Good Guys with Guns Down

Opinion

Anguish Remembrance Remember
Good Guys with Guns Down

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- November saw two highly publicized tragedies where police officers responding to the scenes of shootings, shot and killed the wrong man.

In both cases, the victims were legally armed. In both cases, the victims were black, as were the perpetrators of the original shootings.

Of course, the media has chosen to focus primarily on the race issue, reinforcing the idea that blacks are disproportionately victims in wrongful police shootings, and stoking the flames of outrage within the black community.

Not only does the focus on race, drive a wedge between blacks and whites, and between police and the community, it also diverts attention from the real reasons for these types of tragedies, and potential solutions.

Those of us who choose to be armed, must have a solid grasp on the real-world risks and consequences of wielding deadly force. While a gun can save lives, carrying and using one always comes with complications. Our society specifically tasks police with use of force to stop criminal violence and restrain law-breakers, and even though their authority is derived directly from “we the people,” our social structure has largely ceded the individual authority of the people, into the hands of the police, reserving only a very narrow slice for individual citizens. That authority has not always been ceded evenly, either. There are gaps and overlaps leading to conflicts between a citizen’s right to bear arms and act on his own behalf, and the duties and limits of police authority. Police also enjoy certain immunities and protections – both legally, and as a matter of generally accepted terms within our social contract.

Since it is the job of police to go into harm’s way, deal with bad guys, and use force up to and including deadly force, in the execution of their job, society generally gives them the benefit of the doubt when things get sketchy.

Armed citizens don't get those benefits and presumptions, regardless of our level of training or experience.

We also don't usually have the benefit of a uniform or badge to readily identify us as the good guy during a hectic event. Our first challenge is surviving the initial threat, but then we have to be sure to survive the arrival of those coming to save us from the threat. Afterwards we run through the legal gauntlet of criminal and civil actions trying to blame us for defending ourselves – not to mention the emotional trauma that comes from the whole mess – without the benefit of a police union representative and “paid administrative leave.”

In both of the recent instances, the legal gun owners were put in difficult situations that made it virtually impossible for them to do much of anything differently. In the first tragedy, the good guy was working security at a bar when a group of men who had been kicked out earlier returned. One of them opened fire on patrons in the bar. The security worker tackled the gunman (or one of his accomplices) and had his gun in his hand when the police rushed in. Officers apparently thought the security guy was the assailant, about to execute a patron on the floor, and they fired, killing the good guy.

I put little credence in the claims of some of the patrons that they yelled at police that the man was bar security. As the situation was described by those same patrons, there didn't seem to be time for them to recognize the danger to the security guard from the police before the shots were fired. Whether the security guard had time to safely holster before police arrived – or shouldn't have drawn the gun at all – is unknown. Police seemed to have arrived very quickly, and in this case, as with the next story, that rapid response did not work to the benefit of the armed citizen.

In the second incident, a young man was at a local shopping mall with a friend on Thanksgiving evening. The friend got into a physical altercation with another man in the mall, and that man pulled a gun and started shooting. The good guy drew his sidearm, but apparently didn't fire. Police patrolling the mall arrived at that moment, and saw a man with a gun in his hand and another man bleeding on the ground. They fired, and the innocent gun owner was killed.

So far, police have withheld release of any body-cam or security camera footage from either of these shootings, and descriptions of events from witnesses are sketchy at best, so it's difficult to determine with any confidence exactly what happened or what could have been done differently – by the armed civilians or by the police. It is sad and frustrating that tragedies like this happen, and even sadder that people will exploit them for political purposes – some claiming that police are too anxious to open fire on black men, and others claiming that these cases prove that armed citizens just complicate already bad situations.

In truth, white people are wrongfully killed by police too, as in Colorado when a homeowner was shot after killing a home invader who was attacking his grandson. In these particular circumstances, it's unlikely that skin color played any role at all. While tragic mistakes happen, they are rare, and armed citizens successfully use firearms to defend themselves or others, every day in this country, without being shot by police.

If the officers involved in these deaths were overly aggressive or “trigger-happy,” they should be punished, but based solely on initial reports, it appears that in these cases, the only blame lies with the original perpetrators who started the shooting, and they should be charged with felony murder for the loss of these innocent lives.


Jeff Knox
Jeff Knox

About Jeff Knox:

Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.

The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org.

  • 36 thoughts on “Good Guys with Guns Down

    1. Not about race? I know of 3 “friendly fire” incidents where undercover African American police officers were killed by officers from their own departments. One in NYC, one in Baltimore City and one in Prince George’s county in Maryland. And those are just the ones I know about.

