When Should a Concealed Carrier Intervene in an Unknown Situation?

Courtesy Gun Talk Media and YouTube

By Jim Barrett

When you make the decision to carry a gun, you’ve taken responsibility for the safety of yourself and your loved ones back from the agents of the State. The decision to use your gun in the defense of your loved ones is a no-brainer.

The tricky question is whether or not to intervene in a situation where strangers are involved.

Take a look at this video from the First Person Defender YouTube Series in which an armed citizen had to deal with a man holding a gun on a woman.

One of the issues that comes up is the perennial theme of what duty — either morally or legally — an armed citizen has with respect to using their firearm to defend other people whose lives may be threatened.

Let’s get one thing out of the way here first. A person who is not a sworn law enforcement person has no legal duty to defend another person and, in some jurisdictions, making the decision to attempt a defense can leave you with a whole lot of legal pain.

Only sworn civilian law enforcement officers have any requirement or responsibility at all to involve in third party confrontations. And even there, according to the DC Court of Appeals decision in Warren v. District of Columbia, even law enforcement officers have no legal duty to provide police services to individuals.

So, ordinary citizens who carry a gun have no legal obligation to assist others. What about a moral duty?

That’s a stickier question. If you are single, have no dependents and the loss of your life, loss of much of your money (in legal fees), and/or the loss of your freedom (from incarceration) is not a major factor, then your decision is considerably less complicated than the one of the person who could leave his or her kids without a father/mother or leave them financially crippled.

If you do nothing and the worst happens, will you be able to live with yourself, knowing that you could have intervened? You need to think about these things now, not when you find yourself in a potentially dangerous encounter.

Let’s say that you decide to intervene in a situation. Do you really know what’s going on in front of you? Just because one person is holding a gun on someone else doesn’t automatically classify them as bad guy and victim.

It could be an undercover cop and a drug dealer he’s arresting. Shoot the wrong person and you can find yourself in a world of hurt. While they’re only training scenarios, First Person Defender videos are a good way to begin thinking about how you’d react in a similar situation.

comments

  1. avatar hgc says:

    This should get interesting. Popcorn, check…cola, check…switch devices…hot, check…
    Ready on the left? Ready on the right? Ready on the firing line?
    Commence to flailing!

    1. avatar Forward Assist says:

      When should a CC’er intervene? Almost never. Like zero percent in your life.

      But when should a bystander get involved? When needed!

      It’s all in the optics.

      1. avatar B.D. says:

        I like creating perfect world scenarios and debating what if’s.

        But I chose not to do it with people who think they know the answer to them all.

  2. avatar Shire-man says:

    I wouldn’t do anything unless it was me or mine. Not my monkeys not my circus. Not worth being arrested for, sued for, assaulted for, killed for.

    1. avatar Supermike says:

      Agreed… you think you’re saving some lady from Mr. Bad Guy, and you shoot… let’s say you take his life. Now you have to deal with those consequences and likely end up saving some crazy chick who sues you for loss of Mr. Guy because “he was really a good guy and wouldn’t have hurt her.”

      Maybe the only time is if I saw a child being physically beaten in public… and I don’t mean spanked, but beaten. Then I might have to step in. The physical abuse on the child will snow in photographs.

      1. avatar WI Patriot says:

        Exactly, how many times on Cops, or Live PD have you seen LEO’s dispatched to a domestic, where she moans how he beat her, so they arrest him, then she states that she doesn’t want to press charges, or doesn’t want him to go to jail…imagine intervening in a situation, shooting and killing what you thought was the “bad guy”, only to find out later that you’re now on the hook for a manslaughter charge, AND a wrongful death suit…that’d suck…

  3. avatar Ralph says:

    Intervention — other than calling 911 — would be crazy in an “unknown” situation.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Call 911, start filming, and advise that you are doing so. If *you* are then attacked, you have your answer, shoot the MF.

  4. avatar WI Patriot says:

    “When Should a Concealed Carrier Intervene in an Unknown Situation?”

    Never, you’re NOT a LEO(maybe you are), but you leave yourself open to prosecution…that gun you carry, you carry it for self preservation, not to be a “hero”(or maybe you do), truth be told, UNLESS your life is in jeopardy, call 911, and stand by…

  5. avatar possum says:

    When should a concealed carrier intervene. Any time you get a chance to pull that smoke wagon and go to shooten.

