Using Our Right to Bear Arms Wisely

I think this post will upset some of my readers. I don’t want to do that. What I’d like to do is highlight the difference between responsible use of our rights (including gun rights), and the people who make our side look bad. I am extreme in my ideas about the liberty we have in this country. I believe that most of the rights outlined in the Constitution (and all of the ones left unmentioned) are nearly absolute. I think the Supreme Court has gone too far in many cases to limit our freedoms of speech, religion, guns and many other things. However, stories like the one I am about to relate to you hurt our cause…and so I think it’s important that we educate our side to make sure things like this never happen.

I want to first highlight a seemingly poor use of our right to bear arms by a liquor store owner. This story is very new, and only the most basic of information has surfaced about the case, but I’d like to discuss on the facts at hand.

A 39 year old man entered a South Texas convenience store Saturday night, grabbed a 12 pack of beer, and attempted to flee with the stolen goods. From the description of the theft, the case seems more like shoplifting and less like a robbery, which makes what happened next – questionable. As the thief attempted to flee with the stolen beer, the store owner shot and killed him. Once they arrived at the store, the police arrested the store owner for the shooting death of the beer thief.

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I know that some of you will argue that the shooting was justified because the man was stealing. I don’t disagree that the thief was in the midst of committing a crime, but I would argue that the punishment does not fit the crime. Situations like these, and our response to them, often paint us as irrational and cruel to the gun grabbing left. We are not irrational or cruel, but I think at times we are overprotective of our own members… even when they make mistakes. This was not a case where pulling a trigger was justified (at least not on the currently known facts), and we should not rush in to support this man for killing someone else over simple theft of beer.

Let’s juxtapose the beer theft with a more reasonable use of force by a store owner.

In Jacksonville, Florida last week a masked man who presented himself as armed tried to rob a convenience store. The clerks handed over the money but as the man went to make his getaway, the store owner shot him in the chest. The police found the robber a couple of blocks away and rushed him to a hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The difference between these two is that in the Jacksonville case, the intruder was at least pretending to be armed and threatening the people inside the convenience store. There must be some kind of measurement of value that we as gun owners/users integrate into our decision making process. While the theft of product can be maddening for a small business owner, we cannot allow it to drive us to taking lives. However, to protect the lives and/or safety of others in a turbulent situation, the use of force is almost always justifiable.

I don’t write this important distinction to defend a thief from a victim of theft… but to remind us of the bigger picture. Incidents like the shooting in Texas can paint all gun owners and gun rights supporters in a negative light. It may not be fair and it may not be right, but we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. We need to strive to prove at every turn that gun rights are always a good thing. When we defend bad shootings simply because the victim was a thug or a thief, it changes the focus of the story. We must remember that our opponents in the gun grabbing anti-liberty lobby are always watching.


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