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View Diary: The Moral Realities of Self Defense Shootings (238 comments)

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  •  I think you're wrong about humans (6+ / 0-)

    not being perfectly capable of killing other humans without much thought or emotion. Basing that on the history of humanity, which is far more rife with violence and murder - and mass murder on ridiculous scales - than it is with peace, love and Kumbaya.

    Now, that may reflect some sort of evolutionary mis-wiring in our way too big to justify brains, but it's what we've got to work with. It almost seems like peace, love and non-violence are recent developments in the evolutionary scheme of things, and they're not making a lot of progress even today. It would be great if all babies born from today forward didn't come with the twisted wiring that has historically made us the only species that believes its entire reason for existence is to wipe out everybody else, but a simple look around tells me that's very, very unlikely.

    I'm pretty sure I could kill if I had to, and in such circumstances where it was me and/or my loved ones against some murderous thug, I don't think I'd suffer too much anguished remorse. So his family has to bury him? Big deal. If we live long enough we all get to bury loved ones. Just or unjust, closure or open wound, lives long or short, we are all mortal beings. If we live, we will die, and there are sometimes consequences for bad choices and evil deeds just as there are sometimes consequences for living simply and honestly and doing good for those around us. The end is what it is, it comes to all.

    I don't carry a gun outside my property, and don't plan on ever doing so. But I have "shown off" my shotgun a few times to assholes who bothered to drive all the way up my half-mile driveway to 'inform' me I can't keep them from hunting on my property, and to two meth-head jerks who pulled a handgun on me not a dozen feet from my front door because they wanted money or something they could hock for money. Hell, if the shotgun had been loaded I'd have blasted out their windshield for sure, and chambered the next round no problem. Instead, they sobered up quickly enough when they saw my gun to realize they'd better get the hell outta there quick.

    Left me their side-view mirror on the way out, while 'little buddy' in the shotgun seat emptied the handgun by shooting out the window. Just me and my grandson home at the time, no way was I letting them get into my house without killing me first. So I stood my ground (front deck, actually), and absolutely meant it. Weird part (to me) was that I didn't get all adrenaline scared and shaky until after they were gone. During the standoff I was merely furious that they'd dare.

    I think it's naive to believe all humans have some sort of inherent compunction against killing fellow humans, and I see no evidence to support that notion in history or on the nightly news. It would be lovely, but it isn't so in real life. I totally respect your feelings and choices though, and hope your life never presents you with worse than you've already experienced to make you rueful.

    And just so you know, I have a real problem understanding what's so great about using guns to seek out and kill members of another species just because that's supposedly 'fun'. Hunters really piss me off...

    •  Joieau, have you read (7+ / 0-)

      about sheepdogs?

      Some people cannot fathom how others can be in-between, neither helpless nor predator.

      Some people cannot fathom how others can willingly not just give away all claim to the right to defend themselves, or those for whom they care, but demand that of everyone.

      Some people cannot fathom how anything matters except what they want, and are willing to take what they want regardless of effort or cost.

      Sometimes I think there's a little bit -- at least potentially -- of all three in everybody.

      The test is not, I think, what you do if you're only worried about your own life, but what you do if you must consider the impact on your spouse, or children, or parents, or siblings. Do you just give them up too?

      Consider the difference between the "Die Hard" franchise and the "Karate Kid" franchise, even rebooted. One glorifies violence, the other discipline and refusal to give in to bullying.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:57:18 AM PST

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      •  There is nothing wrong (5+ / 0-)

        with the choice to become a warrior. My father was a Naval officer, my husband a submariner. Sure, launching a nuclear bullet designed to wipe out millions of people you can't see isn't exactly 'brave' or anything, but it is the reality we all (post-WWII generations) have had to live with every day all our lives. Perhaps less likely to make the planet completely uninhabitable than back in Cuban Missile Crisis days, but are smaller terrorist nukes any better as Existential Threat? Suicidal and proud of it.

        I understand being a sheep. Most of the people I've known in my 6+ decades are sheep. They're soft and warm and often amazingly talented, sometimes brilliant. The people who do humanity proud just by existing, in those hopeful ways wolves prey on and sheepdogs defend. Human civilization should be all about the shiny, brilliant sheep, and not about wolves or guard dogs. I'm mostly a sheep, but will defend if I have to - am capable of doing so, know I can and will because I have.

