Recently a good friend of mine posted on Facebook what was supposed to be an article from the Houston Herald. I’ll not quote the whole article in interest of brevity. Here is my short version.
Having a tight grip on the handgun brought it out of the purse as the punk grabbed. She took aim and fired six shots into the back of the punk as he ran away. She was arrested and jailed.
The next morning an arraignment judge asked for her story and she told it. Next, the judged asked why she fired six shots into the man.
“Cuz when I pulled the trigger the seventh time the gun only went click.”
The woman was acquitted and set free.
I have to admit that I laughed the first time that I read this story. There are a lot of elements to the story that would strike somebody as funny. The article was titled Gun Control Texas Style.
The second punk ran and was later charged for the murder of his collusive partner. Justice doesn’t get any better than that. Ms. McKinley was on the phone with 911 in hope of avoiding a confrontation on her own but she didn't hesitate to do what she had to do when the threat was in her face.
The first thing that struck me odd about the Calamity Jane story is that she shot the punk in the back and suffered no more that a night in jail to wait for a supposed arraignment. While I’m not a lawyer, I’m pretty certain that you don’t get acquitted at an arraignment. I believe that an arraignment is simply an inquiry where it is decided whether or not to indict someone on charges for a trial. An acquittal comes by finding of innocence of the indicted charges in a trial.
I was also bothered that there was no mention of the woman shooter’s name, the name of the judge or the date of the incident. A reputable newspaper is going to put those facts into the story. I looked up the Houston Herald for the actual story.
The only Houston Herald newspaper that I could find was in Texas County, Missouri. I didn’t look for the story there as I think that it’s a pretty safe bet that they won’t report on Houston, Texas news even for scoop like Calamity Jane gunning down a punk as he ran for safety. There are some other sites on the internet that did their own investigation of this and reported more findings that support the story was a hoax.
What bothers me about fiction like this that there are too many goobers that are going to have it read to them by somebody that is just a little bit smarter than they are. Then the story is repeated exponentially from goober to goober with embellishments added by each story teller and it sounds real. It sounds real enough that goobers with concealed carry permits or guns in their home have a distorted vision of what they can get away with when faced with a perpetrator.
Take the Sarah McKinley story, for a true reality example. Ms. McKinley did absolutely everything right. As the punks were trying to break down her door, which is how they eventually entered, she secured her baby in another room, readied her weapons, (yes, plural) called 911 and took her stand. The only thing that could have saved the punk’s life or made Sarah a criminal is if the punk would have turned to run for the exit before she fired.
If Sarah had shot the man in the back as he attempted to flee the battle, that he was woefully unprepared for, then she could have faced charges and a possible conviction. Emphasis should be on the phrase could have faced because as long as the punk only had one or two shots in him it is likely that an Oklahoma judge or grand jury would have given her favor for the way that she was terrorized by the two punks.
For the most part, whether speaking in terms of the Castle Doctrine for defending your home or in self defense situation on the street, a deadly threat must exist in order to justify deadly force. If the punk is running away from you on the street or toward an exit of your home you had best let him run whether he is carrying your property or not. To shoot your weapon could make you a criminal.
From time-to-time, I search Google with phrases such as “citizen thwarts crime” or “gun owner defends self” in order to see what is happening and learn from the mistakes of others. Good honest citizens make many mistakes when in the heat of an armed confrontation. Usually it has to do with the question of whether or not a threat exists to justify deadly force. Other times, the citizen didn't recognize a threat or recognized the threat too late to defend himself.
The thing to take away from this is that if you ever intend to use firearms for weapons against another human being then you had better know your responsibilities both in terms of the laws of the jurisdiction and the basic laws of humanity. Some criminals become criminals simply out of desperation for their given situation. We don’t have much empathy for them because our own lives are in order.
At the point of a face-to-face situation one doesn't have time for empathy. Let’s say you come home from work to find your “watchdog” playing outside and a couple of punks are ransacking your house. You probably won’t invite them to dinner to learn of their troubled past and how that you might rescue them for a better life.
At same time, and depending on the distance between you and them, if they don’t move to harm you then you won’t want to automatically make a rug cleaning necessary. If they decide that running out of another exit is better than facing an armed homeowner then it would be prudent to let them run. Who knows? Having gotten away from such a close call safely, the incident might even be enough to motivate them to give up crime and take the job they were offered at Papa John’s on the day before.
For those of you who like to say, “If ya’ gotta’ shoot somebody jes’ make sure they ain’t gonna’ be no witness aginst ya’.” To you I suggest, why don’t check to see how that’s working out for George Zimmerman? That story isn’t over yet but I’m convinced that no one needed to die, however nebulous the information is at this time.
Last and most important, you must know and understand the laws of your jurisdiction. The disclaimer for this article is that it speaks in generalities or, at best, of specifics different from your jurisdiction. While you might be a hero in one state for taking down a perpetrator, in another state you might do jail time simply for brandishing a weapon.