Dems' Pennsylvania Senate candidate brandished gun, chased jogger

The story seems familiar; a Caucasian yahoo brandished a firearm and used a pickup truck to pursue a jogger because he suspected that the latter committed a crime.  This was how Ahmaud Arbery got murdered, but this story is not about Ahmaud Arbery.

John Fetterman (D), who is running against Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) to fill the U.S. Senate position being vacated by Pat Toomey (R) in Pennsylvania, chased after jogger Christopher Miyares while brandishing a shotgun because he believed that Miyares might have been involved in a crime.

Fetterman says it wasn't about race, and there is no reason to doubt his word on this, but his actions nonetheless exhibited an appalling lack of judgment and total incompetence regarding the lawful use of firearms for self-defense.  He heard noises that he took for gunshots (it turned out that some kids were setting off bottle rockets), saw a man jogging in the area and heading toward an elementary school, and took it into his own hands to detain the man while threatening him with a shotgun.

While I cannot give legal advice, the two ingredients for lawful deployment of deadly force consist of (1) a verbal or visual threat to cause death or serious injury and (2) the immediate means of putting the threat into effect.  Menacing another person with a firearm constitutes both a threat and the immediate means of acting on it.  If this is the entire story, Miyares would have been perfectly within his rights to draw a concealed firearm, had he been carrying one, to shoot Fetterman, who was clearly not a law enforcement officer with either authority or cause to detain him.  Fetterman also stipulates that he "might have broken the law," which, while I cannot give legal advice, he might indeed have done.

Pointing a Gun = Aggravated (Felony) Assault

The Pennsylvania Superior Court held that merely pointing a gun at somebody can constitute aggravated assault, a second-degree felony punishable by up to five to ten years in prison.  Another mayor who menaced some people with a handgun was in fact charged with aggravated assault.

The Philadelphia Inquirer elaborates that Fetterman "rushed his 4-year-old son inside his house, called the police, and then pursued the man in his truck.  He said he confronted him with a 20-gauge shotgun to stop him from fleeing before police arrived."

"Pursued the man in his truck" is what the yahoos who killed Ahmaud Arbery did, although Fetterman did not of course use his weapon.  He and Miyares also told conflicting stories as to whether Fetterman actually pointed the weapon at Miyares.  The latter is not, as I see it, relevant because somebody who is holding a firearm is capable of causing you death or serious injury in a fraction of a second regardless of whether he has aimed it at you.  That is, the fact that he is holding a gun gives him the immediate means of causing you death or serious injury, and the combination of that with a threat (such as chasing after you) puts you in reasonable fear for your life.  Another example was Gaige Grosskreutz, who momentarily raised his hands when he confronted Kyle Rittenhouse.  The fact that he was still holding his gun meant he could still have killed Rittenhouse in well under a second, and his pursuit of Rittenhouse demonstrated hostile intent to the law's hypothetical reasonable person.  That's how I would have called it as a juror, anyway.  Fetterman's pursuit of Miyares in a pickup truck similarly indicated hostile intent as I see it, although none of this constitutes legal advice.

John Fetterman, Poster Child for Red Flag Gun Laws

Here, however, is what Fetterman says about the Second Amendment on his website.  "I'm a gun owner," which somebody who brandishes a gun while trying to do law enforcement work he is grossly unqualified to do should probably not be, "and I've been around guns my whole life," which, in Fetterman's case, sounds like a tragedy waiting for a time and place to happen.  "I want what an overwhelming majority of Americans, including the majority of gun owners, want — which is commonsense gun safety measures."  Commonsense gun safety starts with never pointing a gun, or even threatening to point a gun, at somebody you do not intend to shoot, and a clear and present danger to your life or that of another person is the only justification for doing this.  "Clear and present" means the danger is obvious — e.g., if Anthony Huber the Domestic Abuser is brandishing a contact weapon like a skateboard over your head while you are on the ground and unable to get away, and not "I think he might have possibly done something wrong."  If you suspect that somebody has done something wrong, you call the police, who are qualified to investigate without escalating the situation into a deadly force confrontation in which the subject of your amateur investigation might well be within his rights to kill you, and/or you might find yourself charged with a felony as others were for similar conduct.

Fetterman continues, "We need universal background checks, red flag laws," and Fetterman looks like a poster child for a red flag in light of how he handled a firearm.  "This is personal for me, and every time we delay real action, we're only counting down the hours until the next tragedy," such as the one Fetterman could have easily caused himself.  If Miyares had been carrying a firearm, Fetterman might now be dead, or, had Fetterman "won" the exchange of gunfire in which he would have been the initial aggressor, then he might well be doing prison time for aggravated assault or voluntary manslaughter.  The latter encompasses specifically the commission of what one believes to be justifiable homicide, but this belief is not reasonable as defined by law.

Fetterman Could Have Gotten Himself Shot by a Responding Cop

Yet another scenario might have involved a responding police officer seeing Fetterman with the shotgun and challenging him, Fetterman turning in response to the officer's voice, and the officer shooting Fetterman on the reasonable belief that he was himself the source of the purported gunfire and was about to shoot the officer.  The responding officer is already in Condition Orange per Colonel Jeff Cooper's color code because of shots purportedly fired, and wheeling on him while holding a gun can easily make it Condition Red.  This is why, yes, you call the police if you think shots have been fired, but no, you don't bring a weapon onto the street while you do your own investigation; you stay out of the officers' way so they can do their jobs.

The fact that somebody like John Fetterman thinks he is qualified to lecture anybody about responsible firearm use, much less enact laws to regulate firearms, is a compelling argument to "use your head and vote red" for House and Senate this November.

Civis Americanus is the pen name of a contributor who remembers the lessons of history and wants to ensure that our country never needs to learn those lessons again the hard way.  The author is remaining anonymous due to the likely prospect of being subjected to "cancel culture" for exposing the Big Lie behind Black Lives Matter.

Image: John Fetterman - Pop!Tech 2009 - Camden, ME, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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