justified use of force?

(i may get skewered on this one. but hear me out.)

this article details the story of donald hurd. the upshot: mr. hurd is a 68 year-old man who was mugged in st. paul on tuesday night. he was mugged by three men in his teens while awaiting a bus transfer, and reportedly lost $350 in cash. mr. hurd was also packing; while he did not use the weapon during the actual robbery…

Hurd said he fired two shots in the air and one in the direction of the fleeing men, intending to scare them. He said he didn\’t know anyone had been hit.

someone had been. one of the suspects, an 18-year-old was shot in the shoulder. he was taken to regions hospital. his injuries are not life-threatening.

open-and-shut, right? not really. the three suspects have yet to be charged. hurd was arrested and spent two nights in jail. criminal charges may be coming. \”that\’s the problem with the justice system,\” says joe sixpack. \”the criminals get off, while a man gets put in jail just for defending himself.\”

not so fast.

first, hurd lied to the police when first asked if he had shot his gun or not. he said that he lied because he was nervous. i\’d be nervous, too. but lying about shooting a gun? does he not watch \”law and order?\”

second, he was not licensed to carry a concealed weapon.

third, and here\’s the controversial part: hurd legally did not have the right to shoot the suspect as he was running away. minnesota law states that you can only kill someone if you are reasonably sure that you are in imminent harm. hurd\’s assaulters were running away when he fired and hit one of them. this is illegal, and he should be charged. case closed.

i hear some of you. i hear you yelling \”poppycock\” at me. doesn\’t the victim have any rights?

sure. if, during the robbery, hurd had pulled out his gun and shot any or all of his assailants, i\’d be okay with that. but he didn\’t. they were yards away from him. granted, it was in st. paul, late on a weeknight. but what if it had been downtown minneapolis on a friday night? a sunny afternoon on a residential street in apple valley? near a daycare in hopkins? change your mind?

i\’ll be the first to admit that i was wrong about the impact of conceal-and-carry on crime in the state; we didn\’t see an increase in crime. (we also didn\’t see a decrease, but that\’s a gambit for another time.) however, the purpose of citizens having the right to carry a concealed weapon is twofold. first, its implicit purpose: to stop potential criminals by making them wonder if their victim may be carrying a weapon. second, more explicitly, to stop a crime in progress by displaying it or using it.

think about the dangerous precedent we would set if we allow citizens to shoot at criminals after a crime has taken place. are they a bad shot? are they in a crowd? we can\’t guarantee the answer to both of those is \”no,\” we can never allow for it. now, i\’m certainly aware that, if this case ever goes to a jury, hurd will be found not guilty. however, that doesn\’t make it the right decision.







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