What young boy didn’t fight imaginary bad guys? Even if you were raised in a liberal household (as I did) you spent countless hours pretending to thwart the forces of evil with your trusty INSERT FIREARM HERE. And watched countless cinematic and televisual heroes confronting qualm-less adversaries from behind the barrel of a gun. And then you grew up . . .
You realized that real life and fantasy gun violence are worlds apart; that using a gun for self-defense may save your life but it will tear your world apart. Sensibly enough, a gun stops being the sword of justice.
Unless it’s used for hunting or sport, wielding a gun becomes a simple matter of self-defense: the ballistic equivalent of the fireman’s axe in the glass case. Use in case of emergency and . . . that’s it.
Unfortunately, and I hasten to add rarely, some boys never grow out of their fantasy firearms world . . . .
The owner of a defensive gun school in Fort Myers wasn’t about to let armed robbers outside his Naples jewelry store get away without a fight.
What’s wrong with that lead sentence, brought to us by naplesnews.com? Other than, well, everything. The irony is spectacular. The owner of a “defensive” gun school is spoiling for a “fight”? And therein lies the tale . . .
When Sandy Thalheimer, owner of Thalheimers Jewelers, saw masked men speed off after robbing someone in his jewelry store parking lot Tuesday afternoon, he raced toward their car, rammed it with his truck and within seconds was in the middle of a shootout, taking on more than four men.
That’s not exactly how it went down. According to Thalheimer’s TV testimony (click on the news link above), he saw four masked men pull up to his jewelry store. And then . . . waited until they robbed a jewelry rep IDed as “Greg.”
Apparently, Thalheimer didn’t call 911; that part of the program is missing from his account and he refers to other people doing it. In any case, after the robbers finished their business (without firing a shot), Thalheimer rammed their car. No really.
They were starting to leave and I rammed them. T-boned them. Hit them pretty hard. All the airbags went off in their car. At that point my plan was to put in reverse, back up and get away from there but I was locked into the side of their car.
Don’t you hate it when that happens? Oh wait; it doesn’t happen to you. Because there’s only one reason you’d ram a car full of masked men: to stop them from abducting a loved one. Otherwise you, a responsible gun owner and a human endowed with what’s called common sense, would stay the hell away from the perps and let the police do their job.
Why would anyone engage criminals in a violent conflict—unless their life was in danger or they were unable to distinguish between the aforementioned firearms fantasies and a real world life-or-death situations? Simple answer: they wouldn’t. Guess what happens next?
So at that point I said I have to fight. ‘Cause I didn’t want to get executed sitting on my gun. It was in my back pocket.
HUH? At that point I’d say I’ve got to get the fuck out of there. And if I was stupid enough to take on the bad guys, I’d be smart enough to have my gun in to hand. Anyway, apparently, the first bad guy “was too close.” So Thalheimer shot at him.
“Did you think you hit him?” The interviewer asks. “Don’t know,” Thalheimer responds. “You know it’s hard to tell. It’s not like in the movies I don’t think [emphasis added].”
Think. Think very carefully. Legally, you are not allowed to shoot someone unless your life (or the life of a loved one) is in imminent danger. The imminence must be imminent. You are not allowed to create that danger through confrontation or escalation.
Saying that, in the real world, aggressive “self defense” shooters (a.k.a. vigilantes) usually get a pass. “I didn’t think, I just reacted” is an OK defense—if it’s a clear case where the shooter’s an upstanding citizen and the shootees sure as hell ain’t. Especially in Florida.
But if an innocent bystander is killed by a stray round, as is entirely possible whenever you fire your gun in a public place, all bets are off.
Even if the DA lets you walk, I reckon you are morally responsible for any firefight you create. Not just your bullets, but the bullets fired at you. After all, they wouldn’t have been fired if you hadn’t decided to do your Dirty Harry impression.
Thalheimer, a nationally classified master shooter and president of the Naples Swamp Rompers Gun Club, told the Daily News about his two passions in a 2009 interview that also ironically encapsulates Tuesday’s events of shots being blasted and speeding getaway cars.
“Shooting is like racing — the person who can go the fastest with the least amount of mistakes wins,” he said.
And here’s one of the biggest mistake you can possibly make: entering a gunfight when you don’t have to. Here’s another: training with a cowboy. (Hint: look for people with poor trigger control.)
1 Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Acting like a cop when you’re not is childish and irresponsible. Don’t do it. The life you save may be your own.