      1. Please provide links, documentation…. I am sure this made the news or is documented somewhere. Racist shooting is the Media’s wet dream… hard to believe nobody else knows about this.

    2. God love you Jeff, but you just blamed the victims for their own deaths, it’s attitudes like this that feed the stereotype of racist white gun owners. The police are not mindless robots programed to shoot at the sight of a gun, they have free will and judgement. Neither of these two men were threatening the officers when they were shot, we need to get the police to understand that a gun doesn’t automatically mean ‘bad guy.’ The silence from gun rights groups on this looks racially insensitive at best. and destroys the ‘good guy with a gun’ argument.

      To be clear, I don’t think gun rights people are racist. Plenty of innocent non-Black Americans are killed too, and the names of every one of them should be heard. Concern can be expressed without attacking the police, it’s a problem with policy and procedures, not rogue racist cops.

    3. I wonder how much trouble I’d be in if I shot someone in these same situations? In jail for a good chunk of my life if not the rest of it. Loose everything I have due to lawsuits. VERY likely both. Or. Would the court say it’s OK because I tell them that is just how I was trained? I hope not. Better not. Both of these are at least negligent manslaughter no matter how scared you are, no matter what training you are going to use for an excuse, no matter what your department says and thinks you can get away with. You don’t pull the trigger until you KNOW FOR SURE you actually have a deserving target. We have been taught that as one of the first rules in gun safety–know your target and what is behind it. Aren’t cops taught when to and when to not shoot? Seems like in both cases there was time to at least tell him to put the gun down. Two more innocent men died and the first thing that gets brought up as an excuse is fear of the evil gun? Doesn’t the other side pull out that one whenever they get a chance? We are better than that. The gun is not evil and neither is the bullet. Guns and bullets only do what you tall them to. YOU are responsible for every round down range. Something else. If the crowd actually was warning the officer that the man he was about to shoot was security then there are at least two problems. One, the cop was alerted to at least the questionability of pulling his trigger. Two, there was ample time to make a correct decision–not to shoot. If there is body cam showing what happened, it would be best for BOTH sides to declare it and post it for public view. Hiding it only brings distrust or more distrust. Common sense.

      1. Exactly right, we’re taught in CWP classes that if we come up on a situation like that and shoot someone we are responsible to know exactly who is who and what is going on. For instance an undercover cop is in a fight with a drug dealer and you walk up on it, if you draw your weapon and give commands that is one thing, but if you shoot, you better know who is who, otherwise you can been charged. The cops have a responsibility to not go off half cocked and determine who is who in the situation. A law-abiding citizen who stops a shooting is not a threat to cops even when he is holding his gun and they should handle it that way to determine. In both of these cases, the armed citizen didn’t point their gun at the police and therefore they should not have been shot. I don’t have a problem tacking on the charge to the original perpetrator, but I’ve seen too many of these stories and know that often the cops are in a situation where their tensions are high and they are just not trained properly to deal with it.

    4. I live where the Mall shooting occured. That particular police department (Hoover, Al) is know for over aggressive behavior.
      ****we are far from the truth and understanding on this one, Trigger happy cops ? Poor police training ? NO real life stress training ? Mall is a NO carry zone ? Why was his gun even out.. the threat was already gone from the seen, at that point he was the aggressor and NOT fearing for his life ?
      NOW the black community is creating disturbances at many local businesses, blocking entryways and parking lots and have turned the whole thing into a racial issue. Sadly, THE RACE CARD gets played wat to often here in Alabama.

      1. In this situation, I’m not completely sure to be clear. But as far as shootings in general……. MORE WHITE PEOPLE have been fatally shot by police than black people in our country. BUT I bet you won’t say the cops are being racist towards whites….. People tend to forget Racism is a 2-Way street and the media/Democrats and blacks only make an issue when it suits their agenda.
        2018 AMERICANS FATALLY SHOT BY POLICE
        WHITE = 318
        BLACK = 168
        2017 AMERICANS FATALLY SHOT BY POLICE
        WHITE = 457
        BLACK = 223

        https://www.statista.com/statistics/585152/people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-by-race/

        1. “Black” Americans make up about 20% of the population, but your data shows they are shot or killed at a rate of 50% of whites.

          1. Actually blacks are about 13% of U.S. population. Yet are responsible for over 51% of murders , over 40% of weapons charges and 53% robberies. So considering blacks are “contacted almost 50% more than whites for these types of crimes… I don’t think you can base your numbers on population alone. By the way, I don’t agree or think the shooting was justified, I just don’t think it was racially motivated.

