Billy Beck deftly and dispassionately does so, in the case of the Houston taqueria Righteous Shoot™.
Understanding what politics is and what this ex post facto interest of the state has to do with the event, it’s not unduly simplified or complicated for me to score the thing:
- Ethically: strictly none of my business, but interesting as a matter of values in action.
- Practically: adept at dealing with the combat challenge.
- Politically: admirably self-organized.
In the first category, I merely observe from a distance that the two main characters in the event are acting for values. I am not doing that, except in valuing my own judgments of the event. That’s very different: it’s not the ultimate value of my life at stake as I do that at my leisure. More: who prevails in a combat like that is of no real concern to me, beyond moral contemplation of its resolution. This is of great political importance to me when the state titles its criminal indictments as, “The People vs …” It has no right to arbitrarily include me in something like that without knowledge of my interest, which I always implicitly disclaim.
On the evidence available, which I take as immutable: even if lived in Houston, or even if I had been in the same room when this happened, I would not regard the man who shot that robber as a general threat at-large. Everything reported about this demands my opposite judgement. He even returned the robbed money to the other victims before he left the scene. It’s a crabbed view of any proceeding toward “justice” that would want to question an ethic like that, and I reserve my right to stay out of it.
In the second category, the shooter demonstrated aptitude with his pistol and the mental fortitude required for its intended use in that situation.
Right away: I dismiss the fact that the robber brandished a “fake” weapon. Certainly, this cannot be known to prospective victims. That’s the whole point of the deceit: if they know it’s not real, then they just won’t do what he’s trying to force them to do. Nobody would. To anyone with intent and ability to defend against a handgun threat, that threat is absolutely real at the instant it appears, and then: the narrow margin between reason and force can be crossed at the speed of thought.
In close-quarters handgun combat, this can happen with a flick-of-the-wrist and about 800 feet-per-second when the shot goes off. I bear in mind that we’re not talking about any of the “honor” images of two men squaring-off for a gunfight, now. It’s explosive flashing mayhem possible as fast as a barrel can line-up from any angle at any instant, with every possibility of deception with motion or words to conceal it. This robber was manifestly in mental distress, evidence by his frantic and aimless course around the room, fumbling with cash and — most important — casual & reckless handling of his weapon. (Yes; that’s what it was.)
Given these facts, the only rational conclusion (certainly to me and that’s good enough for me), is that whatever is wrong with the robber is bad enough that he can’t be trusted with any doubt that he’ll just start shooting with full intent, nevermind negligent discharge. The Taqueria Defender (yes, that’s what he was) showed admirable grasp of this principle. He can be seen constantly observing tactical facts and implications and preparing to exploit an opportunity to attack the robber with force equal to the deadliness of the threat. I understand that there can be no, “Hey! Stop!” or even “Shoot ‘Em In The Leg” about it. That’s because the flick-of-a-wrist, split-second dynamics of this kind of fight just don’t safely permit that. The concealed weapon must be brought to bear with full commitment to its purpose: to compound the application of force toward success, with surprise.
With all these facts in mind (the “context”), I must applaud The Defender’s actions to save lives from an obvious deadly threat, with clear thinking and commitment.
In the third category, my political considerations rest on my ethics, nothing of which that’s mine is at stake in this event. Over a thousand miles away, I handily managed to avoid harm in the affair. This is where I’ll put The Matter of The Final Shot.
The Defender is seen firing a final shot into (apparently) the head of the robber lying on the floor. Contentions that he may or may not have been a continuing threat at that point do not interest me, principally because I don’t think that’s what was at stake for The Defender, at that moment. I’ll risk conjecture, from available observation and reports of his actions and what certain of those facts must necessarily mean, that The Defender’s stake in that last shot was just good versus evil. It was the difference between a man who could reason-out what’s good for human life and one who could or would not, brought to deadly conflict.
When I consider that ethical complex of premises, I require no further political aspect of the story than that The Defender rides away in his pickup truck. Politics is the branch of philosophy that studies human social organization, and I find this episode of self-organization of good against evil eminently satisfying and conclusive.
As do I, emphatically and wholeheartedly. Rule One (and, in fact, Only) for any Righteous Shooter attempting to stop an evil perp in the act before he injures or kills some innocent someone: You don’t stop shooting until Evil Perp stops moving. In any given situation like this, RS has no way of knowing EP’s gun is fake, nor can he safely assume that EP doesn’t have a REAL gun tucked away in a pocket in case he thinks he might need it at some point. Nor can RS safely assume that, simply because he’s successfully put the worthless sumbitch on the ground, EP is now sufficiently neutralized that he has been thus rendered incapable of raising an arm and shooting someone nonetheless.
Which is precisely why any firearms-training or CCW instructor worthy of his/her salt would tell you: if you MUST shoot, then you MUST shoot to kill. Period, full stop, end of story. Every 2A enthusiast knows this. And now, so does Evil Perp.
Whether the gun was a fake or not? As Billy notes, correctly and appropriately: doesn’t matter. Not in the least, it doesn’t. What DOES matter is that EP had already demonstrated his aggressiveness, hostility, maleficent intentions, and supreme disinterest in the illegality of his actions and the lasting harm he may do to others thereby. That of right ought to be all anybody ever needs to know about the ultimate right and wrong here.
The only reason anybody even found out that RS was packing heat in the first place was because EP the Feral decided, all on his own hook, to menace, assault, and rob innocent people who were just trying to enjoy a quiet dinner or run a business. That decision turned out to be an extremely bad one, one that ended up costing him his life.
I repeat: Fucked around, found out. Tough shit for him. Like most of his oxygen-thief ilk, he wouldn’t have stopped until he’d killed somebody. Good thing he WAS stopped, then.