        That said, I also have a sheepdog - well, a large border collie who takes his job of keeping bears on the other side of the ridge and letting us know when vehicles/people are coming very seriously. Got to get him a sheep one of these days (free lawn mowing!), but for now he's happy herding ducks instead. We depend on him for fair warning and protection. So I do get the analogy.

        •  As a military vet, I agree with you (5+ / 0-)
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          Joieau, ER Doc, pengiep, gerrilea, PavePusher

          The dog probably enjoys the ducks enough. But free mowing, and sheeps'-milk cheese, could be a worthwhile expansion.

          I wish I could thank your Dad for his service.

          I didn't mean to imply that there's anything wrong with being a sheep.

          I do have trouble understanding how that innate mistrust of sheepdogs can become the "sole legitimate" point of view.

          LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

          by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:17:27 PM PST

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          •  Heh. I'm waiting for (7+ / 0-)

            the farm animal rescue to have a sheep. Just one, because to do dairy you've got to have a ram (smelly, grumpy critters) and then lambs, and we don't eat meat. Besides, I can get goat's milk from a neighbor in trade for duck eggs.

            We live far off the beaten track, on purpose. Yet even here, bordered by national forest bear sanctuary that goes on for miles, the most considerable 'threat' is still human. Three or four unfriendly human encounters in 20 years isn't a really BIG 'threat', but it's something we have to consider and be willing to counter.

            My grandson, however, is fairly convinced it'll be a bear that finally does me in. At one point between dogs we had five who moved right on into the property for the trash, the compost bin, the blackberries, and for one, a nice cuddly curl-up spot on the back porch. I took out after a big female in the trash one day with a garden rake (I'd just cleaned up from the last raid), about gave my grandson a heart attack. The bear, fortunately, moved on after looking at me funny. A dog (or two) is perfect bear defense. No buck or bird shot needed, they simply don't come around.

          •  Do you make sheep's milk cheese (2+ / 0-)
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            gerrilea, Joieau

            as well as me?

            I have a Grade A sheep dairy.

        •  Be careful (5+ / 0-)

          I have three Border Collies.

          They persuaded me to buy a 50 acre sheep ranch.

    •  I think statistically you are wrong here (2+ / 0-)
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      Joieau, splashy
      Basing that on the history of humanity, which is far more rife with violence and murder - and mass murder on ridiculous scales - than it is with peace, love and Kumbaya.
      •  On a 1:1 numerical (3+ / 0-)
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        gerrilea, JosephK74, fisheye

        level you're right - always more sheep than wolves. But from all I've seen of life and death on planet earth, war is endemic, always going on somewhere whether we pay attention to it or not. Worse, it doesn't take much to turn supposedly civilized people who used to be friendly (or at least tolerant) neighbors into genocidal maniacs (i.e., Bosnia, Rwanda, etc.). Even here in the U.S. people kill each other on a regular basis. "Not that many" compared to the total population, but it's still a considerable issue to a majority of the larger population.

        "Not that many" doesn't absolve our species of its apparently inherent homicidal tendencies. Wolves do way more damage to sheep than sheep ever do to wolves, hence a smaller number of wolves doesn't mean the flock is safe. That's why there's [an even smaller number of] sheepdogs.

        •  I have a hard time reconciling (1+ / 0-)
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          your metaphor of sheep and wolves with the wolves being the baseline for 'humanity'.

          The tendency of humanity is clearly not to eat each other although that does happen.

          If it didn't take much, then it would happen more often and more widespread.

          For instance gun violence in America involves .003% of the population. While it's a serious problem, and violence is a constant by varying degrees across the globe and eras,  to characterize humanity the way you are is to dismiss over 99% of the people.

          It's one thing to call a glass half full that's half empty. It's another to call it half full when there's a drop in the bottom.

          •  Actually, I borrowed the analogy (1+ / 0-)
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            from commenter BlackSheep1. And no, it's not perfectly apropos, but it does speak to roles. Adam Lanza was 1 man in a state with a lot of men - one singular actor amongst lots of sheep and enough sheepdogs to have made short work if he hadn't chosen the cote lambs for his meal. That has led to an urgent 'dialogue' about gun control in a nation of 300+ million. Obviously, we alive today do consider wolves to be a serious issue despite their rarity.