    1. avatar Rick the Bear says:

      Works for me. How else do you keep your skills sharp? j/k

      1. avatar The Cheeto Bandito says:

        Yeah, but look how well that works for Possums. They are all over the roadway, dead…

        1. avatar John in Ohio says:

          That’s what they want you to think.

    2. avatar Hush says:

      Shoot ’em up! (how do you spell sarcasm?)

      1. avatar If a witch can spel, and I can spel witch, Do dat make me a good spelar? says:

        Czarkazm.

  6. avatar anarchyst says:

    I would size up the situation. If I walked in on a robbery, I “might” act upon the situation, but one situation I would NEVER act on is one of a police officer needing help. Thirty or forty years ago, the situation would have been different and helping a police officer would be the right thing to do, but nowadays, with the militarization of police departments and police “guidelines” in which “shoot first and ask questions later” is the norm, helping a police officer is the last thing one should do. The “thin blue line” protects its own wrongdoing to such an extent, helping a police officer in any situation is not a good idea.
    As to domestic situations, the best thing to do is nothing…

    1. avatar Forward Assist says:

      Old military situational question: You walk into a bank. You have a weapon. A robbery begins. The perp is waving a gun around. You’re pretty sure you can take him if he walks close. What do you do?

      Single correct answer: Do absolutely nothing. It’s not your money.

      So stick that piece of wisdom in your EDC.

      1. avatar Darkman says:

        And then as the perp is leaving he decides to shoot up the place with you or someone you loved being the first victim.

        1. avatar frank speak says:

          reminds me of a bank robbery scene in a jeff bridges film where he plays a texas ranger…the title of which escapes me at the moment…the robbers flee in a hail of bullets from at least half the patrons impacting their pick-up while muttering “damn concealed carry laws!”……

        2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Once the perp pulls the trigger all bets are off. I’ll take him out if at all possible.

        3. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

          @frank speak – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell_or_High_Water_(2016_film)

          Pretty good movie.

    2. avatar frank speak says:

      that same question came up when I was undergoing armed security training…and the answer was pretty much the same one being voiced repeatedly here…except for when you’re on the premises you’re assigned to protect you should never draw your firearm except for personal protection…and then only as a last resort…it’s a litigious society out there….

    3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      I’d take the cop’s 6. I may be anti-cops but I’m pro-cop.

      1. avatar possum says:

        Me too, and I wouldn’t be anti cop if they weren’t anti me. Why can’t we all just get along?

        1. avatar Nigel the expat says:

          “I wouldn’t be anti cop if they weren’t anti me”

          Thumbs up button required 🙂

      2. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

        That’s well said, Gov. I’d like to think I would have intervened in some of the events I’ve seen clips of where a perp has a solo cop in a ground-and-pound or similar.

  7. avatar Jeremy D. says:

    “If you are single, have no dependents and the loss of your life, loss of much of your money (in legal fees), and/or the loss of your freedom (from incarceration) is not a major factor, then your decision is considerably less complicated than the one of the person who could leave his or her kids without a father/mother or leave them financially crippled.”

    When would the loss of life, money or freedom not be a major factor, single or otherwise? Do single people just not matter?

    1. avatar Napresto says:

      I had the same reaction myself, being single and all. Apparently I have a duty to sacrifice myself…?

      1. avatar Jeremy D. says:

        I enjoy my money, life and freedom. I’m not single but have no kids so probably have more money than I would thanks to the lack of ankle biters

    2. avatar CLarson says:

      TTAG contributor sounds hopelessly out of touch on this point. There are societies that have reciprocal systems that obligate young, single men to step up for group. America is no longer one of those societies and hasn’t been for decades. People need to give up on political and social conventions based on the broadly mono-cultural, homogeneous population we used to be 50 years ago.

      1. avatar CLarson says:

        Actually rereading the article carefully , Jim Barrett did not assert that the single person had a duty to act. 😳 But was making the point that single person might have less reasons not to act. Still my point stands that in modern America there is no collective moral system anymore that empowers single men to act. Jim is right framing self defense as an act of rebellion against society. “When you make the decision to carry a gun, you’ve taken responsibility for the safety of yourself and your loved ones back from the agents of the State.” This is where America is at.

  8. avatar Johnny Go Lightly says:

    If you do nothing and the worst happens, will you be able to live with yourself

    YUP…no problemo…adios amigo…off for a quick trip to Burger King….

    1. avatar Jeremy D. says:

      “Burger king….”

