To: Parents of teenagers
From: Mitch Berg, veteran
Re: Crazy kids.
In the wake of last weeks’ shooting of a Saint Paul-area teenager by a carry permittee, we heard the usual response from the kid’s parents; “he was a good kid”, “he’d have never hurt anyone”, and “if he’d known someone had a gun, he’d have dropped his”.
Look – teenagers are difficult. I had two – and my kids’ teenage years damn near killed me. And you can be Parent of the Year and still have kids go off the path on you, just like kids raised in crack dens with no parents can go to Harvard and become doctors. Most of us are somewhere in between; imperfect people doing an imperfect job of raising imperfect people.
Now, the kid killed in mid-robbery last week was allegedly linked to gang activity – but let’s leave all of that out for the moment. Let’s address the mom’s statement, “He’d have dropped the gun if he’d have known someone else had one”.
Forget the obvious question – what, as long as he’s dealing with defenseless people, he’ll wave a gun around?
What would you think if someone said “If I knew I was going to cause an accident, I wouldn’t have driven drunk.” How about “If I’d have known I was going to catch AIDS, I’d have worn a condom,” or “if I’d have known I was going to break three vertebrae and end up in traction for six weeks I’d have never jumped off the cliff?” Or “If I’d known that was a cop, I wouldn’t have asked him to bid on those Malaysian girls I had in the van”.
Not much, right? Because actions have consequences, and some of them are unintended.
Pointing a gun is one of them. It is, in and of itself, a lethal threat.
Here’s the deal; A gun – or any weapon that a jury would look at and go “yep, that looks like an immediate threat to my life” – can kill a person in less time than you’ve spent reading this paragraph.
When a person is faced with what they reasonably believe to be an immediate lethal threat (and isn’t a willing participant, and makes a reasonable effort to retreat), the law says they can use lethal force in self-defense. The law doesn’t require the person to be a clairvoyant mind-reader; they they don’t have to try to divine whether your son really means it, or whether the gun is loaded, or whether he’s really a nice kid who’ll deflate in the face of a threat. The time to make that clear came before he drew the gun, or, God willing, after.
For the love of God, tell your idiot teenagers that waving weapons in peoples’ faces is, in fact, justification for shooting back. Cops will do it. 200,000 Minnesota carry permittee can do it. I did.
If they absorb that, if nothing else, maybe we can avoid more of these episodes.
(Side question: I’m gonna guess he knew better not to point a gun at a big, nasty gang-banger – right?)
That is all.