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Old January 9, 2008, 09:33 AM   #1
pfch1977
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Moral Obligation to Take Action

Is it really my obligation to take action? Certainly I might agree with this if my actions did not put me at risk. However, I am not sure that is true when I might become injuried, disabled, or killed. In fact, even if I personally feel compelled to act, I feel as though I have to weigh the potential disasterous consequences and its impact on my family.

Personally, I am a proponent of carrying for the defense of yourself and your family. Any other use should be carefully weighed. In my mind, if it does not involve me or my family, I need compelling reasons to act. The default is not to take actions unless I must.

I also often wonder what my obligation is to take action to help/defend those who have not taken actions to be prepared. If they are unwilling to carry a way to defend themselves, why should I feel obligated to defend them? I know it sounds cold but it makes sense to me.

What are your thoughts?
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Old January 9, 2008, 09:43 AM   #2
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The simplest answer is that in some cases where there's a bad guy with a gun, you're at risk of being a victim of lethal force, too, as in an "everyone get in the back!" robbery with gun-waving...or a mall rampage. If you're not at immediate risk but can see that something is going on, then you're likely at a distance where you can call in the police instead. Missed shots can go on to hurt other people.

If a bad guy is threatening someone and is just armed with a knife, then a gun can be an effective deterrent at range, with a command voice yelling at them to drop their weapon. If they instead come at you, you're acting in self-defense.

In my state, lethal force is expressly authorized for three things, other than self defense or defense of one's home and curtilage.

1. To prevent the imminent use of deadly force upon a third party in the commission of a crime such as armed robbery. In other words, the BG is about to actually shoot the clerk or is shooting at helpless people running around.

2. To stop an act of sexual assault or kidnapping.

3. To stop an act of arson.

My idea? Have a gun, pepper spray and cellphone. Use your judgment as to which would be the best solution to the threat.

And recent example, here. A man was thrown out of a club, returned with a handgun and started shooting at the bouncer and into the club, thankfully missing everyone. A CCW holder came out of the club, aimed, and shot the perp twice. The perp fled, pursued by an angry mob, and fell a few blocks away. The club owner said that his bouncer would likely be dead if the CCW holder hadn't intervened, and it was all protected by state law.
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Old January 9, 2008, 09:44 AM   #3
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Situation dictates! Too easy huh? METT-TC! Too easy too? Not saying this is what you meant but its what I percieved... Is it worth it judiciously after the fact? Or is worth it moraly after the fact? Moraly I believe its in a vast majorities nature to want to help another in danger. Judiciously we don't want to be crusified, so to say, for good intentions on helping someone in need. Hard to stay left or right on this one. Personally i've had to make such decisions in the past and have come out fairly unscaved for my good deeds.
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Old January 9, 2008, 09:51 AM   #4
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Legalities aside as they vary from state to state, my personal feeling is to act only when necessary to prevent harm to my family or myself, otherwise call the police and be a good witness.

Just like carrying a fire extinguisher in your car does not make you the fire dept., carrying a gun on your person does not make you the SWAT team.

Just my opinion, worth every penny paid for it.
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Old January 9, 2008, 09:57 AM   #5
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Well the fact is this, If a person visibly has a weapon with possible intent on using it for robbery, kidnapping, assault, or whatever it is naive to just sit back and say well let's just see what he does. You have to remember someone commiting these actions is probably hopped up on drugs and very unstable. Sometimes the world needs hero's, and if you can muster up the courage you should act in my opinion. Calling the cops is fine, but you know as well as I do they often get there in time to clean up the aftermath. Ask yourself this, wouldn't you want someone else to do the same for you?..
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Old January 9, 2008, 10:03 AM   #6
Manedwolf
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Benny,

Most of the robberies around here have been with an airsoft gun spraypainted black.

You know as well as I do that if you actually shot someone who had one when they flashed it in a robbery, you'd be crucified in the press as having "shot a kid with a toy gun", and that he was "a good kid who was turning his life around". And you'd get hit with civil suits.

Unfortunate, but fact.
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Old January 9, 2008, 10:12 AM   #7
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Manedwolf, I don't know if going on the assumption that the criminal may be carrying a airsoft gun is smart. If you can clearly see that it is maybe. The only thing is by the time you figure out it's not it may be to late. I can guarentee you there is not one cop out there who would stand around and try to figure out if the guy has a airsoft gun or a real one, you simply can't risk it. I would also rather be hit with a civil suit than a bullet any day.
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Old January 9, 2008, 10:16 AM   #8
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Could this possibly be a response to the many who took the "do nothing" approach in another thread in this section?


YES, the situation dictates. I'm not going to shoot a kid who is robbing a convenience store at gun point, because statistics show that armed robbery rarely ends in blood shed. That said, if he starts shooting then all bets are off.

One of my favorite movies is "The Boondock Saints." While I don't necessarily agree with their vigilantism during the whole movie, a minister makes a good point in a sermon at the beginning of the film. He mentions a woman who is assaulted, and instructs everyone that we must be wary of bad people. But that we must also be wary of another evil, and that is "the indifference of good men". Society needs good men who aren't afraid to get involved when a situation necessitates a response: helping a woman with car trouble at the side of the road, help someone with a bag of groceries they're about to drop, etc.

