Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Ensign Sean Barner

Criticizing someone for their actions in a self-defense situation is a dangerous business. Not as dangerous as being in a self-defense situation, obviously. But it’s hard to justify being harsh to a shooter who creates a “positive outcome” for nine innocent bystanders—after the military awards him the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his actions. So go on, say it: you weren’t there. The chances of YOU doing as well, or well enough, or even anything useful at all, are unknown. Don’t diss a hero until you walk a mile in his or her shoes. In other words, I’d like to see YOU do better you bastard. OK, so, let’s start with the facts of the story, as told by military.com:

The incident took place in College Park, Ga., while Barner attended a party with five men and four women. Two masked and armed men entered the apartment while Barner and a friend were outside getting some fresh air. Upon returning to the apartment, Barner was met by the two armed robbers who had rounded-up the men and women in the living room.

After being robbed of their personal belongings, the six men were ordered to a back bedroom while two women were taken to a second bedroom with one assailant while the other two women were taken to the living room with the other assailant.

In the back bedroom, Barner and the other five men overheard the perpetrator’s plan to rape the women and shoot all the victims.

“Knowing that this was not a nice area of town, I brought along a firearm which I left in my book bag,” said Barner, who is licensed under the Georgia Weapons Carry laws. “I was lucky that the room I was locked in had my book bag and had not been searched.”

Barner escaped the bedroom with his firearm and went to the living room where he fired several shots at one of the armed assailants causing him to flee.

Barner then went to the bedroom where two females were being held with by the other assailant. He kicked down the door and entered the room, shooting the assailant and causing him to flee out the window.

That assailant was later found dead near the apartment from gunshot wounds. One of the females was also caught in the ensuing crossfire and received gunshot wounds.

Again, well done. But IMHO Ensign Sean Barner made some critical mistakes . . .

1. He left his gun in his bag

I’m going to set aside the question of what Ensign Barner was doing in a “not nice part of town.” I believe a responsible gun owner avoids situations where there’s a high probability of armed self-defense: biker bars, bad parts of town, autobody shops at 3am in the morning, parties where people are smoking crack, etc. But let’s move on . . .

There are only two places for your gun: on your hip or locked in a safe. Barner’s decision to keep his gun in his bag was wrong on at least two levels.

First, he could have easily lost his weapon to a thief, who could have used it in the commission of a crime. Maybe even the crime in which Barner became involved. A child may have found the gun, who could have used it to blow their brains out. Or someone else’s. A party-goer might have discovered the gatt. Yo! Check THIS out!

Second, Barner didn’t have immediate access to his weapon. IF you’re going to carry a firearm, you need to be able to use that weapon quickly, efficiently and safely. Grabbing a gun out of a bag when you’re surrounded by bad guys it’s not a recipe for accuracy. And inaccurate shots are hugely dangerous for innocent bystanders.

Even if it wasn’t Ensign Barner’s’ bullets that caused the innocent woman’s gunshot wounds (not wound) in “the ensuing crossfire,” shooting from an unfamiliar position greatly increases the odds of missing your target. Needs must, but Barner’s decision not to carry increased the dangers for all concerned.

2. Barner played SWAT

It must be said: kicking in a door all-by-your-lonesome and taking on an armed bad guy does not offer a high probability of success (not is it a classic example of self-defense). Ballsy yes. Irresponsible . . . maybe.

The difference between a hero and a fool is often the end result. Was the bystander shot in that part of the incident? That’s a critical consideration. Getting shot is no picnic, it can lead to life-long suffering and/or death. The less people shot, the better. The more you can do to avoid getting shot, shooting someone or causing someone to be shot the better.

The plan that Barner overheard—rape the women and then kill everyone—was clearly interrupted. Are we sure that the perp’s next move would have been to murder the women?

You could say it was a risk not worth taking; Barner did what he thought he had to do. I could say that unless the perps had demonstrated a willingness to commit violence, given the whole fleeing deal, the one-man SWAT raid may have been unnecessary.

