David Kenik was one of my first (and best) firearms instructors. His company Armed Response sells an excellent collection of instructional videos. [Enter code TTAG for 20 percent off any DVD.] My favorite: Shoot/No Shoot Scenarios [not shown]. The video presents a “48 realistic scenes to interact with by challenging, drawing and shooting as needed! This vital training will help you recognize different types of confrontations, develop appropriate threat responses and understand the time constraints of violent encounters.”  OK, so here’s a scenarios based on that DVD, with three elements . . .

  1. You’re in line at your local Stop ‘N Rob. A bad guy bursts in and points a gun at the clerk. Shoot or don’t shoot?
  2. The bad guy pistol whips the clerk. Shoot or don’t shoot?
  3. The bad guy starts herding customers (including you) into the back room. Shoot or don’t shoot?

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47 Responses to DeSantis Gunhide Question of the Day: Shoot or Don’t Shoot?

  1. I would say yes, yes, and yes. The presence of a firearm in the commission of a crime should lead to the assumption that it will be use, hence deadly force should be met with deadly force.

    • I would agree on all 3. Once there’s a credible threat of force, the use of appropriate force to stop the threat is justified.

      Someone coming in with a gun drawn is pretty credible in my book.

      • Someone coming in with a gun drawn is not enough for me to risk shooting. What if he is an undercover acting on a tip or a silent alarm? Once he pointed the gun at the clerk and started robbing, that is the time to act. By act, that can mean run or fight. If you choose to shoot, that should be completely justified. I’m not yelling a warning and giving the bad guy a chance to turn on me.

        • Michael in GA covered all the important points.

          The fact that someone possesses a firearm — even in hand — is not sufficient reason to be legally justified to use lethal force. The person who possesses the firearm would have to be threatening other people in order to have any chance to legally justify use of lethal force.

        • I think “armed robbery” pretty much always involves threats, if a gun is involved or not.

        • An undercover cop is still gonna yell “Police!”, mostly so he doesn’t get shot by a bystander.

  2. Not sure about if I would shoot at 1 or wait till 2 but if you wait till 3.) happens you are screwed.

    Most self defense laws only stipulate a perceived threat of grievous bodily harm or death, so that clears you at 1.) given the presence of a gun. If you wait till 2.) then you are risking that the store clerk is permanently injured or killed from injuries sustained during said pistol whipping. Hard to call though.

    Think the officer in the video did a good job distracting the perp and then applying lead based medicine when the gun was no longer covering the clerk. Not sure why he just stood there did nothing while watching the perp die slowly on the floor afterward though.

    • Not an officer, it looks like, just a guy in a khaki-ish shirt. He does seem to have good training, as he always holds his gun in close.

      My question is what’s up with the customer at screen right? He doesn’t seem to notice the hold-up, barely reacts to the gunshot, and then doesn’t split until he’s done counting his change. WTH?

    • Tex300BLK,

      “Most self defense laws only stipulate a perceived threat of grievous bodily harm or death, so that clears you at 1.) given the presence of a gun.”

      At the risk of sounding pedantic, I believe your definition with the key word “perceived” has a serious flaw. Anyone can “perceive” a threat in just about anything. I have always heard that fear of a threat has to be “reasonable”, and “imminent”.

      “reasonable”: a reasonable (e.g. average) person would have to agree that your fear was sensible and expected in your circumstances

      “imminent”: a reasonable (e.g. average) person would have to agree that the threat which you reasonably feared was indeed imminent. And imminent means imminent.

      When you combine the requirements of those two words, you cannot justify using deadly force simply because someone possesses a firearm — even a firearm in hand. That person, with firearm in hand, would have to be doing something else that clearly conveys they have imminent malicious intent.

      • Sorry, but you and I are reading something different in scenario number one. You say “possesses a firearm”, but the actual words are “points a gun at the clerk.” I’m not shooting based on a video with no sound, but If I was there and could see what was happening, I don’t think it would be very difficult to decide whether a reasonable person would fear for his life.

  3. Bang, bang, bang. Although I might actually run away at 3 instead, after I had shot him at 1 and 2 and he was still misbehaving.

  4. 1. No. Draw, aim at perp, finger on trigger. Yell “Stop or I’ll shoot.” Then shoot if compliance is not instant or if perp turns toward you with firearm in hand.

    2. Yes, shoot.

    3. Yes, shoot.

    • Are you sure you can react fast enough to someone who is already at low ready? I would LOVE to set up a Mylar mirror at a range and test drawing and shooting at another person and get a better idea

      • This is true, but in the video at the top the BG appeared to be a Lefty (pun intended), and pointed his gun at the clerk who was now in imminent danger. IMO, all other things considered, the customer was justified at that point to draw and at least consider firing. There is no audio so we do not know if the customer challenged the BG, but we do now that the BG turned to face him which brought his left hand and his pistol to bear on the customer – imminent threat – BANG!

