I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Monday, September 3, 2012


This post is of a philosophical bent, and from a perspective I have no authority on. I have never been in a self-defense situation, and, god willing, I never will be.

If I find myself in a self defense situation though, I am going to do my level best to end the threat as quickly and effectively as I am able to. The primary concern is my own safety (or the safety of those I am trying to protect) followed by the safety of everyone else around. Yes, this sounds harsh, to say that the safety of an innocent bystander means less to me than mine or that of those I care about, but accidents happen, and, like the situation outside the Empire State Building, sometimes removal of the threat is more important.

There is another set of concerns though. I don't want the goblin to suffer.

This sounds bizarre. Here I am, prepared to wreak potentially life-ending violence on someone who is threatening me or mine, and I am concerned with their comfort. I think it very important to remember though.

By their actions, in threatening my life, that person has given up their own rights. They have no right to comfort, life, death, or security in the moments of the attack. But it is by granting them a modicum of concern for their comfort that we maintain our humanity, and, in a cynical sense, the moral high ground. Killing another human being is never a good thing, but it can be a necessary evil, one whose blame falls solely on the goblin.

This is a very dangerous line. To cross it is to stoop to their level, such that the abyss might stare back.

This is why I say that guns are merciful. A mechanism as quick as any with good shot placement, they remove the period of suffering, given the assumption that the goblin will die. Considering that there is no real way to guarantee the end of the threat without real risk of that eventuality, it seems only proper to think given that assumption though. If they survive and recover, that is a good thing, as we are not in the business of condemnation. But it isn't possible to guarantee.

Shooting a person in the elbow with a .45 ball is going to really mess up that elbow. Shattered bone, severed ligaments, and probably massive circulatory damage, easily to the point of being life threatening if left untreated. It would also be massively painful, and to boot, it would not guarantee the end of the threat. How then is that a better option than shooting them once in the head?

Anti's often talk about our obsession with the gear we carry. The caliber wars, plastic v steel, 1911 or GLOCK, these discussions can seem highly callous when you consider that these tools are potentially to be used to end someone's life. They lend credence to the anti idea that we are all looking for a fight, and are trying to be as deadly as possible.

We do walk something of a razor's edge on this. It does happen that someone gets a little too into the self-defense mindset, and goes over. We as gun owners and self-defense advocates absolutely need to keep mindful of why we want to carry effective tools, and remember the principles of being merciful to the end. It is a thing of mercy to avoid causing unnecessary suffering. Better tools better allow us to avoid suffering. We are not in the business of punishment. But protecting ourselves sometimes requires the use of force. It is a huge responsibility, and we best live up to that responsibility by using the best tools possible. It's about mercy.

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