Could You Shoot a Child in Self-Defense?

In the Medieval era, the sack and ruin of cities was often accompanied by the wholesale murder of men, women and children — and even their animals. Old Testament Jehovah instructed Abraham to murder Isaac and personally killed all of the first-born in Egypt. The Nazis murdered Jewish babies, and the U.S. carpet-bombed German and Japanese cities.

American soldiers occasionally encountered hostile children with guns and grenades in Vietnam. Islamic extremists use children to carry bombs and call them “martyrs.” Child soldiers in Africa and Latin America routinely make the news.

Child soldiers holding guns

This is a child soldier. He would not hesitate to kill you; would not for a moment feel remorse. In this country, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that “twenty-five percent of all serious violent crime involved a juvenile offender.” Are you prepared — mentally, emotionally — to deal with a child criminal?

Could you shoot a child in self-defense? A teenager? A young person?

A few weeks ago near Jacksonville, Florida, a woman named Alis Muntain was shopping in a Walmart. Her hands and arms were loaded with bags of cat food and litter when a 14-year-old boy approached her and asked how old she was.

“And then he said, ‘I want you to know that I have a knife in my pocket, and I want you to have sex with me,’” Muntain told CBS-47 in Jacksonville. “And then he kind of pulled it out of his pocket and showed me that there was a pocket knife inside of there.”

Muntain couldn’t believe what the boy had just said. “I stared at him for a second and was like, ‘Is this really happening,’ and then I was just like, ‘Are you serious?’”

She noticed a man walking at the end of the aisle and called for help, telling him what was happening: “This guy has a knife in his hand and he’s threatening to use it on me if I don’t have sex with him.”

According to News4Jax, the man who heard Muntain’s cry drew his gun, which he was licensed to carry, and stopped the teenager. According to the man — who, wisely, I believe, wishes to remain anonymous — Muntain said the teen threatened to stab her if she didn’t comply. After pulling his concealed handgun, the man asked the teen, “Are you serious? Did you say that?” The scariest part was that the attacker responded with a nod of cocky affirmation.

The man told Muntain to go get help, whereupon she ran; the teen also fled. The concealed carry holder did not fire his gun and did not touch or threaten the teen. Minutes later, deputies arrested the young person in a nearby parking lot.

“I’m just going to learn from this experience and make sure I’m not defenseless as I was in that situation,” Muntain said when it was all over.

Do you think she really learned anything? Do you think this woman will take actions to defend herself? Will she take a self-defense course or begin to carry a concealed handgun?

I certainly hope so.

As for the concealed carry permit holder, I believe he used sound judgment. He responded appropriately to help and, when the teen ran, he didn’t shoot or pursue him or attempt to stop him.

But what if the teen had a gun? What if the boy had brandished it or even shot at the woman? If you had been standing there in the Walmart aisle among bags of cat litter and pet food, what would you have done if the boy had drawn a deadly weapon on you?

Would you have had the mettle to pull the trigger? Given the prevalence of child soldiers, teen gang members, inadequately supervised and poorly educated kids on every continent, would you shoot to stop the threat before he shot you? Could you then live with the consequences, the legal hassles, the public notoriety and the self-doubt?

These are hard questions, but if you have a concealed carry permit and are trained in self-defense, you may one day have to make this very difficult decision.