Question of the Day: Draw and Shoot or Draw and Reassess?

Robert Vaughan in The Magnificent Seven (courtesy objectsinfilm.blogspot.com)

Jon Wayne Taylor and I were discussing the recent shooting at a Denver Walmart. When psycho killer Scott Ostrem opened fire, several armed innocents drew their gun. According to TTAG’s resident war hero, wrong answer . . .

JWT reckons that armed innocents should not remove their gun from their holster until they’re going to use it to shoot the bad guy or guys. Not warn or threaten them with deadly force, as in “Stop! Drop your weapon!” or “Don’t make me kill you!” Not to be ready to shoot should the situation degrade. Shoot.

“People are stupid in combat,” JWT told me. “The idea that you can move, acquire a target, assess or reassess a threat and communicate effectively all at the same time is dangerously naive . . . I’ll wait ’til the last possible second to draw my gun. But once I do, I’m shooting.”

Jon points out that giving the bad guy a chance to see your weapon is counterproductive. It’s more likely to enrage them, triggering deadly aggression. What’s more, a drawn gun creates the possibility that other armed innocents or responding police may mistake you for the bad guy. Not that that happened in Colorado, but it could.

I’m not so sure. While I understand the tactical advantages of drawandshoot, thousands of defensive gun uses end without a shot fired by the good guy (such as the Colorado crime). If I was facing an imminent, credible threat of grievous bodily harm or death, I’d rather not shoot anyone. What’s your plan?

comments

  1. avatar Geoff PR says:

    As far as I’m concerned, the problem with hearing gunshots and drawing your weapon is…

    Another concealed carrier could see your drawn gun and ‘assume’ *you* are the bad guy and take *you* out.

    I agree with JWT’s assessment and give it weight, as he has been where people were actively trying to kill him…

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      And yet that didn’t happen in Thorton. Concealed carriers have proven themselves very responsible in the use of force on many occasions.

      The problem with not drawing your weapon at the sound of gunfire in close proximity to you is that if you are suddenly confronted by the shooter you might as well be unarmed. I am not going to criticize anybody for what ever course they take.

      Personally if I cannot see the source of the gunfire I will be moving in the opposite direction to an alternative exit or defensive position if I can’t safely get to the exit.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “And yet that didn’t happen in Thorton.”

        In that instance, yes, but by that logic, blowing through red lights is ‘safe’, since most of the time when you do it, nothing bad happens to you…

        1. avatar tdiinva says:

          This isn’t the first time concealed carriers exercised discretion. Two people at tbe Giffords shooting withheld their fire because they didn’t have a clear shot. The guy at the Clacamas mall shooting did not fire because he felt that he might hit a bystander.

        2. avatar Geoff PR says:

          Happening NOW (6:50 EST) – *Live feed* of the Antifa Nov. 4 Portland protest :

          So far, just lame-ass slogans – “No Trump! No KKK, No facist USA!”

          Lots of them in Blac Block dark clothing, masked :

          http://www.kgw.com/news/local/antifa-protest-planned-in-downtown-portland-on-saturday/488957603

          Multi-cam Live Feed –

        3. avatar Rob "NazyCegroWithAGun" Williams says:

          GeoffPR have you noticed when someone says “true fact” what follows is false, like when talks about their IQ they are dunces… ?

          Im adding “by that logic” which is always a segue to saying something illogical, something that is completely unrelated to what the original person said… and thats the case here, your red light analogy is a non sequitur, completely irrelevant… I cant tell to what extent you dunskies have no reading comprehension and to what extent you cant proceed logically…

          Thanks to you genius, the 71% of dumb white guys who voted for Gump were the laughing stock of the world… : D

        4. avatar drunkEODguy says:

          Well Geoff I guess professor fake thinks you’re wrong and he’s going to draw and prepare to shoot. At least that’s all I can come up with since he made no point or statement other than to throw some insults. Something tells me though our non-academia friend doesn’t carry anything daily other than a victim complex and perhaps some white guilt, provided the former is applicable.

          As to the actual question, I think it’s highly situation dependent. It seems that most people who carry very much don’t shoot and ask questions later as they know they are responsible for every shot fired. Instead it seems like not just the sight of a gun gets carriers shooting. Assessing the positioning, body language, and actions of someone as well as the presence of a weapon seems to be what is happening, considering the “who’s the attacker(s)!?” confused shootout bloodbath promised to us in these situations has not yet played out.

        5. avatar Button Gwinnett says:

          All righty, then. Since it’s so dangerous, you are going to link us one or more stories where a CHP holder was shot by mistake. You have the microphone, sir.

    2. avatar BLoving says:

      Seems to me we can do it all:
      Assess (constantly, don’t be in “condition white” in public)
      Act (move or draw or move/draw, all are correct – situationally dependant)
      Assess again
      Shoot (as needed)
      Or
      Don’t shoot (If not needed)
      And/or/keep moving/repeat All of the above.

