Punishment or prevention?
The answer to the first question lies ultimately with Griffin, Shannon, Hill, and God, but we are able to make some determinations based on the facts surrounding the events.
Michael Griffin shot an abortionist who was going in to begin the day’s schedule of killings. There were already twelve children (in utero) inside who were to be killed. David Gunn had rejected all of the usual appeals on the sidewalk, and was only feet away from entering a locked facility. It can be argued that no further effective appeal was possible on behalf of those dozen children scheduled to die by his hand on March 10.
As we have indicated already, Griffin clearly implied that his intention was to save children who were at risk of being killed by the abortionist. Lucid and convincing evidence of this motive is seen in the letter to his friend and in the court testimony surrounding the conversation he had with his wife soon after his arrest. Anger and thoughts of revenge for children that had been killed the day before or the week before did not drive him to destroy David Gunn. It was simply a desire to see at least one innocent child survive an intended act of murder, cleverly called “abortion” to provide a sense of justification as an act of medical-killing, as if that is ever justified in Scripture, which it clearly is not.
While there are those who would argue that Griffin's gun would have been more righteously aimed at the mother seeking services intended to kill her child, we disagree.
The actions taken against the abortionists were intended to stop the one who held the power of life and death in the immediate sense. To attempt to save an in utero baby's life by shooting the child's mother is well outside of a legal or moral "justifiable homicide" argument. Under righteous rule the mother would indeed be charged and tried for any crime attempted or committed against the child, but that is a judicial process, which takes place not primarily for the purpose of preventing harm, but for punishing a wrong already committed.(9)
Shelley Shannon, the shooter of one of America's few high-profile late-term abortionists, George Tiller, immediately made a statement to police in which she said, "If ever there was a justifiable homicide, this would have been it." In March 1994 court testimony in her trial against the charge of “attempted murder,” Shannon clearly expressed that her motive was to prevent more murders of innocent Unborn babies. Because from a biblical perspective, rename the process any way you wish, “medical killing,” “terminations” or “abortion,” Tiller was habitually engaging in the murder of innocent Unborn persons.
Paul Hill's motives are best known. In countless interviews in 1993 and 1994 he vigorously defended Griffin and Shannon before him, not for punishing abortionists for past deeds, but because of the imminent threat to innocent life that they were posing. He wrote and routinely distributed a pamphlet attesting to his biblically founded belief that Unborn children were deserving of the same protections afforded the Born. His action too was aimed at prevention, not punishment for the aborter’s past deeds of murdering the Unborn.
Justifiable Homicide, as a defense under current civil law, is applied when a death occurs in the act of defending one's own life or property, or the life of another innocent person. Biblically, the Unborn qualify as persons in the full sense of that word. So, while civil law is somewhat schizophrenic in its application of justice toward these in utero individuals, it would appear that Michael Griffin, Shelley Shannon, and Paul Hill intended to prevent more killings of the kind that are clearly forbidden in the Sixth Commandment, not to punish for crimes already committed by these serial-abortionists.(10)
As an addendum to that argument we reflect back on the history of law in what is considered to be modern civilization. Modern law, for the purpose of this discussion, includes that era from the signing of the Magna Carta onward. It includes English Common Law birthed out of the Magna Carta, and it includes Early American Jurisprudence. William Blackstone in his extensive commentary on law provided a standard of reference for the accumulated laws and their underlying principles.
Blackstone stated in his commentary, "Homicide, as is committed for the prevention of any forcible and atrocious crime, is justifiable by the law of nature; and also by the law of England." He then goes on to cite Statute 24, a declaration by England's King Henry VIII affirming the law of nature (and therefore "nature's God" as referred to in the U.S. Constitution) in regard to lethal force used to protect innocent life.(11)
In all of these sources, there is an earlier foundational source from which they derive their legitimacy. It is The Bible. Laws that allow one innocent man to defend himself against another, even with lethal force, spring from the one well of Truth, the Word of God.(12)