“The Good Samaritan was shopping at the Family Dollar on Stanton road when he noticed a masked gunman leading one of the employees to the front of the store,” huffingtonpost.com reports. “‘He had the gun to his head. He had him on his knees,’ said the man. ‘I drew my gun on him and I said ‘Hey don’t move.’ At that point he swung around and before he had a chance to aim the gun at me I fired. I didn’t want to shoot him.'” But he did and the thief’s family is pissed. Yes, well, here’s an interesting question . . .
What was the ‘proper’ response to this situation?
I put the bunny ears around the word proper because the proper response is any response that works. In this case, the good guy aerated the bad guy – one Adric White – who put innocent life in imminent danger of death or grievous bodily harm. Result. As always, this armchair quarterbacking is not meant to cast aspersions on a successful defensive gun use.
So . . . We good? Great. Now imagine you’re in the same situation. A bad guy has a gun pointed at an innocent’s head, leading him to the front of the store. Do you yell out “Hey don’t move?”
I think not. It takes less time for a bad guy to swing around and shoot you than it takes for you to shoot him. Action beats reaction. Never mind that it didn’t here – assuming the deal went down the way The Good Samaritan said it did. From a practical point of view, surrendering the surprise part of the speed, surprise and violence of action recipe for defensive gun use is a strategic blunder.
Not to mention the possibility that there’s an armed accomplice nearby. Didn’t think of that, did you? You really should. As the Brits say, it’s the bus you don’t see that kills you. And while we’re at it, consider this: you would have been entirely within your rights to shoot Mr. White without any warning. You see a firearm aimed at innocent life? Green light!
Then again, maybe not . . .
The Good Samaritan didn’t see the incident from the very beginning. Presumably, he didn’t recognize the employee personally. So how did he know the bad guy from the good guy? Mr. White could have been a plain clothes cop arresting a thief dressed as a Dollar Store employee. Or a Good Samaritan collaring a Dollar Store employee who’d gone postal.
A bit far-fetched I know. But unless an armed civilian knows exactly what’s going down before letting loose the ballistic dogs of war he or she could find themselves motoring down the road to Hell, noticing that it’s paved with good intentions. From inside a prison cell. Bankrupt.
Which brings us to the other potential alternative, the one that always gets me in trouble: walk away and call the police.
You are entirely within your rights not to engage a bad guy. Even if Mr, White had killed the employee right then and there, the Samaritan had no legal obligation to act to protect innocent life. He could have hidden himself, observed the bad guy, called the cops with a description and kept his powder dry.
I’m not saying that’s what he should have done. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have inserted myself into the scene. I’m simply pointing out that an armed citizen has the option to do (or not do) whatever it takes to go home at the end of his shift. I mean, at the end of the day. Remember: nothing draws gunfire like gunfire.
Morally? That’s a different discussion. For now, let’s just go with this: shoot or don’t shoot. Feel free to revisit that decision as the situation changes. But think about it now. As Mr. White almost discovered, hesitation kills.