You’re working behind the counter at a convenience store. It is almost midnight when an older man walks into your store. He has a knife and demands the money from the cash drawer. You back away and let him have the money. You call 911 and report the crime. The robber advances toward you. You present your firearm and he attacks you. You shoot him several times until he stops. You get your phone again and tell the dispatcher you had to shoot your attacker. Police arrive a few minutes later and you put your gun away. EMS takes your attacker to the hospital.
You give the police a brief statement. The police recover your attacker’s knife from inside your store. You are not charged with a crime.
Additional sources here.
I like that our defender was armed at work. She recognized that a robber with a knife was a lethal threat. She protected herself rather than fight over the cash drawer. She retreated and called for help. She defended herself when the attacker then tried to close the distance to her. She shot several times and then stopped shooting when the attacker stopped advancing. Our defender kept in contact with the 911 dispatchers and put her gun away when the police arrived. She gave the officers a statement. That is so much to get right in such little time that I think our defender had a plan.
These stories are always incomplete and the news articles didn’t include a security video. Your security comes first. It might not be safe to call 911 from the far corner of the store while the robber is still inside. Ideally, we’d like the clerk to retreat to the back office and lock the door before she makes the 911 call. We don’t know the details. We don’t know if there were other customers in the store at the time, and that may have been why she didn’t feel safe leaving the front of the store when a customer who walks in might be attacked by the robber.
I’d also like the store clerk to have her concealed carry permit even though Texas is now a constitutional carry state. That carry permit shows the responding police officers that you have a clean criminal record. That helps establish that you were the victim rather than the perpetrator. The news story says the robber attacked the clerk but we don’t know the extent of her injuries or when they occured. Perhaps her injuries indicate that the defender let the robber get too close to her. Perhaps her injuries occurred earlier when the robber first announced his crime. I assume the store had a security system and we’d also like to be able to give the security video to the police.
There is a lot we can do to help our case. We’re going to be upset by the time the police arrive. That means we need a plan about what to say. The police are there to collect evidence of a crime. Point out where the attacker’s knife might be. Point out any injuries you have. Tell the officers if there were any witnesses or security video. Show them about where you think you were standing when you had to defend yourself, but avoid specifics. Let the details wait for your official report that you’ll submit with your lawyer. Your lawyer needs a copy of the security video too.
We know the defender was on the phone with 911 while the robber was still in the store. We don’t know when she presented her firearm. I’ve heard the gun-shop-wisdom that you shouldn’t present your firearm unless you intend to pull the trigger. I think that is bad advice. The defender had every legal right to present her firearm after she faced a lethal threat. Presenting her gun might have deterred the attacker from closing the distance. It certainly would have reduced the amount of time she needed to get off her fist shot. Unfortunately, having a gun in our hands also makes it harder for us to use a cell phone and call for help. I once worked in an office that had a panic button so we didn’t need to dial the phone to get help on the way. That makes more sense to me now.
We want to take care of first things first. Move to a safer position once you recognize a threat. Present your firearm. Use it if necessary. When you have time, then worry about calling 911. The robber can change his plans at any time so none of this is easy.
The robber gets to make the first move. He will probably wait until he is close enough to hurt or kill us when he announces his robbery and presents his knife. Yes, we can draw our gun but that doesn’t end the threat. We have to put enough shots into the attacker’s vital areas to stop him before he reaches us. In the moment, that takes distance which gives us time to present our gun, to move, and to shoot. For most of us, it is a call to practice our presentation so we know how much time we need. In my case, it has been over a month so I’m due for more dry-practice.
When was the last time you presented your firearm from a concealed holster?
We read about convenience store robberies all the time. There are about a third-of-a-million robberies a year, and about 10-percent of those robberies are at convenience stores. Those are national averages. Those averages probably don’t apply to you. Crime rates are local. If you have a district attorney who decided that robbery of less than a thousand dollars isn’t really a crime, then we’ve seen some areas where convenience store robbery increased five-fold in recent years.
The world is full of dangerous jobs. A responsible store owner would talk through and walk through these scenarios with his employees. Fortunately, many do.
-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.