      So you ARE punishing yourself then?

    2. avatar Moltar says:

      Dear sweet raptor Jesus! Burger King!?!?! Burger King!?!?!? Have some self respect go to Hardee’s or Rally’s (Carl’s Jr. or Checkers depending on location in the U.S.)

  9. avatar harry323 says:

    Get you and yours to safety. Call 911. Observe and report.

  10. avatar Political gristle says:

    Don’t get involved, be a good witness, call the police.
    In *most* states one can legally defend one’s self. Your safety is not my responsibility it’s yours. If you die oh well, too bad so sad, sorry.
    **Self defense** may not be available in all areas, subject to change without notice, void where prohibited.

  11. avatar Ogre says:

    I agree with others that the gun I carry is to defend me and my immediate family. If others go out into the world and opt not to carry a means to defend themselves (other than talking the bad guy to death), that’s on them. As others here have said, there are too many unknown variables in situations involving others for me to put myself in legal or mortal jeopardy if I come upon such a situation. As to the moral argument, of course, one should care about what happens to others, but my view is that if they don’t take the necessary steps to defend themselves, then I’m not going to feel guilty for not doing it for them. That’s what 911 is for. Someone said that he might step in if a child was being beaten – even then, that’s what 911 is for IMHO.

  12. avatar Conrad says:

    Yea, do nothing unless you’re involved. I stood behind an unsavory type at a Bank cashiers window as he kept diving into his day pack. His buddy had split off to one side to watch and I was sure it was going to be a stick up. I had my hand on my iwb work knife and I was going to cut the dude to ribbons if I saw a gun… that was my reaction. When they left you could see the Teller’s relief, but when I left I also beat feet around that duo who now were out in front of the bank talking. Not my problem then.

  13. avatar Kenneth says:

    I can put this question to bed really easily. When should one intervene in an unknown situation? NEVER, under any circumstances!
    That does not mean one cannot observe until the situation becomes known. But if you don’t know what’s going on, keep your nose the hell out of it, whatever it is.

  14. avatar Specialist38 says:

    The list of hypotheticals is endless.

    Each situation will be different and probably not stagnant.

    A few years ago I walked into a gas station where an irate Male was yelling advancing on the girl behind the counter. I stopped after I walking in with hand kn my gun.

    He turned his attention to me, asked what I was looking at, and took a step toward me. I replied that I was looking only at at him and he was making me nervous.

    He stopped, looked at my hand in my pocket and back at my face, turned and strode out the other side of the station.

    I asked the girl if we needed to call the law, and she said no – I guessed she knew him.

    Moral of story, I was involved as soon as I walked in the station. Whether i wanted or not.

    1. avatar frank speak says:

      there’s a lot to be said for that “hand in the pocket posture”…seems to give even the worst of them a bit of hesitation…

      1. avatar hgc says:

        Had to go to the every day pocket posture recently at a Publix parking lot near 10 p.m. closing hour, Backpackers on bikes beginning to get aggressive.
        After 9 p.m. at a wallyworld parking lot is getting sketchy. very.
        Worst was mid-day, that geek squad place. Waving off with full hand, not one finger, triggered rage. I hadn’t even dismounted from the car.
        Trouble is out there, and at times, you don’t have the choice.
        Treat yourself to some utube bids with Grady Judd, Polk County Sheriff, one of the few remaining great ones.
        Or, two counties over, deputies are told shoot open long gun carriers first, “axe quesjuns” later, it’s a “not in my county.”
        Then, there is the south Florida Highway Trooper, in the middle of the main thoroughfare, might have been interstate, with 25 people filming with phones, as he begs for someone to save him as the perp on top is doing a credible job of terminating his life with extreme prejudice.
        Cop is hollering for help.
        Nice man, calmly gets out of vehicle, strolls over with pistola in paw, and does the right thing. Hailed as hero.
        My last dance, on my turf, attempted forced entry, halted, subsequent attempt resulted in snubby inserted in nostril, apparently high on something, as they didn’t calm down until the hammer cocked.
        Had a few other close calls, same piece, on door window frame, as attempted robbery approach was short circuited, by perp noticing it was 3 ft. from a gut.
        Back in the early days, flying from city to city for a large govt. contractor, my EDC was a gold Cross pen, single “shot” as the bottom end would get stuck in cartelage if ever used, last planetary alignment possiblility, 2000, downtown Philly. GOP Convention.
        You don’t go looking for trouble, it will find you.
        Luck is not having to go to the mat. But, if I were on a jury of 12, and someone in a bystander presence, got involved in other sheep”s problem, I could see where they reasonably could be in fear for their life.
        Makes it tough when every situation is unique.
        But, agree, never get your finger in the gears of the justice system, all fodder tastes the same to Lady Justice.

