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1 Dark_Falcon  Sun, Jun 3, 2012 6:56:30am

Yes, this law does require revision. The idea behind it was and remains good, but it is not working properly. SYG needs to be amended and properly clarified.

2 Curt  Sun, Jun 3, 2012 7:30:51am

I spent 20 years in a profession where the term "rules of engagement" was a major factor in daily life.

Sad part was, it was usually and regularly misunderstood. It being during the Cold War, my peers and I did not have to use the logic as the troops do now in real time daily, but I'll say this: Until it became and assigned part of my duties to the be "expert" during one of my assignments, I didn't comprehend the detail and nuances of the phrase "rules of engagement."

I'd compare the average citizen to my peers in those days: While they understand they can defend themselves, they don't have to do the real mental gymnastics enough to comprehend how to react in a serious case, therefore, people will honestly think they can shoot, having no intent of breaking a law, let alone a moral barrier, when they could have taken other measures to avoid taking a life.

First off, it's not about shooting, but about controlling the onset of conflict. What can and cannot be done, how "aggressive" the "posture" can be (in this case, based on the direction of the "National Command Authority"), all with good reason. On the streets of America, there's really no place to be "more aggressive." It's not about international "signalling"....

The prime determination was: Is there a threat? Consider: Not only was this the presence of something - a ship or a plane or a sub, but in SYG, a person(s), but can they actually, based on technical details, cause harm? Just because a Soviet warship was near us (yes, a "threat"), until they pointed powered up fire control radars our way and then turned gun mounts and/or missile launchers at us, with those systems being within the range parameters of being able to actually harm our vessel (which is where most of my peers were lacking in the detailed understanding of weaponry capabilities AND limitations), we could not even say "we acted in self-defense" if we engaged. All of that took some serious consideration, and I ran many a practice scenario by many people, and, with my boss, had to provide detailed critiques of their paper responses to proposed circumstances...and more often than not, the "troops" would have been a little trigger happy. I'll add this: When we did real world ops off Libya in 86, we had all our paper "what ifs?" behind us.

(End comment part 1)

3 Curt  Sun, Jun 3, 2012 7:32:25am

(Comment Part 2)

Next up was the rule: What can be done to defuse the threat? Sometimes, maneuvering away was the right response, or to maneuver into a position where you were inside or outside of their weapon's range. Problem solved, certainly until they made their move next (like chess), and either re-positioned to attack, or moved away themselves...most likely indicating they were either just testing for a response (they did do this), or actually had no intention of harming you in the first place, and your perception of the situation had been off the mark. This is where "do I need to defend myself first, because a real and credible threat is here, with the actual intention of doing harm to me/someone (thing) I am required to protect?" Hard enough for professionals, I think you can see, where they deal with real shooting conditions daily, law enforcement included here, too.

The last big determination, in the event that conflict had to occur, you could only employ "proportional force," and only so long as to stop the threat. If I could disable a warship's ability to be offensive, then I had to stop. I didn't get to sink it, because it maybe fired a warning shot at me in some contested part of the ocean. It also meant you didn't Harpoon it (500 lb warhead delivered at .9 Mach via sea skimming cruise missile) when a few 5" gun rounds would do, including maybe just warning shots back. And, back to the technical capabilities, if the ship/plane/sub turned away, shut down fire control systems, stowed guns/missile systems before I fired, then the threat was no longer, and I was to cease engaging, possibly even before that hostile unit was damaged sufficiently to not be able to offensively engage me/my protected units.

And that's the short form discussion....

It is complicated, it does take thinking, but most importantly, it takes serious consideration in advance by the person who needs to prepare themselves for such a moment...you can't phone a friend at that point.

4 Curt  Sun, Jun 3, 2012 7:34:02am

Oh, and let's not forget, laws are regularly interpreted differently, with the writers saying, mouths agape: "We didn't mean you could do that!!!!"

My evidence: US Tax Code.....

Real legislators are real serious about analysis of their law writing, not merely tossing something out to garner a few more votes....Can we please get some serious people elected?

5 Kruk  Sun, Jun 3, 2012 8:10:53am

One of the problems with a loosely written self defence law is that the perception of 'threat' can become self reinforcing.

Say you're in a confrontation of any kind. You know that the other person can escalate to using lethal force, claim self defence, and have a decent chance of getting away with it.

That gives you the incentive to escalate first, reasoning that it's better to be judged by twelve (or not, as the case may be) than to be carried by six.