      But like you pointed out, JWT has been shot at and I haven’t… so… I’m just going to do the best I can and try to be the guy who gets interviewed afterwards instead of bagged up. 🤠

      1. avatar Higgs says:

        With a great deal of respect to both JWT and those who say keep it in the holster, I must disagree.

        in this situation where you here shots but do not see a shooter i think you must draw and assess. Your goal should be to find cover, concealment, or better the nearest exit and not to engage and force of an unknown size.

        Do Police wait to draw until the see an active shooter or do they draw and access when they know there is an active shooter?

        Do soldiers wait until they are engaged when clearing rooms in urban environments that are hostile?

        How many times have we discussed the importance of training including drawing and NOT firing so as not to train yourself to fire every time you draw to avoid accidental shootings?

        Not drawing and accessing means:
        You must draw against someone who has there weapon out with the intent to shoot you.
        You still have to establish your sight picture.
        You have choose to fire.
        A bad guy just has to fire.
        JWT is completely correct about the effects of adrenaline in these situations, so why not eliminate as many steps as possible so you can make the best decision possible in a very stressful situation.

        I will point out 2 things.
        First TTAG did a force on force simulation of the Charlie Hebdo Attack were an unknown number of bad guys out to do harm attacked an office where an unknown number of defenders. If I remember correctly the most effective method used to defend was drawing and providing cover as everyone ran for the exit. Attempts to engage rather than withdraw did not end well.

        Second, for those who say how do you tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys? It simple….The bad guys are the ones shooting at you. No this is not full proof, but it appears the concealed carries in the Denver Walmart attack proved it can work in a real world situation.

        1. avatar Kenneth says:

          It should be noted that the TTAG situation was almost impossible to survive, for anyone, no matter whether armed or not. When you are seated with a holstered firearm, and trained assassins just burst through the door free firing, cover is the ONLY option, other than being shot. I would still much prefer to be armed under that cover, rather than not.
          The bottom line is; The only way to survive that is to be already behind cover and with an unlimbered arm ready to return fire. And hopefully some grenades…
          But that is NOT the scenario that most civilians will ever face. They are much more likely to have a chance to quietly slip aside, behind cover, and THEN draw, and decide THEN whether to attempt to reengage, or flee.
          With all due respect, I ask JWT whether in THAT situation, one where armed attackers burst into the room he is in, and he is beside a corner of a hall or other room, he would choose to draw and fire immediately, or whether he thinks THAT situation might call for him to quietly slide aside, and THEN draw and assess? I think we all know that if he chooses to come out into known gunfire, he would NOT have an empty hand doing so. So, in at least SOME situations, draw and assess is certainly an option that one should be aware of.

  2. avatar JSW says:

    Draw and shoot. As JWT admonishes, if you draw your weapon, the time has gone beyond assessing and talking and is time to shoot. Not to mention ‘brandishing’ and ‘threatening’ laws because you are most likely not a LEO of any color.

    Besides, if talk would stop an attack, it probably wasn’t much of an attack, which you’d have noticed in the initial assessment.

    1. avatar Chris Mallory says:

      “because you are most likely not a LEO of any color.”

      An LEO is just a person employed to to what every citizen already has the right to do. LEOs operate by privilege, citizens operate via natural rights.

  3. avatar rb says:

    How about find good cover or know where the exits are?.wherever my wife and I go,we know the exits.
    Assess the situation,get out of the store,get safe and let LEO take care of it.unless you are fired upon by the BG.if you have to,shoot until the threat is ended.GTFO of the place.especially if you have your precious ones with you.

  4. avatar Timothy says:

    I was taught to act until the threat was no longer a threat. This means in part not unloading the entire magazine while the bad guy lies motionless on the floor, or is running away. Reassessing the situation constantly is part of that philosophy.

    Move, shout, draw, ask “Is it still a threat?”, shoot if yes then ask again. I even practice putting my conceal carry back in the holster without firing a shot sometimes. Woe to the man who auto shoots, he is the man who will kill his kid when they try to sneak in late at night.

    The thought that other good guys will see your gun and try to kill you is something the antis made up to justify restricting our rights. It is easily disproven by the literal millions of DGUs every year that don’t involve firing a shot.

  5. avatar Armed geek says:

    EVERYTHING is situational. Probably low-ready, get small, cover and/or concealment, and decide to ground or Get The Family out of Dodge..

  6. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    Situationally dependent, but if you can’t immediately identify the threat why make yourself more of a target, and if you can why wait?

    1. avatar Mike says:

      ^^^^^
      Exactly! Situational dependent. If the guy confronts you then draw and shoot is the likely course of action. Hearing gunfire without identified source or target is time to seek cover and assess.

      1. avatar Falcon 12 says:

        Agreed…it’s like learning to play chess. The game becomes more difficult to think through the more you know. Your opitions are infinite and very unforgiving should you make the wrong move.

  7. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    There’s a big difference between self defense and com bat. Soldiers don’t usually flee at the sight of a gun, thugs usually do. Psychos frequently turn their gun on themselves.

    In this case I’d draw, crouch down in the best defensible position I could find and keep the muzzle down until a ta rget appears.