    2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      It’s kind of like porn – hard to define it exactly but you’ll know when you see it.

      In a case like yours, suppose you just went about your business and ignored the situation when the guy pulls out a gun and shoots the girl? There’s a good chance he’s not going to want to leave witnesses. You’re going to have to be a pretty quick draw in that situation.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Or just decide to hit/stab/shoot me and /or her because he’s upset.

        He was going to “do something”. My actions obviously had “some” effect. And I got to go home without a problem.

        Being armed and aware was my “plan” and implementation is based on the situation. If I wasnt armed it might go differently.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          What probably defused that situation wasn’t actually the gun’s presence but your presence and the confidence having the gun gave you. Kind of reminds me of something I read many years ago about lions. The males will charge you just to see what you’ll do. If you stand your ground they’ll pull up 30 yards short and let you go about your business because you’ve clearly identified yourself as enemy rather than prey. The girl was prey, you were enemy. That said, bluffing is better when you can back it up.

        2. avatar Specialist38 says:

          Gov…..true dat!

  15. avatar Hannibal says:

    Experiential example: if I come across some dude literally stabbing a woman who is on the ground, I’ll intervene (ballistically).

    Short of that level of certainty… probably not.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      I am with Hannibal on this one. If I see an attacker who is obviously and offensively (not defensively) maiming and/or murdering people, I will intervene if at all possible.

      Note that intervening in such a case really is looking out for you and your family. First of all, the attacker could instantly redirect his/her ire at you and your family for any number of reasons. Second of all, that attacker could target you or your family at a future attack. Better to stop the attacker now while he/she is right in front of you than in the future when you may not be there to defend your family.

      If an adult was obviously threatening a child, I would also intervene — without presenting my handgun unless the adult possessed an obvious weapon beyond his/her hands/feet.

    2. avatar John in Ohio says:

      You pretty much nailed it, Hannibal.

      I would modify it slightly, for myself, to anyone (male or female) being stabbed to death would probably warrant my intervention if there was no other way to avoid it.

  16. avatar Trundle says:

    I am never going to intervene unless it involves me or people I know. I choose to carry to protect myself and my people… if you choose not to do the same I have no reason to involve myself to remedy your poor decisions.

  17. avatar Jon in CO says:

    There’s a lot of posturing here. “I’m not helping the sheep, they need to help themselves, etc.”

    You’ll allow an innocent person to die because “they should’ve been responsible for their own safety”? That’s some cold shit. I agree, people should take their own responsibility into their own hands, but consciously watching someone die and not doing anything is beyond fucked up. You’d just allow an active shooter to go on a rampage because “it’s not my fight”? Please.

    If it was one of yours that I ended up letting die, those tunes would change real quick. I forgot though, all of yours are just like you: alert, carrying every minute of the day, and doing everything correctly.

    Back in reality, if I have an opportunity to help someone that needs helping, I’m doing it. Lawsuits, jail, whatever. I’ll deal with those consequences later. I’ll sleep better knowing someone didn’t die because I was able and willing to step in.

    1. avatar Trundle says:

      I wouldnt stand there and watch an innocent die… I would have been out the door long before if I or someone I know wasnt directly involved. I am not carrying to be a hero or vigilante or whatever, I am carrying to protect me and mine, and if that is not in play I will be vacating the area immedietly.

      1. avatar frank speak says:

        always best to be cognizant of where you are [state or municipality wise]…before you’re tempted to take action…

      2. avatar Joe in San Antonio says:

        I think most posters are not putting enough information behinder their “do nothing” position. The first thing I am going to do is move my family to a location of safety, 2nd is call 911, 3rd is attempt to keep contact ( albeit from a far distance) because I don’t want to be a targeted for being a witness.

        I will echo that if you walk up and the aggressor is already using deadly weapons/ intent then you are part of it already you are at the very least a witness, and most likely the next victim.

    2. avatar John in Ohio says:

      The reality for me is that there probably other situations, if they were crystal clear, that might get my intervention. However, the situation that I replied to Hannibal about is the one that is pretty sure in my head. By setting the bar really high, it forces me to closely evaluate a situation before I would even consider intervening.

