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One common misconception that I think most of us bring to the table is that gun owners – especially concealed carry holders – are well-trained, upstanding, responsible citizens who always obey the Four Rules. As this week’s DGU synopsis shows, that’s just not always the case. Another misconception is that folks like me who attempt to track tragic incidents like shootings are doing this to fulfill some sick fantasy, getting giddy as a schoolgirl when the day’s tragedies fill the search results. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it’s pretty disheartening to sit at the keyboard searching for death. But bringing all the DGU news together has a single, overwhelming benefit: education . . .

Years ago, before my ex cleaned me out, I trained for a private pilot’s license. Being a developer, I learned early in life the benefits of absorbing as much information about a subject as possible. Unfortunately, as with firearms, mistakes in the sky are frequently fatal. But they can also be educational for those who pursue an activity with a self-preservation mindset. My go-to guide back then was a rag called Aviation Safety. Each week, delivered to my mailbox, would be a dozen or so pages filled with aviation accident reports with causes and circumstances described in excruciating detail along with discussion by expert pilots.

I took away two important lessons from reading about the carnage. First, aviation (like firearms ownership) is a zero fault tolerance environment. That means you can’t make a single mistake. Not one. You strive for operational perfection knowing that there’s no safety net in your actions other than your ability to perform. That’s your feedback loop.

The actions and responses I studied in those reports gave me specific information that directly affected my ability to control an airplane in the event of an emergency or hazardous situation. I’m alive today because of that publication. To those who would say that chronicling defensive gun uses is right-wing cheerleading, they’re missing the point. I do this so everyone can learn from the actions – right or wrong – of others.

The other thing I learned from Aviation Safety: poorly maintained rental planes are afraid of heights and will do everything in their power to stay on the ground…or return to it with all possible haste. But those are stories for another day.

As for DGUs, let’s see where our partners in defense failed to maintain safe separation between themselves and a whole world of stupid. We’ll start with a fatal shootout in Norfolk, Virginia. This is a case of a double DGU, where both shooters felt they were defending their lives. When the smoke cleared and the ears started ringing, the Gunfight at the Rite-Aid left a retired deputy sheriff dead and another man in jail without bond.

And over what? Cutting in line. No, really. Bernell Benn was on his cell phone and started arguing with Ramon Colorado, Jr. over who was in line first. Colorado, the retired deputy, took offense. So much so that he pulled his pepper spray and gave Benn a faceful. Benn says he felt his life was in danger at that point and shot his attacker. Colorado was able to pull his own weapon and return fire, hitting Benn once in the back.

So many things that went wrong – starting a fight over a place in line, carrying a concealed weapon and initiating assault with pepper spray instead of walking away from an argument, pulling your gun and shooting a guy over a place in line instead of de-escalating when things got hairy – I hope we can all learn that using a gun in self-defense requires that your life be threatened in the first place. Cutting in line really doesn’t count. “I’m gonna kill that guy if I can’t get out of here ninety seconds sooner.” Really?

Last November, store clerk Bandar Abu-Karsh found himself facing serious charges after he successfully defended Express Carryout from an armed robbery. It wasn’t his self defense that was the problem – it was his failure to avoid the red mist. After wrestling the late Lamar Allen’s Tec-9 from him, Karsh shot Allen in the head, ending the fight. But it’s difficult to believe Karsh had a legitimate reason for clearing the magazine – 26 rounds into Allen’s limp body – Karsh lost his cool in a bad way.

And while everything was caught on surveillance video, it took a jury of twelve only about two hours to rule that Mr. Karsh’s actions were justified. Is “reacting to intense anger” now a justification for going primal? I’m glad he successfully ended a robbery and took out another thug, but his after-action won’t win him any support here.

Things may not turn out as hunky-dory for a 43-year-old homeowner from Perryville, Maryland. Aaron Reynolds, 21, is recuperating at a trauma center after being shot in an argument. Since the shooter has not yet been arrested, the police have not released his name. But considering that this occurred in Maryland and he had an unregistered handgun, well, I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.

I guess you could say he won the argument. An argument over… wait for it… borrowing a lawnmower. The homeowner used his gun like you might use a spray bottle against an ornery cat: The homeowner apparently fired several shots into the ground and warned Reynolds to back off. Apparently Reynolds continued to advance and was then shot in the leg and torso.

