Okay, for the record, this came in over my electronic transom via www.the-912-project.com, a website that supports the 912 Project, something Glenn Beck started over a year ago, that’s played a seminal role in spreading the word about the Tea Party movement. Again, for the record, I think the “Rapist with AIDS” is over the top (strike that…WAY over the top). I have friends that are HIV-positive, and AIDS is not the automatic death sentence it was back in the 80s. I think the point the person that created this graphic is trying to make here (in an incendiary fashion) is dramatic enough when you put the words “rape” and “daughter” in the same sentence. They could have added “with a sexually-transmitted disease” and it would have been as sensational – and less blatantly insensitive. Or they could have said “rapist/murderer” – and the effect on “Your daughter” would have been largely the same.
None of the sensationalism, incendiary nature, nor the choice of a big-ass handgun with a 5 inch barrel do anything to invalidate the rhetorical question posed – which would protect her health best?
I’m a dad. My daughter is the center of my universe. She’s only twelve, but she’s growing up fast. Faster than I could have ever imagined, that day that I first held her in my arms. She is beautiful, talented, funny, charming, sweet, and intelligent, not necessarily in that order. The thought of anything bad happening to her keeps me awake at night.
The thought of her being assaulted is the kind of thing that makes me question how willing I’d be to “let the criminal justice system take it’s course” if anything like that (God forbid!) should even come close to happening. I don’t think I’m alone. I believe most dads would feel the same way. Which is why the question posed above will elicit such a visceral response from most parents I know.
To answer the question: “No, DUH! The gun is the best option, given the implied situation outlined above.” But the situation implies an awful lot.
I’m actively trying to drum a couple of things into my young daughter’s head. The challenge is that I want to do things that will encourage her to be strong and not play the “I’m just a fragile girl” card. I want her to be fearless, without becoming reckless. I want her to be prudent, but not live her life in fear. So I’m very carefully trying to teach her how to avoid trouble – and deal with it appropriately, should she encounter it.
My first rule of thumb is simple. “The best way to avoid trouble is to not be there when it happens.”
Is is worth a short-cut through a dark, unfamiliar alley at night, just to make it back to your car a little faster? Probably not worth the risk. Should I go to that party, even though it’s in a pretty rough part of town, especially without a group of people I trust? I dunno . . . seems risky. Should I go out jogging in the park at dusk, even though there’ve not been any assaults there in a while, and it’s pretty well-lit? Judgment call, but take precautions so you can defend yourself in case of trouble.
As a dad, I realize I can’t always be there to protect my kid. I hate that, but it’s a fact of life. So let’s get back to this hypothetical assault. Because I’m uncomfortable even hypothesizing about my own daughter, let’s make this generic. Every woman is somebody’s daughter, so we’ll keep it vague. Here’s the scenario:
A woman is walking down the sidewalk as the sun is setting. It’s a “transitional” neighborhood – nice houses and nice families, but not too far removed from a rough part of town. The woman is walking purposefully, and is situationally-aware. She sees someone on the sidewalk across the street. It’s a male, dressed in a way that suggests he’s either a gang member or perhaps just someone who’s at the bottom of the food chain, income-wise. He sees the woman and starts to walk across the street to intersect with her path. Here are ten options for the woman to consider:
- Keep walking toward the man and do nothing different. After all, she has no idea of his intentions, hostile or benign.
- Keep to the same sidewalk, but raise the perceived threat level, and get her hands on whatever defensive weapons she might have on her – pepper spray, Taser, car keys, tactical flashlight, tactical knife, or concealed handgun.
- Change course and walk across the street to the other sidewalk, to avoid contact with the man.
- Turn around and walk back from where you came.
- Look for one of the homes with lights on, walk up the door as if that’s where you were headed, and ring the doorbell, as if you’re expected, but keep your peripheral vision set so you can keep an eye on the man.
- Reveal that you are armed, and challenge the man to back off.
- Run somewhere – anywhere – in a blind panic.
- Pull out your cell phone and call someone so you can talk to them as the man gets closer – maybe they can call 911 for you, if he assaults you.
- Call 911. Hey – it may not be a serious threat yet, but that’s what they are there for, right?
