The guy at my local convenience store isn’t armed. He doesn’t have a baseball bat either. Nothing. This despite the fact that armed robbers attacked the bank next door. He says he doesn’t want the power of life or death in his hands. Fair enough. But here’s the thing: what if you’re a store owner and you DO have a deadly weapon and an armed robber comes a robbin’? Will you have the time and/or presence of mind to A) get your gun B) use it and C) use it effectively. As in, you know, kill him . . .

This clip starts with store employees wailing on a robber. One of the defenders wields a baseball bat. With hindsight, we know an employee had a gun. Obviously, he made the calculation that the attempted crime didn’t warrant deadly force. Not so obvious, Mr. Bond. A baseball bat IS deadly force. (My local camera shop guy beat a robber to death with a couple of well-placed swings of a Louisville Slugger.) So why didn’t the tooled-up employee start his defense with his firearm?

The employee could have drawn the gun from the git go and threatened to shoot the robber. Or shot him. Not to sound callous, but why not? While knowing whether or not the robber was armed during his initial beat down would be useful information, the store employee would have been within his rights to shoot first and ask questions later.

[In May 2007, Wisconsin passed Assembly Bill 35, which states “a person who uses force in self-defense or in the defense of another person may not be convicted of a crime stemming from that use of force.” While the law is framed around homeowners, the so-called “castle doctrine” has been applied to private businesses many times. Juries don’t like robbers, armed or not. And they’re especially antagonistic to ones who return to the scene of the crime, within minutes, holding a handgun, bent on revenge.]

When the perp returns with his gun, one of the store employees is ready for Round II. So ready you can see him tracking the robber with his weapon before the robber appears in the open (from behind the counter POV). Even if the employee didn’t know the robber had a gun before he hoves into view, he had plenty of time once the robber was “in the clear” to make that determination. And fire.

And why not? The bad guy’s back. He must be pissed from all that batting practice. In fact, I doubt money remains his main motivation. And yet the clerk doesn’t shoot him.

I’m not saying I would have. None of us know what we would or wouldn’t do in a life-threatening situation. Killing a human being is no small thing (and if it is, you really shouldn’t own a gun). But I am amazed that the store employee didn’t squeeze off a couple of rounds. After all, he’s got a gun. What’s to stop him from shooting at you once he walks away?

Which is EXACTLY what he does.

There are a couple of clues as to why the store guy failed to take the shot. First, he lacks shooting experience. He had plenty of time and space to assume a Weaver stance, or at least address the threat with a proper two-handed grip. In fact, you can see the clerk’s hand beginning to twist, gangsta style. If the cashier had been trained in proper defensive handgun strategy, he would have seen the weapon in the perp’s hand and fired more or less automatically.

Second, the reporter’s comment that “the clerk isn’t expected to face charges” implies that there was something else in play. I’m thinking the gun wasn’t legal. I’m willing to bet it wasn’t even loaded. Hence the store’s initial, unarmed response.

It’s important to note that most armed robberies don’t go down this way. The pace of events is frenetic. In this case, the clerk had a clear reason to shoot the robber, a clean line of fire, nothing behind or near the target, and plenty of time to eliminate the threat. Everyone involved is extremely lucky that there wasn’t any bloodshed. And, as my father used to say, it’s better to be lucky than smart.

[NOTE: TTAG will call the store for more details tomorrow.]

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