Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

There’s been a surge of a very well meaning, but often unrealistic sentiment within our society that calls for violence being a last resort. Thing is, I notice that “violence should be a last resort” is too often applied to folk who had reacted to violence, and not the person initiating the violence. I also notice that this is only said when the offender is black, and the defender isn’t. It’s an unfair social pressure to put on anyone, especially if the person in question is being put in danger at that time. Due to recent events such as the Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown incidents, our culture seems to be skewing toward a “ask questions first, shoot never” mentality. It’s a sentiment I wholly reject, and one you would reject as well if put into a situation where it’s shoot or suffer.

 In the case of Mike Brown, Darrell Wilson’s actions were completely warranted. As evidence suggests, Wilson was acting in defense against a man clearly bent on doing harm. In his situation I would have done the same. As my friend and colleague Ben Howe articulated well during the controversy he stirred by speaking similarly…

Far from being a “tough guy act” I’m actually indicating that I would have feared for my life if Wilson’s version of events are accurate. I would like to believe (though can’t be sure having never been in the position) that my basic instinct for self preservation would’ve permitted me the ability to take Brown down with my weapon. I specifically said in the face because I had seen so many tweets from people angry that Wilson had said his conscience was clean. They took offense at that idea. I said I’d shoot him in the face because if I did it, if I were in Wilson’s shoes, and if everything Wilson described is what happened which I and the Grand Jury believe it was, then I would be remorseless about saving my own life. It seems that this is the most offensive part. Ironic considering that at first it was the claim that he was shot in the back that created outrage.

As pointed out, too many have tried to make this issue racial. It has nothing to do with race. Wilson had to shoot because he knew Brown was a violent man, not because he was black. He wasn’t going to take the chance, as Brown had already proved twice that day that he was willing to use violence. He had already shown it once before on Wilson himself, and once more before that. This brings me to the main crux of my point… 

Wilson shouldn’t have had to shoot Brown, because Brown shouldn’t have even made it that far.

Before the fateful shooting, Mike Brown had gone into a convenience store and strong armed the store’s clerk after having stolen almost $50 worth of cigarillos. All of this is caught on tape, and you can clearly see that Brown grabbed the clerk in the neck area and pushed him into a display. Afterward, he continued to intimidate the store clerk into walking away. Had the clerk continued to apply pressure, who knows what may have happened, but judging by the way Brown attacked Wilson, it would have been nothing good. Instead, the clerk backed down, and Brown went on to meet Wilson, and his end.

I feel for the clerk. It’s a shame that anyone would have to be put into that situation. However, the clerk’s actions were a step too short. If it had been me in his shoes, then Brown wouldn’t have even made it to the door.

The moment Brown reached across the counter to snatch what belonged to me to make his own, he would have been met with a choice; desist or suffer the consequences. A gun would have been pulled. My gun. If any further attempt to steal or any threat was made against my person, a shot would have been fired. Michael Brown would not have casually strolled out of my store, he may very well have been carried out in a bag. Harsh? Yes. Realistic? That too. His choice? Absolutely.

Some would argue that things such as cigarillos aren’t worth killing over. That people shouldn’t have to lose their lives over mundane objects. I say to them that this is not something for the person being wronged to have to decide. That choice rests on the offender. I’m thankful to live in a country where Mike Brown has to weigh the consequence of his actions against the crime he’s committing. The concept is simple. If you are in my private establishment, stealing my property, something I sell to feed my family, and you die as a result, that’s all on you. I may have shot you dead, but at the end of the day the only crime committed was yours. I’ll let the police investigate, do the cleanup, and reopen the following morning.

In a country where news of violence is primarily seen through a television or computer screen, we forget that even in the safest places there is always a Mike Brown. There is always a thug with zero remorse that will use fear, intimidation, and even violence to achieve their goals. There’s one in every town. You might even know him. It is your right and duty to protect yourself, your family, and your property against that very person.

There’s also a big problem, especially in black communities, where these thugs are protected by the community at large. We adopt a “no snitch” policy when it comes to fellow blacks, like it will further strengthen our brothers and sisters against a society that keeps us down. I’ve looked at some numbers, and it’s not society, it’s us. We protect these criminals from police and then we wonder why black on black crime is so high. In 2012, the FBI reports that 2,412 out of 2,648 black homicides were committed by other black people. These thugs are eating our communities alive, killing our sons, husbands, mothers, and daughters. And we concern ourselves with their protection? For what reason?

This “protection” only emboldens them. They learn they can be as gangster as they want, and soon they get more dangerous, they become more violent, and then they create more victims. If we truly believe that #BlackLivesMatter, then let’s start acting like it. I believe it wholeheartedly, and that’s why if ever a Mike Brown comes threatening me, my family, or my livelihood, I’ll be ready and willing to make sure he never gets a second chance to do it. I will not sit idly by as I’m made a victim. Neither should you.

I hope it never happens, but if you were put into a situation where it was innocent you or criminal them, I would hope your answer is them. Ask yourself the question right now. Would you be willing to do what it takes to protect you and yours? The answer is likely yes, and if so, then let’s stop acting like we’re burying martyrs when a criminal dies.