    1. avatar former water walker says:

      Well I’m not a war hero Gov. I have no idea how combat relates to self-defense at the mall. Since I haven’t been to a mall in several years I hope I don’t findout…

      1. avatar Rusty Chains says:

        If you had been to a mall, you would have been a rather lonely fellow. Malls are struggling for traffic and customers, having been largely abandoned in favor of discrete big box stores with lower prices on similar or identical merchandise.

        1. avatar tdiinva says:

          You have never been to Tysons Corner have you?

        2. avatar Rusty Chains says:

          Nope, but I just took my kid to the local Simon Mall, looking for a white button down long sleeve uniform shirt and discovered that several stores had been erased, and finding a unicorn was more likely than a ladies version of that shirt. Additionally the mall was looking a bit seedy right in time for the run up to Christmas. Eventually she had to settle for a shirt from the boys department at JC Penny, so much for finding anything you need at the local mall!

        3. avatar former water walker says:

          My local River Oaks Mall(Cal City,IL) was the scene of retail theft yesterday. The gang scum were chased by the local keystone cops where they promptly KILLED folks in neighboring Dolton in a high speed chase…😫😫😫😫

        4. avatar ropingdown says:

          Tysons Corner? I lived the first eight years of my lawyer life on Vale Road in Oakton, 1981 to 1989. Tysons was always packed, Tysons 2 went up before I left, and I closed the tax file for the office park’s original partnership. But Tysons is surrounded by a million steady-salary government employees and contractors. Traffic was, and probably still is, so bad that no one wants to drive farther than the nearest big mall, which was Tysons Corner. I suppose White Flint has the same advantages.

          When I moved back to the Mainline, Philadelphia, MS13 was already making bloody messes in Fairfax County. I absolutely loved shooting skeet at Bull Run Shooting Center. Still miss it. I don’t miss all the Fed employee types in from Kansas and North Dakota seeking financial stability, if not actual glory…..

          But, laugh, back to the point, the FBI Journal published two studies some years back (5?) which seemed to settle the issue. If there’s a shooter, the guy with his hand on his gun first usually wins (cop v. bad guy). I’d draw, move, and assess. Contra assumptions above, what makes anyone think the perp that is shooting is going to leave you alone just because you apparently have no gun?

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Guv, methinks if a cop responds toward the gunfire and finds you in that position, what do you expect him to do? Hopefully just shoot you once or twice, instead of the traditional mag dump, as there are other bad guys. I’d be heading for the hills unless I see someone shooting people at random, at which time, if the target is close enough, I would drawandfire, single word. If you have no target in sight your gun should be in your holster.

      1. avatar Kenneth says:

        Actually, the traditional LEO mag dump hits only a few innocents, and often ends up with the perp unhit, or only slightly wounded, who then promptly surrenders.

      2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        ‘…if a cop responds…’

        Well I didn’t say I’d sit there in a crouch until my legs fell asleep and then stay that way for another 10 or 20 minutes until the police arrive. If flight is an option it’s probably the best option most of the time. But if that’s not an option I’m not hiding out with my gat holstered. When I hear the sirens and the gunshots stop I’ll reholster.

    3. avatar tdiinva says:

      That is a valid point and why I think training that focuses on LEO and/or military tactics is inappropriate for a typical concealed carrier. There are only two things a private citizen can do in a self defense situation — retreat and/or defend.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        Law enforcement is completely different as well. If you don’t think so, try running after a fleeing ba d guy and shoo ting him and see how that turns out for you.

      2. avatar ropingdown says:

        I’m a vet (RVN, 70-71) with lots of shooting experience there. I agree that military experience doesn’t have much applicability to civilian life, but with a few exceptions. As a Huey gunner/CE, I almost never was permitted to fire unless fired upon. Going in hot was fairly rare, even during LS 719. This taught me restraint, despite the fear. I would guess for JWT it’s much the same. The law applicable is very different, but the training to think and observe patiently is surely there. He just has, apparently, fabulous confidence in his ability to draw while being shot at. I don’t feel that, myself. I’d rather have my hand on the gun, even if it is only at my side or in low ready….

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          LS 719.

          Heard that was a party to remember. Everyone was there, and it was in all the papers.

        2. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Yeah, I arrived at the DMZ (Quang Tri) a few months after LS 719 was over, fall ’71, and was surrounded by participants and the war stories were pretty wild. At our little airstrip, we had a 1-hole latrine and suddenly it was serving hundreds of people. When some dingbat lit it on fire in the middle of the night, quick action saved it, but the next day all hands turned out to build a 4-holer beside it. Everybody agreed it was a real war for a while.

  8. avatar Ed Rogers says:

    Not knowing what exactly is going on, my first priority is to get myself and mine out of harm’s way. There’s nothing like the deafening report of a firearm to get the adrenaline pumping.

    I have no idea which may be better…until the situation presents itself. I’d like to think that I will respond appropriately. That too, remains to be seen.

    It looks like the armed citizens didn’t screw up. That’s a huge win in my book.