      More often than not, things tend to break up when I roll through on foot since I open carry. It doesn’t always happen though. Sometimes pimps keep yelling at and slapping their hoes. Sometimes they will pause. However, the really serious stuff seems to disperse. Of course, it’s not my intention as I’m just going on about my business. Most of them know me by name in my hood anyway and they know I mind my own business.

      1. avatar tdiinva says:

        Most people see an open carrier, think cop and react accordingly. We haven’t reached the point, even in the most profound communities, where private citizens open carry. In the pro and con of open carrying this is mostly a pro.

  18. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    When you just walk in on a situation already in progress, there’s likely a lot of very important information you’re missing.

    Remember, in court, you’re going to be making arguments about what a “reasonable” person would do. Part of the defining of “reasonable” is “what would a person in possession of the information you had do in your shoes?”

    Well, lots of “reasonable” people would not intervene, because a) they don’t have the background information, and b) they’re pre-disposed to NOT act, even if they had all the information. There goes at least some of your defense on “reasonable person” grounds in front of a “jury of your peers” if it goes to court. Many of those “reasonable” people will be saying “He should have waited…” or “He should have asked questions…” or my favorite “He should have just called the police!”

    But then there’s about to be a much, much bigger problem: Let’s say the police are en route, but not there yet. Let’s say, after they make a quick stop at the local artisanal pastry shop for a praline coffee cake muffin and a cup of organic, Fair Trade coffee with a little heart drawn in the steamed milk froth on top, the po-po walks in on the situation when you and Mr. Thug Life both have weapons in your hands?

    Pucker-factor 11 time, folks. Call it Pucker-factor 25 if you have your dog by your side…

    1. avatar Jeremy D. says:

      Yeah not contributing to the “bystander effect” puts you in a small minority

    2. avatar John in Ohio says:

      It’s not a perfect solution but I try to make it a point to get to know most of the officers in my neighborhood. It helps that they have figured out by now that there is a low chance that I’m the perp.

      True story… A couple of months back I walked through a raid. I was on my way to the barber shop, open carrying as usual. Normally I have good situational awareness. For a variety of reasons, I did not at this particular moment. All of the officers completely ignored me as I walked through. I didn’t even notice until I had went in the barber shop, secured my spot, and then went back out to smoke a cigar. I saw them right where I walked through and was dumbfounded. One of the guys looked up the street at me and smiled. I was certainly Mr. Magoo that day.

  19. avatar JoeVK says:

    Younger me would have intervened in almost any situation. Current me would only intervene in extreme situations. Not because I’m cautious or concerned with legal issues. It’s mostly because I really don’t care much about most people unless they’re friends or family. Not enough to use my firearm, anyway. I kind of sounded like a sociopath there, lol. I might step in and try to talk or reason with the individuals if it seemed bad enough. I would give a statement on what I saw and heard if I witnessed anything, but that’s about it.

    1. avatar NJ2AZ says:

      you’re fine man.

      my kids are both under 6. for at least the next decade or so i’m very alright saying i’m not willing to expose myself to serious risk for anyone but them or their mom.

      1. avatar Joe in San Antonio says:

        A scenario that happened to a friend of mine. Mom and kids are shopping at kohls walking back to car, homeless women ( looks like a meth head) asking for money grabs shopping cart with kids inside. Wife screams which brings out male crackhead who has a backpack. He grabs cart and demands money. Mom is freaking out. My friend and his buddy see it, they have good siutational awareness, call 911 and then run up from different angles of attack because the homeless couple are starting to pull the cart away from the mom. Homeless couple get scared off by my friend and his buddy. Got to say I hope someone would do that for me and mine.

  20. avatar NJ2AZ says:

    i don’t want to say never ever ever, but for all practical purposes if its not to save myself the wife, or the kids, probably never.

    i’m reminded of an incident a few years ago…and maybe i have it wrong. a man and a woman shooter are fleeing into a Walmart or some place. A concealed carrier confronts the man and the unseen woman shoots him dead.

    Self-serving as it might be, my kids having their dad is more important to me than saving someone else from something bad.

  21. avatar Pa John says:

    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. – Edmund Burke

    If the devil’s purpose was to so corrupt our legal system that it became a mere tool for stopping good people from doing what they know is right, then apparently he’s already won!