What have we learned about warning shots, fellow TTAGers? If you only have to fire a warning shot, then your life isn’t being imminently threatened and you have no business drawing in the first place. In this case the warning failed miserably and the shooter had to punch holes in the aggressor to stop the threat.

Home invasion is a nightmare we all share. Sudden, violent, aggressive and deadly. The success – or failure – of a bold attack like this is often dependent on the location. In areas with strict regulations on gun ownership, the invaders know they won’t face deadly force, yet the opposite applies in places where a high percentage of homeowners keep guns. Like Topeka, Kansas, where a few lowlifes attempted an armed home invasion. Their problem? They brought a knife to a gun fight: three white men armed with a knife forced their way into the residence about 2 a.m. Tuesday and robbed him. The victim, a 49-year-old man, fired gunshots inside the home that struck one of the burglars.

At least those guys in Topeka had the forethought to bring a weapon, unlike an intruder in Kentucky who was shot when he reached for the homeowner’s gun after banging on his back door at 10:45pm. The homeowner’s mistake: opening the door. If there’s someone you don’t know beating loudly on your back door, call 911 and let them deal with it. Opening the door only invites bad things in, like a crazy man who lunges at your waist for your gun. Keep the door closed and odds are you won’t have to shoot anyone.

Closing out this week’s highlights of defensive gun uses is one more shining example of what not to do. A resident of Hull, Georgia, “…emptied his .45-caliber pistol recently in the direction of two burglary suspects who fled the man’s home.” In their pickup truck. It bears repeating: don’t shoot at a fleeing suspect. If all you can see of the intruders are asses and elbows, you’re probably in the clear. Shooting wildly at fleeing bad guys will not help you make any friends (except maybe a public defender), and it certainly won’t score any points with your neighbors.

Until next week, here’s a tip: home carry is a great way to practice the situational awareness and operational respect needed for your means of self-defense. Just don’t go blasting away at anything that moves, okay?

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  1. I would almost prefer to see this feature as its own site, or at least its own feed. Thank you for this summary format.

  2. Well said, sir. 1 comment, 1 question :

    Firing at a fleeing aggressor/felon brings up a whole canon – not can – of worms. A non LE citizen might be able to under *very* specific circumstances. Running away with your personal property can get you into very deep trouble in some states– my own opinion is that I’d have to let them run away. Law enforcement, given their duties, would have certain rules about when it would be justified but they’ll have just as much trouble explaining it in the court of public opinion

    One question for fellow TTAG readers: somewhere I read a web page that described the concealed carry attitude. They said that you’re giving up the ability to a loud mouth, bird-flipping, “don’t disrespect me” person. They really said “you give up the ‘right’ to be aggressive if not very assertive”. It was an article that essentially said “turn the other cheek”. I don’t disagree… And I can’t find that web site. Just thought I’d ask on the off chance someone knows what site I’m referring to.

    • In all of my interactions with other people, I keep in mind that there is always at least one gun involved–mine. That definitely shades how I interact with people just a little, and generally for the better. It affects how I drive, where I go, and whom I interact with while there.

      • Exactly, Sig. Any altercation you are involved in is by definition a “firearm involved” altercation.

    • sadly, mikeybnumbers, you’re clueless. once again for the learning impaired. because you’re a druggy felon who had to flee the country after working a deal with the law doesn’t make the rest of us low lifes’ you’re projecting again. we’re headed to less gun control laws in this country. deal with it and move on trollboy.

    • Next week lets’ have some honest to goodness DGU and see if mikey still thinks most of them are bogus.

    • Hey TAG, if Mike keeps these kinds of comments up, can’t you ban him? He offers nothing to the discussion. I don’t know if you keep him around to appear “fair and balanced”, but it doesn’t help TAG’s cause to have an extremely weak representative from the other side of the argument. Mike is as weak as they come, it reflects badly on TAG. Find a stronger counterpart.

      • Am I really that weak a representative? I don’t think so. Do I really offer nothing to the discussion? Nothing?

        Maybe your appeal would have better success if it made sense. You should just say you cannot stand someone with a contrary opinion, someone who doesn’t think your really cool and right and all that good shit.

    • Mr. Bonomo:

      Unlike you we quote incidents that don’t reflect well on our position, i.e., unlike you, the (ex)-felon we are honest.

