One common misconception that I think most of us bring to the table is that gun owners – especially concealed carry holders – are well-trained, upstanding, responsible citizens who always obey the Four Rules. As this week’s DGU synopsis shows, that’s just not always the case. Another misconception is that folks like me who attempt to track tragic incidents like shootings are doing this to fulfill some sick fantasy, getting giddy as a schoolgirl when the day’s tragedies fill the search results. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it’s pretty disheartening to sit at the keyboard searching for death. But bringing all the DGU news together has a single, overwhelming benefit: education . . .
Years ago, before my ex cleaned me out, I trained for a private pilot’s license. Being a developer, I learned early in life the benefits of absorbing as much information about a subject as possible. Unfortunately, as with firearms, mistakes in the sky are frequently fatal. But they can also be educational for those who pursue an activity with a self-preservation mindset. My go-to guide back then was a rag called Aviation Safety. Each week, delivered to my mailbox, would be a dozen or so pages filled with aviation accident reports with causes and circumstances described in excruciating detail along with discussion by expert pilots.
I took away two important lessons from reading about the carnage. First, aviation (like firearms ownership) is a zero fault tolerance environment. That means you can’t make a single mistake. Not one. You strive for operational perfection knowing that there’s no safety net in your actions other than your ability to perform. That’s your feedback loop.
The actions and responses I studied in those reports gave me specific information that directly affected my ability to control an airplane in the event of an emergency or hazardous situation. I’m alive today because of that publication. To those who would say that chronicling defensive gun uses is right-wing cheerleading, they’re missing the point. I do this so everyone can learn from the actions – right or wrong – of others.
The other thing I learned from Aviation Safety: poorly maintained rental planes are afraid of heights and will do everything in their power to stay on the ground…or return to it with all possible haste. But those are stories for another day.
As for DGUs, let’s see where our partners in defense failed to maintain safe separation between themselves and a whole world of stupid. We’ll start with a fatal shootout in Norfolk, Virginia. This is a case of a double DGU, where both shooters felt they were defending their lives. When the smoke cleared and the ears started ringing, the Gunfight at the Rite-Aid left a retired deputy sheriff dead and another man in jail without bond.
And over what? Cutting in line. No, really. Bernell Benn was on his cell phone and started arguing with Ramon Colorado, Jr. over who was in line first. Colorado, the retired deputy, took offense. So much so that he pulled his pepper spray and gave Benn a faceful. Benn says he felt his life was in danger at that point and shot his attacker. Colorado was able to pull his own weapon and return fire, hitting Benn once in the back.
So many things that went wrong – starting a fight over a place in line, carrying a concealed weapon and initiating assault with pepper spray instead of walking away from an argument, pulling your gun and shooting a guy over a place in line instead of de-escalating when things got hairy – I hope we can all learn that using a gun in self-defense requires that your life be threatened in the first place. Cutting in line really doesn’t count. “I’m gonna kill that guy if I can’t get out of here ninety seconds sooner.” Really?
Last November, store clerk Bandar Abu-Karsh found himself facing serious charges after he successfully defended Express Carryout from an armed robbery. It wasn’t his self defense that was the problem – it was his failure to avoid the red mist. After wrestling the late Lamar Allen’s Tec-9 from him, Karsh shot Allen in the head, ending the fight. But it’s difficult to believe Karsh had a legitimate reason for clearing the magazine – 26 rounds into Allen’s limp body – Karsh lost his cool in a bad way.
And while everything was caught on surveillance video, it took a jury of twelve only about two hours to rule that Mr. Karsh’s actions were justified. Is “reacting to intense anger” now a justification for going primal? I’m glad he successfully ended a robbery and took out another thug, but his after-action won’t win him any support here.
Things may not turn out as hunky-dory for a 43-year-old homeowner from Perryville, Maryland. Aaron Reynolds, 21, is recuperating at a trauma center after being shot in an argument. Since the shooter has not yet been arrested, the police have not released his name. But considering that this occurred in Maryland and he had an unregistered handgun, well, I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.
I guess you could say he won the argument. An argument over… wait for it… borrowing a lawnmower. The homeowner used his gun like you might use a spray bottle against an ornery cat:
The homeowner apparently fired several shots into the ground and warned Reynolds to back off. Apparently Reynolds continued to advance and was then shot in the leg and torso.
What have we learned about warning shots, fellow TTAGers? If you only have to fire a warning shot, then your life isn’t being imminently threatened and you have no business drawing in the first place. In this case the warning failed miserably and the shooter had to punch holes in the aggressor to stop the threat.
Home invasion is a nightmare we all share. Sudden, violent, aggressive and deadly. The success – or failure – of a bold attack like this is often dependent on the location. In areas with strict regulations on gun ownership, the invaders know they won’t face deadly force, yet the opposite applies in places where a high percentage of homeowners keep guns. Like Topeka, Kansas, where a few lowlifes attempted an armed home invasion. Their problem? They brought a knife to a gun fight:
three white men armed with a knife forced their way into the residence about 2 a.m. Tuesday and robbed him. The victim, a 49-year-old man, fired gunshots inside the home that struck one of the burglars.
At least those guys in Topeka had the forethought to bring a weapon, unlike an intruder in Kentucky who was shot when he reached for the homeowner’s gun after banging on his back door at 10:45pm. The homeowner’s mistake: opening the door. If there’s someone you don’t know beating loudly on your back door, call 911 and let them deal with it. Opening the door only invites bad things in, like a crazy man who lunges at your waist for your gun. Keep the door closed and odds are you won’t have to shoot anyone.
Closing out this week’s highlights of defensive gun uses is one more shining example of what not to do. A resident of Hull, Georgia, “…emptied his .45-caliber pistol recently in the direction of two burglary suspects who fled the man’s home.” In their pickup truck. It bears repeating: don’t shoot at a fleeing suspect. If all you can see of the intruders are asses and elbows, you’re probably in the clear. Shooting wildly at fleeing bad guys will not help you make any friends (except maybe a public defender), and it certainly won’t score any points with your neighbors.
Until next week, here’s a tip: home carry is a great way to practice the situational awareness and operational respect needed for your means of self-defense. Just don’t go blasting away at anything that moves, okay?