You’re working behind the counter at a gas station convenience store. It is 10 in the morning on a weekday when a man comes in wearing a hoodie, dark glasses, a facemask, and gloves. Come on, it is 60 degrees and sunny, so that outfit looks suspicious. The customer walks up to the counter and pulls a gun out of his sweatshirt. The robber says to give him the money from the register. You ask if he’s joking.
He pulls a bag out of his pocket and tells you to put the money in the bag. You empty the cash drawer. As the robber turns away, you grab your gun from under the counter and shoot your attacker between his back and his right shoulder. Your gun jams and you duck down behind the counter to fix it. The robber runs to his getaway car.
You call the police and show them the store security video. You go back to work and finish your shift.
Police arrest your robber after his driver crashes into another car. The robber is taken to the hospital. Before he was shot by the female store clerk, local police think this robber was responsible for eight other armed robberies in the last few weeks.
The middle of the morning should be the safest time of the day… but no time is safe. What started as an ordinary workday turned into a life or death encounter at gunpoint. This store clerk was prepared, and she did a number of important things before, during, and after she was attacked.
She realized that she worked a dangerous job. She was determined not to be a victim. She had her defensive tools with her rather than in the store safe in the back office. She thought and planned what she would do in case of an armed robbery. Our defender waited her turn to defend herself from a robber who had a gun pointed at her. When the robber turned away, our defender moved to her gun, defended herself, and moved when her firearm jammed. She called the police and showed them the security video. That is a lot to get right in very little time. She did a great job.
There are a few details left out of the news report, so we’ll look at different situations we might face. Alabama is not a constitutional carry state and the news report doesn’t say if the convenience store clerk had her carry permit. The story implies that the firearm was not carried on her body but was kept behind the counter. We don’t know if the gun was hers, or if the gun was shared by several of the clerks while they were at work.
Many states allow a homeowner or store owner to carry a firearm on their property. They may be restricted to carrying inside the building, or they may be able to carry on all of their property depending on state law. That makes a difference. A store clerk might have to go to the far corner of the property to meet a delivery driver or to carry trash to the dumpster. A homeowner might go to the mailbox. Depending on the state where you live, that might require the defender to disarm or have a concealed carry permit.
Let’s assume the gun was kept behind the counter. That means our defender would have been disarmed every time she was away from the cash register. We can learn from her experience. Her solution worked this time. Carrying a concealed firearm would work nearly all the time.
After being robbed, I bet she wants to get her permit and carry her own gun on-body.
There are other advantages to carrying your personal firearm on your body. Our defender’s gun jammed after one shot. Compared to a gun left behind the counter, your on-body gun is yours and you don’t have to share it with others. We can try different self-defense ammunition in our gun so we know it shoots accurately and runs reliably. We also get to practice more if we own our own firearms. We get to clean and maintain our personal firearms so they work when we need them.
We have the shooting we are delt rather than the one we practiced at the range. Sometimes we might need to shoot one-handed with the gun barely above the counter. Unfortunately, some guns are sensitive to how firmly they are held. They will operate reliably with a strong two-handed grip shooting practice ammunition, but might not operate every time with self-defense ammunition while fired with one handheld near your side. Sub-compact guns are more sensitive than mid-sized or full-sized handguns. It is important to know what your gun will do.
Our defender shot her robber from behind. We have to articulate why this attacker remained an immediate and unavoidable threat. It is one thing if our attacker holstered his firearm and his hands were visible. It is an entirely different case if our attacker is waving his firearm at other customers as he leaves.
Think about what you should do. You have to explain your actions to your lawyer, and perhaps to a judge and jury.
There are entirely understandable reasons to shoot someone from behind. You may have started to shoot while they faced you, but it takes time to recognize that they have turned away, and then to stop shooting. It is extremely hard to make split-second decisions while we are firing a gun in self-defense. Good prosecutors know this, as should your lawyer.
This determined store clerk stayed at her job after the attack. She also spoke to news reporters after she shot a repeat criminal. For most of us, talking to a reporter can do far more harm than good to our case. Talk to your lawyer before you speak to the press.
You have a lawyer you can call, don’t you?
Rob Morse highlights the latest self-defense and other shootings of the week. See what went wrong, what went right, and what we can learn from real-life self-defense with a gun. Even the most justified self-defense shooting can go wrong, especially after the shot. Get the education, the training, and the liability coverage you and your family deserve, join USCCA.
About Rob Morse
Rob writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily, and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob was an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.