For a responsible gun owner, NOT shooting should always be the default option. Equally important, you are legally and morally obliged to stop shooting once a lethal threat has ceased. Keep your wits and your gun about you, and don’t try to be hero. Be one. But, as Yoda said, no trying.

comments

  1. avatar Hunter S. says:

    While I do agree with some of your points, Robert, I have to wonder whether or not having the gun on his person would have been better in this situation. According to the story, Barner reentered the house and was met by the armed robbers. I would think that this means he had a gun trained on him. Surely it would have been ill-advised to draw on a couple of dudes that already had their guns drawn. If he was searched right then he may have lost the gun from the outset and maybe even caught a bullet for being a trouble maker. Maybe it was good fortune for Barner and the rest of his crew that he had stored the gun in another room and another blessing that the robbers ushered the men into the right room.
    You can bet that gun was all Barner was thinking about when he came face-to-face with those scumbags.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      I think it’s important to understand that the story is never the story. Barner “stepped outside to get some fresh air.” What exactly does that mean? How did the robbers choose that location? The vast majority of home invasion cases involve drugs (to the point where the ones that don’t are statistically anomalous). The victims and perps are usually known to each other. How did Barner come to be in that location?

      This may have been a clean shoot. Barner may have made the best of a bad situation. It’s better to be lucky than smart. BUT the Ensign made two strategic errors that could have cost him his life and/or the lives of innocent bystanders/victims.

      As far as Barner being lucky to NOT have had his gun on him, I’d rather have my CONCEALED gun on me than not. That doesn’t mean I’d draw against a drawn gun. By the same token, it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t if I had to. But it’s better to have the possibility of a quick draw than the uncertainty of a remote weapon.

      1. avatar Hunter S. says:

        I agree that the details of the story are dubious to say the least and the obvious questions of why and how are pervading. But let’s speak to question of disarmament. Now obviously we don’t know how the perps took the valuables off of the victims. But whether it was by having them throw everything onto the coffee table or by frisking them we have to imagine that Barner would have been presented with the same demand as the perps became known of his presence. If they had found the gun on him then he and the rest of the party would have been SOL. Maybe he walked in and disturbed the perps and if he had had the gun on him he could have pulled it but I don’t know if that situation is more advantageous than the one that played out.

        I do want to point out that I have taken what you say about home-carry to heart and have been practicing it myself.

  2. avatar sdog says:

    the intent to rape these women IMHO warranted the bad decision that the Ensign Barner made to kick down the second door, dumb, but that too some serious guts. He had the drop on on the first BG, but it sounds like he is such and awful shot he couldn’t hit the first guy. Now the I don ‘t know how the second BG did not hear the gun shots in the next room and did not come out of the room.

    1. avatar Andrew Snyder says:

      I was wondering about not hearing the shots as well. Clearly there are more than a few holes in this story.

      1. avatar Nicholas Dixon says:

        Well, if their default plan was to kill people he probably thought it was the second guy who shot early.

        We don’t know the timeframe on this, but it probably wasn’t more than a second or two.

  3. avatar James Felix says:

    “According to the story, Barner reentered the house and was met by the armed robbers. I would think that this means he had a gun trained on him.”

    True, it looks like the wrong decision produced the right result in this case.

  4. avatar G.R. Mead says:

    So…. the survival logic is —

    GUN:HIP::BUG:BAG

    1. avatar Hunter S. says:

      Good alternative.

    2. avatar Patrick Carrube says:

      GUN:HIP::BUG:ANKLE

  5. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

    This hero was left with no other choice, because these guys were going to kill EVERYONE. It’s better to go down fighting for your life than wait around like a good lil sheep and die.

  6. avatar tdiinva says:

    Maybe with home carry it would have ended in a shoot out with a combination of Barner, victims and perps dead and wounded. Barner’s counterattack worked because of the element of surprise and in combat surprise is decisive.

  7. avatar davvehall says:

    I must say,that you can tell by your post RF that you have never been in a situation where your life or someone near you,is depending on your next move!there are mistakes in every defense situation that’s ever happened.you can never predict whats going to happen when your in the shit storm.thats why its so difficult.so go easy on the guy.So if you find yourself in a shit storm someday (god forbid),people will not second guess your actions after the fact.Life is messy sometimes.

    1. avatar James Felix says:

      I thought he did go easy on the guy. He acknowleged that there was a good outcome and then offered a critique of a couple of things Ens. Barner did that were, objectively speaking, not “best practices” for concealed carry.

