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If a robber threatens me with a gun and tries to steal my money in my own shop and I retaliate with my own gun but accidentally shoot one of my customers who should be blamed?

Me or the thief?

Part of the firearms safety training I received while in the U.S. Navy was that there is no such thing as an accidental firearm mishap. Every single incident with a firearm is caused by a person violating a safety fundamental prior to the incident. (This principle might well generalize to all types of accidents,) An acceptable defense is that it was not the intent to shoot the bystander. The problem is that people have conflicting intents, and that while it is true it was not intended to shoot the bystander it is also true that they did not intend to pay adequate attention to the firearm or they would have done so (paying attention being the essence of one's free will). Intent to cause harm is what distinguishes criminal liability from civil liability,

You as shop owner and the armed robber should both be held accountable to harm inflicted on bystanders, but under different legal circumstances: the robber as a criminal and civil matter, the shop owner as a civil matter only, assuming no one had been killed. If the shop owner killed someone then he may have to fight a criminal manslaughter charge at trial. Even short of killing someone the circumstances might indicate criminal negligence or criminal recklessness on the part of the shop owner.

I think this is as specific an answer as can be given without fleshing out the scenario with the details needed by an actual prosecutor, judge and jury to decide a particular case.

Edited by Grames
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And the term 'accident' is a device used to evade personal responsibility for one's action. There is no justification whatsoever to not hold someone responsible for aiming and pulling the trigger on

Omniscience and omnipotence are not prerequisites for one being responsible and accountable for one's actions, including erroneous actions. Your example fails because the shooter is responsible f

You're right about the first question, I was being facetious to make a point (that point being that having a hard time handling something emotionally beats being dead).

I actually have a pretty good idea what effects accidentally shooting and killing a good person would have on me. It would make me quite sad, depressed even (because I would be intimately connected to the death of someone I would inevitably get to know after their death). But sad things happened to me before (as they have to most people over the age of 25 or so), so I'm confident I would be able to cope with this too.

As for your question about what morality is for, it's not for establishing how your mind would handle various unpleasant things (and fear of the psychological effects of those things isn't the rational basis of Ethics). If I really did have no idea about that, it still wouldn't mean that I'm somehow amoral. It would only mean that I'm inexperienced and don't quite have a grasp on my own psychology.

Oh, I knew you were being facetious. Just decided to play along and call your bluff. :)

It did elicit a thoughtful and honest response, though.

My short comment is that I think everything concerning an individual pertains to his rational morality. The conscious, and sub-conscious, are largely objectively identifiable with effort and introspection. He cannot hold himself responsible for what he hasn't learned as yet, or what is impossible to know at any time - but once known there's no going back to ignorance.

From only a little experience, it is possible for one to gauge and extrapolate future

reactions, I believe. But it is values and virtues, along with self-knowledge, that are most important, and will see one through any eventuality.

Edited by whYNOT
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Part of the firearms safety training I received while in the U.S. Navy was that there is no such thing as an accidental firearm mishap. Every single incident with a firearm is caused by a person violating a safety fundamental prior to the incident. (This principle might well generalize to all types of accidents,) An acceptable defense is that it was not the intent to shoot the bystander. The problem is that people have conflicting intents, and that while it is true it was not intended to shoot the bystander it is also true that they did not intend to pay adequate attention to the firearm or they would have done so (paying attention being the essence of one's free will). Intent to cause harm is what distinguishes criminal liability from civil liability,

You as shop owner and the armed robber should both be held accountable to harm inflicted on bystanders, but under different legal circumstances: the robber as a criminal and civil matter, the shop owner as a civil matter only, assuming no one had been killed. If the shop owner killed someone then he may have to fight a criminal manslaughter charge at trial. Even short of killing someone the circumstances might indicate criminal negligence or criminal recklessness on the part of the shop owner.

I think this is as specific an answer as can be given without fleshing out the scenario with the details needed by an actual prosecutor, judge and jury to decide a particular case.

So the robber will be charged with attempted theft or theft and the owner with manslaughter?

A drunk driver chooses to drive or at least to drink so I don't think if the driver kills a person he should be charged with the same felony as the shopkeeper. Doesn't seem fair.

Sure the shopkeeper choose to retaliate, but that is his right in case of an emergency. In the case of the car accident the drunk driver is the cause of the emergency.

One could blame the car for it, since the driver dis not directly hit anyone, but that would make no sense.

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So the robber will be charged with attempted theft or theft and the owner with manslaughter?

A drunk driver chooses to drive or at least to drink so I don't think if the driver kills a person he should be charged with the same felony as the shopkeeper. Doesn't seem fair.

Sure the shopkeeper choose to retaliate, but that is his right in case of an emergency. In the case of the car accident the drunk driver is the cause of the emergency.

One could blame the car for it, since the driver dis not directly hit anyone, but that would make no sense.

Cars don't kill people; people kill people.

heh...

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So how do they explain all the friendly fire incidents?