The same mentality affects me if a life is directly at risk. If a man is outnumbered and being beaten on the ground by a group, I'm going to interfere. If a woman is being dragged away, kicking and screaming, into the back of a van, I'm going to interfere. I would interfere with these events and others like it because it's the right thing to do and my grandpappy didn't raise no coward. I'd interfere, and it wouldn't matter if I used the gun on my hip or just anything I could get my hands on.
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Old January 9, 2008, 10:20 AM   #9
Manedwolf
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Quote:
If a man is outnumbered and being beaten on the ground by a group, I'm going to interfere.
And what if that man being beaten is a rapist who has just raped a girl or a robber who just shot someone, and the group beating him is the girl's family or the friends of the person who was shot?

Just saying. Appearances can be deceiving.
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Old January 9, 2008, 10:24 AM   #10
benny27
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Manedwolf, well in that case join in..
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Old January 9, 2008, 11:55 AM   #11
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Each situation requires a different approach. A CCW isnt a badge nor will you be paid for your "duty".
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Old January 9, 2008, 12:24 PM   #12
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Moral Obligations........lets see my children and wife are minus Daddy if I screw up trying to save Joe Blow. Jow Blow goes home to his kids and wife.........because of the actions of a now dead good samaritan. Am I morally obligated to my own?

I have to answer this as yes and no. If if can help without adding much risk to myself hereby maintaining my moral obligation to mine....then yes. If not ........no. If I have no moral obligations of my own other than myself then yes.
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Old January 9, 2008, 01:01 PM   #13
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Insurance

let's assume you're not killed, but somehow injured in a shoulder or arm such that you can't work for 6 months. is your health insurance sufficiently broad to cover placing yourself into a dangerous situation from a position of apparent safety?

even if you are a hero and save someone's life, they may thank you but not be able to cover your lost wages. sure, there may be a collection for you here or on the nightly news, but would it cover your medical costs, lost wages and suffering? most likely the bad guy doesn't have that money laying around for a civil suit.

perhaps this is when we quietly swallow some pride and take a brief handout from the government until we're back in working order.

i'm not making fun of anyone's viewpoints, but these things should be considered because they are real although not the glamorous side of heroism.
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Old January 9, 2008, 01:14 PM   #14
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My view:

morality is in the eyes of the beholder. Moral obligation is a rationalization that can lead to justifying spurious behavior.

I use the definition:

morality

n 1: concern with the distinction between good and evil, or right and wrong


Personally I do not believe there is a 'right and wrong', there are merely consequences. Personal philosophy, so it is my starting point. Who am I to judge 'right and wrong', I am not God, just another animal on this planet trying to survive, while enjoying the journey.

I chuckle when I read the expression 'Moral obligation'. This is because an obligation is an obligation, not an arbitrary choice. To begin putting qualifications on an obligation, dictating when I will exercise the 'obligation', and when I will not, eliminates the concept of 'Obligation', in my book. This means the thoughts of friends, family, work, recreation, retirement, ..., do not enter the equation, from my perspective, for an obligation is an obligation ... a duty to act.

Others surely see it different than I do, but then I am only responsible for my actions, reactions and inactions. I will leave the rest of you to struggle with your rationalizations.
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Old January 9, 2008, 01:21 PM   #15
chris in va
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Honestly, nobody knows what they'll do until in a situation. Everyone's different. Some will thump chests on the 'net saying they'll intervene and mow down the offender, but in reality will shrink back in a corner hoping they won't get shot. Others will take action and possibly get shot.

There's certainly been quite a few cases of amazing heroism. Frankly I don't even know what I'd do if I saw something 'go down'.
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Old January 9, 2008, 01:22 PM   #16
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A friend and I had a long discussion about this one evening over a couple of beers. That is where I developed my philosophy about this issue. I very strongly believe that I have to be responsible for my own safety and the safety of my family. I know that the police cannot protect me. This is not an indictment of the police, it is just the reality. I expect each and every person to be responsible. That means that they need to be responsible for their safety and the safety of their families, just as I am. If they choose not to accept responsibility for their safety and self defense, then why should I do it? I'm already tired of being responsible for a good slice of the population that refuses to accept responsibility for itself in many other ways.
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Old January 9, 2008, 01:32 PM   #17
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Your thoughts on a moral obligation to take action using a firearm should coincide with your thoughts of a moral obligation to take action through taxes; a lot of liberals and conservatives alike don't even think of that.

If you believe in not donating a chunk of your paycheck to the needy, you should also not believe in donating a chunk of your time and/or life to the needy. Otherwise, it's a huge contradiction.
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Old January 9, 2008, 01:35 PM   #18
easyG
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Quote:
I also often wonder what my obligation is to take action to help/defend those who have not taken actions to be prepared. If they are unwilling to carry a way to defend themselves, why should I feel obligated to defend them? I know it sounds cold but it makes sense to me.

What are your thoughts?
I don't believe that anyone is under any morale obligation to defend another person's life at risk to his own.

HOWEVER....

