When I discuss cases where armed citizens stop violent criminals, my main focus is on how having a gun allowed those citizens to save themselves from that criminal. However there is another benefit to stopping criminals, which is often harder to show, but remains just as real:The benefit that I speak of here is the stopping of a violent criminal – before they can go on to commit another crime in the future. When an armed citizen fatally shoots a criminal in self defense, that criminal is permanently removed from the streets, and can never again harm an innocent person. Similarly, when an armed citizen shoots and wounds a criminal, that criminal can more easily be found by police, prosecuted, and jailed. The same is true when an armed citizen holds a criminal at gunpoint until the police arrive to take that criminal to jail. Indeed, even when an armed citizen only scares away the criminal, nearly losing their life may be the one thing that makes the criminal reconsider their life of crime. On the other hand, when a criminal successfully completes their crime, they are emboldened by their success, making it more likely that they will commit the same crime again.
The problem with showing this benefit of armed self defense is that there is not an easy way of demonstrating the benefit. What I mean by that is that when a criminal commits a crime, we can read it about it in the news. Assuming the newspapers choose to cover self defense stories (which they often don’t), we can also read about a citizen saving themselves. But when a criminal is fatally shot or placed in jail because a citizen defends themselves against that criminal, no announcement shows up in the news indicating that 8 future robberies have now been prevented, since it is impossible to say with certainly what specific crimes the criminal would have committed in the future. However we can look to the recidivism rates published by the Federal government to get an idea. Those statistics show that 67.5% of the tracked convicted felons released in 1994 were rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within 3 years. In other words, released criminals are likely to go commit another crime, often of the same type that landed them in prison the first time.
With the logical and statistical underpinnings out of the way, I think that a more concrete example is in order, and the tragic shooting of 12 year old Christopher Rodriguez by Jared Adams is just such an example. Last year, Jared Adams went on a crime spree. He carjacked a former state senate president of California, robbed a gas station, led police on a high speed chase, tried to murder a gas station employee, and rammed at high speed a car carrying a woman and her young child, among other things. In the process of trying to murder that gas station employee, Adams fired a bullet through a window, and struck Christopher Rodriquez in the back while the boy was in the middle of a piano lesson. Christopher was paralyzed, and remains in a wheelchair. Adams was convicted of 12 felonies, and will spend decades in jail before he is eligible for parole. However this sentencing won’t repair Christopher’s spine, or allow the boy to walk again. Had an armed citizen been there to stop Adams as he committed all those crimes leading up to the shooting of Christopher Rodriguez, that young boy would still be walking.
Note: This article is in no way intended to endorse vigilantism. Instead, it is about an ancillary benefit of justifiable self defense. Those who do no see the profound difference are invited to read this article for clarification.