Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- On 9 August 2018, a Cheri Bentham was waiting for a package to be delivered at her semi-rural residence on Hoo Shoo Too road, next to the Amite River. It was afternoon and about 93 degrees in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
A white man, about 5’6″ appeared at her door, and started to make some suggestive and alarming comments. He said he had been watching her house. From wbrz.com:
Benham was busy trying to get her three small dogs back inside when she noticed the man was touching himself inappropriately outside his clothes. As his remarks became lewder, she ran back inside and grabbed her .22 caliber snake rifle.
“I shot towards the ground and screamed at him to not come back,” she said. “He left out of here with a hot foot. He was like a bank robber, he was gone.”
The rifle Cheri Benham used appears to be the ubiquitous Marlin model 60. It was topped with a red dot, or reflex sight of some kind. The Marlins are noted for their accuracy, dependability, and affordability.
Some may question the necessity of the warning shot. The situation may have been alarming. It did not appear to be life-threatening. While the warning shot may or may not have been necessary, the man left quickly, knowing that Cheri was armed and not afraid of using her rifle.
Warning shots have some negative potential. The bullet has to go somewhere. In a tense situation, the shooter may not be certain the shot will be harmless. It uses one cartridge you might need later.
If used judiciously, warning shots have been effective in some cases. In this semi-rural setting, the shot was to the soft ground, with little chance of a ricochet. Cheri knows her rifle well. She says she is a good shot. The reflex sight allows for very quick and accurate shot placement. There do not appear to be many neighbors close by.
Warning shots were less controversial in the 1920s. In an era where liability law was far less restrictive than what we have today, newspapers reported women shooting near suspicious men on their property. The papers seem to have approved of their action.
The response to Cheri Behnam’s use of her rifle appears to be similar. In the comments on the story, most approve of her actions. None of them are sympathetic to the man who ran off.
As with many tactical considerations involving deadly force, it is hard to make absolute statements about warning shots. Much depends on the individual circumstances. In a sparsely populated rural area, warning shots are far less dangerous than in a crowded urban environment.
Someone with a rifle with 15 rounds in its magazine will be less worried about using one round than someone who has a single shot or double barreled shotgun.
A defender may believe they will not be considered serious if a shot is not fired. Perpetrators may indicate they do not believe the firearm to be loaded, or real.
I do not recommend warning shots as a general practice. In some specialized circumstances, they may be useful.
©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.