U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- We start with this local story from New Carlisle, Ohio that was carried on TV station WDTN, NBC channel 2 out of Dayton.
You are a pizza delivery driver. It is late Sunday night, and you are waiting in the pizza shop for your last order to be cut and boxed. Two men race into the store wearing masks. They are also waving a prybar and a large knife. They run up to the counter and threaten the clerks behind the counter. The robbers demand the money in the till.
You own a gun. You have your Ohio concealed carry license. You’re carrying a concealed handgun. You present your firearm and shoot the attacker closest to the clerks. Now both attackers run so you stop shooting.
One attacker makes it out the door, but the wounded attacker falls to the ground inside the store. One of the store clerks calls 911. You and your co-workers are afraid to run outside.
You put your gun on the counter and wait for the police. Emergency medical services say your attacker died at the scene. You are not charged.
The story is presented with such a simple description, but this is far from an easy situation. That could be the hardest shot we’d ever take.
Our defender recognized that two attackers with a knife and a metal prybar were an immediate, unavoidable, and lethal threat to himself and the other innocent parties in the store. Fortunately, our defender was armed. He shot the attackers and stopped shooting when the threat stopped as the robbers turned away and ran. He stayed at the scene. In the 911 call, the defender says he’s upset, but will talk to the police when they arrive. He asks the dispatcher what he should do with his gun, and she suggests to put it on the counter. Unfortunately, we don’t have video so there are many details of the story that we simply don’t know.
For example, was the defender behind the counter with the clerks? Was he in the back room, or was he sitting at a table in the dining area sipping a soft drink? Were the store clerks who were standing behind the counter of adult age so they could legally defend themselves, or were they teenagers who are too young to carry a firearm for self-defense? Those details make a huge difference.
How would you react if you were a customer sitting in the store when these two criminals ran in to rob the place? How would you react if your family was with you? I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t seem simple to me at all.
These two robbers are a deadly threat to anyone that is within their reach. Armed with a crowbar and a knife, they can go over or around the counter before employees can get out of the area. They can cover 21 feet before you can draw and get a shot on target. What would you do if they ordered you to turn away or else they’d cut one of the clerks?
If you can get out a side door that’s great for you, but what about your coworkers? They might not have time to retreat or to sound an alarm. You might escape, but are you willing to let your unarmed co-workers face two attackers who are armed with a prybar and a knife while you are armed with a firearm?
If it seems like a tough moral question to defend your co-workers, then imagine if the store clerks were a pair of young teenagers standing behind the counter. I don’t know how I could live with myself if they were injured while I stood by and was a “good witness”.
To add to the moral ambiguity we might feel, I also want you to imagine that we are sitting in the dining area, and we can shoot the attackers from behind. One of the possibilities we face is to announce ourselves and demand that the robbers stop. Doing so might put the store clerks in greater danger. We are weighing the chance that the robbers will run away against the increased threat that the robbers might take one of the clerks as a hostage. We are also guessing that the robbers don’t have other weapons or other friends in the store. We are out of easy choices.
Unless we think about it now, we will be frozen in indecision when the threat is in front of us and shouting orders for us to get on the floor. Now is the time to think about what actions are legal and moral.
We have the legal and moral right to defend ourselves. We also have the right to defend other innocent parties. Our moral obligations vary by matter of degree. I think we have a larger moral obligation if the clerks are teenagers who were unable to be armed and defend themselves. We have a smaller obligation to adults who might have chosen to be unarmed at work. We are not obligated to shoot an attacker from in front while they are threatening a third party with death or great bodily harm. That decision isn’t easy for me, and it probably isn’t easy for you either. Please give it some thought while we have time.
The defender may have just killed a criminal. There is a chance that there are more bad guys outside. That is why it is a good idea to lock the doors until the police arrive. Now would also be a good time to move to one of the back rooms of the restaurant so you are not a tempting target through the windows. The 911 dispatcher will tell you when the police are outside so you can let them in. Check to make sure if any customers or employees are injured.
We want the police to face easy choices when they arrive. That means we don’t want to have a gun in our hands when the police run in and see a wounded man lying on the floor.
In this story, I don’t know why the defender didn’t re-holster his firearm rather than leave it on a counter, but I’ve never shot someone. I’d rather have the gun on me than sitting in public where anyone could grab it. In any case, keep your hands in view when the police arrive and give them time to sort out the situation.
The fact that the defender is wearing a store uniform is a clue. So are the other store employees telling the police what happened. Police pick up on these clues. Our job is to stand still so the police are not surprised while they figure things out. We need to give them that minute. The uniformed officers own the scene so do what they tell you.
Once you’ve been processed at the scene, now would be a good time to call you lawyer. Some prosecutors may want to charge you while others may want to pin a medal on you. Your lawyer is the only person who works for you, and he want to keep you from going to prison. Make it easy on him.
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.