Last week a psychiatric patient at Mass General Hospital was shot dead by an off-duty security guard after attacking his doctor with a knife. The security guard has been legally cleared for now as acting in self defense and is heralded as a hero.
I was not there, and do not know exactly what happened. Reports the security guard heard screams from the doctors office, thought she was being beaten, and burst in. When he saw the man had a knife, drew his firearm and told the man to drop the knife. The man reportedly lunged at him, he shot the man twice.
First, sympathies go out to the family of the man who was killed. It sounds like he had psychiatric issues, and surely this is a tragedy for them. If this incident happened as reported, the security guard most likely acted heroically and saved lives.
What burns me a bit is that the family’s lawyers are now questioning if the man could have been subdued, or if the man had to have been shot twice (wasn’t one bullet enough). This is why lawyers are so popular these days. They are trying to drum up controversy where there is none in order to increase their billable hours and/or create an opening for a civil suit.
Let’s be clear about this: Firearms are lethal weapons. There is only one thing you are doing when you purposefully fire them at someone - you are to kill them. A knife is also a lethal weapon, when threatened with a knife - this is lethal force and it frequently requires a lethal response to survive.
Only in really bad movies does someone shoot a gun out of someone else’s hand with a pistol, or aim for the leg. Trained people instinctively aim for center mass, under the stress of a lethal threat, this is the area you are most likely to hit. You shoot until the person is no longer a threat, a frequently this is more than once.
To the point of self defense - if this doctor had to wait for someone to call the police, and for the police to respond, she (and perhaps others) would most likely be dead. Again, the police are great, but they can’t be everywhere.
Licensed, law abiding citizens carrying firearms may be our first and only line of defense against such acts. Recently several men have been charged with terrorist plots against crowded targets (such as malls) with automatic weapons. I can’t imagine how a terrifying act like that might play out, but I do know that nothing would stop it short of the terrorists being killed or running out of ammo.
Israel has seen attacks against school buses by terrorists with automatic firearms stopped by legally armed civilians.
The only effect of criminalizing self defense is to increase crime. The UK’s draconian self-defense and weapons carry laws have led to a giant spike in violent crime. After the mayor of Boston announced having the toughest gun laws in the nation, shootings went up over 60%.
The main benefactors of laws restricting self defense are criminals,