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View Poll Results: Does an Armed Citizen have a Moral/Ethical Duty to Retreat (complete safety)
Yep, at all times 30 13.89%
Nope, Never 92 42.59%
Yep, but only on the street, not in the Home/Business 63 29.17%
I'm not ansering because I dont want to seem either wimpy or bloodthirsty 15 6.94%
I'd rather have pic of you and Spiff iwearing spandex loincloths lard wrestling in a baby pool. 16 7.41%
Voters: 216. You may not vote on this poll

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Old June 11, 2009, 03:35 PM   #51
Playboypenguin
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Cant think of one culture or belief system that condones killing except under limited circumstances
You need to get out more. Some cultures do not have quite as high a regard for human life. In fact some even place the lives of lesser animals above individual human life. Some cultures allowing killing for simple disobedience of a husband or parent.
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Old June 11, 2009, 03:40 PM   #52
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Actually, I think there are quite a few cultures where killing for revenge, etc... are perfectly acceptable and condoned. I think PBP is right in this case. So they would answer the question differently than I would.
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Old June 11, 2009, 03:47 PM   #53
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Cultures had sanctioned human sacrifice and practiced warfare to capture folks for later human sacrifice.

The killing of infants, for example - daughters, is not unknown.

In a sense, those are limited but clearly some societies killing for reasons other than self-defense are accepted.
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Old June 11, 2009, 03:58 PM   #54
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Legal and Moral obligations? More to it...

If an armed BG wants to put me in a position where I feel the need to defend myself, I don't feel any moral obligation to shield him from his own actions. None at all.

That said, I would feel a moral obligation to protect innocent bystanders, assuming there were any. This could include people who were with me, and anybody else in the vicinity. Situationally, that protection could range from proper sight alignment and trigger control to de-escalation by any reasonable means. Any number of variables would impact this calculus, including but not limited to apparent intent of the BG, number and positions of BGs, number and positions of bystanders, etc.

Additionally, assuming force were required, I would feel a moral obligation to use no more force than necessary to resolve the situation. IE once threat is stopped, no more shots taken, punches or kicks thrown, etc. Engage to stop the threat, quickly and efficiently as possible, but no further than stopping the threat.

But morally, I'd feel no obligation to put the protection of the BG, per se, anywhere near the level of conscious thought.

Legal obligations may vary. After avoiding the graveyard or ER, and preventing harm to innocents, avoiding prison time runs a close third - or maybe second, as the first two are kind of tied for first place.

That's all well and good for Legal and Moral. However, a third and no less important consideration is Practical/Tactical.

If a safe avenue of escape is available, then it doesn't make sense to engage. I'd define "safe" as safe not only for me, but for anybody I might care about in the vicinity. IE, if I drive away, or if I go around the building, do I just leave a bunch of people in harm's way? So, if I can in good conscience resolve the problem by exiting, that's the way to go. I'm a good shot, and I'm not bad with my hands, or knives or clubs for that matter, but a wounded attacker can still inflict damage; an armed and wounded attacker can potentially still inflict fatal damage. Engaging just for the sake of not backing down opens up a very big can of risk. So, from a Practical/Tactical or self-preservation perspective, I'd avoid the problem if a morally acceptable retreat were available.

Note that while retreating, I'd keep whatever weapon I had in hand, as surreptitiously as possible; I'd also want to maximize use of cover and concealment. As soon as relative safety were reached, it would then be time for a 911 call.

Last edited by MLeake; June 11, 2009 at 04:02 PM. Reason: spelling and grammar
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Old June 11, 2009, 04:10 PM   #55
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Cant think of one culture or belief system that condones killing except under limited circumstances
just look at the countries without humanaterian laws like China and its 1 child system, or dissent against the government and be killed or placed in prison for life.
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Old June 11, 2009, 04:13 PM   #56
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You need to get out more. Some cultures do not have quite as high a regard for human life. In fact some even place the lives of lesser animals above individual human life. Some cultures allowing killing for simple disobedience of a husband or parent.
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Cultures had sanctioned human sacrifice and practiced warfare to capture folks for later human sacrifice.
I misspoke...it should have read "modern" culture

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Seems to me its a valid discussion

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Old June 11, 2009, 04:16 PM   #57
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I guess the poll could also read...