        There also doesn’t seem to be any indication of where this shooting took place other than in some sort of convenience store somewhere in the world. The customer could well have been an off duty or undercover cop.

  5. David has written several definitive articles about the defense of others. They should all be required reading.

    As for me, I carry to protect myself and mine, and I have no interest in being a “sheepdog.” Self-protection involves my own personal safety, getting out of Dodge if I can and fighting if I can’t. So as for the third question, yes, I’d shoot the BG multiple times, until the threat is completely neutralized and I was safe.

    As for the first two questions, no, I would not shoot unless I felt that my life, not the stranger’s, was threatened.

    And why doesn’t anyone ever ask this question; If you were the clerk in the above scenario and an armed person defended your life, would you pay his legal bills? His hospital bills if he was injured? His salary for lost time? Would you support the man’s family if he died to save you?

    Didn’t think so.

    • From a practical point of view once a gun is in play you can’t just stand there and do nothing. You only options are to withdraw or get ready to fight, I.e., introduce your own weapon. Standing there is not an option even if you aren’t into playing the sheepdog.

      “You may not be interested in war but war may be interested in you.”

      • Agreed. Which is what I said — get out of Dodge if I can and fight if I can’t. Standing around waiting to get popped is not the third way.

  6. A few days ago, there was in incident here in Spokane. I would have given the heads up to TTAG, but everything gets ignored, so I quit wasting my time. However, it was a bank robbery. Robber enters bank, and while robbing the place, orders people onto their knees. A customer in the bank took exception to being ordered to his knees by a dirt-wad and another female customer was scared. I can certainly relate with being angered at being ordered around by some f— stain robbing a bank. I would have given serious consideration to tunneling a hole through his head. However, the male customer being a veteran made the decision to “thwart” the robbery and rushed the robber trying to…wrestle him down or manhandle him. Well the robber being a criminal who was robbing a bank produced a firearm and shot the potential do-gooder / moron twice! A shot on the arm and once in the leg and the robber asked him “WHY?”

    My view is the do-gooder was an idiot. Even an armed citizen should not have engaged the suspect in that particular situation.

  7. I carry for work. I carry for Self defense. The two ARE distinctive. On the job, anything considered a threat will be dealt with, to the best of my abilities. If I or me and mine are in an active location and are able to exit without engaging the threat, so it shall be. If I find myself cornered, or directly in the perpetrator’s path, then it becomes my fight.

  8. 1. You’re in line at your local Stop ‘N Rob. A bad guy bursts in and points a gun at the clerk. Shoot or don’t shoot? I quietly take cover and set up a defensive position, gun drawn. Not my problem, there might be an accomplice, I might hit an innocent person. The likelihood is the clerk gives the BG what he wants, the BG runs out, everyone goes home alive, let the cops handle it. If the clerk gets shot, I’d feel only a little bad. The dumbass should have picked a safer line of work, like being an alligator wrestler or a lion tamer.

    2.The bad guy pistol whips the clerk. Shoot or don’t shoot? See #1. If the BG is pistol whipping him, he is probably not going to kill him. It might teach the clerk what should have been obvious all along: Get another line of work, and in a better neighborhood, learn to defend yourself and carry your own gun, no matter what the retail chain says.

    3. The bad guy starts herding customers (including you) into the back room. Shoot or don’t shoot?
    Shoot, shoot, shoot. I am not being herded anywhere.

    • This is exactly how I feel. I’m not going to draw while in plain view of a perpetual with gun drawn unless I feel like I’m about to get shot anyway.

      I’ll help if I can, but I do have to look out for me and my own first. If I can take cover or concealment before drawing and making myself the primary threat, I’d probably draw for 1 and 2, #3 would have to be counter attack as immediately feasible, you only get rounded up to be easier to shoot later if needed. That automatically means the attacker at least has a plan to kill you.

    • let’s switch this up. ! You’re filling up your BMW and I pull in at the next pump in my beat up old dodge. Gangbanger comes up and sticks a gun in your face demanding valuables, cause he knows you have more $$ than me. you keep looking at me to do something, as you noticed the NRA sticker on the window. I get in my truck and leave figuring the rich bastard should not have been flaunting his wealth.
      2. Said GB starts wailing on you for not turning over that gold chain around your neck fast enough. You’re lying in a pool of blood when he notices your (daughter, wife, mistress) in the car and goes after her. Again, F*** it, not my problem. If the rich prick had bought a Prius, he wouldn’t have been a target.
      3. GB turns toward me with a gun in his hand. Let’s just say that would be his last mistake.
      Not everyone who works retail is scum or an idiot.

      • Lessons here:
        1) Don’t drive a BMW. Do you know the difference between a porcupine and a BMW? On the porcupine, the pricks are on the outside.
        2) Don’t wear gold chains. They’re tacky.
        3) Certainly not everyone who works in retail is scum or an idiot. My wife spent her career in retail. My first real job was in retail. But working retail at a Shop n’ Rob that doesn’t allow you to carry a gun is not a smart move. History bears this out very well.
        4) Being a wannabe gunslinger hero is more likely to get innocent people killed than to save them. History bears this out also.

