Editorial: No thin line between self-defense and recklessness
Let’s talk about gun control.
No, not the government controlling the weapon you have a constitutional right to own.
We need to talk about the obligation to control the weapon and yourself when it is in your possession.
The recent shooting at the North Versailles Walmart illustrates the importance of understanding where our rights to defend ourselves bleed into an obligation to control ourselves at the same time. And to be honest, those rights are the same whether we are using a firearm or a baseball bat or a good right cross.
Police say Rojanai Germaine Alston, 22, of Penn Hills was assaulted in the store. She pulled a gun, but it didn’t end there. She shot at one woman four times, then pursued another into another aisle where she shot her once in the hand and leg. Alston is charged with attempted homicide and aggravated assault.
Self-defense is a counter to an aggression. It is a block to an advance. Someone tries to steal your wallet, you meet them with enough force to stop it. Someone assaults you in a parking garage, you draw a weapon — be it a revolver or a knee to the groin.
Self-defense is not pursuit. It isn’t an additional aggression. You don’t have the right to pistol-whip the pickpocket instead of calling the police. You can’t shoot the parking garage attacker after he has been neutralized by that knee.
Self-defense is at its most effective when it is vigilant, evident and calm.
Gun ownership is most effective when it is the same.
We have a right to defend ourselves. We have a right to own weapons. We have a responsibility to do both in a safe, law-abiding manner.
We are not defending ourselves when we cross a line — not a thin, erasable pencil line, but a thick one drawn in indelible ink — from being the victim to becoming the vigilante.
We are not defending our rights when we are careless or callous in our possession of weapons of deadly force.
We should not boast or taunt or dare. We should do nothing that puts our lives or the lives of others in danger. That is not defense.
We should stand our ground and can defend our castle. There is no duty to retreat.
But sometimes the best offense is a good defense, not the other way around.