Self-help vs. self-defense

Man Sprays House With Gunfire, Hitting Woman in Head: Another Commenter Posits That He Would Have “Taken the Law Into [His] Own Hands”—A Comment on Possibly-Illegitimate Self-Help Versus Legitimate Self-Defense

By Ken K. Gourdin

Early on the morning of June 20, A gentleman heard noises at the front of his house in Delta UT and went outside to investigate. When someone pointed a laser at him (which, apparently, was the laser sight of a weapon), he retreated back into his house, which then was sprayed with gunfire, a bullet from which struck his wife in the head. Amazingly (and, frankly, miraculously), she was not seriously hurt—or worse.

Eighteen-year-old Joshua Baer of Springville UT was charged with attempted aggravated murder and unlawful discharge of a firearm, both first-degree felonies. For coverage of the incident in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News, see here (last accessed June 27, 2019):

I notice that Mr. Baer has tattoos on the side of his neck. While I’m certainly no expert in the matter, and while, given the location of the tattoos and the angle of the photo, it might be difficult for me to tell even if I were an expert, I wonder if Mr. Baer is a gang member.

For reasons that, frankly, utterly mystify me (and which were never clarified even after I requested clarification) The Deseret News rejected my comment. Responding to another commenter who said he would take the law into his own hands if something like that were to happen to his wife (and including his screen name and location in my response), I wrote:

imsmarterthanyou – Salt Lake City, UT

“These folks are real lucky they didn’t shoot my wife in the head. I’d find swift justice by taking the law into my own hands.”

You wouldn’t necessarily have to worry about taking the law into your own hands if you were to shoot someone else in self-defense or in defense of another when you are (or when the other is) faced with an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury, as seems to be the case here: That’s legitimate self-defense. If, on the other hand, you propose to hunt down the shooter once the imminent threat passes, that’s probably another matter entirely: while I understand the sentiment (and therefore the impulse) that might lead you to do such a thing, if you actually did do such a thing, I’d have to question whether, indeed, you really are “smarter than [I am].” It probably makes a difference if you have someone else depending on you whose life and/or livelihood would be impacted by your decision. If not, I guess the choice is up to you.

About kenngo1969

Just as others must breathe to live, I must write. I have been writing creatively almost ever since I learned to write, period! I have written fiction, book- and article-length nonfiction, award-winning poetry, news, sports, features, and op-eds. I hope, one day, to write some motivational nonfiction, a decent-selling novel, a stage play, and a screen play.
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