You’re working behind the counter at a smoke shop and corner store. It is early in the evening when three men run inside. They are wearing hoodies, but everyone wears hoodies. They are wearing masks, but lots of your customers wear masks. They point a gun at you, and that gets your attention.
You’re armed. You’re also carrying concealed. The armed robber asks if you have kids and want to go home to see them. You open the cash register and hand him the evening’s receipts. The three robbers are leaving when you see them point their gun at a customer who is entering the store.
You present your firearm and shoot the armed robber several times. All three robbers run out the door and drive away.
Your two co-workers are shaken, but not injured. You call 911. You give a statement to the police. You show the officers the store security video of the robbery.
The police find your injured robbers nearby. Two of them are taken to the hospital for treatment. The injured robbers had a history of armed robbery. One was still on parole. The armed robber died in the hospital. Police use a picture from the security video as they are looking for the third robber.
You call your boss and quit your job.
Our defender deserves a lot of credit. He noticed that small businesses in his area were frequently robbed. He carried his personal firearm on his body when he was at work. That required an Illinois FOID card, but the story does not mention an Illinois carry permit. The armed defender recognized a threat and recognized he would need time to defend himself. He didn’t have that time when he faced the robber’s drawn gun. The defender waited. Seconds count, and I’ve heard it called a tactical pause, waiting your turn, or tactical patience.
When the threat was over, the defender stayed inside his store and called 911. Other news sources showed the security video from inside the store, so we can assume that video was also given to the police.
There were other co-workers present during the robbery. The first thing we would like is if all of them were armed and trained. They faced three robbers and it would have helped immensely if the three victims had worked together and considered a security plan.
We have a huge advantage as we build an armed defense in that we have time to think. We can consider what things might look like if we were robbed at work. We can imagine our options and weigh their strengths and weaknesses. That leaves us with a loose plan of action; a set of stimuli and responses. It is hard to underestimate how valuable that is because armed defense is always a matter of time.
The armed robber told the defender that he might never see his family that night unless he followed instructions. At that moment, the armed defender did not have a chance to stop the threat without being shot. Once the robber got the cash and turned his gun toward the front door, then there was not an immediate and unavoidable threat. That removed the legal and moral justification for the use of lethal force in self-defense.
The situation changed a second later when the armed attacker pointed his gun at someone who was approaching the store from outside. Illinois recognizes the right to defend an innocent third party who faces a lethal threat. The armed defender shot the attacker. It would not have mattered if the attackers were shot from behind.
The attackers ran. I assume the shots were directed at the armed attacker and the other two attackers ran into the line of fire as they funneled through the front door. We don’t want to chase the bad guy down the street, and the defender stayed in the store. I can’t tell if that was good judgment or if the defender was not allowed to carry his firearm outside the business. It is easy to see how it would be impossible for the defender to get his carry permit. Maybe the defender lived across the river in Iowa and only worked in Illinois. Unfortunately, Illinois law does not allow Iowa residents to get an Illinois carry permit, and Illinois does not recognize Iowa permits.
There are other things we might do if we had a security plan with our armed co-workers. Maybe we would do exactly what this defender did, but maybe not. The first goal of a security plan is to keep from getting shot. Perhaps the three of them would dive under the counter so they were not a target. One of them might have to stand up and hand over the cash. While the other co-workers were down on the floor and out of sight, maybe they could crawl to the back room and call 911.
When the armed robber threatened another customer, the armed co-workers could shoot the attacker while they stayed hidden behind the counter. They could shoot, but they don’t have to.
At least one bullet hit the glass door at the front of the convenience store. We don’t know if that bullet was from the attacker’s gun or if it was shot by the armed defender. While we have time, think about where our bullets will stop. What is behind or beyond our attacker? We don’t want to be the guy who shoots the innocent customer who is walking across the parking lot in the dark.
The defender called his boss and quit his job. He said his life was threatened at work and he was also afraid he would be financially ruined if he had to defend himself in court. I can’t blame him. I want you to have legal insurance if you might use a firearm for self-defense. That is true if you have your gun at home, at your business, or if you carry in public. Please consider how you will pay those bills while you have time on your side.
-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.
About Rob Morse
Rob writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily, at Second Call Defense, 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.