    1. avatar Darkman says:

      Agreed. It’s a short step from turning a blind eye to evil and cowardice. So many of the people here saying they would do nothing are the same ones who complained about the police doing nothing at the school shooting in Florida. SAD…

      1. avatar Kenneth says:

        But it is one thing for a civilian with limited information and lots of legal liability to intervene(or not) in something that isn’t any of their affair. It is quite another thing for a policeman(with almost unlimited legal immunity) to hide behind his car while being told information from dispatch that the civilian has no access to. The policeman is PAID to intervene! It is his JOB to do so.
        Very extreme differences there.

        1. avatar Darkman says:

          As per court a decision the police are not required or directed to intervene in any situation involving violence against a citizen. Sad but true. I grew up and was raised in a generation where people took care of the problem themselves. Waiting for the law to arrive meant everything would be over before they got there and the perp was gone. I still live or die by those ideals. When people refuse to act in the defense of their community. There community usually goes to hell. As we see happening everyday all over the country. I refuse to be complacent and allow fear of legal consequences keep me from doing what is necessary to stop evil.

      2. avatar Ranger Rick says:

        “Intervening” while in uniform under the authority of the State is much different than in civilian attire with limited equipment, no backup and no authority is quite another.

  22. avatar Ed Rogers says:

    Every situation is different. It depends upon my danger threshold, at the moment it occurs.

    My first inclination is to allow things to play out. If the perpetrator loses control of his/her emotions and things don’t look good, I’d consider myself at risk.

    Obvious stuff, like harm, would decide things for me. Fortunately, I’ve probably lived over half my life anyway.

  23. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I believe we do have a moral obligation to assist each other in any way that we can in practical terms. That does not mean that I should dive through the ice with heavy clothing (e.g. an anchor) to try and rescue a neighbor who fell through the ice. It does mean that I should call for emergency rescue and try to find a rope, ladder, or long pole that I can use to try and rescue my neighbor without falling through the ice myself.

    Similarly, our moral obligation to assist each other does not mean that we should jump in front of a victim when 10 armed men announce that they are going to execute the victim in 30 seconds. It does mean that we should try to stop an obvious attacker when we can do so without inordinate risk to our life. That means we should try to stop a single attacker or even a pair of attackers who is/are stabbing someone if we have a reasonable element of surprise and “stopping power” (meaning that we are not carrying a “mouse” gun or even a compact handgun in “small” calibers).

    As usual, that obligation to assist requires that we actually assist and not make the situation worse. And that requires that we cannot assist unless we saw everything unfold and KNOW FOR CERTAIN that an attacker really is an attacker and not a defender.

  24. avatar strych9 says:

    Situationally dependent on what you know at the time.

    A guy holding a gun on someone in a parking lot is different from a guy walking into a gas station with a gun, putting the gun in the clerk’s face and demanding money from the register.

    In the first situation I’d want more information in the second I’d probably hot the guy at least twice if I thought I could do it with out him shooting the clerk as part of the deal. My logic is that if he’s willing to threaten lethal force over petty cash then he’s more likely than not to use lethal force on the clerk. If he’s willing to start blasting on the clerk over a couple hundred bucks, and thereby turn robbery into a murder rap, then once the stakes are even higher than a few bills he’s probably willing to dispose of witnesses to that murder, which means me. So fuck him, he get’s zapped if I can do it when he doesn’t have the gun aimed at another person.

  25. avatar daveinwyo says:

    I’m with the no way crowd. Not my sheep. Did have my local pharmacist ask me to stay in the store ’till the creepy dude left ( she knows I carry). Put myself in a position to help without looking obvious. Creepy dude looked around the store saw me (possible witness?) and left. Summer in a tourist town.

  26. avatar Rakrom says:

    Never. Perhaps if I was in the bank during a robbery but even then it would only be if I was directly in jeopardy. I’m not a cop so I’m not going to try and do a cops job. My gun is for defense, not to pull out and try and play the hero. It’s pretty simple if you want to be a cop go be a cop or if you want to be an “operator” go enlist. These fantasies of saving the day are unrealistic and most likely you will just get yourself or someone else killed. It’s not a movie out there it’s real life with real consequences.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Close to my attitude, I plan to always carry, and if I need to drawandfire (yes, one word), I will know it, otherwise no chance.

  27. avatar GS650G says:

    In unknown situation is not something you want to get involved in. If you know them and what is going on that changes things a bit. It all depends on the situation.