    2. avatar Buuurr says:

      “davvehall says:

      June 23, 2011 at 10:57 AM

      I must say,that you can tell by your post RF that you have never been in a situation where your life or someone near you,is depending on your next move!there are mistakes in every defense situation that’s ever happened.you can never predict what’s going to happen when your in the shit storm.that’s why its so difficult.so go easy on the guy.So if you find yourself in a shit storm someday (god forbid),people will not second guess your actions after the fact.Life is messy sometimes.”

      Exactly. Life is messy and these things don’t go as planned all the time. This is the reason you go hard on someone in these circumstances. This isn’t a small issue and a lot of people like to make out like it isn’t such a big deal. So by your very logic we should take your advice and scrutinize these instances as much as possible because the same would be done to anyone in the same circumstance.

      The long and short of this is that people are going to judge anyone in the same instance, so do it right and legal.

  8. avatar eggyknap says:

    I’m not sure I’d give this guy a IGOTD award, but those points have been, and will be, covered in other comments. This is the bit that bothered me: “Criticizing someone for their actions in a self-defense situation is a dangerous business. Not as dangerous as being in a self-defense situation, but close.”

    Close? Really? I’d much rather be staring down a libel or slander suit than a .45. Just sayin’.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Fair comment. Text amended.

  9. avatar DesertRat says:

    Considering the potential risk to the woman in the bedroom with Goblin #2 I’d have kicked the door down too. Smart? Probably not, but you don’t usually win medals for valor by doing the smart thing. You win them by sticking your neck way out there. Sometimes that results in the medal being awarded posthumously.

  10. avatar Ralph says:

    The guy is military, not civilian, so of course he kicked the door down. That’s what soldiers, sailors and marines do. They kick down doors and shoot bad guys. We may never know the whole story, but from what I read, Ensign Barner is cool. Yeah, he should have had that pistol on his hip and not in his AWOL bag. It was a f^ckup on his part. But he adapted, overcame and won, and he deserves his medal. Irresponsible? RF, love ya man, but you’re all wet on that.

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      As someone who has naval service under his belt your charaterization of sailors kicking down doors is a bit inaccurate. Sure, SEALS kick down doors, aviators blow up buildings and some submariners have the capability to destroy wide swaths of the planet but the truth is most sailors just sail the ocean blue and if you are a P-3 guy you just collect per diem.

      Just saying…

      1. avatar G.R. Mead says:

        Hardly fair.

        P-3 guys have per diem thrust upon them …

        ;->

      2. avatar greg says:

        That may be shipmate, but he was a Marine at the time…

  11. avatar CUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

    The story does seem a bit off, or it could be poor reporting-our local best here, out of Charleston, leaves a lot to be desired. Could it be he was intoxicated (I’ll leave it at that)? If he didn’t hit the first guy, he could have circled back on him. Why the second guy didn’t respond is strange, but he worked out ok-save the shot woman. I say it was guts and luck, because he probably had not had much training yet, and may have been the type to buy and carry the gun, and never practice. Maybe I’m a little gung ho, but night travel in a bad area would have called (for me) for a second weapon and a tactical flashlight. The first rule I have though is to try and avoid bad areas. I think that thinking with the wrong head got him in this situation to begin with.

  12. avatar Adam says:

    The guy is a solder – he has more training than 99.9% of the people who carry. Yes, that training is for military operations and not necessarily hostage/self-defense situations but still the man is trained to act not sit there and shit/piss his pants like everyone else was probably doing.

    Your criticizing him for carrying in a bag? How many people carry in a bag, purse, briefcase, etc. it’s not ideal and like all carry methods there are things to consider (ease/speed of access, keeping it away from little hands, etc.) but it’s still an option. Not all situations are conducive to carrying on your person.

    This guy used a gun to stop an threat(s) – the perps (according to the story) expressed a desire to rape the women and kill everyone. Three situations where the use of deadly force is justified – immediate threat of loss of life, grievous injury, and rape. Ensign Sean Barner use of lethal force was righteous (based on the story we have).

    If the righteous use of a gun in a self-defense situation means that Ensign Sean Barner is given the IGOTD then I have to wonder in what situation would Robert not give someone the IGOTD?

    For all his pro-gun talk calling someone irresponsible for using a gun in SD makes Robert sound anti. Criticize his actions – use it as a teachable moment, but don’t call him the IGOTD.