    Knucklehead statements by reviewing LEO couldn’t hide that fact. Not that they didn’t try.

    Not being there, I’m not willing to say much more than that. I do hope the perpetrator gets what’s coming to him, in spades.

  9. avatar WI Patriot says:

    “Draw and Shoot or Draw and Reassess?”

    IF I’m going to draw my weapon, I’m going to use it…

    1. avatar Roymond says:

      Drawing your weapon IS “using it”.

      1. avatar WI Patriot says:

        No, it’s not…evidently you don’t know or understand the purpose of carry a weapon…

        1. avatar Hinshelworld says:

          Yeah… it doesn’t sound like you do either. Anyone who goes in to a situation determined to throw lead as soon as they clear leather is not well prepared for the realities of rapidly changing situations involving violence.

  10. avatar Specialist38 says:

    I’m guessing it would depend.
    A single obvious threat (armed robbery, car jacking) – draw and engage.
    Not so obvious (shots fired, people screaming and running) – it would depend.
    Get to cover, draw, and look for threats. Maybe not in that order.

    Having your gun holstered would slow down your reaction time. I guess it true that someone might mistake you for the shooter but I’m guessing they would be looking for the person shooting at people and walking around.

    My question to the open carriers – would you hide your open-carried weapon if you weren’t drawing?

    1. avatar Roymond says:

      Hide your open-carried weapon? That’s called concealing, and it’s a crime here. Or do you mean merely move so as not to reveal it to the bad guy?

      1. avatar JSW says:

        So when it’s raining 30 degrees outside and you’re wearing a handgun you have to put it on over your raincoat or you’re going to jail for carrying a concealed weapon?

        I knew there was a very good reason to stay far away from Oregon.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          Concealed is consealed, is it not? The law usually does not take weather into account.

      2. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Yes. Would you try to keep it out od sight which would be trying to conceal it.

        And from other posts, it would seem you are in Oregon.

        So – would you try to conceal?

  11. avatar Roymond says:

    We were taught in Oregon concealed carry classes that if you shoot without a warning odds are you’re going to jail. I suspect the same is likely true in many other states. In one class we even practiced keeping finger off trigger until we had yelled “Armed citizen! Stop!”

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I suspect in the scenarios we’re discussing, that is BS. If the guy is actively shooting random people, he cannot hear a warning. After you’ve shot him enough times that he has ceased firing, *then* would be the time to issue the warning, because under the adrenalin of the moment you probably won’t remember exactly when you did it, but you are sure you did. And less of a joke, while you are calling out “Halt. I am armed. Drop your weapon or I shall fire!”, he has killed several more people.

    2. avatar WI Patriot says:

      “We were taught in Oregon concealed carry classes that if you shoot without a warning odds are you’re going to jail. I suspect the same is likely true in many other states. In one class we even practiced keeping finger off trigger until we had yelled “Armed citizen! Stop!”

      ROFLMFAO…Keep yelling, it’ll get you killed one day…

    3. avatar JSW says:

      “…We were taught in Oregon concealed carry classes that if you shoot without a warning odds are you’re going to jail…”

      If you shoot with a warning you’re going to jail. You are responsible for every round you fire ad where it goes– either a target, a backstop, or an unarmed individual hiding where your bullet can find them. If you shoot, you will go to jail until the entire mess can be sorted out.

      So you give a warning and have told the perp you are unwilling to shoot them, while they obviously have no such qualms about shooting you.

      If you have to give a warning, give it as you pull the trigger.

      1. avatar Kenneth says:

        Bear in mind that OR is a staunchly anti-gun state, and would dearly love to see any armed citizen dead of any possible cause…

    4. avatar ropingdown says:

      Require a verbal warning before shooting? That is absurd. I’m going to look up the Oregon self-defense law tomorrow. I can’t imagine how that would be worded in the statute.

  12. avatar Chris Mallory says:

    So we have government employee’s “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” the actions of citizens who took responsible actions to defend themselves and other innocents. Until these cops walk a mile in the shoes of a citizen they need to keep their opinions to themselves.

  13. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

    The problem (one of the problems) with waiting to draw and shoot is that people think it’s as easy as just drawing and shooting. It isn’t. Not always, anyway.

    Consider an IWB holster. You have a shirt and maybe an undershirt tucked into it. Those must be removed before you can even grip the handle. How much would you bet that people will attempt that with their strong side hand, taking multiple pulls to free it, taking care not to rip it? Very few will grab a handful of shirt with their left hand, rip the whole thing free in a single violent motion, and draw their sidearm. All that fumbling around would get you killed. Similar impediments exist if you’re drawing from a purse, briefcase, etc. Open carry is quicker, but that just reduces time you already don’t have.

    Know your state’s laws. In Texas, the legal threshold to draw is identical to that of firing. So don’t draw unless you *could* fire. Once you hear gunshots in a Walmart or similar unexpected place, I’d say draw and take cover or concealment. If you’re in that stance, firearm presented, but pointed down and not shooting, you’re unlikely to be taken for the killer by other carriers.