          2. Grim, your bias is showing, he only provided on part of the stats. Click the link and learn the truth. In 2017, it states there were 987 deaths caused by police, that makes the percentages 46.3% white, 22.6% black. However, he stated more whites are killed by police – a true statement. He didn’t say proportionately to population. I have seen other states that show different numbers, but also more whites killed, and in numbers more proportionately to population.

            However, that was not his argument. There are many factors that go into who gets shot, such as where these shootings are taking place, and how many are criminals. The FBI stats clearly show that blacks are over 7 times more likely to commit criminal acts than whites. So if a person is committing a criminal act, of which race is the perp most likely to be? If police are shooting perps, blacks should be shot at a rate of over 7 times that of whites. Based on these stats, criminal whites are more likely shot than criminal blacks, since they are 46.3% of those shot by police, not one seventh.

            1. Not sure what my bias is, but given the number of false convictions of “Black” Americans, it skews all the data collected regarding race and crime. If a cop believes the skewed data, then it becomes racist when the proportion of blacks vs whites killed does not reflect the population.

            2. Grim, that is completely false. Whites are also wrongly convicted. Stats don’t work that way. Crime is not proportionate to population. Here are a couple of examples: look at crime rates in predominately white areas to predominately black areas; then look at murder rates where some places it higher than others. If crime were proportionate, the rates would be the same everywhere, and everywhere in the world. None of which is true.

              A few bad convictions can’t skew the crime rates to make blacks 7 times more violent than whites; Hispanics 3 times more so than whites; and whites more violent than those of Eastern Asian descent.

            3. You get what I’m saying. I’m not taking sides. I feel there is A LOT of room for improvement and policy change needed in how these conflicts are resolved. It seems in all of the shootings that get recognized by the media, the police are quick to pull a gun and are very trigger happy. Just watch LIVE PD, in many situations the police have weapons drawn …. and IMO there isn’t a justified threat for it. Seems Guns have replaced Tasers and other less lethal means of controlling the situation. On the other hand when do you ever hear about all of the white people that are killed by police shootings… YOU DON’T. Our media, politicians and a select group of society that paint everything they don’t agree or understand with a racist paint brush…. in this case , every police shooting that involves a black victim. In Alabama, a white person can’t sneeze next to a black person without it being racially motivated. It is like the boy who cried wolf… except in this case the boy continues to get attention because it equals ratings. Some people will never see their bias because they view the world and everything around them through dark colored glasses. You can’t dialog or get through to a person who already has their mind made up.

    5. Maybe we should just do away with police and let society protect itself. We can still have detectives to help solve crimes, but patrol men are nothing but civilians with lousy training and in many cases less training then many civilians. Just because they are wearing a uniform doesn’t really make them much different. Except they can exact lots of revenue as “law enforcement’ officers when it comes to victimless crimes.

    6. I wear a hunter’s blaze orange baseball style cap in summer and a blaze orange knit cap in winter. I hope that if I am ever in or near a shooting incident, I will stand out to police and all others as a good citizen and possibly an armed hunter/citizen. I believe most criminals wear black to try to be invisible.

    7. I hear a lot of generalizations about police. I’ve been in the position of being armed while holding a robber until they got there. I’ve heard complaints from families about our local police, but I’ve never seen anything to justify the complaints. When 2 squad cars arrived, the 1st officer asked for my weapon, I gave it to him, he asked the spectators what happened, then ran the numbers on it and gave it back to me. The only person in danger was the robber and he was face down on the street. Everyone was civil, and professional. The victim of the robbery was upset, but once I got there she was in no danger. ALL of my dealings with the local police have been exactly what you’d hope that they’d be.

      1. In the two times I have pulled my gun in self defense the first time mirrors your experience with the PD. The second time they didn’t even ask to see the gun just a description of it while it stayed in my back pocket. These were my city’s PD.

    8. I love how the cops are “withholding video evidence”. Gee… I wish I could just withhold evidence at my own discretion. I wish I could do my own “internal investigation” and all that. Level the playing field, folks. Same rules for both sides. Justice is supposed to be “blind”. I think somebody’s peeking here.

    9. This not that hard to avoid.

      How do we know that?

      Because cops are not shooting cops even twice a year.

      We need better training for both the cops and the good guys — it is a matter of life and death — it is, repeat IS, that important.

      Stop coming up with excuses and reasons it can not, repeat NOT, be done, AND JUST DO IT.

      No cop wants to shoot, let alone kill, a good guy….

