By Rich E.
We ran a post by Rich E. yesterday who described a defensive gun use in which he was involved. Rich sent the following in response to some of the comments under that post.
Recently I submitted an article for the P320 competition on TTAG. It described an incident that took place at my front door in New Mexico in 1988 where I was involved in a DGU with a guy trying to break into my house. The replies that followed were astonishing to me. Most of them were supportive, but some of them I had a hard time reading. Those who didn’t believe the story don’t bother me. It’s their choice to believe or not and if they don’t. Oh well. The fact remains that the story is true and happened as I wrote it, and if you live in Clovis, New Mexico it’s probably a matter of public record . . .
Maybe it wasn’t written well, but I’m an engineer, not Steven King. The focus of this follow up article is to address those of you “shooters” who say they would have shot the guy without hesitation.
First I’ll give a little more of my background. As I stated in the article, I was trained as an Air Force Security Policeman in 1975. I wasn’t law enforcement, rather I was a security guard who protected nuclear missiles and warheads at Malmstrom AFB in Montana. At the end of my Air Force career I was on the Edwards AFB combat pistol team. I put thousands of rounds down range under professional environments.
A large part of my training was devoted to the use of deadly force, as in when to use it and when not. For instance, if you’re guarding a nuke and someone tries to climb the fence to get TO your nuke, you shoot them off of the other side of the fence. You don’t wait for them to get to your side to see what their intentions are. National security and all.
If I was on a patrol away from the nukes, such as on the flight line, I was often called upon to back up law enforcement during a domestic dispute or a traffic stop that went south. I was also trained to deal with that, where the use of deadly force is not so cut-and-dried.
To those readers who think they would react differently than I did by blowing the guy off of the porch, I salute you. Your willingness to take a life is honorable. Your ability to make a snap decision to end someone’s life is admirable.
Of course, the above paragraph is complete bullshit. I don’t admire you in the least. Someone made a comment that the world and our society has changed a lot since 1988, and indeed it has. But the willingness to take someone’s life without knowing why, other than he’s trying to get into your house, still astonishes me.
During the incident I remained calm, as my training dictated. I evaluated the situation as it was happening. As most people who have been involved in a life-and-death situation know, time slows down while things are happening. Sure, I could have shot him. But I saw no reason to. Not to mention the fact that my young GI neighbor, his wife and daughter, and parents-in-law were outside unloading their truck after returning late from a visit in Texas. Yeah, I saw them through my picture window.
I was holding a gun in my hand that had a round in the chamber and the safety on during the entire episode. A simple flip of a switch and squeeze of the trigger and everything is done. And the rest of my life would have just gotten really complicated and, for me, filled with second guessing and sorrow.
I was in control of the situation, not the bad guy. I had the ability to shoot him and I made a conscious decision not to. Given the same situation and time frame, I would probably make the same decision again.
The fact is, our society has changed so much since then that I now have a GLOCK 21 sitting on an end table next to my front door, and another one on a nightstand in my bedroom, and a gun in every car (I now live in a city much bigger than Clovis). I also have a small dog that barks furiously at any noise he hears (he was recently asleep on the floor when I lowered the foot rest on my recliner…I thought he was going to bark the vocal cords right out of his head). I don’t know how the same situation would end today, nor do I want to find out. But I’m ready. And well-trained.
It is my guess that those of you who said they would have shot the guy immediately have never been faced with a similar situation, nor have you been trained to make those types of decisions. You may have gone through your required CCW class in order to carry your gun around. Congrats. But don’t think for a moment that your CCW class has armed you with all the tools needed for decision making or the reactions you need to successfully live through an armed confrontation. Or, more importantly, that you know exactly how you will react when faced with such a situation. Even with all the military training I’ve received, I’m not sure you’re ever trained well enough for those situations.
If I’m wrong, I’m wrong and I can live with that. I’m human. Amazing how that happens, huh? I’m all for our Second Amendment rights. I’m all for protecting my family and I do that quite well, thank you.
I’m not at all for having people shoot others unnecessarily, and those of you who do just because you can are part of the problem with our society and the reason things have gone so far wrong as they have. There have been many situations where people have shot someone needlessly through their doors believing that someone on the other side is a bad guy. I’m not going to do the research for you, but I do watch the news (don’t believe everything I hear) and I read sites such as TTAG to see what’s going on.
I won’t address the school or theater shootings and such. There’s enough out there about that, and I do believe an armed citizen or student could have saved lives. Case in point is the student with pepper spray who stopped the shooter at a Seattle school a few days ago.
As for the red Fruit of the Looms…it was the 80’s. At least I wasn’t wearing spandex and moon boots.