    Then reassess because it’s doubtful that you would have perfectly witnessed the original shots and properly interpreted it as the start of a mass shooting. You can either retreat, hold fast, or go engage (not recommended) at that stage. Having the gun already drawn will aid the success of any choice.

    1. avatar JSW says:

      “…Consider an IWB holster. You have a shirt and maybe an undershirt tucked into it. Those must be removed before you can even grip the handle….”

      What kind of IWB do you carry that all those gymnastics are required to draw?

      Methinks you need a different IWB holster.

  14. avatar Rick the Bear says:

    It seems like some carriers were seeking the threat.

    My thought would be draw (if it sounded very close) while seeking cover or set cover then draw (if it sounded further away). Even further away? Get the hell out.

    RF: nice “Magnificent Seven” screen capture! Great movie. I prefer it to the original.

    1. avatar Dcj says:

      Uh that screen shot is Robert Vaughn from the original movie.

      1. avatar twency says:

        By original I suspect he meant Seven Samurai.

  15. avatar BLAMMO says:

    The decision to draw is the decision to fire? I don’t think so. There is another decision block in that program. Clearing leather is not the point of no return.

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      In my little town, and in larger towns, a person who intentionally draws a weapon from a holster/or case, in a public place (not a gun range, or hunting) is guilty of at least a misdemeanor, unless displaying the firearm is in response to an imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm.

      Based on instruction from a cop, and NRA pistol instructor, conducting the concealed carry class, the only permissible reason, and even that must be determined at trial, for a gun in the hand is to shoot in an effort to stop the threat. In plain terms, if you must draw, you must shoot. Otherwise, the threat is not “imminent”. So, if the Colorado shooting had happened in our one Walmart, the “good guys” who drew their weapons in response to gun shots, would have been arrested if found remaining in the store.

      I know the instructor is not a lawyer, but when he said that local cops, and the county mounties would not hesitate to arrest anyone with a displayed gun, regardless of the circumstance, I pay attention. I do not have to act according to what the instructor said, but it would be foolish to ignore the warning.

      1. avatar Binder says:

        The reason they stress this so much that is people think it’s ok to just pull out a gun. Take it with a grain of salt.(If you can get through a day without committing one crime, much less a misdemeanorr, you must not have gotten out of bed)

      2. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Kind of a dumbass law.

        Pushes any situation to become “someone was shot” when most DGUs dont require a shooting.

        If the police dollow the same MO, it would explain why so many people get shot by cops.

        There needs to be a credible threat, but not all threats need to be shot. Unless theynare in your town/county.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “There needs to be a credible threat, but not all threats need to be shot. ”

          I can just imagine the prosecutor arguing that if the presence of your gun caused your attacker to flee, the threat was not imminent. “Imminent” is a specific word that pretty much rules out an event that allows for the attacker to take time to consider the next step, make the decision to disengage, and then act to flee. As a prosecutor, I would argue that imminent threat means you are in near person-to-person contact, and there is zero time for the attacker to decide to retreat, zero time for your deployed gun to be the cause of the decision to retreat. In other words, if not in near person-to-person contact, or not already being fired upon, the threat is not imminent. Indeed, even the pointing of a gun at you is not “necessarily” an imminent threat. Much would depend on proximity.

          For instance, at a Walmart, you are in line to checkout, and a man comes through the sliding doors with a gun pointed generally at the checkout lines. You happen to be 70 feet away. Where is the imminent threat? What proof do you have that you, and you alone, are the target of the attacker? For which specific other shopper are you providing protection from imminent threat? Let’s extend this more: the attacker walks through the doors, faces the checkout line, point a gun in the general direction of the checkout lines (note plural), and keeps walking without harming anyone. Where is your imminent threat? The attacker is moving away, disengaging by continuing to travel in a direction that puts the threat at greater distance with each step. Is the attacker not “disengaging”? What is the risk in this situation? What is the law in your town regarding “imminent”? Where is the imminent threat? (not to mention that you are way behind the curve where your attacker has a drawn weapon, and you must take the time to present yours…if you have time to present, I would argue the threat is not imminent in the situation I pose).

        2. avatar Specialist38 says:

          Well Sam…Here in Florida, firearms are for defense of myself and others.

          From death or bodily harm. If i see someone pointing a gun at another person, i think that’s a pretty good indicate there is a threat.

          By your logic, you would never be able to shoot someone until they stirke, stab, or shoot you. If i have reasonable fear that someone is going to shoot, stab, or strike me or someone near me, Im going to draw.

          Anyone with 30 feet of me with an impact weapon or blade can be threat. How far will a gun shoot? If you can see someone, they can hit you with a gun.

          Your tit for tat argument is for TV shows and cartoons. It is not a duel, it is a fight. I would like to be the victor without getting a scratch.

        3. avatar Sam I Am says:

          There is no “argument”. There is no TV. There is no “logic”. The intention of the law(s) seems to be to reduce to near zero the number of people who will buy and use a gun.

