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I worked in a bank in a previous life. One of the first things they teach you regarding handling a robbery is that once the bad guy (BG) leaves the bank, secure all the doors (so he can’t re-enter the building) and STAY INSIDE until the cops arrive . . .

There’s no way to know if the clerk was carrying the .38 or retrieved it when it was obvious the BG was leaving.  Exactly what happened isn’t clear based on the sequence and time stamps on the security tape. Most puzzling: how the clerk seems to follow the BG in the back room after it appears he’s making for the exit.

She SHOULD have locked that door when he bolted. But no, she decided to open the front door and take a pot-shot at the car with the BG inside. Then, when he peeled out, she ran after the car and fired two more shots at him.

Let’s leave aside the danger to innocent bystanders. When the BG made his exit, her life was no longer threatened. But she decided it’d be a good idea to take off firing at him like the clerk in Raising Arizona.

She should be thanking her lucky stars that she missed. And the bad guy didn’t, as the Anglicized RF says, “take the hump.” In other words, she should be happy he didn’t get pissed off that someone was firing a gun at him, stop the car, get out, run back and shoot her.

If she’d hit the BG (or killed him) there are plenty of prosecutors who’d be all too willing to bring charges against her. She may still find herself on the business end of an assault or reckless endangerment charge. And you can bet the BG (or his family) would have had no trouble finding an eager ambulance chaser willing to sue her if she’d poked holes in him.

I’m glad the clerk had a gun. This kind of business seems like a particularly juicy target for armed robbery. If I worked there, I’d have been armed, too. And thank GOD the BG’s gun jammed and she wasn’t killed, as he intended. But that doesn’t excuse what she did.

TTAG Armed Intelligentsia members routinely (and usually appropriately) display righteous indignation when they hear of store clerks being pink-slipped after defending themselves in an armed robbery. But if she worked for me, this clerk would lose her job.

A responsible gun owner knows when to keep his or her powder dry. Which is always—unless firing their gun is the only possible way to prevent death or serious injury to the gun owner and/or innocent bystanders.

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  1. I’ve posed this question to friends before. What is self defense? Is it taking action to turn a chaotic and deadly situation into a safe and controlled situation? OR is it an opportunity for justified murder? I may be soap boxing this a little bit, but DZ is right. That clerk should have locked the doors and called the police.

    That clerk was looking for justified murder.

    ** Obligatory back handed comment** Also,.. looks like a payday loan place. It may have been justified robbery. ( that was awful for me to say, but I do hate those places)

  2. I read a weepy “how I lost my husband story” a couple of decades ago.
    The author of the piece recounted how she lost her spouse to armed robbers.
    The perps were aggressive and mean, but hadn’t slain anyone – yet.
    She became a widow because her man decided to literally take a quick peek outside
    to get a plate number. One of the fleeing men turned and fired a single parthian
    shot that ended the man’s life in an instant.

  3. You pretty well nailed it. As soon as the BG left the scene the situation that justified deadly force ended. By going outside the clerk was creating a whole new situation, as the aggressor.

    You have the right to own a gun, but you have the responsibility to know how and when to use it.

    • Hypothetical: The Clerk chases after the BG, thereby creating a life threatening situation as the aggressor. She is shooting wildly and manages to hit the BG as he is driving away. The BG is unable to continue driving and the shooter approaches, gun in hand, pointed at the BG. Could the BG shoot the woman if he felt his life was in danger? At what point does a criminal go back to being a regular Joe?

      • That would depend on how your state laws are written.

        In TX they prob allow you to follow the guy home, note the address and come back with in thirty business days to off him (extended to 60 days if there is ANY national holiday within the original 30 day period).

        In CA you prob can’t return fire until three rounds have all ready struck you and you can only then return fire for a single shot weapon with no sights, grips, wood (of any kind) and only firing a projectile that travels less than 1000fps but not less than 900fps, can not be made from anything “known to cause cancer in the state of ca” (i.e. anything on the planet).

        In GA once he is fleeing the scene he is off limits unless your a cop and only then in very limited situations i.e. he’s armed and headed toward a school or crowded area and the cop feels that he’s going to commit another violent crime once he reaches the area. if he’s armed and headed into the woods… bye.

  4. There are states where the use of deadly force is authorized to prevent the commission of certain felonies (armed robbery is on the list) or the immediate flight therefrom. The clerk may have been within her rights to shoot, but I agree she showed poor judgment.

  5. Daniel, unfortunately my Adopey player has never worked on my north korean laptop, but from the description, and the mention that the BG had a misfire, it sounds like the clerk’s fight or flight response got the better of her. I’m not saying she was in the right, but I wish the courts would take things like that into account. Seeing/realizing you’ve almost had your ticket punched has a distinctive reaction. At 14 or 15, many times I stepped into the yard where I lived in the boonies, on 20 acres, only to get shot at. Many times my folks and I shouted and sometimes shot a gun into the ground to warn idiots that the plinking they were doing outside our property, as they trespassed on our neighbors’ (who owned land but didn’t live there), was causing bullets to zing by us. On one occasion, a round narrowly missed my head, the sound of a round just missing your ear is something you’ll never forget, and I lost it. I had a Ruger Mini 14 and a 30 round magazine. I aimed low into the trees and cut loose. Mind you, I never hit anyone, but for those brief moments I had had enough, enough of nearly being shot. I never did anything like that again, I learned the better part of discretion. The resident deputy in that part of the county supported me, as I truly was being shot at, but I still beat myself up for it-for losing my temper with a gun in my hands.

    • Fortunately she didn’t hit a bystander and I hope she isn’t charged. I understand wanting to get back at someone who just pointed a gun at you and pulled the trigger, but her judgement was pretty poor. All she did was to further endanger herself and anyone on the street at the time.

    • As a teenager, I was legally duck-hunting on public land when some jackass across the pond with a .22 started taking potshots at our blind. After a few *very* distinctive whizzing near-misses (Cujo is right about never forgetting: it was 28 years ago) I really really REALLY wanted to return fire with something effective, but #4 lead shot at that range hardly even counts as an annoyance.

  6. She should have shot him while he was still in the store. She endangered the public by her actions and she’ll most likely be charged, but if she had bagged the BG I wouldn’t be to upset.

  7. Thinking up scenarios in which killing a human would be justified seems to be the primary occupation of the “self defense” crowd.

    I have a hunch that about 75% of the scenarios dreamed up would result in life imprisonment.

    Good thing it’s mostly mittyism, and when they do get a chance to fullfil these lifelong fantasies, they often end up missing.

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