Yesterday, I said I thought it was a good idea to carry a BUG (Back-Up Gun) so you could arm a friend in a self-defense situation. Apparently not. Commentator A. Lee set me straight:
A secondary gun to give to out in a self-defense situation? Oh man…what a legal can-of-worms that would be.
In general, self-defense shootings can only be justified under two conditions. One, that you have reasonably perceived that your life or that of a close concern is in immediate danger. Two, that you have no reasonably obvious way to exit the situation. In assessing both of those conditions, the key is “reasonably” – the self-defender is in a high-stress situation, and does not have much time to make a decision. You generally will be given some margin-of-error.
If you have the time and presence-of-mind to give a handgun to a bystander, then your case for immediate danger is weakened, and most likely your case for inability to exit danger. Unless you’re in a hostage-type situation, if you have the time and opportunity to hand a gun to a stranger, you have the time and opportunity to run away. Finally, I don’t think you’ll get much benefit of the doubt if you somehow have the wits to start arming strangers in what is supposed to be a life-or-death self-defense situation (Three, three, three, remember?). So that’s the first problem.
The second problem is that you’ve given a gun to someone of unknown quality, and you are now at least partially liable for their actions. All CCW-holders have, inevitably, mentally rehearsed their shoot-don’t-shoot decision matrix. CCW-holders are a self-selecting group that have made the moral decision that it is justified to kill an assailant to save your own life. The average person may not have hardened their mind for that scenario, and they may not come to the same answer. And finally, they might be terrible at shooting, muzzle control, and trigger control. Who’s responsible then?
It might sound good in movies, where the good guys are being held in the bank vault while the bad guys are negotiating ransom with the cops, and they forgot to search the hero, and he has two guns, one which he gives to the attractive bank manager in a pencil skirt…but in real-life, that’s crazy talk.