9/05 Risky Shooting In Self Defense

Risky Shooting In Self Defense
Larry Pratt

This was the bedwetting headline of the lead editorial in the August 14, 2005 edition of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis.

The dead assailant certainly found the shooting to be risky, and the survivor who escaped probably believed that the victim posed too great a risk.

But the point of the editorial was, of course, designed to convince us that even though self defense saved a kidnapped man’s life, it is better to do nothing. Makes sense does it not?

No, it does not make sense.

Jacob Evans was robbed at gunpoint by a duo of armed thugs two weeks before he undertook his “risky” behavior. It seems that The Commercial Appeal finds nothing risky for a victim to be held at gunpoint by armed robbers. After all, if we do nothing threatening to the assailant, we will convince him that we mean him no harm, right? That way, the assailant will be nice, right?

Evans went and bought a .357 from a friend the day after the first robbery. Happily, he was not a day late AND a life short. The Memphis Appeal complains that the gun had a stuck cylinder, resulting in a very low purchase price. While I would not look for such a deal myself, Evans had an excellent experience with the cylinder’s performance.

The punks abducted Evans at gunpoint (they must have by then decided he was their personal piggy bank). They forced themselves into his car and made him drive them to his bank where they ordered him to draw out $10,000.

Since Evans did not have a withdrawal slip, one of the duo went to get one. That was the moment that Evans chose to pull out his .357 and shoot the other bad guy who was still in the car. Evans did not just shoot him once, he emptied the gun into Leverett Dickson, hitting him with all six rounds. Good for Evans. He made sure that his kidnapper could no longer hurt him.

The Commercial Appeal was in a dither that the armed robber might have returned fire before he died. Or, that the accomplice might have returned and shot Evans had the accomplice had a gun. Or that the ensuing gunfight might have endangered an innocent bystander.

The anti-self defense crowd does not get it. For the second time in less than a month, Evans was victimized by the same pair. The kidnappers were in the process of looting his bank account. Does the editorial writer really think that Evans was going to be told to drop the kidnappers at their house and be wished a good day?

Whatever were Evans’ risks in the actions he took, they were almost certainly less than the risk he faced of being deposited in the landfill later that day.

Oh, and the now-in-custody accomplice? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, bad guys — even when they are armed — flee when the victim starts shooting, because at that point the tables have been turned and the element of surprise is working in behalf of the victim. Which is what bad guy number two actually did. He may have even had a gun, but he did not stay around to use it.

As if reading from some gun control talking points playbook, the editorial raised the problem that a gun might get stolen and be “accidentally discharged by children.” Better that Evans be dead than run the remote risk of some kid stealing his gun. And let’s say it plainly — when the kid steals the gun, he is a criminal and certainly does not deserve such sympathy that would paralyze responsible people from defending themselves with guns.

The kid who criminally obtains a gun must be responsible for his own subsequent actions. If the kid is big enough to steal the gun, he is certainly old enough to know that stealing is wrong.

Had The Commercial Appeal been living in the real world, the headline should have read something like: Victim Kills Assailant: Taxpayers Saved Millions in Prosecution Costs.

Dr. Gary Kleck of Florida State University has found in his exhaustive research of crime data that one is over twice as likely to be injured when offering no resistance to an assailant as when resisting with a gun. Jacob Evans could say, Works for me!

By the way, the prosecutor, in an act of great magnanimity, agreed not to prosecute Jacob Evans. Such people give law enforcement a bad name. Rather than menace the victim with a second assault — this time in the criminal “justice” system — the authorities should have had a news conference and celebrated the effective self defense carried out by Jacob Evans. They should have made sure that the criminal element hears that in Memphis, folks have no problem seeing thugs dead in the gutter.