    • I find it to be asocial to not help a fellow human being at a disadvantage. If a robber comes into the store to rob it using a brandished firearm, and I am reasonably able to help stop him, I expect that I will help stop him.

      Those of you saying that you only carry to protect yourself and your loved ones I consider to be contemptible.

      Now, if you don’t think you can do the necessary help because your ability or the circumstances make it difficult, I can understand. One acts in desperation only if they must, but if there’s a clean shot to be made and you don’t take it, I label you a coward.

  9. Why is the shooter just standing over him….you can clearly see an ice cream case right there in the lower right corner of the picture….I would have at least munched on a nutty buddy to pass the time waiting on the cops.

    • Good choice. I would have gone with the ice cream sammich… Or a Twinkie….which ever allowed me to keep a proper LOS on the ex-perp.

  10. Don’t apply a bunch of extra words onto the described situations. No mention of target background, hidden accomplices, or if you have cover. The guy in question is “bad.” He is pointing a gun at the clerk. Your only options are to Shoot or Don’t Shoot. The questions are simply presented and my answers to each are just as simple: Shoot, shoot, and shoot.

    If the “bad guy” was attacking the clerk with his fists, or breaking stuff, or shoving twinkies down his shorts, or whatever bad activity not involving an imminent deadly threat, then the questions are much different. But the threats don’t get much more deadly or imminent than the pull of a trigger on an aimed gun.

    The preview on Youtube of the DVD in this post breaks it down similarly in the furniture store scenario. You may choose not to shoot at step 1, “allow” the robbery to play out, and be a good witness. However, I’m not sure how I would reflect on the situation afterwards if I “allowed” the clerk to get shot in the face at the whims of an armed robber, assuming I lived much longer than the clerk. The video does say that you should at least be drawing your weapon.

  11. 1. Maybe. It would depend on how aggressive the robber is. If he is low key, “I just want the money. Nobody needs to get hurt.” I wouldn’t mess with him. On the other hand, if he comes in loud and violent, threatening to kill anyone and everyone, I would put him down at my first opportunity.

    2. Yes. At this point, he has demonstrated that he is willing and able to do serious harm.

    3. Yes. Herding staff and customers into a back room is a well known red flag. Take him out before he starts executing witnesses.

    There are three criteria for determining whether lethal force should be employed. They are opportunity, ability and intent. Since the robber is there, he has the opportunity to hurt everyone in the store. Since he is armed, he has the ability. The details in 1,2 and 3 address intent. You can’t do anything about opportunity or intent. All you can do is eliminate ability by shooting him. The goal isn’t to kill him but to prevent him from seriously injuring or killing innocent people.

  12. When I’m conceal-carrying my primary purpose is to protect myself and my family. Not the world and not the world’s money. So no, I probably wouldn’t shoot on 1. Same possible response for 2 although if the circumstances led me to believe I had a good shot I might take it.

    #3, different story.

  13. Seems like a trick question.

    From the outside-looking-in, I’d say Shoot for all three.

    I guess the first could be “draw with verbal command to cease and desist”. The problem is that some loon jacked-up enough to rob a store is probably going to turn and shoot when confronted (my thinking).

    I’ve thought about this a lot. If someone has a knife or other weapon…Draw and tell them to stop and drop the weapon. If they don’t don’t and they’re within 25-30 feet – shoot. If they have a gun, your best bet at staying alive is draw and shoot.

    Other locales might change the responses somewhat. That’s the problem with hypothetical situations….there are way too many for a cut and dried answer.

    Just my thoughts.

  14. With these scenarios there is rarely a right or wrong answer. Depending on ones perception and life experiences, there are adequate reasons to either shoot or not to shoot. Further there are unknowns that would effect your decisions; what if your wife and/or child was also in the store? Is there anyone else in the store that could be an accomplice? What would be your reaction if the suspect started pistol whipping the cashier? Can you kill a person by hammering their head with a heavy metal object? Is the pistol whipping just a precursor to a shooting? The point is, as with LEO, one should consider their response to many scenarios, so when faced with a similar situation you will have spent some time making what seems, in the cold light of reason, to be a reasonable response. A response that will not only keep you and yours alive, but to also determine what your responsibility is to protect the life and/or safety of your fellow man.

  15. Drawing on someone with a drawn gun of their own (pointed at you or not) is dangerous in the first place. Commit a felony with a firearm, deserve whatever you get. Read the situation if you can, de-escalate if you can, shoot if you feel you need to to avoid any further harm to non-combatants. Anyone openly hostile deserves no quarter and no second chances. A polite society needs to understand that force will always be met with counter force and that second changes are miracles, not duties.

    This is the same idea as the hypothesis that if all steering wheels had 11 inch long steel spikes sticking out of them facing the drivers chest instead of airbags that we’d have a lot fewer traffic accidents and a lot fewer crappy drivers.

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