I am getting really tired of this story. Not the story of the retired cop in Florida shooting the popcorn throwing text messaging theater jerk. No, the story I’m getting tired of is the recurring self-defense narrative.
- Someone not an obvious criminals pulls out his gun in circumstances poorly described by news sources who are completely ignorant not only of firearms, but of the laws surrounding self-defense.
- Anti-gunners, sensing that they have a chance to blacken the name of all concealed carrying gun owners everywhere leap to call him a racist, sexist, homophobic gun-toting murderer.
- Gun owners on the internet come out of the woodwork to throw the shooter under the bus, describing in lurid detail all the things that the shooter did wrong, referencing the newspaper stories written by idiots ignorant of firearms and self-defense law.
Can a man get a trial before we lynch him? Can you people stop trying to surrender to the anti-gunners just long enough for the trial? Please?
“But,” you say, “It was just a bit of popcorn!”
Stop being stupid. We don’t know. We don’t know a damn thing about what happened. We have news stories written by people who don’t know the difference between the holding end and the flamey death end of a handgun. These people wouldn’t know the difference between Castle Doctrine and the Monroe Doctrine. They don’t know the difference between Stand Your Ground and Stand and Deliver. Relying on them for good information about self-defense is like expecting a politician to keep his promises.
The shooter will be convicted or acquitted based upon one thing. Was his fear of death or serious bodily injury REASONABLE. He claims it was self-defense. He says that he feared death or serious bodily injury at the hands of the person he shot. Now he has to convince a judge or jury that his fear was reasonable. How could he do that?
Ability means that the other person has the power to kill or to cripple you.
The text messaging “victim” (for lack of a more neutral term) was in his 40s and was a fairly tall man. Here’s the photo of him and his family they’ve been circulating.
The shooter is 71. He’s not frail looking, but he’s still a senior citizen compared to the 43-year-old victim. There is every reason to believe that an enraged victim could have beaten the shooter badly enough to lead to serious bodily injury or death.
Opportunity means that the circumstances are such that the other person would be able to use his ability against you.
They were each on the other side of a set of set of theater seats, well within reach of each other. It is clear that he had opportunity.
Jeopardy means that the other person’s actions or words provide you with a reasonably perceived belief that he intends to kill you or cripple you.
This is where we lack information. Did the victim stay seated, get mad, and toss the popcorn? Or did he surge to his feet, tower over the victim, and shove a box of popcorn in his face while giving the impression that a further beating was about to happen? We just don’t know. We are told that the victim’s wife had put a restraining hand on the victim’s chest, which is how she came to be shot with the same bullet that killed her husband. Does this mean that she was trying to pull her husband off the shooter? Or was she just placing her hand there in that loving way wives do when they are trying to get you to remember your manners? We don’t know.
It is certainly possible that the shooter was justified. It doesn’t seem all that likely, mostly because we are relying on the news reports of people who don’t know anything at all about guns or laws. We can reasonably assume that police forces in Florida are going to arrest in any self-defense case they get so that they don’t get the same treatment that the Sanford Police Department got after the Martin/Zimmerman shooting. But we can’t take the arrest and the media stories and spin that into a conviction in the court of public opinion.
So when some anti-gunner gets all up in your face about one more “concealed carry killer,” instead of throwing the guy under the bus, say “He’s been arrested and is awaiting trial. Perhaps we should let the justice system determine his guilt or innocence instead of trying to lynch him.” You don’t have to defend him. You also don’t have to condemn him. And if anyone tries to force you to make the false choice between those two possibilities, change the subject from the shooting to the behavior of the anti-gunners. Just ask them why they are so eager to lynch a retired police officer.