No man or woman is required to be a police officer. No man or woman is required to carry a gun on their person. When you pick up a weapon, you are exercising a constitutionally protected freedom, yes, but you are also taking on an awesome responsibility. And the gravity of the responsibility requires an armed citizen — like a police officer — to tolerate a degree of risk and danger before he or she escalates to deadly force.

Any other rule reaches absurd (and deadly) results. This week, I was a guest on a talk-radio show when a caller earnestly tried to convince me that McGlockton’s push justified deadly force. After all, he “could” have done worse. But where’s the limiting principle? Every punch “could” do worse damage. Every kick “could” bring another. Every ambiguous move in encounters with police “could” be a prelude to deadly violence. But here’s the proper, default answer when the armed citizen or armed officer wonders what “could” happen next.

Risk it. Risk that next move. Be more certain before you take a life.