  28. avatar Timothy Toroian says:

    Except to defend yourself and people close to you is most tricky. If it is obvious someone is going to kill an unarmed person even a cop, it is worth interfering. A friend once interfered with and ended a rape. If you’re in a store getting robbed you cannot know how many people are involved and you could be shot be another miscreant. I’ve personally seen big city undercovers who would definitely appear to be perps if you saw them with a gun pointed at another person and you could overlook any badge displayed in the scrubby mufti they were wearing.

  29. avatar BD says:

    Don’t those other hypothetical people in this hypothetical situation have the real and inalienable right to keep and bear arms?

  30. avatar UpInArms says:

    My position is to stay out of it unless there is a direct and clear threat to me or mine. But I’m going to qualify that by saying that no general rule is going to cover all situations. To wit:

    If I’m eating a burger at the food court at the mall and someone opens fire, picking off random targets. In that case, I pull my gun and return fire, even though no shots have come my way yet.

    For me to pull my weapon, though, the situation would have to be that clear and that immediate. Just about any other situation would find me headed for the nearest exit or safest cover.

    I do not see a moral failure on the part of any carry permit holder refraining from stepping up and getting involved. Until the government passes Good Samaritan laws that protect permit holders from the legal traps that come with trying to assist, the moral failure belongs to the government, not to me.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Your description reminds me of one of my personal favorite sets of circumstance, the Aurora theater shooting. If the world were even close to right, that jackass would have found himself in the middle of the stage, fired one shot, and discovered 50 firearms all shooting at him at the same time, until he qualified as hamburger. Because walking out onto the stage in the middle of a movie and pulling out a gun does not leave questions.

  31. avatar ai338 says:

    You can only use a firearm when someone’s life is in imminent mortal danger, so at that point it should be pretty clear what to do.

  32. avatar John in Ohio says:

    “When Should a CONCEALED Carrier Intervene in an Unknown Situation?”

    Good article and I noticed that the author didn’t make the distinction between open and concealed carry in it. Did TTAG title the article?

    WHEN THESE ARTICLES MAKE THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN OPEN AND CONCEALED CARRY TOTALLY UNNECESSARY FOR CONTEXT, I GENERALLY AVOID READING THEM!

    Yes, I’m fucking yelling that to YOU TTAG. There is enough POTG division. Please stop. If you don’t title the articles, please consider suggesting that change to future authors.

    Of course, because I saw that Jim Barrett had written it, I gave it a read and I am glad that I did. Since I open carry, none of it applies to me as it is apparently for CONCEALED carriers only. SMH

    1. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

      I once asked an Ohio Cop if contrary to legal open carry in Ohio (which way back then was little known to the average citizen and even a few cops) what could a cop arrest me for when I was legally carrying in the open. He laughed and read off so many charges I almost fainted. He told he, we do not uphold the law “we are the law” and sometimes we make it up as we go along. At least he was being honest.

  33. avatar John in Ohio says:

    Another true story…

    A year or so ago, my middle daughter worked third shift for a local convenience store. We had gotten to know all of the 2nd and 3rd shift officers around there. I was in the store, open carrying as usual, and drinking coffee. I was shooting the breeze with some 3rd shift officer. He said something about if the place got robbed right now that the robber would be in bad shape. I told him that if the place was being robbed, I was moving around the corner and he wouldn’t hear or see my 1911 unless my daughter, me, or him were about to be killed. I told him the rest of that shit was his job and not mine. I’m only obligated to protect myself and my own. He smiled real big and said that he hadn’t thought about it like that before but it was the honest and right answer.

  34. avatar Roy Johnson says:

    When would I intervene?

    When it directly affects me and my family and or the people around me. Other than that, I’ll just be good witness for the police.

  35. avatar AndyinMA says:

    Don’t forget the golden rule: No good deed goes unpunished.

  36. avatar Wally1 says:

    Interesting subject. Maybe 30-40 years ago, absolutely assist your fellow citizen. But now, not on your life, (pun intended), The people you save are probably anti gun and will never accept your decision to save their life, yea, it’s become that ridiculous. Years ago I would stop and help stranded motorists, help others at a collision scene, etc. Not today, none of my business, and if they can’t or won’t take responsibility for their own lives, F*’em. I equate this to the people I see when I am hiking or hunting in the wilderness. Many people with small children and no firearm. No way to defend themselves against wild animals, (both four and two legged). Why place myself in jeopardy because of poor choices made by them.

