A Problem: Victims Actually Urged Not To Shoot In Self Defense

Published by the LearnAboutGuns.com Author on September 15, 2008 at 12:25 am
LearnAboutGuns.com > Pro Gun Rights Articles > A Problem: Victims Actually Urged Not To Shoot In Self Defense

I’ve heard of a few cases in which a citizen is in their own home when an violent intruder breaks in, and that citizen is counseled not to use their gun in self defense as the attacker comes at them. This is simply wrong:

One example is this 911 call, in which a previously violent stalker has broken into a woman’s home and is in the process of breaking down her locked bedroom door. The 911 operator tells the woman not to do anything “rash”, such as to fire her gun in self defense. Luckily for that woman, she eventually decides to ignore the 911 operator’s advice and fired in self defense (saving her own life) after the stalker begins to strangle her.

I will start out by saying that I am a person who abhors violence and sees all human life as sacred. I do not believe that the death penalty is appropriate under any situation, as it is not justifiable to kill a human who poses no immediate threat and could be jailed for life instead. I am, however, a firm believer in the right to self defense, and would not hesitate to use deadly force against a home invader or other violent attacker. This is because hesitating could cost me or a loved one our lives, as it only takes an instant for a criminal to draw and fire their gun. When it comes down to it, I believe it is morally superior to quickly fire upon a criminal who is committing a felony such as home invasion than to hesitate and allow that criminal to possibly kill or seriously injure an innocent person. This approach may indeed result in more home invaders being shot by home owners, however one invades the home of another at their own peril; and I do not intend for my family to suffer the fate of this family or this man.

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This view of not hesitating to defend oneself comports with the law in virtually every part of the US and many other countries, which allows a person who is in reasonable fear of suffering great bodily harm or death to use deadly force in defense of themselves. In my humble opinion, any person is in reasonable fear for their life as soon as a criminal breaks and enters their home. I can only see this fear increasing as the resident comes within sight of the criminal, who could draw a gun or a knife at any moment. Indeed I can’t imagine how any reasonable person could fail to be in fear for their life under such a situation.
Even leaving aside the legal question, is see truth in the old adage that it is “better to be judged by 12 than to be carried by 6” (saying is is better to go to trial for shooting in self defense than to be given a funeral after hesitating to act in self defense).

Disclaimer: The above discussion of self defense is not legal adivce and should not be construed as such.

  • Lori

    That 911 operator was dead wrong to tell her not to defend herself!

  • AH

    I listened to the tape but do not agree with the conclusion in this article regarding the 911 operator. We know now what the facts were, but at the time the 911 operator had no idea who was calling. The caller was obviously (and rightfully) hysterical, and had a gun. Was it a mental patient calling? Was it some drug-addled woman? Was she really under attack or was it all in her mind? “Don’t do anything rash” was pretty good advice. The operator did not say “don’t defend yourself” or “don’t shoot an armed intruder.” And the woman didn’t do anything rash.

  • http://www.learnaboutguns.com LearnAboutGuns.com


    Thanks for the comment.

    I find myself in respectful disagreement. The statement not to do anything “rash” seems to me to only mean not to fire. I suppose that only that 911 operator could know what she meant when she said that, but I think that my interpretation is the most reasonable one. I ran the tape by my fiancée, who (without prompting from me) reached the same conclusion…

    I would also say that it would not be reasonable for the 911 operator to assume that that caller was some insane person. Most people who call 911 are likely not insane and imagining an attack, so it makes more sense to operate from that standpoint.

  • Ray

    I appreciate your opinion on the death penalty and life imprisonment instead, but as I have been saying for a long time, life imprisonment costs a ton of money. We have gotten to the point where personal preferences have to take a back seat to financial considerations.

    What good is having violent criminals locked up for life to protect your family, when the cost of locking those criminals up means you don’t have enough money to feed your kids?
    Somebody has to pay to house these people and guess what, it’s you and me.

  • http://www.learnaboutguns.com LearnAboutGuns.com


    Executing a criminal costs *more* than imprisoning them for life. I discuss this in point # 6 here: http://www.myrandomtangents.com/2008/06/30/my-thoughs-on-capital-punishment-the-death-penalty/

    Some states are even considering removing the death penalty to save money: http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/03/02/economy.death.penalty/