Warning Shots?


It’s being reported that when rioters tried to move into a residential area of Kenosha, at least one person fired warning shots at them. I was afraid this sort of thing would happen.

It’s understandable that an armed citizen would attempt to repel rioters entering his neighborhood. However, one should not use deadly force irresponsibly, and in almost every instance so called “warning shots” are not justified.

First, a fired bullet is going hit someone or something. A random shot can kill or injure a bystander or do unintended damage. The person pulling the trigger would be responsible.

Second, deadly force is only morally and (IANAL, but lawyers tell me) legally justified in response to an imminent threat of death or serious injury. If deadly force must be used, it must be applied only to the actual threat.

Third, pointing a gun at someone else is an assault. One shouldn’t do it except in response to an actual threat.

I was taught—first by my father, a lawyer with law enforcement experience, and later in the Army—to keep a firearm holstered or pointed in a safe direction until there was no choice left but to open fire. I was also taught that because shooting someone is a use of deadly force, choosing to shot implies shooting to kill. Not to warn. To kill.

It looks as if things are about to get very messy.

Today is yet another day when I wish things weren’t proceeding as I have foreseen.

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