You Have the Right to Remain Silent. Use It.

No, I’m not talking about what you should—or shouldn’t do—after a self-defense shooting. I think that’s pretty clear: what you don’t say can’t be used against you in a court of law. What I’m addressing here is the right to remain silent when someone does something wrong. To NOT confront bad guys with their bad behavior. Because if you do, bad things can happen. Even if you have a self-defense firearm. Especially if you have a concealed carry weapon. To prove my point, here’s a story from azcentral.com about a self-defense shooting that left two men dead and one a marked man.

The incident started earlier in the evening, when members of two documented criminal Chandler street gangs went to a keg party uninvited and paid $2 each.

The party hosts became nervous about the newcomers, who were said to have weapons, and decided to end the party, according to documents. The street gangs decided to leave with a keg of beer.

Ending the party. Good idea. Stopping “documented” gang bangers from stealing your keg of beer. Bad idea. Not because it’s OK for criminals to rob you in broad daylight. Because you want to live. You want your friends to live. Your odds of achieving that outcome are best if you don’t mess with people who have weapons.

Let me be clear: it’s perfectly fine to draw a line in the sand against the criminal element. If this “documented” gang was shaking down your business, stealing your children’s future, then sure, tell them to eff off. Let loose the dogs of war.

Me, I’d want to take a few sensible precautions first: send my wife and kids to a safe house, arm myself to the teeth, hire some bodyguards, bunker my house and make sure the feds had a realistic plan to crush the entire organization. But hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, right?

Wrong. It’s a keg of beer. Not your first born child. Principle, schminciple.

“How did your Dad die?” “He got shot trying to stop a gang from stealing a keg of beer.” “A true hero. Did he stop them?” “No.” “Shame.” “Yeah.”

OK, here we go . . .

A female party host and some others confronted the men, who argued, fought and pushed people to the ground as they made their way out, the court record says. They told the hostess to back off because they had a gun, according to the documents. Contreras, the report says, even lifted his shirt to display his semiautomatic weapon.

Another excellent point in the narrative timeline where letting the gang bangers leave without further ado would have been the smart thing to do. As you probably guessed, we’re going to run out of these moments soon. Meanwhile, here’s a tip: if someone warns you that they’re thinking about shooting you, leave. Quickly. With your wife. Obviously.

The shooter’s wife confronted the group on the street, and was told they had guns, the records say. The shooter arrived to help his wife, was punched in the face, and some in the group fled in a vehicle with the keg, according to the records.

Contreras drew his weapon and pointed it at the shooter and his wife, according to the report, and there are conflicting reports about whether he fired. The shooter drew his handgun and began to order Contreras to drop his weapon, according to the report.

OK, let’s leave letting them leave and talk tactical turkey. Here’s a question: if someone’s pointing a gun at you, is that a good time to pull out your gun?

Generally, no. Just as you could, would and should shoot someone who’s pulling a gun on you before it’s pointing at you, they’re probably going to react the same way. In this situation, running or diving for cover should be your first reaction. Pulling your gun AS you run for cover is an even better strategy. Practice it. A lot.

Back to your right to remain silent, then, in a different context.

While I’m all about issuing a verbal warning before shooting, the time and place for the [eventual] shooter to tell Contreras to drop his weapon was BEFORE it was pointed at the shooter. As the shooter missed this ballistic boat, the shooter should have shot ASAP.

[Brandon] Beck and possibly one or more other men attacked the shooter, according to the report.

Beck struck the shooter in the face so hard that he fell to the ground, the report said. The shooter saw Contreras pointing the gun at him, and fired, the records say. Beck then lunged at him and the shooter fired at him, the report states . . .

Contreras was carried to the street in the 600 block of North Sunland Drive, but his associates could not get him into a vehicle, so they left him on the road, the report says. Beck stumbled to the road and collapsed, the report says.

Both were pronounced dead at the Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center trauma center.

Bad guys with the motive, means and opportunity to shoot you, in the process of shooting you? Chocks away. Still, I’m not down with this “official” analysis.

“He showed unusually great restraint during the situation,” Chandler Detective David Ramer said of the shooter. “It was after he confronted a deadly threat that he used his gun.”

Is Detective Ramer saying the shoogter should have shot the men earlier, before Contreras got out his gat? Maybe so. But “restraint” isn’t the word I’d use to describe the shooter’s decision to shoot after he was punched and [maybe] shot at.

The appropriate time to show restraint would have been when the gang members were stealing his beer. Or after his wife was threatened.

OMG! Did I just say that I would let someone verbally abuse or threaten my wife without drawing a gun? Damn right. And I’d yank her ass out of there so fast her head would spin with Linda Blairian fury.

The arc of this story: a needless confrontation leads to a brawl, which leads to a physical assault, which leads to a self-defense shooting. Here’s the thing: gunfights suck. The shooter could have just as easily have been killed as the lowlifes that attacked him.

The shooter won the battle—and started a war. He and his family now face the certainty of gang retribution. The police are charging other gang members with crimes related to this incident; they’re probably trying to protect the shooter by keeping his new enemies off the street or wrong-footed. It won’t work.

Meanwhile, what’s the bet the police have confiscated the shooter’s firearms?

You may say it’s worth it for a citizen to stand up against the bad guys. The majority of the comments on concealed carry forums see it that way. I consider the shooter’s behavior dangerous stupidity by someone who lacked strategic awareness and self-restraint. The shooter now has to live with the fact the he killed two human beings, and faces execution for that act. All for a keg of beer.

comments

  1. avatar rybred says:

    wow, i soo agree with you. principle or not, NOBODY's life is worth a keg of beer!

    Tactical errors aside, IMHO, it's not worth risking your life for any material possession unless your life depended on that object.

  2. avatar ihatetrees says:

    I suspect a wee bit of inebriation was clouding everyones' judgment. Way too much alcohol & testosterone enhanced posing – just dial 911 with a description of the armed keg thieves. Suggest to the 911 operator that they were driving intoxicated – and the cops might actually do something…

    It's difficult for me to think of any possession worth a (potential) violent encounter. A few years back I noted someone scoping my laptop in my car. The files/data would have cost me ~20K in work/effort to replace since my backups weren't current. I had my cell ready – I wasn't carrying then – but I thought – I'm a dope to have so much value tied up in something so insecure (by its very nature). Had the guy smashed and grabbed my laptop, he probably would have been long gone.

    General common sense precaution was missing on my part. I'm not suggesting passivity in the face of criminal activity, just that reasonable precaution and attentiveness always need to be part of the equation.

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