    Just sayin’

  13. avatar JustSomeGuy says:

    I’m going to agree with some of what’s been said before, and propose a new category. I think it’s very important for the community to dissect these occurences, to do the after action reeport and find the flaws. But under the heading of IGOTD implies too much criticism. Maybe just DGU: AAR. Then we can parse what we know, what we think, and how things might have been handled differently and/or better. Without the implication that an individual (apparently) acting in good faith to defend himself and others was inherently irresponsible. Thoughts?

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      I stand by my post. “Carrying” a gun in a bag is inherently irresponsible. Storming into a situation which [might] have been better left alone is, at the least, questionable.

      1. avatar Buuurr says:

        Agreed.

      2. avatar JustSomeGuy says:

        I’d quibble with inherently irresponsible because I think it’s situation contingent. If there are no children in the house, and you’re familiar with the attitudes and behavior of the adults, there may be circumstances where concealing the firearm in a bag in an unused room was the more responsible alternative. But I acknowledge there are significant risks to the unsecured firearm. And clearly he found himself disarmed in the face of a violent home invasion.

        And it’s your site, so it’s your defintions.

        From my viewpoint, not taking action to defend your fellows in the midst of a violent home invasion is, at the least, questionable. There is risk in action, surely. But the stated intent of the invaders does not represent risk, it represents certainty. There is no benefit of the doubt for the BGs, they’ve demonstrated a willingness to use violence by invading the residence and using the threat of force to achieve their goals. They’ve further divided the innocent occupants according to gender, isolating their targets. Enough evidence exists to draw conclusions and take action in defense of the innocent. How that action is taken is worthy of strenous critique, of course.

        Which is my point. I think extensive critique of any DGU we can get information on is of great benefit to the community. There will always be mistakes, and flaws in planning and execution, and dangers and bad outcomes. The benefit of the AAR is to sort these out and shine a bright light on them and see what we might learn.

        Where I find myself a bit disturbed is classing the actions of a man who appears to have acted in good faith to save his friends and fellows in with the guy who thought it made sense to randomly fire his handgun around his apartment to attract the attention of the police because he had a hook in his backside.

        There may be questions about the actions of Ensign Barner. There are none about Rempe’s actions.

        Anyroad, it’s still your website, and I still enjoy the info, so I’ll not quibble further.

        Thanks,
        JSG

      3. avatar Adam says:

        @ Robert

        So what stand there at the door and listen to the women get raped while you wait for to cops?

        1. avatar Robert Farago says:

          I repeat: Barner had already exchanged gunfire BEFORE he charged into the room with the women and perp 2. The chances that perp 2 would go ahead and start raping women at that point were somewhere between slim and none.

          Hate to say it, but we only have Barner’s word that the plan was to rape the women and then kill everyone. There are no publicly available police documents on this incident.

        2. avatar Adam says:

          Unless he (the 2nd perp) was assuming the other perp was carrying out their plan to kill everyone… what then?

          Either way your making an awfully big assumption that the 2nd perp would not try to rape the women, or at least kill them in retaliation even if he felt the gun fire was a bad sign for his plan.

        3. avatar Robert Farago says:

          The one thing you can count on (some): the instinct for self-preservation.

      4. avatar Adam says:

        @Robert

        Why is carrying in a bag iresposible – straped to your hip isn’t always an opition. It’s not ideal from a “tatical” standpoint but If it’s properly holsterd and you are keeping track of it [the bag], what’s iresposible about it?

      5. avatar greg says:

        Raping and killing= better left alone? You must be high.

  14. avatar Todd says:

    I gotta say, that guy must have trouble walking while carrying around those 2 huge balls in a pair of pants. Must be a custom uniform.

  15. avatar Mark says:

    Should he have shot the 1st perp and then fled..knowing all to well that he condemned that poor woman to a raping and then being shot…I’ll take killing two perps(or trying to kill two perps) any day over knowing that I ran and left an innocent person to be raped and killed…Robert, Would you have ran?

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Trick question. It’s not either or. Assuming that any of these “facts” are valid, there were other options. He could have . . . waited. (Hopefully whilst dialing 911 on his cell.) Warned the perp. I dunno. But busting down a door, gun blazing, is simply not strategic or responsible behavior—unless he thought the women were in imminent danger of death of great bodily harm.

