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September 01, 2005

TED FRANK on shooting looters:

I fully acknowledge that shooting looters is an inappropriately disproportionate response if one views looting as mere larceny. But one doesn't shoot looters to protect property, one does so to protect order. Somebody is going to suffer unjustly when society breaks down. I don't understand why Muller thinks it preferable for the law-abiding citizens to be the cost-bearers. History has shown repeatedly that the way to stop an anarchic riot is an early display of substantial force.

Normally, you don't shoot people for stealing because we value life over property. But when people are, as Frank notes, looting hospitals for drugs at gunpoint and the like, things are out of hand and life-threatening violence looms.

When I was on Grand Cayman last month, several people told me that looting became a problem after Hurricane Ivan, but quickly stopped when the police shot several looters. That's because looters usually value life over property too.

As I've said before, I don't think that people helping themselves to emergency supplies are to be blamed, but that's not what we're talking about here. Those who don't get this are either sadly uninformed or deliberately obtuse.