NEWS BLOG (WSAU) It’s dangerous to deal in hypotheticals, but that’s today’s exercise. Consider the road rage story from earlier this week.
If you don’t know the story, here’s the background. A driver from Appleton is driving on Highway 29. He passes another car on the road. The other driver feels “disrespected”, drives up behind the car, and rams him from behind. The driver who’s been hit calls 911. The police dispatcher told him to drive to a nearby parking lot and wait for an officer to arrive. The other car followed. There was going to be a confrontation in the parking lot. Two people, a man and a woman, got out of the car. They approached they vehicle they’d just rear-ended, and tried to open the other car’s door. At least one of them succeeded in getting inside. The victim who was crashed into happens to have a legal concealed-carry license, and he is armed.
Here’s how the story ends: the man from Appleton pulled his gun. Just displaying it was enough for his would-be attackers to retreat. No shots were fired. The two bad-actors were arrested as police arrived.
So, hypothetically, what if the gun was fired?
The law says the gunman would have been within his rights if the incident happened in his home, not his car. (In his home, the Castle Doctrine would have applied.) He also would have had a right to self-defense if he was being attacked. (He wasn’t; the would-be assailants backed off when the gun was displayed.)
There are many people who’d say this gun-owner should have come out blasting. Truth is, he’d be in a legal grey area.
The assailants are hot-heads and their road rage rose to the level of criminality. I’m glad they were caught. They should be punished. But I’m also glad they weren’t shot. Not because I’m concerned about them – but because the shooting would have been a life-changing catastrophe for the gunman. Imagine the legal fees. The possible criminal charges. The unwanted publicity. A possible lawsuit.
The decision to carry a gun is complicated. The decision whether or not to use it must be made in the blink-of-an-eye. The results are life-changing for everyone, even for the shooter.