The other person knows that you have the incentive to escalate, which which gives them the incentive to escalate first...

And it goes without saying that this escalation sequence also favours the person who initiates the confrontation (thus knows it's going to happen), and goes into it armed and ready.

6 Daniel Ballard  Sun, Jun 3, 2012 8:21:31am

re: #4 Curt


Very well said Curt.

7 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Sun, Jun 3, 2012 8:48:57am

Curt deserves to have his comments promoted to a front page. That was very worth reading and very well said.

8 William Barnett-Lewis  Sun, Jun 3, 2012 12:16:00pm

re: #1 Dark_Falcon

Yes, this law does require revision. The idea behind it was and remains good, but it is not working properly. SYG needs to be amended and properly clarified.

No, the idea itself, is bad. Just why, all of a sudden, did we need to throw away well over a thousand years of legal precedent? The old self-defense law worked fine and defined exactly where and when it applied. If you were in danger, retreat if you can, if not defend with equal force to what you are threatened with. Do otherwise and become an outlaw.

This law is merely an excuse for thugs to get away with murder. If it stays on the books, we better reintroduce weregild too.

9 jamesfirecat  Sun, Jun 3, 2012 1:10:53pm

re: #5 Kruk

One of the problems with a loosely written self defence law is that the perception of 'threat' can become self reinforcing.

Say you're in a confrontation of any kind. You know that the other person can escalate to using lethal force, claim self defence, and have a decent chance of getting away with it.

That gives you the incentive to escalate first, reasoning that it's better to be judged by twelve (or not, as the case may be) than to be carried by six.

The other person knows that you have the incentive to escalate, which which gives them the incentive to escalate first...

And it goes without saying that this escalation sequence also favours the person who initiates the confrontation (thus knows it's going to happen), and goes into it armed and ready.

Also known as the shadow runners theory of combat, he who shoots first, and shoots with the most bullets out of the biggest gun is sure to win. Saddly what is darkly hilarious in a cyber punk role Playing game, especially if the runner in question is armed with stick and shock has deadly and tragic results in real life....

10 Dark_Falcon  Sun, Jun 3, 2012 4:05:41pm

re: #5 Kruk

One of the problems with a loosely written self defence law is that the perception of 'threat' can become self reinforcing.

Say you're in a confrontation of any kind. You know that the other person can escalate to using lethal force, claim self defence, and have a decent chance of getting away with it.

That gives you the incentive to escalate first, reasoning that it's better to be judged by twelve (or not, as the case may be) than to be carried by six.

The other person knows that you have the incentive to escalate, which which gives them the incentive to escalate first...

And it goes without saying that this escalation sequence also favours the person who initiates the confrontation (thus knows it's going to happen), and goes into it armed and ready.

I can see that as a problem, and it can be solved by clear laws to a degree. There will, however, always be cases where the person who used lethal force did act properly but still ended up killing someone who they thought was armed but really just had a lockpicking tool that looked somewhat like a gun. In such cases, it really does come down to perception, and self defense law has always recognized that.

So i do agree with you, but I feel it needed to pointed out that some amount of subjectivity is inherent in cases of self defense.

11 Curt  Mon, Jun 4, 2012 7:24:52am

Any rewriting must consider the lawful right to defend. For instance: No requirement to retreat if someone enters your home.

In the long run, and this was one we regularly pondered in my "work:" What is "hostile intent?" ON a regualr basis, we had the "permission" to fight on "hostile intent," not being required to "take the first hit," that being an easy to understand "hostile act."

In the case of a hostile act on the streets, "hostile acts" that are responded to successfully eliminating the threat, most likely will be no issue with the justice system.

Hostile intent is what must be more defined, yet, as Dark_Falcon points out, what does on do when a weapon is pointed their way? If you have no idea it is unloaded, are you prohibited from shooting then? From my legal training early in my career, it was explained (speaking of disciplinary issues under the UCMJ, not combat between nations), if the victim perceives a threat, then it is a threat and can be responded to, for instance, the case of the not loaded gun pointed in your direction.

It is the "hostile intent" civilian equivalent that needs not just written clarification, but more training for in CCW classes. In addition, I'd not think it uncalled for to have the students being required to take tests, practical if possible, with certainly some written questions, presenting circumstances that have been noted in real life, and grade their responses. It takes the exercising of the "planned responses" to sink in. Merely sitting and listening for several hours, then discharging a weapons successfully down range is a very limited in preparing responsible owners for what may come next...


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