          The definition of “imminent” is the purview of the DA and the jury. Essentially, without stating so in writing, one can conclude a person has a duty to retreat when faced with potential or actual attack. We have no “Stand Your Ground” statute, and even the “Castle Doctrine” is not specifically called-out. Everything appears to be a matter of “reasonable person”, an argument that can only be settled at trial. When you have prosecutors who publicly admit they are happy to put you, a gun owner, through the justice system even if they know they will likely lose, you tend to be cautious about testing the limits. All the bravado in the world will be useless as a legal defense tactic.

          Would not a responsible legal gun owner take the laws into account when making a decision to own and carry a gun? Would not a reasonable person take the laws into account when making a decision to own and carry a gun? Is belligerence a prudent course when encountering a system that can destroy your life as you’ve come to know it? Know the laws(s), and the risks. Make decisions with calm analysis.

      3. avatar Blammo says:

        You shoot to stop. What if you draw and the “imminent” threat stops? You’re required by law to shoot anyway?

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “What if you draw and the “imminent” threat stops? You’re required by law to shoot anyway?”

          Never put your trust in “the law”. “The law is a ass.”

          Your scenario is always interesting in concept and practice. The law here states that if the attacker disengages, or announces the intent to disengage, the “imminent threat” ends, and you may not shoot (unless the attacker re-engages). While seeming a sensible proposition, the law disregards physics without apology. Here is the scenario envisioned, and enshrined in law: attacker presents firearm and directly engages you by moving forward, or actually shooting. time between no threat, and imminent threat is zero. victim of attack recognizes the “imminent threat”. elapsed time is zero. victim responds to “imminent threat” by drawing own firearm, aiming and launching defensive fire. elapsed time is zero. attacker recognized counter-fire, and disengages. elapsed time is zero. The demand is that a defender can go through the entire OODA loop in zero time. Thus, if faced with “imminent” threat you have no time available for the attacker to change decisions, else the threat is not “imminent”. Therefore, displaying a gun in public when the threat is not zero-time imminent, you are menacing or brandishing. Ergo, if you draw your gun, you and the attacker have zero decision time, and you must shoot to stop the threat. HOWEVER, the “hook” is that if you draw and shoot, and in the zero-time available you end up shooting the attacker aft of the profile centerline of his/her torso, you just shot a fleeing attacker; there was no imminent threat.

          I continue to read this and several other gun blogs, trying to learn, to prepare my mind for action when under attack. I use the education to question my own assumptions about what I can/would do; always evaluating new information. As noted prior, I had not really thought carefully about a situation where I was amidst other armed citizens who could respond to an attack on a crowd. Likewise, I study case law about self-defense shootings to help focus and train my decision processes. Result? Be sure you have an experienced and successful defense lawyer who is steeped in the laws of self-defense, especially, like here, when you have prosecutors who want to punish POTG who exercise their right to self-defense with a gun. To punish POTG with the full burden of legal defense, just as a warning to the next person who thinks it proper to defend their life with a gun.

      4. avatar ropingdown says:

        Your self-defense law is local small-town law?

        The more I read these bits, the happier I am that Pennsylvania law applies to me most of the time. Our law seems very rational as to armed self-defense. Within Philadelphia the application of that law may be a bit irregular. But still…

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “Your self-defense law is local small-town law?”

          It is copy-down from state and county. Heck, if you actually shoot, you have a felony charge of discharging a firearm within city limits tacked on. There is an “affirmative defense” for that one, but still you can be arrested and take a tour through the “justice” system.

  16. avatar Arandom Dude says:

    We know that the great majority of DGUs end with no shots fired, because thugs generally run or surrender upon realizing that their intended victim is armed. This would seem to discredit JWT’s suggestion.
    Perhaps the best thing to do is to yell an order or warning while drawing/aiming. If the assailant has an epiphany, don’t shoot. Real life situations are fluid, so acting like there is only one feasible action is pretty stupid imo.

    1. avatar JSW says:

      “…thugs generally run or surrender upon realizing that their intended victim is armed….”

      Totally misread the scenario/question, didn’t you?

    2. avatar ropingdown says:

      Yes.

  17. avatar A O says:

    If someone is shooting and they come by you, but your weapon is not already in your hand, ready to go, you will lose. Action beats reaction. He will have already put 2-3 rounds towards you before you can even level your weapon for the shot.

    As for the police issue, proper training by both the CC’r and the police will keep both reasonably safe. Don’t point your weapon at the police, don’t point it at anything you’re not ready to destroy, and when the police tell you to put it down, do what they say.

  18. avatar W says:

    Robert,
    Be careful when asking military veterans to assess and analyze strictly civilian situations. What was common ROE in Afghanistan may get you 5 to 10 (and an empty bank account) in America. Further, what is de rigueur for an agent of the state may be harshly assessed by a DA when performed by a citizen. I am not saying that I agree with this stuff, merely making observations.

    Here is a simple example. Things get bad enough for you to determine that you have to shoot. AS you are drawing, the bad guy turns and now his back is presented to you. Shoot anyway??? Not unless you can afford a dream team of lawyers. Or know the DA quite well. Or have a last name that rhymes with Clinton.