            Merely observing that humanity harbors an innate - and strangely 'unnatural' if one considered natural distributions amongst other species we share the planet with to apply - tendency toward killing each other. Most live their lives without managing to act it out, but enough do for us to at least recognize the trait. It would be nice if we could overcome it, but I doubt it will happen in my lifetime. Perhaps someday we will.

      •  I just finished reading the book "Poland" (1+ / 0-)
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        by James Michner.

        Do you have any idea how many times that one small area of Europe was invaded, and how the people were treated?

        That history is not at all unique.

        Rule-by-force (and ownership of property by the same rule) was the norm until very recently, historically speaking.

    •  I'd urge you to give your firearms to someone (0+ / 0-)

      who lives far away from you. You sound angry and have irrational ideas about hunters. Angry people with guns prone to confrontations sometimes end up killing someone.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 04:59:22 PM PST

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      •  No need. (0+ / 0-)

        Since I already live far away from mass numbers of people. My ideas about hunters aren't the least bit irrational, I simply expect hunters to be able to read my Posted signs, or at least recognize them as placing my property off limits to their guns and murderous intent toward any living things that happen to live on my property. For those who can't manage that much, I'm always glad to explain it carefully to them in person. They may not be happy with that explanation, but they all abide by it so they don't have to deal with me, my family members, the local constabulary, the state wardens, or the federal land officers. Running afoul of any of those can be quite a bit more expensive than the hunting license (which comes with a brochure that also explains these exclusions).

        And not to worry (or justify your dickishness). Unless you come armed deep into my property and demand that I allow you to shoot animals (or livestock, or pets, or people if your aim is rotten) who live here, you will never encounter my anger or see my shotgun. Or any other of our tools/toys that could serve as weapons (bows/crossbows, swords, machetes, hatchets, axes, mauls, chainsaw, the DR Brush Mower/Mulcher, any handy garden/harvest tool with sharp steel edge and long handle, or even the spudzuka).

        Nifty how that works, isn't it?

    •  We protect those close to us (3+ / 0-)
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      gerrilea, Ginny in CO, Joieau

      our family first, then our neighbor, then our tribe, against outsiders.

      That's always been how it works.

      There have been studies showing that crimes that are shown on TV impact us more, because it makes it seem like it is happening in our community.

      Which is why we get so upset about the deaths of 20 children in CT, but not so much in foreign countries.

      I agree with you for the most part, humans aren't as nice as we'd like to imagine.

      But in my experience, being on both sides of the divide, that is more common in urban setting where there seems to be little community, as opposed to a rural situation where everyone knows everyone else, and will go to bat to defend  almost their most hated neighbor.

      •  Actually, it seems to me that in a urban setting (0+ / 0-)

        There is far more cooperation and community, considering they are fine with paying taxes to help out the rural areas, while the rural areas are not fine with paying taxes to help out the urban areas.

        You are talking about small circles in the rural areas, while the urban people are more likely to be into helping larger groups of people.

        Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

        by splashy on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 01:42:18 AM PST

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        •  What makes you think (0+ / 0-)

          people who live in rural areas aren't fine with paying taxes? Why would the taxes on our lands, property and such (for our schools, services, etc.) need to go to the city, which has more people making more money and paying more taxes? Why would rural people need to pay for city schools, services, etc.? Seems a very odd complaint to me.

          I very much like to see the swelling of ranks in the "urban homesteading" movement, would love it if city dwellers learned about growing things and producing food for themselves and their neighbors. But as it stands right now, the urban populations are dependent upon the rural population to supply the food, much of the energy, and a large chunk of the general consumables city people purchase with all their 'extra' money. If that seems unfair to you, I urge you to replace your lawn with crops and chickens (or ducks, they're more fun). That won't affect how the government spends your tax dollars, but you'll eat better and have more fun.

          •  Don't most of the ones against taxes (0+ / 0-)

            Live in the rural areas? You know, the right wingers?

            That's what I read about everywhere.

            The rural areas depend on the urban areas for funding for roads, electricity, schools, hospitals, and other things needed in the more rural areas that the rural people don't have enough  money to pay for. Most of the right wing states are more rural, and get more money than they put in to the Federal coffers.

