use of arms.

About tpolnathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (christian), Pahasapan, Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer.
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