A New Jersey man has been shot and killed at an Alcoholics Anonymous center in South Carolina in what police say was a thwarted robbery.
The State newspaper reported that Columbia police said Sunday that a visitor to the AA center shot and killed the 18-year-old man who was trying to rob members there.
Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said Kayson Helms of Edison, N.J., was shot in the neck, abdomen and chest.
Columbia Police say Helms walked into the meeting at 2015 College Street, the Acoa Club, at 11 p.m. Saturday night with a gun and demanded whatever those at the center had and was shot.
It's fascinating for several reasons. As Weer'd pointed out, New Jersey is a state with very strict gun laws, while South Carolina is very lax. The fact that the shooter came from Edison, New Jersey and was only 18 years old means he could not have had the gun legally, at least that's Weer'd's take on it. Off the top of my head, I wonder if he could have been a resident of South Carolina, maybe his grandma lives there. As such, would he not be able to own a gun legally? Isn't that a person's "right" in states like SC?
Another fascinating aspect of this incident is the end result, which even I cannot dispute meets the criteria for a righteous shooting. But it casts a big light on all the so-called defensive uses of firearms the pro-gun crowd are always touting. I'm not completely unaware of the dilemma which these urban warriors, the ones with Concealed Carry Permits face in situations like this. To determine what constitutes lethal threat and therefore merits the kind of response young Kayson Helms received must be very difficult. Assuming the armed citizen is not just looking for a chance to do some "live target shooting," which I believe is a big assumption because many of them are doing just that, how can he tell if a criminal deserves the ultimate response? Well, I suppose, and correct me if I'm wrong, you experts, if a criminal displays a gun he's fair game.
And there's the rub, as Shakespeare said. Obviously not all criminals who brandish a weapon intend to use it. Since it's usually not possible to distinguish the ones who are from the ones who aren't, armed citizens are allowed, nay, encouraged to blow them all away. They do that to make the rest of us safer.
Well, I have a problem with that. The unidentified killer of Kayson Helms, although perfectly within his "rights," is no less a killer. Had he not been there for his A.A. meeting, in which they pray together to the Higher Power and share with each other about surrender to God's will; had he not been there armed with a concealed gun at an A.A. meeting, young Kayson would have done a penny-ante stick up and been on his way, probably to shoot dope in some Columbia alleyway later that night, and no one would have died. The overwhelming majority of stickups result in no loss of life. The tiny percentage that do, are sometimes the result of a so-called defensive shootings like this or some other form of resistance.
How many pro-gun guys revel in this kind of story? How many of you refer to people like Kayson Helms with pejorative names, de-humanizing him in order to more easily legitimize your actions. It's all over the internet and it's not pretty.
What's your opinion? Do you agree that it's a tough judgment call at times to determine if the criminal has lethal intent? Do you feel it's too dangerous to take chances and guys like this should be shot dead?
Do you think there's a conflict in bringing a weapon to an A.A. meeting? It's similar to bringing one to church, isn't it? Do you think that's OK?
Please leave a comment.