Home > Commentary, Personal Thoughts > What Would You Kill For?

What Would You Kill For?

Back in September I took a two day, defensive handgun training course at the FrontSight Institute. Before I had gone, I knew how to shoot a gun, where all the parts were, etc. However, once I was there, I realized that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. They taught me things that have brought my skills with a pistol to a level rivaling people who have shot all their lives.

One of the parts of the course, though, was one I hadn’t expected. They gathered us into the large conference room and gave us a lecture on the different aspects of gun ownership, one of which was when to kill. Now, I am sure if you went up to any handgun owner, most of them could give you a generally vague idea of when they would pull the trigger, usually involving the risk of life.

Before I went to FrontSight I had an idea as well. My sentiments were that if a person was threatening my life, or the life of another, or was breaking into my house/car, I would fire without hesitation. This is something I had never REALLY considered, it was always more philosophical than anything. I had done some research and discovered that Washington (the state I live in) has whats called “Stand Your Ground” gun laws. That is, you can shoot someone for endangering your life, the life of another, or committing a class A felony. Matches pretty well with what I was thinking, huh?

What I had failed to consider is that this is a far more complicated world than I had envisioned. After taking the FrontSight course, I sat down and seriously considered what I would shoot someone for, as there are several factors to keep in mind:

-After shooting someone, no matter what, you are likely going to jail, at least for a short while.

But It Was Justified!

-If there is any doubt in the case, you will likely be prosecuted, which will take time and a lot of money to defend yourself.

-Your family and friends may see you differently for having killed a man, regardless of it being justified.

-If you did ANYTHING wrong in the shooting (shot the person in the back, was mistaken on your report of how many shots you fired) they will use that against you in court.

-The obvious grief you will have to live with for the rest of your life for taking a life.

These are all things I have thought long and hard about. I have come to the conclusion that while it is technically legal to kill someone for taking your stuff, it isn’t worth it. The policy I have chosen to adopt is one of “if I’m not willing to die for it, I’m not willing to kill for it”. I am willing to die for my family, or even (believe it or not) a person on the street I don’t know. What I’m not willing to die for is the CD collection in my car that I see some punk stealing in the middle of the night.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no compunction drawing down on him and placing him under a citizen’s arrest until the cops show, but popping the lock on my car isn’t worth a death sentence in my book.

Now here’s a different situation: A person has broken into your house, and you hear him rummaging around downstairs. What do you do? I know what I’d do, I’d go down and double tap him in the chest without a second thought. He is in MY house. And while he may just be there to steal something and get out, I can’t know that. Also, he may have a gun. I would never be willing to risk the life of my family by drawing him down and ordering he get down on the floor.

How about this one: Your on the street and see a woman getting mugged, what do you do? If he were holding her at knife point, I would pull out my gun and tell him to assume the position he no doubt knows well. If he makes a move, he’s dead. If he were to have a gun, I would take aim and fire, knowing that even if he didn’t mean to kill the woman, I don’t know where the gun is going to end up, or what the person is going to do in the future.

One last scenario: your on the street and you see a man run up to a woman and steal the infant in her arms. You pull out your gun and take aim. You have a clear shot, can’t miss, but you don’t know the circumstances. That could be the child’s father, or it could be a joke, or even if you are correct in that its a kidnapping, what if the baby is seriously hurt when the man falls? They could even be killed! This was a scenario that a friend put to me a while back and I still don’t have an answer. If I shoot and it’s a misunderstanding, I am responsible for the possible deaths of both child and man. If I don’t fire, and it is a kidnapping I could have prevented, I would never be able to forgive myself if anything bad came to the kid.

What about you? Under what circumstances would you use deadly force? Are they the same as me, or different? Comment below.

-Trenton Stahl

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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  1. January 9, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Wow. You always bring up so many topics that I really have never given a considerable amount of thought to. Sure, I’ve breifly pondered it but…

    I don’t think I’d kill someone for taking my stuff. I’d get upset over it, but material possesions are NOT worth killing over. I believe fully in the idea of not killing what you wouldn’t die for.

    As for the scenarios, they are quite hard. I’m not sure what I’d do if someone broke into my house and I was unknowing of their intentions. I believe I’d sit in terror and wait to die. The second, I’m a horrid, horrid person, and to be honest, I wouldn’t even call the police because I don’t have the balls to be perfectly blunt. Same with the last.
    I believe I may just be one of the reasons criminals get away with some things.
    I wouldn’t even have a gun on me.
    But okay, let’s say I did, and that perhaps I knew how to use one. Maybe I’d try to help the two people possibly in danger. I don’t know, it’s just one of those mind-boggling questions.

    Damn.

  2. December 19, 2015 at 12:22 am

    I was once in the jungle when I was craghed by a mighty elephant. I tried to pull his tusks out, but they were in too tight. So I went to Alabama, where the tuscaloosa.I’m not sure I want to tell your jokes down at the bar … I’d get kicked out somewhere between red and green, I’m pretty sure. Might be worth it, though …

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