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The News recently reported that a man put a gun to the throat of a store clerk and demanded money. The clerk wrested the gun away from the man, pursued him, shot him in the arm and captured him. The clerk was jailed and charged with assault. The placing of a gun against a throat is no ceremonial gesture. It's a threat of death and, since there's a chance of accidental discharge, it's a deadly threat.

Theory: A criminal running away is no longer a threat and therefore must not be harmed. Fact: A criminal who has made a deadly threat is a continuing danger to the public and a continuing and particularly grave threat to the victim, who can identify him. Not until the criminal had been shot and captured did he cease, at least temporarily, to be a threat to the clerk.

The arrest of the clerk, legal but wrong, also sets him up to be sued in civil court for monetary remedy of the wrong supposedly done the criminal. The legal system diminishes itself by the appearance of alliance with criminals.

Douglas L. Townley


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