It has been lately, a flurry of heated discussion around here with my students. The basis for this argument is whether a tazer or some other form of stun device is a perfectly acceptable substitute for a handgun for self-defense. It all started with an off hand comment made by a local police chief during a city luncheon in which he was key-note speaker. The topic was public safety, and of course in true political form, the police chief brought out a plethora of pie charts and colorful rainbow graphs to prove he is doing his job in keeping the city safe from crime (Violent crime had fallen by 10% since his tenure began). After his 15 minute rambling speech, he made the comment that started this whole shitstorm:
“I would hope the citizens of this fine city (and surrounding county) would think twice about carrying a firearm for self-defense, so they would not place themselves in the unfortunate position Mr. George Zimmerman recently did in Florida. I mean if someone is giving you trouble, you don’t have to kill them, just taze the guy and then call us!” (nervous laughter from Police Chief and assorted but sparse nervous laughter from crowd)
When I first heard about this incident, the first thing I did was call my buddy who works for the local news outlet to see if he had this infamous speech on file. He said he did and an hour later, the video file was in my email inbox. The reason I wanted to verify this story is the police chief in question had been in the past, a staunch advocate of concealed carry, so needless to say, I doubted very heavily the legitimacy of the story.
As I watched the video several times, I wanted to make sure people were not twisting or mis-interpreting his words, sometime politicians and public figures can be the victims of such things. But sure enough, after the sixth time hearing what he said, it was clear: The Police Chief of a city of 40,000 people was openly promoting the use of a tazer versus a handgun for self-defense for the sole reason so a person would not get involved in a self-defense trial like George Zimmerman! And to add insult to injury, he also shamelessly promoted the victim calling 911 AFTER Tazing them, Not BEFORE!!
As I sat there flabbergasted, I tried to reason why such a historically pro-gun, conservative Police Chief, would suddenly, turn to the “dark side” of liberal self-protection philosophy? And at the same time, tell people to call 911 AFTER the incident and not before? Before my “rant on” button got turned on hyper-drive, it suddenly came to me that the only reason ANYONE in public office changes a viewpoint on a hot button subject like Concealed Carry or RKBA is for one reason: they are getting heat from the State and Federal level.
Before we get into the politics of all this, let’s take a moment and discuss the validity of “less-than-lethal” devices like tazers or stun wands and understand where they fit in the CO’s arsenal. Firstly, and I have discussed this on this blog many times, a CIVILIAN is not under the same restraints as a LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER to abide by the Force Continuum; Texas Law, and most other State Laws are clear on this matter. The “burdens” that must be met for the civilian to use force or deadly force for self-defense varies from state to state, but in Texas, as stated in Tx. Penal Code 9.31 & 9.32 the primary burden to be met to use FORCE is “The REASONABLE belief that force is necessary” and for DEADLY FORCE “To be in REASONABLE FEAR for his or her life”.
PLEASE Understand that as a CO, you still have a great amount of responsibility placed on you by the State when you carry a firearm for self-defense, but you DO NOT have to meet the same standard and burdens that a LEO has to. Understand that when a cop is confronted with some drugged up dude waving a beer bottle at him, unless the situation get’s out of control, it is doubtful he will shoot this guy..most likely, he will deploy the Tazer (due to the rules of the Force Continuum) cuff and stuff the idiot, end of story. When the same situation happens to a civilian (In Texas at least), if the civilian feels “In REASONABLE FEAR for his life”, he can shoot him in self-defense and most likely be justified. Also understand that when a CO replaces a firearm with a less-than-lethal device they are only preparing themselves to come out on top of only a certain percentage of encounters, those encounters being where the attacker is either un-armed or armed with another less-than-lethal device..think about it: How many criminals have you heard about that run around un-armed or with a tazer? Not many I would wager. Most criminals are going to be armed with a lethal weapon, ie a knife or firearm. Put it like this: Why carry a tool that only solves 10% of your “possible” problems, when you could carry one that solves 100% of them??
There is also another dimension to this that most people overlook when attempting to justify less-than-lethal weapons over Firearms; irregardless of HOW the attacker is ARMED, you must remember that there is a plethora of other factors that Lawyers (DA’s) use to determine if the use of force was reasonable (called dis-proportionate factors): Is the victim a 90lb Woman and the Attacker a 200lb ex-con who lifted weights everyday for the past 5 years in prison? Is the victim a 78 year old heart patient and the attacker a semi-pro MMA fighter? There are also a very small percentage of people out there who are extremely lethal with just their bare hands, very few of them criminal types, but they are out there. So, weapon or not, in a violent encounter you are at the disadvantage from the jump start.
This hearkens back to the phrase “Appropriate (Reasonable) amount of force necessary”. Now knowing this, why would any REASONABLE person put themselves in a position of disadvantage to be unequally (or under armed) in a violent encounter? Why gamble with your life?? Carry a gun!! Remember the old west saying: “God made man, but SAM COLT made them equal!” As far as WHEN to carry a gun, remember this: “Better to have it and not need it than need it and not HAVE IT!”
Let’s face it guys: the huge media push by the Liberals and the Obama/Holder regime to scare people in not wanting to carry a gun for self-defense by using what happened to George Zimmerman and his family is trickling down slowly and finding its way into small town America, most surprisingly, into small town SOUTHERN America, where Guns and Carrying a Gun for self-defense is a way of life. I mean candidates for Sheriff and Constable down here make RKBA a major part of their campaign stump speeches. What’s more disturbing, is now City Police Chiefs, who are APPOINTED and not ELECTED are openly changing their viewpoints on a whim due to the pressure being applied by their bosses no doubt, who don’t want to “rock the boat” and take a chance on losing any state or federal subsidy money due to a “Politically In-Correct” stance by one of their LE officials.
Bottom Line, Less-than-Lethal devices are great COMPLEMENTS to a CO’s arsenal, but NEVER should they be a REPLACEMENT for a Firearm! As for the aftermath of a justified shooting, we have discussed that here before; get yourself a good Lawyer NOW, Train NOW for what you should do and always conduct yourself always in a manner that upholds the virtues of responsible gun ownership. And oh yeah: Don’t believe the fear mongering propaganda hype!!
The tried and true motto holds fast: A Person with a GUN is a Citizen, one without is a SUBJECT.
Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!