      Anyway, is it realistic to think that Perp 2 would commence raping after hearing gunfire? I don’t think so. On the face of it Barner went Rambo. But as I said, I take nothing about this story at face value. Although, yes, I’m prepared to Monday morning quarterback based on the facts presented.

      1. avatar Adam says:

        Assuming all these facts are valid – really wait for the cops while the women get raped. Warned the perp? What so he could shoot the women before exiting out a window?

        How more imminent would it have to be before you’d act? Two armed men said they were going to rape and kill. That’s not imminent enough for you?

        Again, this guy is a solder. I can’t say for sure but I’d guess that anyone in today’s military has at least some training urban/close quarters combat. It’s a fair guess to say he at least had some clue as to what he was doing. He did what he had to do. He did what he was trained to do.

        You can’t expect a trained military person to just sit there and do noting can you? I don’t think it’s fair to criticize him for acting.

        1. avatar greg says:

          Exactly, how much more imminent could it have been?

  16. avatar tdiinva says:

    Robert:

    You would make the perfect JAG officer.

    1. avatar eldarion says:

      You mean Jagoff.

  17. avatar minority report says:

    Regarding the Clay Duke school board shooting, you wrote:

    “Bottom line: passivity kills…”

    So, which is it?

    This is twice now that you’ve brow beat two heroes who have thwarted horrible outcomes – using two conflicting recommendations on their approaches to a deadly situation.

    Honestly, I am feeling that you’ve lost some credibility in doing so.

    But hey, I do enjoy your gun reviews. More of those; less of the Monday am QB’s, please!

    1. avatar Adam says:

      Agree

  18. avatar Adam says:

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  19. avatar Magoo says:

    Hmm, an OG co-ed bacchanal in what our hero himself calls “not a nice part of town.” Hmm.

    If you really and truly need a gun to attend a venue, here’s a thought: Don’t go there. Taking a gun with you doesn’t make going there a better idea. It’s still a really bad idea. Whether the gun is in your bag or on your person is by far beside the point. Come on, people. Get serious.

    1. avatar Adam says:

      Bad part of town or not – I carry my gun everywhere I legally can… because you just don’t know. And it’s my right.

  20. avatar Charles says:

    I read this post, along with the comments, with great interest. Personally, I don’t know what I’d do were I to find myself in this situation, except that, with the benefit of hindsight, I’d hoped I’d made the ‘right’ decision. While reading this though, I was reminded of a quote from Gen. Patton:

    “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” Gen. George S. Patton Jr.

  21. avatar Earnán says:

    The only “irresponsible” gunowner here is Farago, running his cock-holster with “whatifs” and “should-haves” from the safety of his PC.

    Good job Ensign Barner.

    Shame on lick-spittle Farago.

  22. avatar irock350 says:

    After reading your article I felt the undeniable heat of pure seething outrage bubbling from within my gut at the audacity that you would do this man a disservice by determining his actions as irresponsible when clearly the two issues you have with the American Hero represented in this story in no way makes him an irresponsible gun owner, in fact after reading the article I am surprised that you choose Ensign Barner as the focus for your condemnations when the robbers/attempted rapists exhibited far more careless and reckless behavior than a USMC close quarter’s trained Naval Officer. I thought at first that my personal definition of irresponsible must be wrong, but after checking with several dictionaries I am unable to describe that mans actions as the actions of an individual that felt like he was unable to make rational decisions or as a man with no personal accountability. It seems in his case that he made a conscious decision to put the safety of others above his own. After quelling my initial instinct to bombard the comments section with vile remarks about your mother, I realized that you don’t take issue with the man in question, but that your logic is flawed.

    1. You don’t disagree that the Ensign should have been in possession of a firearm, but rather it was on his person where he had more control over it than in a bag.
    2. You disagree with the Ensigns actions of kicking in a door to get into an armed gun battle with an assailant when women were present.

