If a gun is a tool, its bullets are not.

Yesterday we had some fun with the story of a Florida man shot by his dog. Today, however, comes another story of gun violence in Florida that seems to engage the chasm of views on gun ownership, and the utility of guns in America.

First, the story. Jose Martinez was in a Walmart parking lot in Florida when saw another man suspected of fleeing with stolen goods. Seeing this, Martinez ran up to the man’s car and fired his handgun into the vehicle. He hit the car a few times as well as two other cars. Martinez said he was marking the car for police.

This is the mindset of gun ownership that makes Americans like myself very nervous: if you carry a gun for utility, why not use it from time to time? We often hear about how a gun is just a tool, and you can kill people with any tool. Why not outlaw hammers? asked one Congressman. Hammers are a tool that can be used as an assault weapon, just like guns.

It’s self-evidently true that any old tool can be used as a weapon, including hammers. But the correlation breaks down in stories like that of Jose Martinez. Individuals don’t carry a concealed hammer on their person when they go about their daily lives just in case they may encounter an exposed nail. Martinez had a gun on him,  which is his right. Just so happens that a man was shoplifting; as such he tried to shoot the thief who presented no danger to him. He shot the man’s car and two unrelated cars. Just putting the tool to use.

Here’s the part of the story that presents the chasm on guns: “Martinez told WKMG that he was shocked that police arrested him because he thought no one other than the shoplifter was in danger. He said he just wanted to mark the man’s car for police.” No one but the shoplifter was in danger, and if that man was shot, well, he’s a shoplifter, right?

If your gun is a tool, realize that the bullets that it fires are not tools; they are meant to penetrate and kill. If one is surprised at being arrested for firing a (legally registered and carried) gun in a parking lot at a man and his car, it seems you probably shouldn’t be carrying.  Martinez was shocked that he would be arrested for helping the police, for firing into a man’s car, at his rear windshield, at two other vehicles. His gun is just a tool he was  using to identify a known thief’s car. What’s the big deal?

It’s worth pointing out that the man who stole from Walmart was arrested and will see a misdemeanor charge for theft. Meanwhile, Martinez will be receive two  felony charges: aggravated assault, and firing into an occupied vehicle.

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