I don’t watch “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart often, but when I do I sometimes forget he is NOT doing a parody of a liberal “newsertainment” talk show host to complement Stephen Colbert’s conservative parody. Unlike the Colbert caricature, Stewart actually believes what he is saying. Although he is not at Bill Maher’s level — Maher being the pure type of a smug, smarter-than-thou liberal — Stewart’s show is nonetheless a good vehicle for understanding the liberal perspective, especially on guns and gun owners.
I was alerted to an important recent episode of the Daily Show by a colleague. The first segment of the 29 April 2014 show was Stewart’s take on the NRA meetings. Nothing particularly surprising there. What my colleague (who knows I am studying concealed carry) wanted me to see in particular was a segment in which fake reporter Jordan Klepper “investigates a low-cost legal defense program intended to make shooting people more affordable for Americans.”
I don’t want to spend too much time summarizing the piece, which is ostensibly about the growing number of organizations that seek to provide legal aid and/or insurance to armed citizens (e.g., Virginia Self-Defense Law Firm, the Law Office of Doug Friesen, Gunn Shield, Texas Law Shield, the US Concealed Carry Association, Second Call Defense, CCW Safe, and the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network). I will just say watch it. It’s funny and wrong(-headed) and instructive.
Klepper begins the story with a voice-over narrative: “As ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws proliferate across the country and controversial self-defense shootings make headlines, people are beginning to speak up about the heartbreaking damages these events cause. But who will speak for the true victims of shootings? The shooters.”
As expected, the segment perfectly reflects the liberal sentiment — one which I used to share — that you would never need to shoot another person if you are a law-abiding citizen. The incredulity at having to shoot someone is overplayed by the fake reporter for humorous purposes, but it is real at root (the incredulity, that is).
Because they cannot imagine a situation in which an ordinary citizen would need to use lethal force in lawful self-defense, Daily Show liberals cannot see a self-defense shooter as having been victimized. And yet, anyone not charged or who is acquitted in such a situation is in fact a victim or else they would not be permitted under the law to use lethal force in self-defense.
Daily Show liberals also have no idea of the types of suffering that a shooter could face. Among these are psychological trauma that can resemble PTSD, with symptoms such as insomnia, appetite disturbance, substance abuse, guilt, flashbacks, and hormonal imbalance. There is also a social dimension to post-event trauma, what Massad Ayoob calls the “Mark of Cain” syndrome. This is a sort of stigma or badge of shame that one’s community puts on a person who uses lethal force in self-defense.
And, more directly to the point of the Daily Show’s wink-wink news story, there is a major financial cost to using lethal force in justifiable self-defense. As anyone who has ever needed the services of an attorney knows, billing takes place early and often. For example, attorneys for Gail Gerlach (acquitted in April 2014 in a Spokane self-defense shooting) provided to the court an itemized list of their expenses, totaling close to $330,000.
Spencer Newcomber, acquitted of first degree murder in the shooting death of his next door neighbor, talks about the psychological, social, and financial costs of lawfully defending himself with lethal force on the Pro Arms Podcast. This is a major reason all reputable gun trainers advocate not “shoot first” but avoid first and shoot only when all other options have been exhausted (something I am currently documenting).
This is not to deny that some people — including some concealed weapon permit holders — who claim self-defense are actually guilty of criminal homicide. I have written about a murder in the name of self-defense in Minnesota, and am currently watching the case of Florida theater shooter Curtis Reeves closely.
But at the end of the day, it is the idea that a law-abiding citizen would never be legally and ethically justified in shooting another person that is funny.