  37. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    No Stranger deserves your protection using your firearm. They need to learn on their own and, with their own gun, and be prepared to take action to defend themselves.

    Most state laws do not favor third-party intervention using deadly force. There are very narrow exceptions for you to intervene using your firearm.

    The case of the California Pitchfork murders are a perfect example of how laws have been written that pretty much deny a third party from intervening even in an attempted murder situation.

  38. avatar Jeff Tillman says:

    That is why it is sooooo important to carry some form of stun gun along with a firearm.

    So much grey.

    Stun gun so much easier to deploy from a legal point.

    I have deployed my stun gun twice without hesitation. Did not have to use it on the aggressor. Once with 2 others arguing. Once to protect myself.

  39. avatar Jeff Tillman says:

    I have deployed my stun gun twice with zero hesitation.

  40. avatar tdiinva says:

    Said this before but it deserves repeating. George Patton was out with his wife in NYC and came across two men forcing a woman into the back of a truck. Patton being Patton stops the car, gets out with pistol drawn to confront the abductors only to find out that it was a man and his brother helping his wife into the back. If you don’t know what is going on stay out of it, observe and call 911.

  41. avatar Joseph Tkach says:

    If I have a cc would I be able to protect myself. And under what circumstances?

  42. avatar Retrocon says:

    “Only sworn civilian law enforcement officers have any requirement or responsibility at all to involve in third party confrontations. ”

    Um, not true.

    From a legal perspective, you can probably be sued if you do nothing when you could have. A police office , however, is protected. Courts have said they cannot be held responsible for doing nothing…

    Look up “no legal duty”.

  43. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

    I remember a Truck Driver who heard and saw a woman screaming for help because of a man attacking her. He drew his gun down on the guy who turned out be an undercover agent arresting the woman. Naturally any good deed never goes unpunished and the Truck Driver was arrested on a variety of charges including carrying a gun in another State.

  44. avatar raptor jesus says:

    Call the cops and GTFO.

    Gun only comes out if its an imminent threat to ME and MINE and I’m planning to pull the trigger.

  45. A concealed-carry course offered this hypothetical situation.
    You see a man dragging a little girl towards a van, and the girl is kicking and screaming and trying to get away, yelling, “No, don’t take me, I don’t want to go!”

    You shoot the man before the girl finishes her sentence, but she was about to say, “I don’t want to go visit grandma, daddy!”

    This situation almost happened to me. I was helping my son ride his bicycle equipped with training wheels. He was supposed to stay on the sidewalk, but he zoomed out the driveway into the middle of the road and pedaled away, right down the middle of the road, as fast as he could. The quickest way for me to catch up to him was to jump in my Honda Pilot SUV and drive after him, and when I caught up, I pulled the SUV diagonally across the road, blocking his path to save his life, so he wouldn’t be hit by an oncoming car. Then as I reached down to grab my son and put him and his bike into the car, another car screeched to a halt. The man in the car, a “concerned citizen”, thought I was kidnapping my son! Luckily, the “concerned citizen” wasn’t armed, or he might have shot me.

    Just in case the other driver was armed, I made no sudden movements while he was watching me. I was careful to put my son’s bike in the SUV first, then before lecturing my son about the dangers of riding in the street, before finally putting him in the SUV. This seemed to satisfy the “concerned citizen”, because a real kidnapper would have just snatched the kid and left the bike behind, and a kidnapper wouldn’t have paused to give the kid a lecture about riding his bicycle in the middle of the street.

    Now, if my son had started screaming, “No, I don’t want to get in the car!” then I might have gotten shot or had 911 called on me, but thankfully my son knew he’d done something wrong, so he was quiet.

  46. avatar BS says:

    This article and most of the comments are a good example of the PUNG-DOTS theory. PUNG being Probably, Usually, Normally, Generally and DOTS Depends On The Situation. It allows that PUNG wouldn’t get too involved, but DOTS they might. It’s usually a good answer to any “What If?” scenario. As an aside, it is a bit reassuring to see a good amount of caution in the comments. With all of the new language and concepts being offered by those in the trade these days (EDC, firearm “conditions”, color-coded alert levels, etc) – hey, they make money selling that stuff after all and it adds to the tacticool factor – it seems the ones that profit the most want everyone to not only carry, but be prepared to handle an ISIS platoon, MASCAL event and zombie invasion any time, any where.

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