  3. a gunfight and fatality over a place in line? that’s a darwin award right there. and we’ve had this discussion more than omce, if he’s running away don’t fire. it may be legal in your local, but do you really want to be known as that guy. in the mythical old west they were called “back shooters”. i can’t speak for the cities in ky but my father lives in the country there. people knock on your door and you open it, that’s the way they do. my old man will never see 80 again and he is not going to change lifelong habits.

  4. Great post, thank you. On the last instance, after reading the news report it seems that he fired ‘four or five rounds’ at the truck, and the first round was aimed at the front passenger side tire. Saying he ’emptied his mag’ (I believe the article says he nearly emptied his mag) at a fleeing truck gives a certain impression which reinforces your valid point but doesn’t quite match the circumstances in this case.

    I still don’t know what happened exactly but having read just a few details it seems they fled towards the homeowner, then past him. I think the perps in the truck should be grateful he didn’t try to disable the driver, as I might have been tempted to do.

    • “…emptied his .45-caliber pistol recently in the direction of two burglary suspects who fled the man’s home.” was a direct quote from the article; looks like it’s been tweaked since. If it was a 1911, 4-5 shots (as mentioned later in the article; sorry, I missed that), would take him to “almost emptied.”

  5. Please expand on your thoughts about the “red mist”. At what point does a justified deadly response morph into unjustified actions? And what precisely are the unjustified actions? Are DGU’ers getting charged with murder because they shot a dead body, when the actual act of homicide was justified? I’m not justifying emptying a magazine into a limp body, but what should the charge for that action be?

    • At what point does a justified deadly response morph into unjustified actions?

      When the attacker is no longer a threat, but you continue your attempts to neutralize him – that’s when the red mist takes over. (For the uninitiated, “Red Mist” is a term that originated in the 1800’s, meant to evoke the feeling of blood rushing to one’s head at the onset of intense anger. And that’s all it is, really: anger. I think that one of the things which separates us from the planet’s other mouth-breathers is our ability to rein in the lizard brain’s constant requests for violence in fight-or-flee situations.

      This case – as they all can be – was unique in that after shooting the guy in the head, he was still alive (but no longer a threat). In the Heat of Anger is an emotion any jury member can empathize with. I don’t think he should suffer charges or jail time, considering that his life was genuinely threatened, and he reacted with self-preservation in mind.

    • In many jurisdictions, you can employ deadly force so long as you are in fear for your life (plus a host of other extenuating circumstances which vary by locale). You shoot until you no longer feel your life is in imminent danger; you’re shooting to stop the threat, not to kill someone (although these frequently have the same end result). Not many jurors are going to find that a “reasonable person” would use over twenty rounds; the conclusion might well be that he was trying to kill the guy, not just preventing him from harming him further.

    • Probably close examination of his mental health. It’s natural instinct of most animals that when they kill to not defile the body further. What that guy did is sick.

  6. FYI in MD handguns do not need to be registered, only ATF-defined machine guns need to be registered.

    • The media scribes ask the LEO if the gun was registered and of course the answer no. The journalism grad then writes how the handgun was unregistered. It’s far too complicated and trouble to add the fact that registration is not required.

  7. “It bears repeating: don’t shoot at a fleeing suspect. If all you can see of the intruders are asses and elbows, you’re probably in the clear.”

    It’s interesting to see you say this, and it’s not the first time recently I’ve seen it stated. It’s interesting to me specifically because if you go back to the post about the attempted robbery of the video poker room in Ocala, I was (I’m not personally offended, simply I wrote the post) met with almost universal disagreement when I suggested that the “good guy’s” final shot might be on shaky legal ground, because that final shot was through the open (but closing) front door while the bad guys were already outside, on the sidewalk, and presumably running away. I’m not going to go back and count, but I’d guess the opinions ran 90/10 against mine.

    • You know, the worst part about getting your comment caught in the spam filter for no discernible reason is that it messes up the “subscription” feature of the site, so you never get the notification email, nor emails about any comments that come after yours.

      • Shooting at fleeing BGs isn’t a good thing to do but prosecuting someone for doing it is even worse, IMO. It emboldens criminals. I think the reason the old man wasn’t brought up on charges was because they didn’t die and he’s old. It wouldn’t be politically popular to put an OFWG on trial down here in FL for shooting two dirtbags who were threatening people with weapons.

  8. I think that mikey so hates the truth as printed in that he has to resort to trolling here…

  9. That’s fine with me… I just read the paper and it had this article, but it said the retired cop shot the suspect when he was in his car still, and the female passenger took off running. So, maybe he wasn’t showing his hands or something.

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