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      If the bad guy is pointing his gun at someone else, or moving it towards someone else, you are allowed to shoot him in the back. Defense covers reasonable belief of protecting yourself or others from death or serious bodily harm. You don’t have to face off with the bad guy or give him a fair chance. If the bad guy is just turning and leaving, then no, you aren’t justified in shooting him.

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “If the bad guy is just turning and leaving, then no, you aren’t justified in shooting him.”

        This is where it gets really tricky. Have read actual accounts of where a bad guy was shot in the back, legitimately, but the defender was prosecuted for murder. It seems that the observe/respond cycle time was ignored, as was the “flinch” when the bad guy knew a shot was coming (in one case, the bad guy was hiding behind a counter, shooting), and when the first defensive round hit near the bad guy, he flinched, resulting in the immediate follow-up defensive shot hitting the bad guy just aft of the centerline of his torso’s side). I guess the lesson is to be sure you get a lawyer who had successfully defended self-defenders at trial.

  19. avatar Paul53 says:

    I’m with JWT. Actually have been for a long time. I never imagined it otherwise. Your gun is there to protect life. You shouldn’t display it if the situation requires it and you’re gonna asses again.
    Crap or get off the pot.

  20. avatar joetast says:

    Geesh, that’s a scenario Id hate to be in. What would I do? Crawl around until I could get a clean shot probably, I just couldn’t let some nut kill people.

  21. avatar Mark Horning says:

    The answer is of course that you should be in a constant state of reassessing.

    How long does it take to draw and move to low ready or high ready state? That’s another second or so that the bad guy has you in hiss OODA loop instead of the other way around.

    If he is right on top of you then you will obviously want to draw and shoot in one motion. If he’s close enough to be a threat but you don’t have an immediate shot you want to draw and use whatever cover or concealment is available.

    Anyone who thinks it’s either/or is reducing things ad absurdum.

  22. avatar Ralph says:

    I think I understand JWT’s position, and I think I agree with him for the most part.

    If I have to pull my gun, the time for talking is over and the time for shooting has arrived. Pulling a gun on someone without the intention of firing right now is a fool’s errand. Between drawing and shooting, the BG will have a split second to cease and desist or get dropped.

    I hope the BG chooses wisely, but it’s his choice to make, just as the choice to pose a deadly threat to me was his choice. But he won’t get a warning.

    1. avatar ropingdown says:

      I agree with your “agree but actually disagree” position. You posit that you will still be observing and evaluating after you draw. You just limit the expected interval to a few milliseconds. That seems entirely sensible. But, you knew that already. Laugh.

  23. avatar Darkman says:

    At the end of the day my safety is my concern. The decisions I make are mine. The consequences are mine to face. I make those decisions based on the circumstances at hand. There is no right or wrong answer. Just the one you choose. As long as you survive unharmed and protected those who mean the most to you. You have made the right choice. The most important thing is to be ready to make that choice. The easy part is drawing your firearm and even pulling the trigger. The hard part is taking a life. The only thing many firearms carriers have killed is a few paper targets. Unless you are a complete psychopath killing is a hard thing. Even when hunting for food. Don’t assume you can do it. Prepare to do it both physically and most importantly mentally. Make peace with yourself before the fact and hope you never need to do it. Any time lost when the SHTF may be time you never get back.

  24. avatar Ed Earl says:

    I say draw. A holstered firearm puts one at a significant tactical disadvantage against someone who has theirs in their hands. If you and your loved ones don’t have a plan for this situation, formulate one. Our planned response in this situation is at the sound of gunfire, my wife and/or sons and I draw our firearms and perform a covered withdrawal, leapfrogging towards an exit away from the shots. Oldest armed member is in charge. Any children or unarmed members will move with an armed member. No One Left Behind. In the absence of a viable exit we locate whatever cover/ concealment we can find we can find and establish a defensive position. If police announce entry we reholster, remain behind cover and follow commands. Since plans very seldom survive the first shot, circumstances will dictate changes, but we have talked about the plan and practiced the movement so we have a starting place and a plan to build on. I know it’s not perfect, but I think it is way better than no plan at all.

  25. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    Copy and pasted from my post on –Colorado Walmart’s Armed Innocents Hampered Police. Or Not.—

    Personally I don’t care what the police say, or anyone else for that matter.

    If I hear gunshots in a store my weapon is coming out, and me and family are quickly finding a safe exit. Very quickly and low seeking cover along the way.

    If wacko shooter happens to be in my way, bad for him/her.

    Otherwise we are out of there.

  26. avatar Hoyden says:

    President Grant: And you, West, not every situation calls for your patented approach of “shoot first, shoot later, shoot some more and then when everybody’s dead try to ask a question or two.”

    “Wild Wild West” 1999

  27. avatar FedUp says:

    JWT reckons that armed innocents should not remove their gun from their holster until they’re going to use it to shoot the bad guy or guys. Not warn or threaten them with deadly force, as in “Stop! Drop your weapon!” or “Don’t make me kill you!” Not to be ready to shoot should the situation degrade. Shoot.

