Thursday, September 22, 2016


This poem is apparently all over social media in relation to these most recent police shootings.


-Nikki Giovanni

I killed a spider
Not a murderous brown recluse
Nor even a black widow
And if the truth were told this
Was only a small
Sort of papery spider
Who should have run
When I picked up the book
But she didn't
And she scared me
And I smashed her

I don't think
I'm allowed

To kill something

Because I am


The last little bit, of course, is the point.

It is sort of correct.  You are not allowed to kill someone because you are frightened.  Something, I'm not so sure.  But someone, clearly not.  And since this poem is being used in reference to these shootings, obviously the shooting victims are being compared to the harmless spider--and the shooting victims are someone, not something.

So, right, you're not allowed to kill someone because you're frightened.  But you are allowed to kill someone who you reasonably believe poses an immanent threat of death or grave bodily harm to you or to someone falling within your mantle of protection.  (To put it roughly--this is not a law blog.)

I am definitely not in any position to judge whether either or both of the two most prominent police shootings (I'm thinking of Charlotte and Oklahoma) meet that standard.  But I would at least say that I am not in any position to judge with certainty that they don't.

My last post linked to an excellent video of Massad Ayoob explaining some of this.  It's worth watching.

I do not want this to become a firearms blog...just thought this poem is only muddying the waters and could use a word of clarification.

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