You're the one that must look at yourself in the mirror every day.
When you make a decision to defend someone, or to let someone fend for themselves, make sure that it's a decision that you can live with.
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Old January 9, 2008, 01:52 PM   #19
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My viewpoint is simple:

--If you have or have had training and/or experience that will allow you to help someone avoid possible or potential (or certain) injury or death at the hands of a criminal, then yes, you have a moral obligation to help out.

After all, what compelled you to acquire the training and/or experience in the first place?

If you haven't had the training and/or experience, then it's a judgement call on your part. No right or wrong answer, in my opinion.

Jeff
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Old January 9, 2008, 02:02 PM   #20
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This is a case where there could be a real difference between moral and legal. Any citizen can legally defend himself and his family. Beyond that, he has no legal obligation and in most states, no legal authority. He is NOT a law enforcement officer, sworn to uphold the law.

But, morally, if he is armed he might feel a need to step into a situation where a person he believes to be innocent is suffering or is about to suffer death or grievous bodily harm. He does that at his own risk and peril. If he has judged the situation correctly, and he is good with his weapon and lucky, he will be the subject of praise. If he is wrong, he must accept the consequences.

But note that the situation needs to be considered. If an armed citizen sitting in a restaurant observes a man robbing the cashier, draws his gun and fires, killing the cashier, was he "morally" right? Legalities aside, did he have some higher obligation to stop evil, even if he kills an innocent? If he misses the robber, and the robber empties his gun into the diners, killing several, possibly includng the armed citizen or his family, was the citizen still "morally" right? Was the danger from the robber known, or only surmised? The robber might have simply taken the money and left, as most robbers do. His gun may have been a toy, or unloaded. Absent any real evidence that the citizen's actions were necessary to save a life, does he have a "moral" obligation to open fire, even at the risk of killing an innocent person?

I was once thrown this scenario in a training session. Dudley Doright is on the street and sees a woman coming out of a building, screaming that she is being attacked. She is followed by a tough-looking man who runs her down, throws her to the ground and holds her down. A real nasty guy, so Dudley Doright shoots him. The woman jumps up and runs away. Dudley had killed an FBI agent arresting a nurse who murdered 50 patients in a nursing home, and let the woman free to take on another nursing job.

Jim
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Old January 9, 2008, 02:29 PM   #21
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On Duty I will do what is required within the scope of my employment.

Off Duty my guns are to protect me and mine only. The only exception to that is if I see an identified law enforcemnet officer in need of assistance. That will be action taken, "not in the scope of my employment" according to my Agency's "legal beagle". The Agency wants to limit it's vicarious liability, so why should I expose myself to that needlessly?

Jim Keenan's post brought up a very good point. Things are not always what they seem, and you will not know all the "players". That's a lot of responsibility on your shoulders if you decide to intervene.

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Old January 9, 2008, 02:51 PM   #22
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Quote:
Dudley Doright is on the street and sees a woman coming out of a building, screaming that she is being attacked. She is followed by a tough-looking man who runs her down, throws her to the ground and holds her down. A real nasty guy, so Dudley Doright shoots him. The woman jumps up and runs away. Dudley had killed an FBI agent arresting a nurse who murdered 50 patients in a nursing home, and let the woman free to take on another nursing job.
We were taught and had it drilled into us constantly that (since we did not wear uniforms) when enacting an arrest such as you described above, to make sure EVERYONE knew we were police officers.

If we DIDN'T, there just might be a Dudley Doright looking to "make his day."

Unless you are absolutely, positively (what we used to call FedEx sure) 100% positive of what you are seeing, it always pays to take a second to think.

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Old January 9, 2008, 02:52 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BikerRN
Off Duty my guns are to protect me and mine only. The only exception to that is if I see an identified law enforcemnet officer in need of assistance.
Oh, I see.

You'll stop and help a fellow cop, but not a fellow citizen?

Wonderful.

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Old January 9, 2008, 03:19 PM   #24
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Quote:
Is it really my obligation to take action?
If it can be done with reasonable belief that such action will decrease the victim count, then yes.

If it is done stupidly and ignorantly, then no.

Example: You see a man attacking a woman in an alley. You pull your firearm, take aim and yell, he turns and runs. -GOOD

Example: You are in a bank, there are 5 men with guns pointed in every direction. You are amongst 6 other patrons huddled on the floor. You reach for your gun and take 5 shots at one man taking him out, but miss with the third shot which flies by the armed man, goes through a service desk and hits a bank teller in the thigh pelting her with shrapnel from the desk as well. The other 4 men turn and begin firing in your direction. You as well as 3 others are injured/killed. -BAD
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Old January 9, 2008, 03:22 PM   #25
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That's right, I will help a fellow LEO because I can IDENTIFY them.

I am thinking of uniformed officers here, not plainclothes or undercover officers. I don't know all the players and what caused the situation, so why would I want to play "Hero" and find out later that I was wrong? In uniform an officer is easily identifyable. In "street clothes" it can be hard to identify all the players and their relationships to each other.

Geez, this place is becoming a haven for keyboard commandos that would be better off going to school instead of skipping class to play on their parent's computer.

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