Monday, April 02, 2012

The Human Right to Self-Defense

When someone dies doing a dangerous thing, something that maybe they should not have been doing but for whatever reason they did, it is a tragedy. They didn't deserve the consequences of their actions but it WAS one of the consequences. They did it, they didn't have to do it, they chose to do it, the law of probability caught up with them. Done. Sucks, but we accept it.

It's 2am, I'm at work, I'm watching someone walking through the parking lot looking at the cars, they don't look like they belong there but they haven't done anything wrong. I'm just looking. This actually happens to me quite often. This is usually as far as it goes. He sees me, again, not unusual. I don't care if he sees me, I work here, it's my right to watch out for the place.

This time he takes offense but walks out of sight. I go back to my business. Next thing I know he attacks me, I fall. He's on top of me, he's bigger and stronger and I can't fight him off.

Do I know what his intentions are? Do I know if he has a weapon he hasn't gotten around to using yet? Do I know when he will stop - when I'm unconscious? Or dead? I have no clue, I didn't do anything to this guy. What do I do? Just be a victim? No, I live in Florida, I have a concealed weapons license and I'm carrying. I am able to get to the weapon and manage to get off a shot, he falls to the side. I get up and call 911. He dies from his injury.

Tragic? Yes. His family is upset, they don't think he deserved to die, he probably didn't. I didn't want to kill him, I just wanted him to stop attacking me. I used the necessary means to do so. In a life and death situation it is all or nothing. There's no time to test different degrees of force to see what works, you need him to stop - now.

This is a situation I never want to find myself in. The after effects of a self-defense situation like this are devastating to the deceased, to the victim who had to defend himself and to the families of both.
You have just ended the life of some mother’s child. You may have stared into the eyes of this person as the life drained out of them. You may have listened to the death rattle as they took their last breath. You may have heard this person’s last words, or you may have simply watched them kick until they were still.

Whichever, you have just breached the most sacred of Man’s taboos. You have done something that cannot be taken back, and you have done the single most powerful, awful thing one human being may do to another.

In addition, you’re going to be so jazzed on adrenaline that your teeth will hurt. Endorphins will mask any pain — and failing to find pain, they will be tweaking your inhibitions in 23 different directions. Your mind will have played tricks on you — sounds will have gone squirrelly; time will have done weird things.

And worst of all, you probably won’t remember entire sequences of what just happened. Self-doubt is going to jump on your back like an 800-pound gorilla with cold feet and clammy hands.

And you will want someone — anyone — to understand that you were forced to do this terrible act. You will want someone — anyone — to know, to understand, that you had no choice in breaking the ancient taboo against killing.

--From Meditations on Aftermath
I think the only thing worse than having to kill in self-defense is not being able to and your family having to deal with the situation alone.

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