Shooting someone in self-defense is, at best, the second-worst possible outcome in any form of confrontation.

But according to the FBI, it’s on the increase:

The number of justifiable homicides committed by police and private citizens has been rising in the past two years to their highest levels in more than a decade, reflecting a shoot-first philosophy in dealing with crime, say law enforcement analysts.

This so-called “shoot first philosophy”, on the other hand, merely reflects the media’s myopia about the issue, and their inability to find literate, much less reliable, sources on the subject.

The 391 killings by police that were ruled justifiable in 2007 were the most since 1994, FBI statistics show. The 254 killings by private individuals found to be self-defense were the most since 1997.

They are very likely underreported, as well. 

Again – more later.

Some law enforcement analysts say the numbers represent changing attitudes on the streets, where police have felt more threatened by well-armed offenders, and citizens have taken greater responsibility for their own safety.

Look for the pants-wetting class on the left to see this as a bad thing.

Indeed – here it is!

Northeastern University criminal justice professor James Alan Fox describes an emerging “shoot-first” mentality by police and private citizens. For several years, police departments have armed their officers with higher-powered weapons to keep pace with criminal gangs. “Clearly there is a message out there that citizens may be able to defend themselves” as well, he says.

Alfred Blumstein, a Carnegie Mellon University criminologist, says the gun “legalization movement” also may have helped create a “greater willingness” among citizens to act in self-defense.

I’m not sure if Blumstein and Fox are being misquoted, or if this area of criminology isn’t their specialty; the “willingness” has always been there, and guns have been “legal” in most of the US all along.  Unfortunately, the figures don’t show how many of the civilian shootings are in the home versus away – which would be covered by the mushrooming number of Shall Issue states which have more law-abiding citizens carrying outside the home or business).

Emphasis added:

Forty-eight states provide various rights to carry firearms. Illinois and Wisconsin do not, according to the National Rifle Association. In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court in June carved out a right to individual gun ownership, ruling that the Second Amendment allows citizens to keep guns in their homes for self-defense.

Further evidence of the constitutional illiteracy of the major media; the Supreme Court “carved out” nothing.  It affirmed that the right is individual

The NRA and other analysts say most laws allowing gun possession have existed for years and would not likely account for a recent spike in self-defense killings.

Instead, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president and chief executive officer, says the Sept. 11 attacks and the widespread looting and violence after Hurricane Katrina spurred some people to take more responsibility for their own safety.

Immediately after those events, LaPierre says the group’s gun-safety trainers reported “big increases” in NRA-sponsored courses. “Americans are simply refusing to be victims,” he says.

I believe this.  I’ve noticed a lot more acceptance on the left, not only of the notion of the Second Amendment as a right (and a political third rail), but the validity of and need for self-defense.  Their political leadership may blanche at the thought, but there a fair number of rank and file lefties who keep guns in their homes, and pockets, too. 

Interpretation of that factoid, again, would seem to depend on ones’ predisposition.

Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck says the FBI underestimates self-defense killings by citizens because the ones that are not precipitated by felony crimes may not get counted. “Less than a third of (citizen killings) are reported,” he says.

And remember – the killings are the dirt on the tip of the iceberg.  The real goal is deterrence – where nobody gets shot, because nobody feels emboldened to commit a crime, because that “victim” might just blow your brains out.

17 thoughts on “Justified

  1. “the widespread looting and violence after Hurricane Katrina spurred some people to take more responsibility for their own safety.”

    Shooting black people who tried to flee the flood waters, for example.

  2. AC, watch the NRA video of the New Orleans debacle. There is a great African American woman in it.

    Down nearly 100 since 94 before most of the right to carry laws. Where is the carnage that was going to be caused by the so called “SHOOT FIRST”laws?

  3. Wow, an African-American woman in an NRA propaganda video. That totally changes how Angryclown looks at the issue, jpmn.

  4. I’m not seeing a lot of the blanching lately. One of the many reasons that we’ve had basically no attempts to repeal the carry law in Minnesota is that among the folks who have gotten their carry permits since 2003 are, apparently*, many liberal DFL legislators.

    Which is good, of course. Self-defense is a human right, not just a conservative human right. Or just a white human right. (It’s worth remembering that the original “gun control” laws came about after the Civil War to make sure that the newly freed black were unable to protect themselves against Klanner types.)

    There’s not a lot to like about the Dred Scott decision — particularly the result — but Chief Justice Taney cut to the heart of the matter, before he led the court to the wrong decision: “[Dred Scott winning] would give to persons of the negro race …the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased …the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.”

    * I say “apparently” because permit holder information is, quite properly, protected by the Data Practices Act. The only way I would know if, say, Nora Slawik got her carry permit would be if she showed it to me (she hasn’t; we’re, err, not close, so that means pretty much nothing) although I’d probably have a good guess that she got one if she’d taken a carry class with me (she didn’t).

  5. “Wow, an African-American woman in an NRA propaganda video. That totally changes how Angryclown looks at the issue, jpmn. ”

    Right. Clearly the black lady wants to shoot black people fleeing flood waters. So by chance you have any documentation that doesn’t come from Mckinney?