            By the way, I live in a very rural area, so don't assume so much. Just because I talk about urban areas being more cooperative when it comes to the entire population doesn't mean that I live in an urban area.

            It's a symbiotic relationship, but a lot of rural people don't get that.

            Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

            by splashy on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 05:19:39 PM PST

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            •  No doubt there's some (0+ / 0-)

              right-wingers around, and probably plenty of people (of various political persuasions) who complain about taxes. There's property taxes, local and county taxes, service fees, dedicated 'extra' taxes (bonds for public infrastructure), state and federal income taxes, sales taxes, gasoline taxes... it never ends.

              Schools and services in the county/district are financed by property and local assessment taxes paid by landholders, vehicle owners and other residents of the county (we even have a "head tax"). Same is true in populous counties - where you'll find more and larger schools, many more law enforcement personnel and offices, a fire house every few blocks, municipal services, sewer, water, etc. My county gets zero money from the local/county property and services taxes of other counties, and other counties get none of ours. Perhaps in your state it works differently.

              Money that gets passed around by the state and federal governments via legislative allotment is used to help support schools on a per-student basis, maybe buy some buses and fire trucks once in a blue moon, develop new landfill facilities occasionally, stuff like that. Plus the state and federal services (and their separate infrastructures and funding sources). That comes from income tax revenues to the state and feds, and from a variety of other general taxes (sales taxes, gasoline taxes, tax taxes...). From those legislative allotments you'll get the prominent Red State disproportionate share. Which includes pork, of course - military-industrial subsidies, etc., etc.

              Oh... and everybody I know around here buys their electricity from Duke Energy. All of us (city or country) buy it on a per-kilowatt basis with income left over after we've paid all our taxes. Phone service is also something we all get to buy on our own from one corporation or another. Local taxes don't have anything to do with those services and haven't for as long as anybody can remember.

    •  There is scientific evidence that does support (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the reluctance as normal for humans. (Best available in quick search, it's fine, there's more.)

      I think it's naive to believe all humans have some sort of inherent compunction against killing fellow humans
      The change in people becoming willing to kill other humans can start as early as in utero and early childhood. Indoctrination, experience with violence and abuse in childhood add to the problem.

      The very human reaction tmservo describes is well known in military, law enforcement, medicine, psychology and other disciplines. More police officers die from suicide than are killed in the line of duty. In health care, losing a patient for legitimate reasons can create a similar psychological experience.

      Another group are the people who carry out legal executions. There were plenty of anecdotal situations for years. Many years ago a study was supposed to be done on it with the Texas tie down team. Never have seen another reference, nor can I find any of the first ones. I can't get the suspicion it was buried out of my mind. Coyote on a Fence is an excellent play on that issue.

      Starting four decades ago, until one decade ago, I practiced birth control religiously. I had no doubt if one occurred before I was prepared, adoption would not even be acceptable. No way any one but moi would raise a child I brought into the world. I would have been faced with an inevitable abortion. I succeeded completely. Two planned, two alive and well, no others.

      The reality that precedes if we would kill, is if we could. If only I had a gun is a 20/20 segment from several years ago about an experiment conducted with law enforcement officers to assess if people could handle a shooting situation given the incredible stress involved, after intense training. The physiological effect of massive stress hormone release is explained. The small sample of 4 participants were 100% unable; additionally, the paint shot in the scenarios indicated all would have been killed. Not too far off the 95% of cops who don't do any better controlling those situations. Police usually practice every two months.  One of the officers leading the experiment describes it as a 'perishable skill'. I would explain it as a very short half life of one month.

      You and the Marine's daughters described above, who were all able to control the stress and situations, are exceptions. Some day we may have better understanding of what practices promote this. So far the evidence is for frequent meditation or other stress control, and training in martial arts that promote stress and anger management. Those also seem to promote a reluctance to use violence. Probably because they restore the 'inherent compunction against killing fellow humans.'

      I've owned guns for hunting and target practice. I almost killed both kids and myself in 12/93 with two pistols. IF I am ever in a situation where someone is clearly being illegally attacked, IF I have some way to realistically intervene, and IF I could function in the situation, I would kill humans IF that is the only way to stop them.

      And be prepared to deal with the psychological burden.