    While your first point is most certainly a grey area, but did you consider the possibility that the Ensign did not want to have a loaded weapon on his person when he could have possibly been intoxicated? He was attending a birthday party for an adult friend, it is likely alcohol would have been involved and he did not want to be cock and locked while he was fully loaded. Since no children were mentioned in the story I would posit that the chance of a child picking up a weapon was zero, and therefore the only people he would had to worry about were his friends at the party. If he is sure that his friends would not steal from him then the risk of having his weapon stolen by a party-goer is moot . Your final argument that he should have had his weapon on his person rather than in the bag because of the possibility of the robbers taking it ridiculous, because it was just as likely to be stolen from him if he had the gun on his hip. Had they of been smart bad guys they would have searched the guests and would have found the gun which they could have taken and used in the commission of other crimes or simply shot him with his own firearm. You last argument involving the Ensigns ability to accurately fire his weapon from a bag rather than his hip is contrived. He was able to go to the bag, pull the weapon, leave the room, and re-enter the house, thus the storage of the firearms in this instance is hardly relevant to his ability to aim the weapon, and because when he re-entered the home he was greeted with a gun barrel in his back he would have been unable to pull his gun from his holster until he was in the bedroom behind a door already.

    You second major point of contention is that Barnes “played SWAT” by kicking in the door and rescuing the women trapped behind it from an armed assailant who expressed a verbal willingness to both rape and murder the victims, then counted bullets to make sure they had enough to kill everyone is either the argument of coward or the criticisms of an armchair quarterback who holds the unreasonable assertion that he could have done a better job in the same situation. The breakdown in your argument is that you are criticizing the man’s actions midway through a chain of events. Your argument is that AFTER he opened fire on 1 armed robber he should have stopped at a locked door because he could not visually locate an attacker; this confuses me, to no end. What was he supposed to do, scare away the first bad guy, and then leave an armed potential rapist in a room with two hostages until the police arrived? He had two options, either implements his plan or not, there was no option to stop halfway through the action to wait for back-up to implement a classic SWAT style door breach. You obviously agree that action should be taken in these situations because you are obviously a believer of carrying a weapon to prevent these types of situations, but when a situation arises where someone has to use a firearm to save himself and others you call him irresponsible. This is simply just poor logic, and bad journalism, it is certainly indicative of the journalistic style of the opponents of firearm ownership.

    1. avatar Adam says:

      +1000

    2. avatar Dib says:

      The ensign, though he exhibited heroism, in hindsight, was lucky. I think the author is pointing that out based on the facts provided. Again, no police report on which to base concrete observations.

      I do not second guess his use of the firearm when presented with what appears to be a certainty of violent felonies against him and his friends – by all means, use what is at your disposal. That said, I agree that there are valid questions about how things transpired.

      Just because he was lucky and ended up having the gun available to him does not mean that bagging a firearm was a good strategic decision. It was chance he was able to get to it.

      Someone who takes on the responsibility to carry should know their firearm should not be out of their control for any reason. A bag in another room is not within one’s control.

      It worked out in favor of the good guys this time. Robert is simply playing devil’s advocate based on the assumed truths in the facts presented. People don’t like considering the alternatives, and the fact that the end result in this came down to mere chance and someone with big cojones forces them to do so – and it is uncomfortable. Understandable. Some state his observations and opinions aren’t valid when based facially on the facts presented, and then go on to argue their points on a scenario based on their own assumptions. I don’t get it.

      Again in hindsight, things worked out in favor of the good guys. Robert points out that this is not because of sound tactical doctrine. I agree, and add that it was partially because the bad guys were not prepared for someone to fight back. Thank goodness most violent criminals are criminals because they aren’t smart enough or are too lazy to do something better with their lives. Had they been skilled at their chosen profession, there would likely have been a different outcome.

      To those that assert that he is a “soldier”…He was a naval officer in training. Anyone with any clue to how the military works knows, depending on his specialty, that he need not have any training with firearms or close quarters combat to perform the duties required of his position.

      Was he ballsy? Yup. Heroic? Maybe. It is easy to say yes – I wasn’t there. Was he smart about it? Arguable, but it worked out. Easy to take the position that he did the right thing and was a hero when simply basing this assertion on the outcome.

      I would rather be lucky than smart any day of the week.

      1. avatar Chris says:

        “To those that assert that he is a “soldier”…He was a naval officer in training. Anyone with any clue to how the military works knows, depending on his specialty, that he need not have any training with firearms or close quarters combat to perform the duties required of his position.”

