Biased media annoyed that victims dare resist
By Tim Inwood
I have had enough experience with the anti-gun /self-defense bias in the press to begin to wonder if there is something wrong with the water used at major journalism schools in this country - some toxic agent that it wipes out all logical function of the brain.
As I read “Use Of Deadly Force: Store Owners Fighting Back” by Brendan Keefe, an article done for WCPO Channel 9 (Cincinnati's ABC affiliate), this notion was reinforced. The article complains that store owners were actually taking up arms to fight the criminals who robbed their shops. It went on to bemoan that Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters was letting this happen by not prosecuting the store owners, even when they chased down the criminal off property after the robbery.
In the WCPO.com article, Mr. Deters is quoted as saying "I cannot fault someone who wants to defend themselves… I will not charge them in the defense of their business or their family or themselves." When asked about prosecuting clerks who chased down the mugger after the robbery Deters went on to say “"If I don't believe we can win at trial, we can't charge people, and I won't charge people." He makes the point that as prosecutor he would have to convince a jury of 12, the shopkeepers' peers, to convict him for defending himself. You would have to get them to see the proprietor as the thug and the actual robber as the victim. Not an easy or enviable task.
Though it is not directly said, the implication of the article is that Deters is not doing his job by not going after these store clerks who fight back. More disturbing is the tone which clearly suggests they sympathize with this ridiculous notion that we should not fight back. Mr. Keefe actually opens the story with this line: “Armed robbers now face a potential penalty worse than prison time: death. But should store owners use their guns to act as judge, jury and executioner?” That sets the tone and from the start tells you the mindset of the author. He is opposed to the storekeeper using any force and is almost rooting for the hood to get away.
Frankly, I would never advise anyone to give chase to a thug who was armed following the crime. First, the law does not support this action; you must be in fear of your own safety. Chasing the miscreant down after he has fled clearly will not constitute that scenario. Second, you can get yourself killed and from a liability standpoint you can open up a legal nightmare if you hit an innocent bystander when you fire on the thug. In several of the incidents mentioned in the story the shopkeeper did chase down the thug and fire on them. It is ill-advised, but if I were a potential juror in such a case, I could understand the high stress and emotion of the moment and would not be inclined to find the merchant guilty for fighting back, even after chasing the thug down.
Mr. Keefe also comments on a robbery in a Columbus motel, in which “the desk clerk had a gun. He fires three times, hitting the armed robber with each shot. In that instance, a mother pulls her toddler out of the line of fire just in time.” There is video of this incident showing he gets the fact about the toddler wrong.
The toddler is not in the line of fire at any point in the shooting. That comment suggests the clerk was trigger-happy in his firing on the thug and is complaining that the desk clerk fought back with innocents in the room. Mr. Keefe in telling this tale ignores that robbers sometimes shoot their victims to avoid having a living witness to finger them later. This was increasingly the case in Columbus; at the time of this incident clerks were often getting shot following the robbery. Mr. Keefe also does not mention that this was not the first time the twenty year-old gunman had robbed a motel. In my mind, the desk clerk probably saved not only his life, but also that of the mother, child and other clerk. The man is a hero and should be hailed as such; naturally he was not prosecuted for shooting the thug. The robber survived and is now incarcerated for his crime.
The obvious point ABC Cincinnati wants to make is that they think it is wrong for the store owners to fight back, and that they think Joe Deters is negligent in not prosecuting the merchants who fight back. Obviously they does not see the benefit I see in the Deters' strategy. If he does not prosecute the shopkeeper who fires on the thug or gives chase, then the hoodlum knows there is an additional risk in pursuing his life of crime. Deters, without directly saying it, has taken an action that will help deter the criminal’s ability to act without fear of being shot by the merchants of Hamilton County. It cannot be denied that this sort of impediment will actually help reduce crime.
Mr. Keefe blows the opening line of his story. The shopkeeper fighting back is not Judge, Jury and Executioner. He is the victim. It is past time we empower him to fight back against those making our society a living hell.
---Special thanks to my friend and BFA legal counsel Ken Hanson for his assistance in the development of this commentary.---
Tim Inwood is the current Legislative Liaison and Past President of the Clinton County Farmers and Sportsmen's Association, an Endowment Member of the NRA, Life Member of OGCA, and a volunteer for Buckeye Firearms Association.