“Shoot First and Ask Questions Later” is Garbage (Light Over Heat #50)

This week on my “Light Over Heat” YouTube channel, I address the idea that people can or should “shoot first and ask questions later.” It’s sad that I have to point out that this is garbage, but it seems I do.

It is extremely frustrating for me to see people (1) treat the Kansas City porch shooting, upstate New York driveway shooting, Austin H-E-B parking lot shooting, and Charlotte ball-in-the-yard shooting as the same kind of event, and (2) attribute the events to Stand Your Ground laws allowing people to “shoot first and ask questions later.”

This frustration led me to write a response that was published online in The Hill. This week’s Light Over Heat video addresses ideas shared in that opinion essay.

Recognizing that all of the facts of the cases are unknown to me, it APPEARS that two of the cases (Austin, Charlotte) are criminal assaults with a deadly weapon/murder and two of the cases (KC, upstate NY) are CLAIMED self-defense shootings.

If I were a betting man, I would say that — to the extent that these cases have something in common — it is that they are all four criminal acts. Time will tell.

Of course, as people rightly pointed out in response to my opinion, the Kansas City and upstate New York shooters don’t seem to be the audience for Everytown’s political rhetoric. So, they weren’t likely confused about what the law of self-defense allows because Everytown propagates the idea that Stand Your Ground laws condone shooting first and asking questions later.

I don’t know about their personal lives, political beliefs, or views of the law. But I hope they were not influenced by those in the gun culture who buy into extreme ideas that shooting anyone on your property is a good form of home defense.

As I mentioned on Gun Owners Radio shortly after I published my Hill opinion, Amazon sells signs that say: “WARNING: We shoot first and ask questions later.” So the “shoot first” problem is not just limited to critics of Stand Your Ground laws.

As I say in this week’s “Light Over Heat” video, if you have one of these signs, you should take it, shine it up real nice, turn it sideways, and shove it right . . .

. . . in the trash.

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  1. I like your statement, “Just claiming self defense and actually acting lawfully in self defense are two different things.” That has been shown to be true in many, many cases. Criminals often claim self defense when they’ve shot someone unlawfully to either deflect blame and avoid consequences, or because in their sub culture, aggressive action is erroneously considered self defense in certain situations (e.g., a perception that the victim would have settled a score with them in the future).
    The proponents of gun control often do more harm than good with their, dare I say, propaganda. Giving people the incorrect impression about self defense laws is one example, and I am as frustrated as you are when people misrepresent the situation. Another example of the harm done by this misrepresentation: back in the early 1980’s, gun control organizations started wailing about what they called “cop killer bullets’. Those bullets were nothing more than handgun bullets coated with Teflon of Nylon (such as S&W Nyclad), but it was claimed by the gun control folks that the coating would enable handgun bullets to penetrate police body armor, which was often worn underneath a uniform shirt. That claim was false and easily disproven. But what it did was to inform the criminal element that cops were wearing body armor, effectively telling them to shoot cops in the head.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What is even worse is the “shoot first” rhetoric was picked up by some highly opinionated “academics” and as an academic (Ph.D., geosciences, jobs as graduate school faculty at the U of Hawaii and then scientist at Los Alamos National Lab), I use that term loosely for those whose academic objectivity is subordinated to partisan political rhetoric in their academic field. “Shoot first” is used, of course, to imply that Stand Your Ground laws encourage trigger happy behavior. I think the extreme gun culture and extreme antisocial behavior encouraged first by social media and then Covid closures encourage rash behavior.

    I don’t even like stand your ground as a term as it might imply aggressiveness, as opposed to what the law really says, which is, you don’t have a duty to retreat. Shucks, even in Duty to Retreat states, you don’t need to retreat if it is dangerous to do so. In either case, whether SYG or DtR states, de-escalation is the preferred method and becoming the aggressor puts you in the defendant’s chair under either law.

    And yeah, since this is not my blog, I do recommend, bluntly, that if you have those signs, stick them somewhere where they will never be seen. If you have those signs up and actually do have to use deadly force, you are giving the DA and grand jury a free shot at your future habitation, i.e., the Greybar Hotel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Also, as a retired sheriff deputy friend of mine noted, that unless a driveway and yard is posted No Trespassing or similar, simply turning around in someone’s driveway or knocking on their door is not a criminal offense. Or as my friend said, the country would be littered with the bodies of political candidates, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormons who knocked on someone’s door.


      • The JW used to come by my ranch, in part because one of my riding student’s mother was one. They’d sit in their car with the engine running. I finally asked them why and they said, in case we need to leave quickly. I invited them to sit at the picnic table and offered them lemonade.

        I like The Watchtower’s elaborate illustrations. Awake’s, not so much.


  3. Just had an exchange with a blogger who believed SYG means you can shoot anyone so long as you say you ‘felt afraid.’ That is, of course, what the gun control activists want everyone to believe.

    I have no doubt Mr. Lester in KC truly felt afraid. But it was not a *reasonable* fear.

    As for the other incidents, I wonder if the shooters weren’t up to something nefarious. I’ve been drawn on after mistakenly driving up to what was either an illegal grow or some cookers.


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