Is it OK to shoot an aggressor when you don't need to do so for the protection of yourself and others?

Now are my choices clearer (PBP)


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Old June 11, 2009, 04:16 PM   #58
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I would posit that if what the proponents of "morality by majority rule" suggest is true then there is no distinction between "legal" and "moral". They are, by definition, one and the same. "Legal" would be the "moral" dictate of the majority.
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Old June 11, 2009, 04:36 PM   #59
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for me knowing that I am about to die,or my family,is the only thing that allows me to pull the trigger.Some chump breaks in my house to steal my tv,i'd rather let him go if he isnt armed than shoot him.
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Old June 11, 2009, 04:38 PM   #60
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Given that morals are basically internalizations and formalizations of mores, the basic societal expectations or social contract, they cannot be truly individualized. They definitely share a broader context whether the foundations be cultural, religious/spiritual, or "other" in nature.

I think the true test here of whether something is "moral" or not (in this case the legally justified but morally questionable killing of an assailant) is whether you would freely and proudly admit to it in your town square, without reservation. If you have reservations about doing so, it probably isn't moral. If you feel you can proudly say, "No I didn't have to kill him to protect myself, but since I wasn't legally obligated to retreat out my back door, I was legally justified in doing so, I figure 'What the heck?'", then go right ahead....... Be prepared for outrage.........

Since the killing of others is frowned upon when it can be avoided, then I would say we definitely have a moral as well as legal duty to retreat if retreat can be accomplished safely. The duty ends when "safely" ends.
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Old June 11, 2009, 04:39 PM   #61
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"Legal" would be the "moral" dictate of the majority.
Not necessarily. It is possible that something could be immoral but still legal for now......

I will agree that what is immoral tends to find it's way to illegal eventually.
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Old June 11, 2009, 04:43 PM   #62
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If someone breaking into my home or sticking a gun into my face on the street, I am not going to be thinking is this legal or moral, I am going to be thinking "I don't want to die". Unless you are a very rare person the taking of another person's life no matter how thuggish is going to change yours forever.
In that particular moment, the only thing you should expect is for your mind to react how you have set your mind.
This is what we are doing now, discussing our mindsets.

Erslands mindset may have been 'Shoot to Kill! Shoot to slidelock, reload, then shoot again!', and if thats how he set his mind, then that would be how we should expect his mind to respond.
(Note I am saying 'expect', not saying its 100% beyond a doubt how the mind will react).

Think of it this way: How do you want everyone to comment on your mindset, in the aftermath of a defensive shooting? Do you want your friends, peers, family, to say "He/She is a kindhearted person, never wanted to do harm to anyone, but if anyone put their life at risk or that of their children, they would do whatever it took to ensure their safety"?

Or are those friends and family going to say "Gee I dunno, every time I visited them at home they greeted me at the door with a pistol in hand, and if I ever walked in the front door without them I heard the clicking of hammers being cocked, the sign at the door said "We don't call 911". Every time I sat on the couch I'd find I was sitting on a loaded magazine or gun (funny they never called it a couch, they called it a 'Tactical reload/rearming location 1')."

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Retreating is when you leave the scene entirely and yield it to the aggressor
Only if you are Denethor and you are irritated that Faramir gave up Osgilliath.
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Old June 11, 2009, 04:45 PM   #63
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It is possible that something could be immoral but still legal for now......
Well yes, but that's in the real world. I was speaking of the world wherein morality is invented (present day America). If morality is defined as so many would have it be, by the will of the majority or better stated by those with power, then "legal" IS "moral".