This thread is about handguns and using them in self defense. Military friendly fire incidents almost always involve indirect fire from mortars, artillery, air dropped bombs or missiles. Controlling indirect fire involves multiple people and lots of hardware that can all become points of failure. Friendly fire incidents involving indirect fire can be caused by individual negligence and also hardware failures in of the following modes: failure to send a message, failure to receive a message, failure to comply with orders or procedures. Small arms friendly fire incidents almost always involve a command and control failure in ordering two or more squads (or larger formations) to be at the same place at the same time and with permission to fire. An individual with a handgun does not have these extra points of failure between eye and hand.

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Small arms friendly fire incidents almost always involve a command and control failure in ordering two or more squads (or larger formations) to be at the same place at the same time and with permission to fire. An individual with a handgun does not have these extra points of failure between eye and hand.

So, if you put a a trained soldier in a situation where he has to fire his weapon, but has friendlies/innocents close enough to shoot them, that's his commander's fault. But, if you put a civilian in a situation where he has to defend his life by shooting, and has friendlies/innocents close enough to shoot them, then it's his fault not the person's who put him in the sitaution?

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... the person's who put him in the sitaution?

Those "people who put him in that situation" do not have the power to negate a man's mind, judgement, and free will. It may be necessary (and thus be excusable) to shoot through a hostage to kill a bad guy with a bomb, or it may not be (and so be inexcusable).

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Those "people who put him in that situation" do not have the power to negate a man's mind, judgement, and free will. It may be necessary (and thus be excusable) to shoot through a hostage to kill a bad guy with a bomb, or it may not be (and so be inexcusable).

Yes, but the thread is about accidentally shooting a bystander, not on purpose.

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And the term 'accident' is a device used to evade personal responsibility for one's action. There is no justification whatsoever to not hold someone responsible for aiming and pulling the trigger on a firearm. To hold someone responsible can mean praising a hero who saves the say or it can mean condemnation and arrest of an idiot whose wild gunplay made things worse by injuring bystanders.

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This is pure rationalism which ignores the fact that man is not omnipotent and not omniscient. Accidents are happening every day and in the most of the cases one can hardly hold somebody responsible for them. Suppose you shoot intruder who is aiming gun on you and suddenly somebody is panicking and incidentally pushing you. You miss and hit the innocent bystander. Who is responsible?

Edited by Leonid
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Omniscience and omnipotence are not prerequisites for one being responsible and accountable for one's actions, including erroneous actions.

Your example fails because the shooter is responsible for the decision to draw a weapon within a crowd where it is obviously possible to be jostled by other people. This kind of excuse making is like the drunk driver pleading not guilty to the collision he caused because he was not in control of his faculties or the vehicle because he was drunk.

Edited by Grames
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And the term 'accident' is a device used to evade personal responsibility for one's action. There is no justification whatsoever to not hold someone responsible for aiming and pulling the trigger on a firearm.

So friendly fire incidents should always be prosecuted, if a gun is involved?

And if all accidental shootings can be avoided simply by looking at your target first, then what is the problem with a superior officer sending two squads into the same area of operations, without them being aware of each other?

Edited by Nicky
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All friendly fire incidents of all types should always be prosecuted, period. That is not the same as saying there should always be convictions, or who should be convicted of what.

This may shock you, but in the military firearms are not always aimed and fired at particular identified individuals, but instead are often fired to suppress the enemy which interferes with their aim, and can pin them down and prevents them from moving. This is known as "firing for effect". Actually hitting someone when firing for effect is the real accident.

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Omniscience and omnipotence are not prerequisites for one being responsible and accountable for one's actions, including erroneous actions.

Your example fails because the shooter is responsible for the decision to draw a weapon within a crowd where it is obviously possible to be jostled by other people. This kind of excuse making is like the drunk driver pleading not guilty to the collision he caused because he was not in control of his faculties or the vehicle because he was drunk.

This decision is unavoidable in the given circumstances. This is pure self-defense. And since the shooter is not omniscient he couldn't predict or even avoid the accident. That would be completely unrealistic to demand that everybody should be in total control on everything all the time. Even the sober driver could lose control on the vehicle for many reasons beyond his control and cause accident.

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This decision is unavoidable in the given circumstances. This is pure self-defense. And since the shooter is not omniscient he couldn't predict or even avoid the accident. That would be completely unrealistic to demand that everybody should be in total control on everything all the time. Even the sober driver could lose control on the vehicle for many reasons beyond his control and cause accident.

I do not understand why you keep coming back to omniscience. It is not necessary to be able to infallibly predict the future to know that once the shooting starts people are likely to get hurt. If the robber has merely exhibited his weapon as a threat without firing it then drawing and opening fire yourself might not be justified if there is a crowd of bystanders at risk. It is not the case that self defense always justifies escalating your use of defensive force all the way to the use of deadly force.

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All friendly fire incidents of all types should always be prosecuted, period. That is not the same as saying there should always be convictions, or who should be convicted of what.

You said that, with a firearm, all you have to do is look at where it's aimed before you pull the trigger, and you will always only hit the intended target.