    I reckon that the absolute last thing I want to do is wait until the last instant to draw and then fumble the draw under pressure. Not having vast experience with gunfights, I do not KNOW beyond all doubt that I’ll operate operationally when confronted with the BG. Having gun in hand as soon as I know that serious stuff is happening gives me one less thing to botch when serious stuff finds me ten seconds later.

  28. and yet I wonder, since I don’t know where the active shooter is, should I wait , and not draw my gun and stand ready to defend myself ( or another) and have him sneak up on me and shoot me before I can get my gun out? I think , yes, draw your gun, but also look for cover. or you can just try to get out without displaying your gun, but make sure you run away from the shots quickly if you know where the shots are coming from. but , how do you know it is just one shooter? see this gets tricky. you have to assess the situation well, and with out ever being in one like that it is hard to say. if you can leave then do that, if not than take cover.

  29. avatar Hank says:

    Draw and mag dump. Everytime.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      I spit my drink dammit!

  30. avatar Kendahl says:

    After reading the comments, several of which I think are grossly in error, I have two suggestions. The first is to buy and read thoroughly Andrew Branca’s book, The Law of Self Defense. The Kindle version is $10 and paperback is $24. Both are available from Amazon. The second is to take one of his live classes. Face to face, in person classes are $200. He has begun doing online classes through FaceBook for $100. The online classes have limited enrollment (I think 20 max) and provide for interaction via computer.

  31. avatar tdiinva says:

    If JWT is correct then I have to question the utility of carrying a gun. If you should only draw your gun under direct threat, i.e., you are in visual contact with threat and have a direct line of fire. It is an “and” condition because you may become an instant target of tbe threat and a potential target of other concealed carriers when you draw your gun So if iyou cannot mmediately engage you might as well retreat. As I said in my original comment If you blunder into the threat and draw at that point you are highly likely to lose since he has the drop on you. You might as well wait for the police to save you. Under JWT’s ROE the only place outside the home where a gun might do you some good is in a personal attack situation. From my perspective it wouldn’t be worth the hassle to carry most of the time since the most likely threat during the times when I am out is an active shooter and not a mugger.

    While noting that there is some merit to JWT’s case, it is highly situationally depend. I am all in favor avoiding an active shooter but I think it unwise to get start a gun fight from a holster when are facing soneone who is shooting. Perhaps that is a good justification for carrying a pocket pistol you can maintain a covert ready if need be without attracting special attention.

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      “…unwise to get start a gun fight from a holster when are facing soneone who is shooting. ”

      This is the whole crux of the proposition. We have no reports that the concealed carriers were “facing someone who is shooting”. We have no information that the concealed carriers had guns deployed, but lacked a clean shot at a shooter they were “facing”. The implication of what we have read so far is the concealed carriers were in various parts of the store, and drew guns when they HEARD shots; heard shots from a shooter they were not “facing”, maybe could note even see. In my jurisdiction, drawing a gun in response to a threat you cannot see, means the threat is not imminent. There are no legal provisions here for drawing a gun, “just in case”. I don’t know Colorado law.

      1. avatar tdiinva says:

        If you you are in an active shooter situation in an enclosed space the threat imminent. You can blunder into him at any point in time without warning. If the law is that rigid that you have to wait until you are staring down thw shooter’s gun barrel then there is no point In carrying.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “If the law is that rigid that you have to wait until you are staring down thw shooter’s gun barrel then there is no point In carrying.”

          Precisely the reason it took me three years to decide to get a permit to carry. The whole “imminent threat” thing seems to be designed to prevent people from using a gun for self-defense. If the whole thing depends on who’s idea of “imminent” prevails, why carry? Finally I decided that no matter how rare “imminent” might be, when it happens, there will be no opportunity to ponder whether there is any point in carrying a firearm.

        2. avatar ropingdown says:

          Agree with your logic. The threat is immanent when the firing starts, even if the actual confrontation is uncertain. This wasn’t a parking lot or in-your-home hypothetical.

  32. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Sooo…in combat…do you shoot if you don’t have a clear target?
    I don’t think youre supposed to but I am sure there are those who do.
    But if you weren’t shooting because the target is not visble, would you have your rifle at low ready or slung.
    I don’t think so. When you watch video of hut-huts practicing, rifles are at eye level. Finger off trigger I am sure. And not shooting…..but ready to.
    Why in the world would you not your sidearm in your hand at the ready? We are not talkkng about video game when points are awarded for fast draw head shots. The object is to not die and go home.

  33. avatar Paul53 says:

    There’s no perfect situation.
    So the question becomes how many have to die before a carrier grows a set.

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      “So the question becomes how many have to die before a carrier grows a set.”

      Are you aware that your statement can be construed to mean that carrying a gun is some sort of test of machismo? That only the rough and tough are qualified to be armed? That a person carrying a gun must/is/ or should be the “meanest SOB in the valley”?

      I hope you didn’t intend the reader(s) to conclude such.

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