Therefore, in answer to the OP. If it is legal then it is moral. If it is illegal, immoral.... but tomorrow that may change.
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Old June 11, 2009, 04:57 PM   #64
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Only if you are Denethor and you are irritated that Faramir gave up Osgilliath.
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Old June 11, 2009, 05:21 PM   #65
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If it were perfectly safe for myself and anyone I care about to retreat, then I think retreating is definitely the thing to do. If there were no safe way to retreat, then there's not really a choice but to fight.
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Old June 11, 2009, 05:29 PM   #66
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Wild, thanks for starting this poll and discussion. For some of us, the issue of when it's OK to take a human life is, or should be, the central question of ethics. 'Bout time we talked about it a bit, without all the posturing which seems to be brought out by particular cases.

rantingredneck nailed it:
Quote:
Since the killing of others is frowned upon when it can be avoided, then I would say we definitely have a moral as well as legal duty to retreat if retreat can be accomplished safely. The duty ends when "safely" ends.
If I'm in danger from an attacker, I'll always retreat if I can do so safely. If others are in danger, I'll do the same... with the intention of calling 911, being a good witness, and all that good stuff, if, again, I can do so safely. As has been pointed out ad nauseum in other threads, it's too easy to make a mistake about what's happening in a situation involving other people, and the consequences of being wrong can be huge; so I'm very unlikely to intervene.

Two points haven't been much addressed here: what constitutes retreating, and the difference between protecting life and protecting stuff.

As to the first, "retreating" seems pretty situational to me. If I'm at home and someone breaks in, it means I'm either out the other door, or I'm headed upstairs to the bedroom, exactly as 5whiskey described:
Quote:
My version of a home invasion would include me holing up in the bedroom, firing warning shots in the deck before perp ever reached the bedroom, and yelling commands to leave. That's as safe for both parties as I know how to make it. If perp continues on to bedroom after all that, then he's probably after me personally and not any "stuff".
Well, actually, I'd call 911 right quick, and I'd pass on the warning shots, but otherwise -- yup, that's me, too. So in this case, "retreat" means to me not to confront an intruder, but to retreat to and hole up in a defensible spot, on the principle that he can take whatever's downstairs, but if he comes upstairs, knowing I'm there, and armed, he is after me and I will defend myself.

Anywhere else, my first choice is always going to be to get out the back door, or drive away -- whatever gets me out of the situation. I'll be glad to throw a mugger my wallet, if that's what it takes to get away from him.

I don't ever want to take a life over money or possessions -- I'll defend my person if I have to, but for me, anyone's life, even a criminal's, has more value than material objects.

If I'm pursued, I'll do whatever I can to discourage a pursuer: go somewhere where there are other people if possible, etc. Back when I was in college, I was driving back from a camping trip on an empty highway when six guys in an old car tried force me to stop -- which seemed like a really bad idea. My "retreating" in that situation took the form of flooring it, passing them (my old Chevy was a lot quicker than it looked), getting chased by them -- and after a mile or two, snugging up to the bumper of the first car I caught up to, at which point the six guys drove off, with lots of obscene gestures, etc... If I'd had a gun in the car, I might've shown it to them, but I'm not sure that would have improved the outcome. Getting the hell away and finding some witnesses seemed like the best option then, and it still seems like the right thing to have done.

So here's a question : Does "retreating" mean that you do whatever you'd do if you were unarmed, only knowing that you have a backup if push comes to shove? Or does it mean something different if you're armed: backing off and giving an attacker a chance not to come after you but intending to shoot if he does? In the case of a home invasion, I guess I'd say it means the latter, but out in the world, I'm not so sure.
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Old June 11, 2009, 05:38 PM   #67
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Well yes, but that's in the real world. I was speaking of the world wherein morality is invented (present day America).
I posit that the two are one and the same. Morality is an invented construct.

The thing is, it is not static. It evolves as society evolves.

Example...........hopefully I don't stray too far afield here into verboten territory, if I do, my apologies and mods feel free to yank the leash.....

50 years ago would a gay man stand in his town square and admit to being gay? Today would a homophobe stand in his town square and admit to being a homophobe? (possibly in some locales, but not in most I would say)

Societal evolution and the evolution of morality.

As to "those in power". That is also not static. At least in functional societies.
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Old June 11, 2009, 06:24 PM   #68
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How about leave it up to the one being attacked as to if they want to retreat or not.