        Take a look at the ribbons already on his chest. He’s wearing a USMC Good Conduct Medal and an Iraq Campaign Medal, among others. ENS Barner was a Marine sergeant and Iraq veteran, trained in urban assault tactics, who was attending college and obtaining a commission at the time of his actions. As a Naval Officer myself, I believe ENS Barner’s actions show that even when he was “off duty,” he was still prepared to come to the defense of others, and I’m proud to have him in the Naval Service.

        http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/06/navy-marine-turned-ensign-gets-medal-for-thwarting-robbery-062511w/

        1. avatar greg says:

          Chris, thanks for addressing that. I know this Marine and was about to go ballistic. (Yes, I said Marine. He currently serves in the Yacht club but once a Marine, Always a Marine!).

  23. avatar John Boch says:

    It’s poor form to second guess an individual’s decision-making during a critical force incident, particularly when it ends pretty well. Oliver Wendall Holmes: “Detached reflection is not demanded in the presence of an upraised knife.”

  24. avatar LC from Down Under says:

    Let’s get a few things straight here.

    1a. Adult parties generally involve alcohol. In case he got intoxicated, he did not want to be packing heat, so he puts it in a bag in a separate room. Understandable and as far as I’m concerned very responsible.
    1b. Unless you produce evidence which confirms there were children at the place at the time, any point about child’s lives being in danger is moot. Sorry.
    1c. If he made the (in my book) irresponsible move to carry the gun on his person, and the the thieves patted him down and found it, what do you think would’ve happened? Bye-bye Mr. Marine, and all the others at the party. True, he could’ve pulled it and used it on the spot when he noticed the home was being invaded, but honestly, I doubt that puts him in any better a position than what he did. Particularity they both already have their guns pointed right at him.
    2. He may not have had SWAT training, but I’d imagine training he’s had in urban combat for the Marines would be comparable to, if not superior to, SWAT training. And clearly, it proved useful and using it saved more lives than you have or likely ever will in your entire life.
    3. “For a responsible gun owner, NOT shooting should always be the default option” so what do you propose he do? Sit back and watch them rape and pick off his friends one by one? Is that a better solution? (Please say “no”)

    You unintentionally summed it up nicely in the article:
    “Don’t diss a hero until you walk a mile in his or her shoes”
    This man has more guts and bravery than you, me and the other posters here combined. It’s extremely unfair to criticize him for taking action like this in a situation he has training to handle. As for the crooks, frankly, they took a big risk. They knew what might happen. They did so anyway. They paid the price. Case closed.

    I’m sure there is no shortage of real irresponsible gun management stories in the States to talk about. Save your time, do yourself and your well-intended cause a big favor and report on those.

    If anyone is irresponsibly managing guns in this story, it’s the robbers and would-be rapists and murders. You going to write an article on their irresponsible gun use? It’s only fair. Start here: You say something about innocent bystanders getting in the way. Tell that to the woman who was shot BY A ROBBER.

  25. avatar Patrick says:

    I am very pleased, at all of his actions to save the innocent. Sad that there was
    cross fire, but, better than 9 dead bodies, found later!

    Barner adapted adn overcame odds! He deserves the medal, and the thanks of ALL
    the victims, even the one wounded by the perp, and possibly by his fire.

    Only regret is that one perp lived to serve a sentence for Homocide, assault, kidnapping, attempted murder, robbery, attempted rape, and unlawful restraint.

    I hope that the perp who lived is eventually truly repentent, but, frankly, I don’t give a damn.

    I am stocking up on surplus guns and ammo, for the coming insurrection and riots.
    Meanwhile, I’ll use them to hunt wild hogs, with my lifetime senior hunting license, and feed my family.

  26. avatar Jason says:

    I am a service member and respect people who truly earn the award, but in this case I feel that he did not earn the award. Why was he at a party in a notoriously bad part of town and carrying his weapon with him to a party were he might need it? As an Naval Officer he should have better judgement and stay away from situations like that. The story has to many holes in it as well. If I were his OIC I would have taken him to Captain’s Mast for being in a situation that he should have never gotten into in the first place. The charge would be: Actions unbecoming of an officer. On my ship we had an Ensign that put himself into similar situations of attending parties and hanging out in the bad side of town and he was discharged for actions unbecoming of an officer, because he was too much of a risk to himself and for the command and the integrity of the US Navy.

  27. avatar Sean Barner says:

    The variety of ideas on this thread is really interesting. Thanks for everyone that was willing to discuss this in a healthy and professional manner.

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