  6. This story just boggles me. We’re worried because there are more JUSTIFIED shootings?

    If these were UN-justified shootings, I could understand a search for causes in the “shoot-first” or “concealed carry” areas. But since they are by definition “justified” shootings, why the hand-wringing?

    More people paying for gas instead of driving off.
    More people helping old ladies across streets.
    More bad guys getting what they JUSTLY deserve.

    What’s not to like?


  7. We’re blaming “a shoot first attitude” as a bad thing?

    If they did shoot first and later were deemed to have been justified, then the decision to shoot first was the CORRECT decision, not?

    We’re pissed because people made correct decisions? Seriously?

    I could see blaming a shoot-first mentality if there were an increase in UNJUSTIFIED shootings. But this is so ass-backwards it truly is making my head spin.

    How can anybody make such completely idiotic arguments?

    (Not you, AC, I know you’re a chain-yanker from way back, I mean the other idiots, the ones mentioned in the article).

    Blows me away . . . .

  8. AC, exactly what documentation from any credible source do you have that anyone, white or black or whatever color of skin, was shot for trying to flee the devastation of Hurricane Katrina?

    Also, having two copies of Rosenberg’s book in my house, I can attest to the fact that the response of a carry permit holder to a threat is generally anything BUT shoot first.

    Although I do like Weird Al’s “Trigger Happy” song for some weird reason.

  9. BB: I think that the lack of shot-by-permit-holder perps since the MCPPA passed is all the evidence that anybody this side of a moron or AC ought to need to dispel the “shoot first” myth. It’s just more agitprop out of the Joyce Foundation-sponsored astroturf groups, who shouted that the sky would fall if somebody otherwise engaged in what was clearly self-defense couldn’t prove that retreat was impractical or unsafe. They kind of shout a lot.

  10. Amazing that the ‘millions’ of times that guns were used in self-defense last year, only resulted in roughly 700 deaths. Now, obviously, many times, no shots needed to have been fired, but general fatality comparisons to war statistics over the past say 50 years or so suggest that no less than 10% of shootings are fatal, often much higher. In order for there to ahve been ‘millions’ of circumstances, there needed to have been only 7% of the time that firearms were brought to bear, that shots were fired – an assinine suggestion – at best – unless you’re counting each and ever time a policeman threw down on someone (justifiably).

    More likely, as a 25%-33% ratio is more often the case (for fatality to wounding comparatives – if memory serves – at least from wounds received by gunfire in battle) and more likely no less than say 25% of cases resulted in firearm discharge – and I suppose you’d have to figure for the fact that people miss, so let’s say half the time they miss.. so 12% – then we’re talking about 254/.25%/.12% for civilian usage – just spitballin’ here – meaning that firearms were ACTUALLY used in self defense about 12,000 times – not millions – not close. Given that there are roughly oh what 100 Million handguns or more on the street, we’re talking about this VAST need for guns being in fact the need for a gun in roughly what .012% of the cases in which they are purchased.

    Glad we are smart consumers, and not fearful or anything either.. yep, sure am glad..

    Now look, i know I’m just guessing, but I’m also just guessing that as compared to the ludicrous hyperbole of ‘millions’ meaning more than 1 million – times firearms were SUPPOSEDLY used, I suspect police reports probably come closer to the number I’ve shown – even factoring for circumstances where police weren’t contacted. I have nothing against people owning firearms, it’s the love affair with guns and violence that leaves me baffled – well, that and the seeming need to take a reasonable argument, like defense of the 2nd amendment – and apparently, because of some sense of insecurity, use absurdity to try to ‘reinforce’ a point – like say ‘millions of times per year’ meme’s. If your argument can’t stand on its own, no amount of lipstick will make it do so either.

  11. Peev,

    If you haven’t read any of Gary Kleck’s stuff, then you really are not informed enough to talk about the numbers.

    Get back to us when you (as opposed to a friend or neighbor of yours) has.

  12. Penigma, you’re more or less missing the point that most criminals are just as averse to getting shot as the rest of us. Hence, the mere fact that a criminal sees a gun drawn or hears the sound of a round being put into the chamber tends to administer a 2 second IQ test that even most criminals tend to “pass” by getting the heck away from the situation.

    And just because the criminal doesn’t decide to stick around and risk being shot doesn’t mean that people aren’t defending themselves. It means that they’re defending themselves so well, they don’t need to pull the trigger.

    Peeve, why don’t you take Joel’s class and learn a bit?

  13. check out David Hardy at Arms and the Law blog. He shoots a couple of holes(figurativly speaking) in this Joyce Foundation press release, by noting that justified shootings by LEO’s are also up by a similar percentage, I’m surprised JoelR didn’t catch this. I’m sure Joel would endorse checking Davids blog on a regular basis for firearm related law stuff. Yeah, any guy who helped prep the Heller case is some one to listen to.

  14. I saw the news piece about the “trend” in a doctor’s waiting room and was ready to write something about it when I got home. But when I dug deeper, I found exaggeration. A two-year increase is not a trend, especially when you look at the numbers over a longer period.

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