If a soldier, who has eyesight, fires his gun without looking where it is pointed, and shoots someone other than the enemy, shouldn't he be convicted of manslaughter? Or are you ready to admit that in a gunfight, it's not as simple as "look where the gun is pointed and there won't be any accidents"?

This may shock you, but in the military firearms are not always aimed and fired at particular identified individuals, but instead are often fired to suppress the enemy which interferes with their aim, and can pin them down and prevents them from moving. This is known as "firing for effect". Actually hitting someone when firing for effect is the real accident.

According to this guy I talked to yesterday, the term "accident" is a device used to evade personal responsibility. So why use it to describe what happens when suppressing fire hits an unintended target?

Couldn't the soldier delivering that suppressing fire just look at where he's shooting?

Edited by Nicky
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I do not understand why you keep coming back to omniscience. It is not necessary to be able to infallibly predict the future to know that once the shooting starts people are likely to get hurt. If the robber has merely exhibited his weapon as a threat without firing it then drawing and opening fire yourself might not be justified if there is a crowd of bystanders at risk. It is not the case that self defense always justifies escalating your use of defensive force all the way to the use of deadly force.

If you just wait for the robber who merely exibited his weapon to start firing, it's doesn't take much of prediction power to know that you must probably will not have a chance to fire back. In such a situation I think that calculated risk to shoot in order to safe oneself and the others is justified in full. A collateral damage is always should be blamed on the aggressor, the robber in this case.

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You said that, with a firearm, all you have to do is look at where it's aimed before you pull the trigger, and you will always only hit the intended target.

If a soldier, who has eyesight, fires his gun without looking where it is pointed, and shoots someone other than the enemy, shouldn't he be convicted of manslaughter? Or are you ready to admit that in a gunfight, it's not as simple as "look where the gun is pointed and there won't be any accidents"?

According to this guy I talked to yesterday, the term "accident" is a device used to evade personal responsibility. So why use it to describe what happens when suppressing fire hits an unintended target?

Couldn't the soldier delivering that suppressing fire just look at where he's shooting?

Another difference between military use of small arms and civilian self defense is that the military uses automatic weapons. One does not aim the individual rounds of an automatic weapon, instead the weapon is aimed in the general direction of the enemy and then it is a struggle against the recoil to keep control of the weapon. Snipers and guys making single shots from their rifles do have time to center their weapon sights on their target, which means they do get to see their target and have a chance to identify it as a friendly. If the lighting is poor or the target presents only in silhouette it can still be misclassified based on being in the wrong place at the wrong time and confirmation bias.

No store clerk drawing a handgun in self defense can claim misidentification as an excuse for shooting the wrong person. Robbery requires the thief to approach the goods to be stolen before he can take them. If a clerk can't distinguish between two people standing 2 or 3 meters away or becomes that blinded by panic or fear then that clerk has no business to be carrying a weapon in the first place.

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If you just wait for the robber who merely exibited his weapon to start firing, it's doesn't take much of prediction power to know that you must probably will not have a chance to fire back. In such a situation I think that calculated risk to shoot in order to safe oneself and the others is justified in full. A collateral damage is always should be blamed on the aggressor, the robber in this case.

To summarize, I think your position is that being morally in the right gives one an immunity against consequences. My position is that being morally in the right does not immunize one against consequences or judgement on one's competence in acting.

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The thief might be blocking the view and if he moves the one behind might get shot.

Also bullets can easily rebound and hit anyone who was not targeted or even seen.

Shooting when there are people behind the target is a perfect example of deliberate willful and culpable recklessness in the use of a firearm.

If you hit what you aim at there won't be a ricochet.

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Another difference between military use of small arms and civilian self defense is that the military uses automatic weapons. One does not aim the individual rounds of an automatic weapon, instead the weapon is aimed in the general direction of the enemy and then it is a struggle against the recoil to keep control of the weapon. Snipers and guys making single shots from their rifles do have time to center their weapon sights on their target, which means they do get to see their target and have a chance to identify it as a friendly. If the lighting is poor or the target presents only in silhouette it can still be misclassified based on being in the wrong place at the wrong time and confirmation bias.

No store clerk drawing a handgun in self defense can claim misidentification as an excuse for shooting the wrong person. Robbery requires the thief to approach the goods to be stolen before he can take them. If a clerk can't distinguish between two people standing 2 or 3 meters away or becomes that blinded by panic or fear then that clerk has no business to be carrying a weapon in the first place.

And what if robber is not after goods but after money? And what if store clerk got a punch in the face while he pulls the trigger? Do you really think that one could foresee and prevent all possible situations which could lead to the accident in that fraction of second when he busy to save his life?

Edited by Leonid
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And what if robber is not after goods but after money? And what if store clerk got a punch in the face while he pulls the trigger? Do you really think that one could foresee and prevent all possible situations which could lead to the accident in that fraction of second when he busy to save his life?

What if you had experience firing weapons and knew what the hell you were talking about?

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