One of the platitudes that I often hear echoed by pro-gun control advocates is that no material item is ever worth a human life. Basically, one should avoid shooting a robber or burglar at all costs.
Perhaps in an ideal world, they’re right. One shouldn’t kill someone over an iPod or a television set because that person can be rehabilitated, turned from a thieving miscreant into a productive member of society.
But we don’t live in an ideal world. And it’s very difficult, maybe impossible, to discern during such an encounter when a suspect is simply robbing one for a material possession or whether the robbery is just the beginning of a more sinister plan, one that involves physical abuse, rape and murder.
One never knows the intent of the criminal mind, which is why self-defense laws in the U.S. are drafted in a way to protect the reasonable use of force under stressful conditions. The operative word is “reasonable.” If one reasonably fears imminent death or great bodily harm, it is lawful for one to use deadly force in the U.S. For example, fatally shooting an armed robber breaking into one’s home in the middle of the night would be considered “reasonable” under the law.
Putting that aside, let’s suppose that in a hypothetical scenario one knew that the robber was not going to kill one or cause one great bodily harm but instead just wanted one’s material possession. Should one allow that suspect to take what he wants?
Let’s unpack this idea further. One is confronted by an unarmed teenage carjacker. The carjacker demands the individual’s vehicle. But the individual is caring a loaded handgun. Should the individual just turn over the vehicle to the carjacker, again knowing that the carjacker is not a physical threat? Suppose the individual pulls his firearm on the carjacker, but the carjacker responds by saying, “I’m taking your car. What are you going to do about it? Shoot me?” Should the individual back down, allowing the carjacker to steal the vehicle?
It’s an interesting question. Arguably, no material possession is worth a human life, but at the same time one needs his vehicle. One also doesn’t know whether the carjacker will be caught and punished.
Would you shoot a thief to stop him? Or would you let him run away with your property and hope the cops and justice system catch up to him down the road?