A World Where Everybody’s Shooting in Self-Defense

You may have read or heard about the 17-year-old fellow who went to a street protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, carrying an assault weapon and ended up shooting three people and killing two of them. He was tried for murder and lesser charges, and yesterday a jury acquitted him on all counts. This is what happens in our gun-besotted society. If you go to a protest, planning to protest either for X or against X, you’re exercising your right of free speech and assembly; you’re performing a civic duty too, expressing your views as a concerned citizen.

The trouble is that in these highly polarized intense times, given that high Republican public officials, including the former president, and well-dressed right-wing media personalities have persistently incited impressionable people to be violent, attending a protest can be dangerous. Violence can break out. It’s best to be prepared to defend yourself in case you’re attacked, and to be safe, it’s best to have a powerful automatic weapon (an assault rifle) because it will have a stronger deterrent effect and thereby minimize the risk of violence. To be extra safe, it’s best to display and brandish your weapon a little to show hostile protestors that you’re not to be trifled with. Doing that will surely minimize the risk of violence even more.

But suppose you are another person, and you are at the protest and see someone approaching you, brandishing an assault rifle. You can’t be sure, but he looks ready to shoot you. Best to shoot first in self-defense. It’s the law that you can shoot in self-defense, so why take a chance? Unfortunately, you don’t get a chance to think about it because that’s what the fellow with the assault weapon thinks you’re likely to do whether you are or not. Just thinking it could happen makes it so as far as he’s concerned. You feel threatened, so much so that he shoots you. Maybe, at least, he’s sorry. He may cry later about having shot you in self-defense. You don’t learn about that though, because you’re dead.