That was not in the poll selection but I feel if you are attacked, it's your decision. As long as you didn't provoke the attack, you are in the right, retreat or no.
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Old June 11, 2009, 06:32 PM   #69
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Well ultimately it is up to them. We're just doing a poll to discuss the matter. You never know. You can learn stuff, even from the internet, on occasion. If that weren't the case we probably wouldn't even have this board.
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Old June 11, 2009, 07:01 PM   #70
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Obviously the answer to this is very personal.

We recently had "active shooter" training on the campus where I work. It was all focused on retreat and hide. And yes, we are a "non-carry" campus.

Maybe I was in the Army too long, but I would have to run to the gunfire and try to get it stopped. I am better prepared to do that than most of the people I work with, and unfortunately even our campus security are not armed.

So, no, I am not retreating.
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Old June 11, 2009, 07:33 PM   #71
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WA, While not a true "modern culture", the radical muslims are some persistant buggers. And with sharia law a father or husband may get to kill a daughter or wife for many reasons not related to self defense.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharia
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Old June 11, 2009, 09:47 PM   #72
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There is no right and wrong. too many grey areas, too many areas where every little detail from time of day, likely hood of someone else stepping up, etc all play a part.



you see an obvious little girl being dragged behind some cars while guys are Obviously preparing to rape her. NO grey area here, you can hear them, you can see her terror in her eyes, they want nothing to do with you, do YOU walk away?


Two wannabe gansta's walking by. just slug an elderly woman in the head and start trying to rip her purse from her hands all the while screaming "don't make me kill you". Do YOU walk away.


walking past a house, you hear two obviously drunk adults screaming at each other over "her," lots of "i'm gonna kill ya" being tossed back and forth. Do you enter the fray?

so when do you walk, when do you drop the dime, when do you say enough is effing enough?
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Old June 11, 2009, 10:05 PM   #73
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For me, I think you have no duty to retreat within the home. However, there are instances inside the home where you are in a position that under the law you are justified in shooting but you should not (i.e. you stumble across joe thug in your living room with hands full of TV in no position to hurt you or defend himself).

On the street it is a much tougher call. Some will say never intervene no matter what. Others will say it's your moral duty to help your fellow law abiding citizen. I tend to live in the grey area. Rape is a crime I abhor and one that is often followed by murder. If I stumbled across that occurring my stages of response would be this:
1) Yell at the guy (what's going on?, get the **** away from her, etc)
2) 1 fails and I draw CCW
3) 2 fails to get BG's attention and he either becomes violent toward me or moreso the victim, I fire ONLY if I have a PERFECTLY clear shot

Joe Thug knocking over the 7/11 is a different story. There is no way I am using a gun to intervene in that situation unless the BG is already shooting. Even then I may not unless he is blocking my exit from the store.
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Old June 11, 2009, 10:18 PM   #74
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Given the OP's position as I understand it: situation is one where deadly force "could" be used, . . . but I have the option to leave safely.

If there were no other considerations, . . . when you get to my page in your coloring book, . . . color me gone. I'm outta here. No way am I going to get my total future involved with a shooting I could have safely ignored.

Anyway, . . . that's how I see it, . . . given the parameters of the OP.

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Old June 12, 2009, 12:18 AM   #75
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Some may think me bloodthirsty, but I don't believe response to an agressor is ever unjustified. If bad things occur because I respond to a BG's actions, the moral stain is on his cloth, not mine.

Vanya wrote:
Quote:
I don't ever want to take a life over money or possessions -- I'll defend my person if I have to, but for me, anyone's life, even a criminal's, has more value than material objects.
I wouldn't kill over posessions either, but someone violating the sanctity of my home is placing himself in a situation where death is a possibility. If I shoot an invader, it isn't my fault. I did not put him in the perilous situation.

If a bank robber is being chased by police, and a bystander is killed, the bank robber is charged with murder, no matter who struck the bystander. The robber's actions set up the chain of events by which the innocent was killed. If I precipitate an action and someone dies, it's on me. My response to someone's agression, as long as it is appropriate and in context, not beating a downed man for example, leaves me in the moral clear.
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