- Pull out that howitzer and start a-shootin’!
Now here are my suggestions for an outcome, should the woman choose one of these ten options:
- You’re an idiot. Or at least a Pollyanna. Better hope this guy has nothing on his mind but panhandling or asking directions, because otherwise, you’re goose is cooked, hon.
- Good call – as long as he doesn’t up the ante, and you’re willing to take it to the next level and defend yourself.
- Might be okay, but it does scream “I think you’re out to get me” and could ratchet up the threat level, just because he realizes you’re on to him.
- If you’re near safety, okay. Otherwise, turning your back to a potential assailant is just asking for it.
- Not a bad plan – if you’re close enough to a house to get them to answer the door before the guy can reach you. Keep him in sight, because this could cause him to accelerate and try to cut you off. Best to ring the doorbell and get your defensive options ready, in case you need them.
- Do this only if you feel the threat is imminent. If he acts aggressively – for instance, if he starts making inappropriate comments of a sexual nature, if he moves toward you in a menacing fashion, or if you perceive he’s not alone – then it’s not a bad thing to let them know you are capable of leveling the playing field.
- Sheeple – meet predator. Good luck with that. If he’s not a threat, you look like an ass. (But an ass who’s not going to get sacrificed, so trading your dignity for your life is not a bad deal.) If he IS a threat, you’ve just encouraged him to run you down, with the added advantage that he’s now got adrenalin surging through his system. Nice plan.
- So . . . you don’t mind being a victim . . . you just want an audience? And you want to tie up your phone, and make you look less situationally-aware at the same time? Brilliant.
- Um . . . I really think you’ve got bigger things to worry about. If the cops’ response time averages between five and 15 minutes, they’ll get there just in time to see the perp running off, and, with any luck, get you to tell them what happened before your life slips away. Oh, and if the guy’s not a threat, you’ve just clogged up the 911 line, preventing somebody that really needed the help from calling. There’s a time and a place to call 911. This is neither the time, nor the place.
- Hold on, Dirty Harriet. So far, our guy’s not done anything that warrants an armed response with deadly force. You MUST wait until you feel genuinely threatened. For instance, if he says something about assaulting you, pulls a knife, or starts running towards you, then you can make a case for an armed response. But your best bet will be to reveal you’re armed and warn the guy off. If he won’t stop coming – that’s the time to put all that training you’ve undergone and put a cap in his ass.
Let’s say that the guy IS a bad guy and he DOES try and assault the woman. She is fully-justified in defending herself. Whether or not she’ll be able to defend herself successfully in court is another question entirely. In order to make sure she doesn’t serve time for self-defense, a couple of suggestions are in order:
- Don’t over-react.
- Every situation is different, but you’ll sleep better – and probably avoid a trial – if you’ve tried to do everything you can to avoid using deadly force FIRST. Sometimes, there’s no time or opportunity. But if there is, try.
- If you do have to use deadly force – or even pepper-spray the bastard, BE THE FIRST TO CALL 911 AFTER YOU’VE DEFENDED YOURSELF. Remember this simple rule: 1st person to call 911 = victim, 2nd person to tell their story to the cops = assailant. You don’t want to shoot the bad guy, then have some bystander (or the perp himself) call 911 and tell the cops that you’ve assaulted them.
- It’s a great idea to tell the police that you will cooperate fully. It’s an even BETTER idea to tell them that you will cooperate fully, but will not make any statements until you have counsel present. You can’t un-ring a bell, and if you say something that some ambitious DA can grab onto to help them get re-elected, your ass will be grass, and he’ll be the lawn mower. Plenty of time to collect your thoughts and talk to an attorney, before you give the authorities a formal statement.
As a dad, I can’t think of anything scarier than the prospect of my daughter being hurt, especially as a victim of violent crime. So I’m trying to raise her to avoid being a victim, without living in fear, or going around looking for a fight. That’s a tough row to hoe, no matter how you look at it. But I’ll tell you: if I have to choose between my daughter knowing how to defend herself with a handgun, and being willing to do so, and relying on a cell phone to get out of trouble, I’ll go for armed defense over victimhood every day.