      .

      1. Jose Guerena,
        Erik Scott,
        John Crawford,
        Autumn Steele,
        Justine Damond,
        Jack Yantis,
        Andrew Finch,
        Daniel Shaver,
        Richard Black,
        Melyda Corado,
        Botham Jean,
        Jemel Roberson,
        and Emantic Bradford
        could not be reached for comment.

          1. The worst part is that these police officers are not in prison, as most of us would be if we shot those people in similar circumstances that these officers did.

      2. Training? A person cannot be trained in what is right or wrong. A person should know right from wrong before entering training. If you believe that there are no “cop” wanting to kill people for standing their rights, you have not met very many “cops”.

    10. It seems to me that every LEO who carries a badge and a gun should be required to read Massad Ayoob’s series “Stressfire“. Ayoob, a former police officer and firearm trainer, does an excellent job of instilling the series of judgements a responding person, cop or citizen, should use in sizing up a stressful situation, and if required to engage a shooter, the normal, human reactions he/she will have. It makes a foundation for an officer from which to practice making instantaneous but correct decisions under stress.
      .
      I mean MANDATORY reading. Too many police officers, regardless of the normal one-dimensional training they receive at academy, succumb to panic, and in so doing, react rather than respond. One often fails to properly identify a legitimate threat, resulting in an automatic action, but a wrong one. The other, done just as quickly with practice, gives the necessary information to the responder about what, who and where the imminent threat is. That amounts to control of a situation, and a decision to act is much more likely to be the right one.
      .
      Face it- the increase of concealed carry weapon permits has the potential to create more of these situations, where an armed person makes a decision to intervene in an assault, robbery, or shooting incident, but lacks the skills to size up a situation, or anticipate actions by others, including responding police officers, arriving at a shooting incident with only partial details. Hence, a gun in hand requires an immediate action by the officer(s), who often take that action before verifying the threat. It is a sticky situation, a slippery slope, and one that anyone attempting to intervene must consider. I think there will always be nervous participants in such incidents, consequently, there will likely be bad decisions. Add the firearms, and they may be deadly decisions. It’s food for thought for any potential Good Samaritan.

    11. I am new to this forum so apologize if this has been covered. I would like to see all media work with law enforcement and publish what an armed citizen should do when law enforcement arrives at the scene of a shooting.

      1. Matthew, it is best to contact your local police department and question them. It varies based on where you live. That also might not matter, depending on which officer arrives at the scene to shoot you. The worst these officers typically face is paid administrative leave, unlike you, if you shot someone, you’d be facing at least several years in prison.

    12. Nothing new. Body camera and public recording has uncovered a few truths about the police.

      Race doesn’t matter when only power does.

    13. This has everything to do with cops who shoot first and ask questions later, and the fact that they’re trained to do exactly what they did. It has to do with ‘sovereign immunity’ that protects cops that act within their training. And the growing attitude that ANY man with a gun is a perp.

      Policing today is not your daddy’s law enforcement.

      And that doesn’t even take into account how cops will approach citizen disarmament under the Red Flag. When killings become commonplace, people will react and then it will be a bad day to be a cop.

      1. I do not bet my life on waiting for citizens reactions to RED FLAG carnage. Many may die alone, possibly with family and friends caught or placed in the fire. A bad day for LEOs, should be a worst day for those who sent them.

      2. Agree..things were different not too many years ago. Another factor was the move from revolvers to semi-autos. When you only had five or six shots available, each had to count. I have a retired LEO next door who only killed one person while employed, one shot from a Colt Python. Now its more “spray and pray”. The change in attitude is definitely the biggest factor, but the change to higher capacity carry weapons played a role. Until some change is made in accountability and training, the latter dependent on the former, we will not see much change for the better.

        1. Indeed, I see the move to high capacity semi autos as a primary causal factor in many of these tragic incidents. Perhaps a return to revolvers, at least for the rank and file street cops might be a prudent move today. Coupled with more intensive training in the use of lethal force, officers would then have to give more thought and consideration in shoot/don’t shoot scenarios.

          1. All one has to do is watch that FBI video and the return to revolvers instead of semi-auto goes out the window. Or, what will happen next is semi-auto pistols will end up one the same list as semi-fully-automatic (sarcasm) assault rifles. The anti-gunners will call for the ban of them. They would like nothing more than to have black powder single shot rifles be the only legal firearm…..except in CA where, I’m sure, that state has determined that black powder and everything else involved in firearms, has been proved to cause cancer.

    Leave a Comment 36 Comments

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *