By Dave Workman
It’s called justifiable homicide, the killing of a felon during the commission of a felony by either a law enforcement officer in the line of duty or by an armed private citizen, and in 2017, according to the recently-released FBI Uniform Crime Report for that year, a grand total of 782 bad guys bit the dust.
American Handgunner’s own Massad Ayoob explained it best in his classic book on self-defense In The Gravest Extreme, “The taking of one citizen’s life by another is an unnatural act, justified only as a last desperate escape from grave criminal danger.”
Nobody wakes up in the morning planning to take a human life. By the grace of all the gods in all the heavens, most people never have to cross into that Twilight Zone. However, when it happens, it becomes a piece of data that winds up in the annual FBI report, and possibly to be misrepresented by some gun prohibition group as “gun violence.”
Last year, according to the FBI report, law enforcement officers killed 429 people, and 423 of those fell to gunshot wounds. Of that number, 276 were taken down with sidearms, another 57 were stopped with rifle shots and one was killed with a shotgun blast. There were 89 who were killed in shootings, but the type of weapon was not identified in the report to the FBI.
Armed private citizens accounted for another 299 of the 353 bad guys who were killed in self-defense. Some citizens defended themselves with knives (34), “other dangerous weapons” (8) and “personal weapons” (12) that include fists and feet. So, that’s 54 criminal suspects who were dispatched without a firearm, according to our math.
But let’s look at those 299 miscreants who were fatally shot, quite possibly in the biggest surprise of their abbreviated lives. Armed citizens used handguns to kill 231 people, while six more people were justifiably killed with rifles and seven more fell to shotgun blasts. In 55 cases, the type of weapon was not specified in the FBI crime report.
Let’s just consider something. When 782 people are killed by police or armed private citizens, it was them who called the play. About three years ago, this correspondent interviewed a man who had fatally shot a man in a convenience store after the guy tried to decapitate him with a small axe.
The armed citizen had an interesting observation: “He saddled that horse, not me.”
The Number Is Climbing
Last year produced the highest number of justifiable homicides by private citizens using firearms in at least the past six years, as tallied by the FBI.
Back in 2012, armed citizens fatally shot 209 criminal suspects, and the following year, 263 more apparent miscreants stopped bullets. In 2014, another 227 bad guys were felled by armed citizens and in 2015, those decedents were joined by 272 more unfortunates who evidently didn’t turn their lives around soon enough.
In 2016, there were 276 justifiable homicides involving armed citizens, but the 299 killed last year with firearms raised the bar another notch.
Thinning The Herds
One thing about the FBI Uniform Crime Report that is fascinating is how it reports the circumstances surrounding homicides, and 2017 probably didn’t surprise anybody when it comes to criminals killing one another.
Last year, a whopping 369 people got whacked in “gangland killings.” Of those 43 were identified as “acquaintances” and seven others were “friends,” which suggests that the victims in these cases probably should have mixed with a higher class of people. Suggestion: If you get introduced to anybody with a street handle like that, it’s a good idea to remember a previously arranged appointment in a different state.
But grown-up gangsters got nuthin’ on juvenile gangs. The FBI reported 381 slayings that were “juvenile gang killings.”
We already mentioned friends and acquaintances; so let’s talk about lovers. Last year, 107 people were slain as a result of a “romantic triangle.” Be careful whom you fall in love with because they just might have a significant other with a bad temper.
Here’s an interesting disparity: 110 husbands were murdered while 549 wives were killed, underscoring the genuine danger involved in domestic violence. Another 169 mothers and 186 fathers were killed by their offspring. But turnabout is fair play because 253 sons were killed while 179 daughters had the wrong parent(s).
When it comes to sibling rivalry, it can be deadly as well. The FBI says 98 people killed their brothers while 27 offed their sisters.
Then there were the 488 people who killed their girlfriends, another 181 who murdered their boyfriends and 431 people who just couldn’t resist killing a friend. Makes you almost want to become a recluse.
An Interesting Study
In 2014, the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington published a study headlined “Predictors and Consequences of Violence and Firearm Violence in King County (Washington).
There were three interesting findings that should not surprise anyone who has spent any time working the mean streets. According to the Executive Summary, “One quarter of individuals hospitalized with a gunshot wound were arrested within the next 5 years for a violent or gun-related crime. “
“Individuals hospitalized with a firearm injury were twice as likely to be arrested for a violent or firearm-related crime than those admitted for a non-injury problem,” the summary also noted.
Finally, there was this: “Individuals hospitalized in 2006-07 for a firearm injury were 30 fold more likely to be hospitalized for another firearm injury than people admitted for medical reasons. Individuals with a prior firearm or violence arrest were over 43 times more likely to be murdered within 5 years after their hospitalization.”
This might explain all the gangland and juvenile gang killings, or at least most of them. Some people reacted to this report with sadness or shock. Others accepted the findings as simple affirmation that being murdered often turns out to be an “occupational hazard” for people engaged in activities that do not pass the legal smell test.
And The Stats Just Keep Piling Up
About a week after the FBI released its 2017 crime report, a security guard in Lancaster, Calif., added another statistic for the 2018 report when he fatally shot a robber at an internet café.
According to CBS News in Los Angeles, two suspected robbers strolled into the café at 12:45 a.m. Oct. 1, and attempted to rob the place. But an armed security guard put the brakes on that caper, opening fire and hitting one of the two suspects.
As the unidentified robbery suspect was falling to the floor, his alleged accomplice suddenly became a track star, bolting from the establishment, leaving his fatally wounded compadre. The wounded suspect died later at a nearby hospital.
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