There are a lot of ways to say it: “Don’t tread on me.” “Live and let live.” “Don’t mess with a bull unless you want the horns.”
All of those, of course, refer to the principle of self defense. It’s both a natural right and something that is built into America’s laws, beginning with the Constitution.
People who are minding their own business have a right to protect themselves … and if you interfere with that, there can be serious consequences.
That was the basic message of Sheriff Grady Judd of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, but he just delivered it in a no-nonsense manner that needs to be seen by every citizen.
During a press conference regarding a recent defensive shooting in Florida, the sheriff issued a stern and plainspoken warning to would-be criminals.
“Here’s a message for the ‘hot heads’ of the community: Don’t do that stuff,” he said, referring to an assault on a legally-armed Uber driver.
“Good people carry guns. And they will shoot you. A lot,” he warned. “Graveyard dead.”
His next three words were crystal clear. “Leave. People. Alone.”
That’s good advice for anyone, but is especially apt in a country where an increasing number of people hold concealed carry permits. Polk County, Florida, for example, has over 54,000 licensed concealed carry permit holders. That’s about eight percent of its population.
One of those lawfully-armed citizens is 38-year-old Robert Westlake, a security guard and Uber ride-share driver. In the early hours on Tuesday morning, Westlake found himself being followed and threatened by an irate bar patron named Jason Boek.
“Boek apparently saw his girlfriend and a bartender help another woman into an Uber and mistakenly thought his girlfriend had gotten into the car,” reported NBC News.
“The boyfriend is explosive. He’s stalking his girlfriend, he’s angry with her and he tells her ‘I’m going to F up the Uber driver’,” explained Sheriff Judd in a press conference.
Dashcam footage from the Uber vehicle shows Boek cutting off Westlake, who had a female passenger with him.
“You know I got a pistol?” Boek challenged the Uber driver, apparently mistakenly believing that his girlfriend was in the car. He then came at the driver, Westlake, while holding his cell phone as if it were a gun. “You want me to f—ing shoot you?” he threatened.
Westlake, fearing for his life, fired one shot from his lawfully-carried concealed handgun.
The dashcam video plus other evidence, including a 911 call from the Uber driver, appears to back up his innocence.
“He came towards me, shouting he’s got a pistol reached toward his waistband,” Westlake said during a 911 call. “I fired one shot from my pistol. He dropped his cell phone I kicked it away, I didn’t realize it was a cell phone at first.”
Westlake performed first aid on the man who had just threatened him after the shot was fired.
“The sheriff’s office said Westlake has a license to carry a firearm, works in security and had just finished the police academy. Neither Boek’s girlfriend, the woman who got into the Uber nor Westlake knew each other, Judd said,” according to NBC.
“This is a justifiable homicide all day long. You have the right to protect yourself,” Sheriff Judd explained. “This is a classic ‘stand your ground’ case.”
“At the end of the day the message is clear, don’t mess with the Uber driver. Leave the Uber driver alone because he just might be a certified police officer in waiting,” the sheriff added.
That’s a perfect example of why armed citizens can deter crime. You simply don’t know who around you is trained, armed, and ready to defend themselves. It could be the woman behind the gas station counter, a grandfather going for a walk, or your friendly Uber driver.
Good people carry guns … and that’s exactly the way it should be.
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