Once again, reddit.com has published a first-person description of an armed encounter. This time we’ve got a cop’s eye view of a late-night confrontation between a cashier and a couple of potential perps. Here’s the tale—with commentary that interprets events from a non-LEO perspective. YMMV. “OK, no shots fired, so if that’s what you’re fishing for, disregard this post . . .”
Having said that, I was off-duty and had gone in to a stop and rob for a pack of cigs. This was in a fairly shitty neighborhood, and in retrospect, I shouldn’t have stopped in at all, but fuck did I want some cigs.
It’s an excellent point. As the rabbi says, avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things. They don’t call an area “a bad part of the town” because it lacks a Lamborghini dealership. Well, in LA they might, but you know what I mean. It’s easy enough to eyeball a store or bar or late night K-mart and think “not worth it.” Yes, it’s a free country. You are completely free to avoid trouble and live a long(er), happy life.
I was behind two fellas who were making it their mission in life to fuck with the middle-aged female clerk in the store. Both had carried open containers of alcohol (beers) into the store, and when the clerk confronted them, they began to decry the clearly racist policy of no open containers in the store.
If you—non-law enforcement person that you are—enter an environment where confrontation is occurring, leave. It’s that simple. Back out. If you’ve got groceries in your hand, put them down and leave. If it’s a doctor’s office, leave. A bank? Leave. Late night parking lot? Leave. You can’t get hurt if you’re not there when the hurting starts.
What of defending the defenseless? Protecting the innocent and society itself? In many if not most cases, everyone will be better off if you stay out of violent confrontations and call the pros. There’s an excellent chance that your intervention will make matters worse. You are under no legal obligation to save anyone’s life. Truth be told, neither are the cops.
Morally, well, it’s a judgement call. But until and unless there’s some real bloodshed, or the prospect of bloodshed, and maybe even then, I say no. If nothing else, keep this in mind: if you don’t know the totality of the circumstances, if you’ve walked into the middle of a scene like this officer, you can make a grave mistake about who’s doing what to whom and why. Figuring that all out is not your job.
Again, I was off-duty, not wearing a vest, and of course, not carrying a radio. Additionally, my wife was with me, and that all added up to avoiding confrontation if possible. Since being a loud, obnoxious asshole is not illegal in my state, I decided to let things ride in hopes that they would just leave. No such luck-they subsequently suggested several different sexual acts they’d like to perform on the clerk-preferably by force. The clerk seemed to be frozen in fear, and also looked like she was about to cry-and that just pissed me right the fuck off.
If you’re not going to leave during an escalating confrontation (it may be impossible to skee-daddle), you face a stark choice. Try and make you and yours invisible, or attempt to deescalate the situation. I think it’s pretty obvious which is the more sensible option for someone who isn’t in the business of enforcing the law.
Again, I know that this recommendation doesn’t sit well with many CCW permit holders. They consider themselves “sheep dogs”—alphas charged with protecting the betas. But ask yourself this: what would your death do to your family? Even if you don’t die in an armed confrontation, you’re looking at potential financial ruin. Is it worth it?
In any case, you should not do ANYTHING to escalate the situation. If the DA can prove that you made a confrontation worse, you are responsible for whatever happens next. Seriously: if you start an argument that becomes a brawl that leads to a shooting, you’re at least partially to blame. The jury might not see it that way, but the best jury is the one you never face.
At that point, I told my wife to leave the store and call 911. She did, and now that we were alone, I politely suggested to the gangbangers that they might want to seek life elsewhere. I also pointed out that the clerk was probably paid fairly poorly, and that it probably wasn’t her life’s ambition to take a load of misogynistic shit from a pair of gangbangers. Both decided that their beer bottles would make fairly good clubs, and approached me with said bottles in hand. At that point, I decided it was time to display my bling and moved my shirt tail to the side, displaying my badge.
Excellent suggestion here: tell friendlies to get thee to a nunnery (or similar place of safety). If there’s going to be a fight, gun involved or otherwise, you want to be the focus of attention. I’ve trained my kids to run away from me if bad shit goes down [not paraphrasing].
As for you, you only have a right to armed self-defense if you’re in imminent danger of death of grievous bodily harm. Imminence must be imminent. The bad guys have to be in the process of trying to kill you or take your arm off.
Two scrotes giving a cashier crap is not an example of imminent danger. The question then becomes: how did the story-teller reach the conclusion that beer bottles make “fairly good clubs”? Did they change their grip? Raise the bottles? Were the bottles empty? Did they empty them? Did they move towards the off-duty cop?
Quick aside: S.E. Hinton pointed out lo those many years ago that most experienced scum know the best way to use a bottle: smash and break the fat end and use it as a multi-blade knife. In TV and movies, people smash bottles over heads. In real life, that move usually breaks the head not the bottle.
IN short, two bad guys does not a life-threatening situation make. At the risk of stating the obvious, they have to be in the act of threatening your life to be life threatening.
Brandishing a gun is an excellent option—in some cases. It can have an immediate demotivating effect. It can also get the party started. If showing a gat creates a lull in the action, as the bad guys process information in their OODA loop, don’t just stand there, do something. Again, leaving’s good.
In any case, if a fight’s coming, get ready. Remember: speed, surprise, violence of action. Don’t get behind the curve. If you’re going to draw your gun—which is probably a very bad idea in this case given the probable distances involved—you need to do it sooner rather than later.
In any case, you need a plan. Maybe two or three. And you need them NOW.
Neither gentleman seemed all that impressed with my shield, and one suggested that he might go ahead and attempt to insert it into my anus. I wasn’t very receptive to that idea, and suggested alternative entertainment involving my Glock 21. Both gangbangers seemed shocked to be staring at my handgun (not quite sure why-the badge and firearm are kind of a matched set…), and promptly chose to un-ass the area of operations. Both were arrested 3-4 blocks away-one for DUI (yep, the dumb fuck actually DROVE away from his confrontation with an off-duty police officer), and the other for the aggravated robbery warrant he had.
A self-defense situation is not a debate. It’s not a place for witty rejoinders, catch phrases or swear words (which can be used against you in a court of law). The cop who wrote this says he writes this way for entertainment. Well do not attempt to recreate his bravado.
Expressions like “I don’t want any trouble” and “The cops are on their way” are a far better bet. If needs be, you can back them up with your gun. At the same time, remember to keep moving, however slowly. And if you have to do something, do it. All the way. Full-on. No warning shots.
Not a very sexy story, but if I had not had my firearm with me, I’m certain that things would have ended quite differently.
A gun is not a magic talisman. It’s a tool to help you escape the most dire of circumstances. A weapon of last resort. Every day I strap on my gun, I pray that I never have to use it. The same goes for any sensible person, civilian or cop. If nothing else, evolution makes it so.