      "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

      by Ginny in CO on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:52:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd suggest the Sanford (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ginny in CO

        Prison Experiment (and others like it) expose an innate tendency to abuse power over others. Not necessarily for killing, but certainly for abuse. Which you cite as a reason for the cruelty we see too much of in life. A self-reinforcing cycle, it seems. We just interpret that differently.

        We've all got psychological burdens to deal with. Most of us manage to do that without killing others, some of us don't even spend our time attempting to visit suffering on others. That's also something innate.

        I'd be genuinely surprised if the people who murdered my brother and [12 years later] my son felt remorse at the time or still feel remorse now. I'd mention that "justice" is an elusive concept in the human world, and that there are millions of people who have suffered injustice and loss that will never see it rectified or addressed in their lifetimes. Hell, we can't even prosecute the Masters of the Universe who crashed the entire world's economy just a few years ago, all of them walking around free as Masters of the Universe right now. How many people lost everything, how many have died due to their crimes? Civilization Ho...

        •  I've come pretty close to losing everything, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and it ain't over yet. Power is definitely a corrupting factor. The cycle of poverty is complex, some of the pieces are relatively new discoveries - the effect of maternal stress on fetal development, further stress on the toddler brain. Etc.

          My former SO, a CA lawyer who limits his practice to death row appeals, says murderers only have one thing in common. Multiple layers of abuse. Like an onion.

          That will turn any inherent reluctance to kill a human into an obsession with it. Inability to feel remorse is quite essential to being able to kill. As fascinated as I am with the human brain, all the college education in psych, physiology/medicine and sociology, plus career experience; psych is the hardest to think about. I hope the explosion in neuroscience the past 2 decades leads to more effective treatments soon.

          It is really amazing the extent to which humans can accept tragedy inflicted by other humans and even forgive the perpetrators. Or just bad luck, repeatedly. I've read about it, seen it in my patients and my own daughter. Darned if I have as much capacity for it as I need. Realized in '05 that justice is good for the wealthy, a lotto for the rest of us.

           I hadn't seen the Stanford Prison Experiment until last June - just missed it when I took criminology in the 70's. Having worked the jail unit at Denver Health with the sheriffs, the power trip with psychological and emotional abuse is enough to make you puke. I've told a lot of people I would have no problem working with prisoners, it's the guards I couldn't stand. Told one wearing a cross off when he was making comments about a prisoner. To the effect that I didn't think Jesus would want to be worshiped by anyone who talked the way he had about prisoners. He shut up around me.

          "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

          by Ginny in CO on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 09:44:28 AM PST

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          •  I don't guess (0+ / 0-)

            we'll ever know what phantoms haunted Adam Lanza, or why he chose for his staged "blaze of glory" exit from his life the most relatively "innocent" and powerless of fellow humans to kill. It probably says something about his haunting that everybody has so far missed, but the person who may have known more than anyone else about abuses he may have suffered - his mother - is also beyond our questioning.

            It's good (sociologically) that this tragedy has finally ignited serious discussion about necessary gun control in this country. But not even the most adamant of wannabe controllers has said anything in passing about the even more disturbing psychological implications of the actor's personal drama other than "Mental Illness! Mental Illness! Crazy People!!!" Which tells us nothing at all except that those talking want to ensure that any discussions exclude real analysis of what's organically wrong. The ONLY thing I've seen confirmed about Adam Lanza's mental condition is that he probably displayed a high functioning level of autism (Aspberger's sp?). And I don't know how authoritative that diagnosis might be. No one I've ever known in this bracket has ever displayed serious impulse control issues that lead to murderous violence.

            Most everyone's assumed to be 'normal' until they act out the fact that they're not. We don't have a very good definition or list of criteria that establishes what, exactly, is 'normal'. Those with mental challenges who harbor deadly ideations are primarily dangerous to themselves. Most often they do not present existential danger to random strangers.

            Of course, there is ample historical evidence that authoritative public dehumanization of target groups can in fact lead to horrendous wars, rebellions (civil wars) and even genocides as the majority is led to act violence upon the targeted minority. Goebbels was a Master at this in his day, today's media and tools are far more advanced. We've got Rush, et al., FoxNews, and an entire political party with power all utterly devoted to demonization 24-7. This is having a sociological effect as acting becomes more common, it can get a whole lot worse. Surprisingly quickly.

            We've got our work cut out for us if we are to evolve beyond this.

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