Violent incidents raise questions about self-defense

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's a sad fact that violence makes news, but it's especially shocking when it strikes a Nebraska town like Alliance.

A State Patrol SWAT team finally killed a man holed up in a pharmacy after he shot and wounded an escaping hostage and three officers, as well as apparently killing another person before he ever entered the store.

In the Omaha suburb of Bennington, a woman was stabbed four times in the back while protecting her sons, ages 3 and 4, from a man with a pocket knife.

She told investigators the man approached her demanding a ride, then holding a knife to the neck of one of the boys, threatening to kill him if she refused. Motherly instincts took over, and she threw herself between the attacker and her son, getting stabbed in the process.

It's tempting to wish the stories could have turned out differently, like the one a few years ago where another customer, carrying a concealed weapon, disrupted an armed robbery in an Omaha drug store.

At the same time, too many stories turn out like one in Lincoln, where a 20-year-old man died of a gunshot wound in what was ruled an accident.

A spokeswoman said the man was handling the gun under the assumption that "it was unloaded, and it was not."

Most women with 3- and 4-year-old boys would hesitate to take a firearm out on a walk with them, and even the police who responded the stabbing were reluctant to shoot the attacker.

After he failed to respond to pepper spray, a threat to taze him did the trick.

Determining how to best protect oneself is a highly personal decision, and might or might not involve firearms, pepper spray or other weapons.

But before rushing to the dealer, get in touch with experts at your local law enforcement agency, community college or other agency and get the information you need to make an informed choice.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: