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“The Good Samaritan was shopping at the Family Dollar on Stanton road when he noticed a masked gunman leading one of the employees to the front of the store,” huffingtonpost.com reports. “‘He had the gun to his head. He had him on his knees,’ said the man. ‘I drew my gun on him and I said ‘Hey don’t move.’ At that point he swung around and before he had a chance to aim the gun at me I fired. I didn’t want to shoot him.'” But he did and the thief’s family is pissed. Yes, well, here’s an interesting question . . .

What was the ‘proper’ response to this situation?

I put the bunny ears around the word proper because the proper response is any response that works. In this case, the good guy aerated the bad guy – one Adric White – who put innocent life in imminent danger of death or grievous bodily harm. Result. As always, this armchair quarterbacking is not meant to cast aspersions on a successful defensive gun use.

So . . . We good? Great. Now imagine you’re in the same situation. A bad guy has a gun pointed at an innocent’s head, leading him to the front of the store. Do you yell out “Hey don’t move?”

I think not. It takes less time for a bad guy to swing around and shoot you than it takes for you to shoot him. Action beats reaction. Never mind that it didn’t here – assuming the deal went down the way The Good Samaritan said it did. From a practical point of view, surrendering the surprise part of the speed, surprise and violence of action recipe for defensive gun use is a strategic blunder.

Not to mention the possibility that there’s an armed accomplice nearby. Didn’t think of that, did you? You really should. As the Brits say, it’s the bus you don’t see that kills you. And while we’re at it, consider this: you would have been entirely within your rights to shoot Mr. White without any warning. You see a firearm aimed at innocent life? Green light!

Then again, maybe not . . .

The Good Samaritan didn’t see the incident from the very beginning. Presumably, he didn’t recognize the employee personally. So how did he know the bad guy from the good guy? Mr. White could have been a plain clothes cop arresting a thief dressed as a Dollar Store employee. Or a Good Samaritan collaring a Dollar Store employee who’d gone postal.

A bit far-fetched I know. But unless an armed civilian knows exactly what’s going down before letting loose the ballistic dogs of war he or she could find themselves motoring down the road to Hell, noticing that it’s paved with good intentions. From inside a prison cell. Bankrupt.

Which brings us to the other potential alternative, the one that always gets me in trouble: walk away and call the police.

You are entirely within your rights not to engage a bad guy. Even if Mr, White had killed the employee right then and there, the Samaritan had no legal obligation to act to protect innocent life. He could have hidden himself, observed the bad guy, called the cops with a description and kept his powder dry.

I’m not saying that’s what he should have done. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have inserted myself into the scene. I’m simply pointing out that an armed citizen has the option to do (or not do) whatever it takes to go home at the end of his shift. I mean, at the end of the day. Remember: nothing draws gunfire like gunfire.

Morally? That’s a different discussion. For now, let’s just go with this: shoot or don’t shoot. Feel free to revisit that decision as the situation changes. But think about it now. As  Mr. White almost discovered, hesitation kills.

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203 COMMENTS

  1. I think we can blame Hollywood for this one. Where the good and bad guys banter for hours with guns trained on each other’s heads. As a concealed carrier, I can’t see any reason to speak, ever. Drawandfire, take cover and observe, or flee. Drawandfire is all one motion, all one thought, and all one thing as far as I’m concerned. Nothing could possibly transpire fast enough to interrupt it once it’s begun.

      • Or worse? Like dead? Like witnessing the death of another? Like going home safe from harm and legal reprisal knowing that death is on you? You speak as if the decision to kill exists in a vacuum with no repercussions for not shooting. That is a typical ploy of the antis, misrepresenting the real world pros and cons of being armed and conciencious.

        • “Like going home safe from harm and legal reprisal knowing that death is on you?”

          This is part of why I would have to act, even if I survived that day by not acting I think the guilt would have me eating a bullet eventually.

        • How is a non-shooter responsible for the shooting death of the clerk who was shot by a robber? Couldn’t we safely say that the person who shot the hypothetical dead cashier is responsible? Couldn’t we say that his employer who prohibited his carrying a weapon at work responsible? What about the fact that he took a job where he knew he’d be at risk of armed robbery? What about the cruel society that pushed the robber to a life of crime, or violent video games, or Judas Priest’s 1978 album Stained Class? Reading this makes me think there are a lot of people here who suffer with a Dark Knight complex. It’s as if you think you’ll be rewarded for your efforts if you ever manage to shoot someone “for justice”. At best, you’ll be forgotten or ignored. More likely, you’ll be arrested or sued.

        • So Barstow Cowboy,(interesting handle) no good deed goes unpunished? Perhaps. But I have stepped between a gang banger and the ex-girl friend he was trying to kidnap and kill. At least the ex felt he was going to kill her and I’ll accept her perspective, she’s knew him best. Should I have just figured she had made her bed and now it was her fault for picking a criminal to be in relationship with? Just walk by while he was dragging her into his car kicking and screaming?

          Naw, I don’t think so. Each person has to decide what they are willing to risk in defending a fellow human being from their bad decisions. Me, I’m willing to risk my life, let alone a civil suit in defending the helpless and the defenseless from a human predator. After all, for most situations, I won’t know until afterwards what the back story was.

          I would rather risk a civil suit, than to find out afterward that a random mass murderer was on the beginning of a killing spree that could end up with many slaughtered, that I could have stopped with immediate intervention.

          I’ll take the risk.

        • That gangbanger’s girlfriend probably went back to him a few days after you saved her life. Then she probably had kids with him. Those kids are now gangbangers going around beating and kidnapping women.

          If you’d shot him she’d have taken his side in court, during both the criminal and civil trials.

          Enjoy the weather up there on the moral high ground, hero.

        • At least Barstow, (sorry man, I really can’t call you that other word, it would be an insult to the idea of what it represents) you acknowledge what you are not.

        • @Barstow Cowboy

          “Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” ~ John Stuart Mill

          Standing up to stop evil is not about accolades or recognition. It is not about trying to be a hero or perpetuating a “Dark Knight complex.” It is about doing the right thing because it needs doing. Because, if not me, than who? If no one steps up, if everyone turns away because “it’s not their problem,” expecting that someone else will deal with it, that is when crime and violence flourish.

        • You know, if I’m being outspoken and perhaps a bit offensive to some of you, it’s not because I care that you want to make yourselves feel manly and noble by posting on the internet about your high ideals and musing about how heroic you’d be, if only you were given the chance to shoot an armed robber…that’s fine I guess, and basically harmless. The thing that got me going is when instead of merely praising one another for being so (hypothetically) willing to (hypothetically) lay down your lives and (hypothetically) make the world a better place (by spraying another person’s brains all over the inside of Dollar General), you made the leap to insulting Farago and anyone else who’d prefer to exercise caution. If you want to have Mitty fantasy hour here on the internet, fine, but take it easy with calling people cowards just because they won’t join in. Jesus, just because I leave the house to get some Fritos at the Dollar General, and just because I happen to bring a gun with me, now I’m responsible for the safety, well being and survival of every living thing within the maximum effective range of my gun, and if I’m not willing to accept that premise I’m a terrible guy? News flash people: YOU’RE THE ONES THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT WHEN THEY SAY, “WE CAN’T ALLOW CONCEALED CARRY HERE, BECAUSE IF WE DO IT’LL TURN (insert name of city or state here) INTO THE WILD, WILD WEST!”

        • So BC, I guess you look at our Founding Fathers and our early American citizens as basically the “Paul Blarts” of the day. The starry eyed idealists that would risk their “Lives, fortunes and sacred honor” in the hopes of making a better world were in fact, to you, only wanna be “Hero’s” that wanted to “splatter” some brains and want to prove how “manly” they were.

          Like I said, BC, how the mighty have fallen. And this is why a once free people can fall into tyranny and slavery. This is because there are not enough individuals that believe as a people and a culture that freedom and protecting not just their immediate family and friends, but their whole community and country is worth giving their lives, fortunes and sacred honor.

          You BC and your world weary and cynical perspective is I fear, more the norm the not, and we will pay the price in our freedom and in the end, our lives.

        • the “worse” part was a joke. however, you trivialize the issue of acting on behalf of a stranger. in some locations you can only use lethal force to defend yourself or people under “the mantle of your protection”.

          so in part, the answer depends on where you live.

        • @ Barstow Cowboy: I agree with you. I am not under obligation to defend the clerk, but depending on circumstances, i might choose to do so.

        • @ ThomasR, your moralizing sounds sophomoric to me, and your insults directed towards Barstow Cowboy don’t help your argument.

      • Sounds like he has a good plan. Don’t pull your weapon unless you have to shoot it. More people get into trouble over brandishing or the warning shot debacle than those that shoot when clearly necessary.
        The only time I would draw my gun but not shoot is when the threat can’t see me and I can’t see him or I need to get in position for a higher percentage shot.

        • “don’t pull your weapon unless you have to shoot” seems like a foolish oversimplification to me. there are many possible circumstances where your little bon mot would not apply.

        • well, you didn’t say that you would only apply it in the scenario in the article. And I don’t believe your assertions that more people get into trouble for brandishing than shooting when justified. even if your assertion is true, the penalties for shooting are higher than the penalties for pulling your weapon. and a final thought: a murder trial can leave you financially ruined even if you are found not guilty.

          • Arrested for brandishing pellet gun: http://www.modbee.com/news/local/crime/article3172963.html

            Arrested for brandishing firearm: http://www.whsv.com/home/headlines/Teenager-Arrested-After-Brandishing-Firearm-277380791.html

            Arrested for brandishing gun to scare off threat: http://www.usacarry.com/why-you-should-never-draw-your-gun-in-this-situation/

            Arrested and convicted for firing warning shot: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/woman-convicted-aggravated-assault-agrees-plea-deal-article-1.2022176

            I would rather keep my last resort option holstered until absolutely needed to save an innocent life. Just as in the article, the Good Samaritan is square with the law. It is only the family of the bad guy that has an issue with it. And some people on this forum.

            • I agree that people can and do get arrested for brandishing; no argument there. People can and do also get arrested for actually shooting,sometimes even if they had every right to shoot.

              • And sometimes people get shot by police for zero reason whatsoever. “illegal camping” and driving down the road in Houston while being cutoff by a deputy come to mind. And sometimes old women in LA in a blue pickup also get mistaken for a single black man in a white truck and shot a hundred times. Just because things happen it doesn’t make them right. And just because the guilty aren’t prosecuted, it doesn’t change the legality(or lack thereof) of their actions. Seems as if Michael can’t seem to “get” this.

              • I think that’s true, at least the naive part. One can be old and naive also. But the comment about “I would ONLY” seems pretty vague and absolute to believe can exist in the real world.
                Besides, its irrelevant anyway, for the ONE situation he lists as the exception is exactly the case here. The perp was facing away from the Samaritan, so he WAS able to draw “when the threat can’t see me”. The absolute is quite silly, even on its face. There are obviously MANY cases to draw without firing. Just off the top of my head, going in to investigate a suspicious but unknown situation, like arriving home to find one’s door ajar, or perhaps one called to find no one home when they should be and a strange vehicle at the residence, etc. Its always better and quicker to fire(if the situation dictates) when your piece is in your hand, rather than having to come out of the leather.
                Unless, perhaps, you’re Bob Munden and just happen to be wearing your impractical quick draw rig…. 🙂

              • Perhaps I seem naive because you fail to make a point. If you lose the elitist attitude and stay on topic maybe I could follow your train of thought. This all started when Aaron disagreed with Layne when he said “As a concealed carrier, I can’t see any reason to speak, ever. Drawandfire, take cover and observe, or flee.” Because I share that point of view and you swayed from that specific topic, you now call me naive, sophomoric, child like, young. Very mature on your part.

              • Well, if that is so, then what about the hypothetical I proposed? If YOU drove up to YOUR home, expecting others to be around, find a strange vehicle parked, door ajar, no activity, and you are legally armed, you’d try to tell me that you would go in to investigate WITHOUT drawing first? You’d just walk in, perhaps with your hands up in the draw position, and expect to confront WHATEVER(since you haven’t a clue what it might be) is in there, from out of the leather for no reason whatsoever?
                If you really think that, you are either a liar or a fool, for none but a fool would react that way to a situation like that.

              • Glad you asked me that. This is exactly what I was talking about when I said you and your boyfriend Aaron are making it hard to follow a line of discussion.
                I never read your hypothetical nor did I reply to it. One reply to Aaron earlier, that I was called naive for making was “The only time I would draw my gun but not shoot is when the threat can’t see me and I can’t see him or I need to get in position for a higher percentage shot.” Now that I have read your hypothetical, I believe it would apply in this case.
                We can speak in generalities or we can discuss a specific situation. Aaron is, for some reason, using the specifics in the article to invalidate my general remarks given in reply to statements in the abstract and using his universal truths to debate my take on the situation at hand. Like trying to nail Jello to the wall.

              • Glad to hear that you like the questions. I believe that questions are the best way to communicate, esp on comment pages, which are necessarily limited in scope. Much better than “I think” or “I believe”, or insults and personal attacks, which really accomplish nothing.
                And, mentioning insults, I am not even aware of the sex of my “boyfriend” whom I never heard of before this set of posts. I merely read what he wrote and agreed. I can’t see how that should generate insulting replies.
                Perhaps you should reread the thread as it did not start as you stated. I believe the beginning was:
                Michael in GA says:
                December 2, 2014 at 12:53
                Sounds like he has a good plan. Don’t pull your weapon unless you have to shoot it. More people get into trouble over brandishing or the warning shot debacle than those that shoot when clearly necessary.
                response:
                Aaron says:
                December 2, 2014 at 13:01
                “don’t pull your weapon unless you have to shoot” seems like a foolish oversimplification to me. there are many possible circumstances where your little bon mot would not apply.

                Leaving aside the slightly insulting tone of the response, I assume you mean that you do not believe that you oversimplified in that statement. Am I correct in that?

              • First, the “boyfriend” comment was a joke. I said it in response to you and Aaron discussing my maturity level.
                Second, let me clear up my point of view before this degrades any further.
                I could sit around sipping 18 year old single malt scotch confabulating the intricacies of the shoot/no shoot scenario in the manner of an Academic. I would rather insert myself in the position of the Good Samaritan and thence react as I hope to if faced with similar circumstances. If this seems idealistic, sophomoric, young, naive, then I have attained my goal to reduce the process to a level that will achieve maximum effectiveness due to minimal time required to respond.

              • All good points. As I said on another thread(this page) everything in life is situation analysis. Everything is a risk/benefit evaluation. Every situation is different. That’s why I mostly lurk on this site, and don’t post often. It’s so often these questions of “what would you do?”. But the information is never complete and accurate, so without having been there, there is no way to know. Also, most often, what we think we might have done, is not the way we actually react when the merde hits the ventilator. That’s probly why I prefer to lurk, but this page I wanted to let it be known that I don’t think we should be second guessing this citizen because whatever his reasoning, he came out perfectly. As to the reason to speak, this is the perfect example. If the perp is holding a gun to a potential victims head, and you make the decision to try and save him, You will need some type of distraction to get the firearm off target, if only for a fraction of a second. “Hey, don’t move” worked pretty well, at least in this case. Throwing a twinkie or whatever may have worked also. It could have been done with a shot directly into the brain stem, but even with a rifle its a chancy shot, as often his trigger finger will twitch, even if the perp is dead on his feet. But with the distraction, it still worked out well, so I won’t argue with success.

              • fair enough, if that’s how you see it. on the other hand, I would prefer not to get arrested at all. and if I had the opportunity, I would prefer to avoid shooting someone if there was another way to resolve the situation.

                don’t take this as implying that I would lose a second of sleep over shooting someone that I thought deserved it. that’s not the issue at all. the issue is the consequences of a shooting are to be avoided if there is another way.

  2. Actually RF your final point can also be viewed as such.
    Let’s say he has the gun to said employees head. But you don’t have a clean shot, or perhaps there are two or more who are doing the hostage things, and you just are NOT a 3 gun, or IDPA champ. Know your limits. Sure we may all want to step in and help, and as loving citizens that is what we want to do, but if it is outside your abilities, know when not to engage.
    Lastly if you wind up eliminating the threat, call your LAWYER! While you might not be in the criminal wrong, civil suits are never far behind.

    • CALL YOUR LAWYER

      Not to pick on you, specifically, but man I hate that answer. Do you really “have” a lawyer on retainer that you can just call up?

      Good for you if you do, but I- and I suspect most people- have never even spoken to a lawyer in a professional capacity. Hell, I’ve never even interacted with a cop beyond a few speeding tickets (err, and here on TTAG, I suppose), and a few punk rock incidents as a teenager.

      Am I just lucky? Or unlucky? Does everyone else have a speed dial setting for Jeff the Magic Lawyer?

      If I were in a DGU situation, or shot a home invader, or any of those other ther we all hope never happen, I wouldn’t know where to begin. Hell, there aren’t even phone books to flip open these days.

      • Oh so you’ve recognized a limitation in your gun training… It isn’t too hard to have a lawyer in mind. Watch a few youtube videos and they will tell you what to say and what to do. It doesn’t take a few hours to do and it will make the difference on if you get to spend your life with your wife, OR you can spend it in a jail cell with a mate who wants to make you his wife.

        I personally made a business card with steps on what to do immediately after a DGU, and what to say on the phone with police. I also looked up the number of a attorney who specializes in DGU. There are professional services to use, I don’t want to sound like a commercial for them so I won’t mention names. Honestly, I looked up one service and their local lawyer, then put his number on the card. Card is in the wallet behind my permit.

      • Retainer or not, it’s not a bad idea to at least research who you are going to/can call in case of this particular need. Not all local lawyers are 2A friendly or even all that knowledgeable on 2A related legal defense.

        Be prepared, as the saying goes.

      • You don’t need to have a lawyer on retainer all the time. Go talk to one before you get in trouble and keep his business card in your wallet, or his number saved on your phone. That way if bad comes to worse, you have someone you can talk to.

      • I’m all in favor of having a lawyer on speed-dial, several in fact. But unless he is your very good friend or you’ve put up a very solid retainer, getting him or her on the phone fast is a long shot. If, for example, cops take you downtown and book you, you’ll get a phone call, but chances are good you’ll be leaving a voice mail. “Call your lawyer” is not a speed thing in most cases. If he’s in court that day (or night) you certainly will not get an instant response. You’re on your own during the moments of a crisis.

      • I have a lawyer in my contacts. And I have asked/told him I would be calling if I ever have to pull the trigger. He isn’t on speed dial however….not a terrible idea.

      • man I hate that answer. Do you really “have” a lawyer on retainer that you can just call up?

        Yes, I have a firearms/SD attorney near me who I can just call up, and two more in the state (MI) if I need, to represent me. I also carry the names and phone numbers of two firearms/SD attorneys in the other state (IN) I carry often in.

        Don’t you? If not, you should.

        And you don’t have to have one on retainer. In fact, unless you are rich, don’t. If they are on retainer, they will just review your “file” every so often and your retainer will slowly be depleted. It’s typically not necessary to have an attorney on retainer.

    • Call your lawyer and don’t talk to cops are useful mantras, but you don’t want to paint your innocent butt as guilty. Quick responses (to negative news) are the most effective way to prevent race baiting situations like Brown and Martin.

      I’ve got a feeling the responsible citizen was not of caucasian descent (not that it matters to anyone besides the news) but it’s still a good way to respond if you get in a hairy situation.

      • I don’t think that the prosecution can even mention the fact that you invoked your right to counsel during trial. It’s your right, and they can’t use it against you if you invoke your right.

        • Acutally, the Supreme Court ruled about a year ago that if you have not yet been charged or suspected of a crime and you choose not to talk to the police, then that silence can be used against you in court, unless when you do so you specifically cite the fifth amendment as your reason for being silent.

        • That’s what I heard too. That’s why I said that they can’t mention that you INVOKED your right to counsel during trial. It’s your right, and they can’t use it against you if you INVOKE your right. I’d even go as far as saying I’m invoking my right to remain silent on the advice of an attorney, because I believe that that puts the whole thing off limits since it’s advice between an attorney and his client.

        • If you’re innocent invoking may or may not be brought up but it could easily lead to a trial that may not have occurred if you presented exculpatory evidence in the form of your statement. In some cases you could end up charged anyway- Zimmerman- but there was an example of how his consistent early statements to police (combined with other evidence) actually helped him get the ‘not-guilty’ verdict.

        • All that stuff you said made me think. You’re a cop right? If you were ever involved in a use of lethal force, would you give your statements without an attorney or a union rep?

    • Yeah, I personally would err on the side of no-shoot… But I consider myself a lousy shot with a handgun. (Need to work on that more.). So hostage, unless I’m with in 15 feet, it’s no shoot.

    • This is an excellent question of the day, and I like RF’s points. First, have a lawyer. I use Texas Law Shield (monthly fee, excellent benefits). They have an on-call attorney 24/7 in all 50 states. Even if it’s just a seemingly innocent encounter, such as a passerby that sees me carrying a firearm to my vehicle and hysterically calls the police, I can call up and get my statement on record in case it escalates. I loathe our litigation-fever, but the only treatment I have is a lawyer on my side.

      To the actual question…In my first (of 3) concealed weapons courses, the instructor asked for whom or what we’d be willing to pull a gun and shoot. My response now mirrors his: only for the safety of myself, my family, and our livelihood. I see a guy waving a gun and threatening folks across the street, I walk away and dial 911. If that guy is on my front lawn, or ever in close proximity to my family, I shoot immediately. The wrecking ball of legal battles could destroy me worse than the harm from a criminal, IF I fired when my family was not in danger.

      Livelihood is a trickier matter: I see someone about to torch my house (uninhibited, for arson is an easy decision to shoot), then I use at least the threat of force to stop it. If I see a guy walking down the street with my TV, I dial 911 and follow from a safe/inconspicuous distance. Livelihood also touches on staying uninvolved: if I wind up in court because I stepped into a situation that falls outside my threshold for action, I could lose my job/income, potentially go to jail (good intentions and all), and no longer provide for my family. As far as providing as a father, I may as well have been shot dead.

      To answer RF’s question, I step away, hand ready to draw if the gunman moves in my direction, and I dial 911. I leave the store immediately (assuming the path is clear; if not, I put distance between my family and the gunman, and his accomplices). I stay in the local area to answer police questions after the mess is over.

        • +1. I like the memory aid “livelihood” and completely agree.
          If you have a family to support, and you haven’t thought out scenarios in advance, you probably shouldn’t be carrying concealed, IMHO. Its too late to figure it out under stress, and like RF points out, you are just as likely to shoot an undercover cop, as be shot by one. Cops do it to one another often.

          And if you haven’t thought thru what to say afterwards you are more likely to get yourself in trouble, good shoot or not.

          Having a couple of lawyers contact info in your cell phone contacts for after the shoot, is as simple as googling your states CCW or general gun group forum, and ask who takes that kind of work on, and is well thought of in your area, and call them up and ask they handle it.

        • What question? This wasn’t “Question Of The Day”. It was “Self Defense Tip”. Escape is always a good option for self defense. This story was not about self defense, however. It brought up other issues. Everybody’s different and carry guns for different reasons. I carry mine for the betterment of society as well as self defense.

        • @ Michael in GA: the article clearly posed a question. You just didn’t read carefully. Exact quote: “What was the ‘proper’ response to this situation?”

          • Aaron, you must be struggling with this issue since you feel the need to reply to every single comment on here. You clearly made your point two days ago. You won’t use your firearm to help a stranger. We get it. It is your freedom of choice.
            As for my reading comprehension, I did understand the question. [Exact quote: “What was the ‘proper’ response to this situation?”]
            Notice the bunny ears around the word ‘proper’? There has been much discussion over that word in context to the article. That exact phrasing by Mr. Farago poses the question in the rhetorical sense. Ask him. Why else would he write the very next line that read: “I put the bunny ears around the word proper because the proper response is any response that works.” See? If you answer your own question in the same article then you are not seeking the answer from your readers. You are merely expressing your opinion.

            • I didn’t say I wouldn’t use a firearm to help a stranger. I said it depended on the situation. sophomoric oversimplification runs deep with you.

              • “sophomoric oversimplification runs deep with you.”
                Only to contrast your arrogance.

                “I didn’t say I wouldn’t use a firearm to help a stranger”
                No, but your incessant warnings of the inconveniences of said use implied as much.

              • the consequences of a shooting can be more than mere inconveniences, and I didn’t say what you inferred. If you like to attack straw-men, have at it. at least we all know where you are coming from,

        • “the consequences of a shooting can be more than mere inconveniences”

          I merely used the term “inconvenient” to describe your overall hesitation to act in similar situations, because I did not want to put words in your mouth. Now you take issue with me being nice.

          ” and I didn’t say what you inferred. If you like to attack straw-men, have at it. at least we all know where you are coming from,”

          There are two sides to this issue. One side would take action either as the shooter did in the story or even quicker without giving the verbal warning (legal in GA) and I tend to lean that way. The other side is more inclined to vacate the area and call 911. My inference is that you are in that camp. If I am wrong then you have made some interesting comment to the contrary. No straw-man in anything I said.

          • BTW, I am not saying your choice is wrong for you. I just think society would be better if we did a little more self policing of our fellow men. I truly believe that if more people acted the way this Good Samaritan did, we would not encounter as many bad guys with guns. Evil flourishes when good men fail to act. Call it sophomoric or idealistic but it has already had an effect on crime.

          • I said further down that I think the best response is to take cover, dial 911, draw a bead, and tell the perp to freeze and drop his weapon. situation depending ( you know, time, etc.)

  3. I’d assume a green light instantly, check for accomplices PDQ and tell the bad guy in a normal voice to “Drop it.” The second the barrel comes my way it’s lights out for him. I could probably just drill him instantly but presumably there’s a store camera on us which may come into play later during legal proceedings. This is if I’m alone; if I have my wife or kid/s right next to me I’m backing off with my weapon trained on the guy and wife behind me. It’s all tricky; what if he runs out then without doing anything else? He’s still got a gun and a “fleeing felon.” Doubly so if he shoots the store employee.

    This is all wicked hard to say in advance and I’m an ex-cop, ex-soldier, ex-military police, etc. You don’t know what you’re gonna do till it unfolds in front of you.

    • You could also just do nothing instantly, go about your business and have a nice life. It’s just a thought. Remember, no good deed goes unpunished, and good samaritans aren’t given qualified immunity, a state funded legal defense team, a retirement check; not even any love from the holster sniffing community since many of them will view him as a vigilante. What’s in it for you or anyone else to put yourself out there for the sake of some random cashier you know nothing about? For all we know, the cashier could be a miserable human who was about to get his karma served up to him.

        • Zimmerman is so dim he didn’t understand the risk of his walk in the dark. He didn’t pull his gun until his head had been banged on concrete a few times. Very different type of poor decision.

        • Different kind of stupid, but I’d be willing to bet that Zimmerman had the same point of view as people on this site who feel that it’s their moral obligation to intervene. He probably envisioned a grateful community throwing him a parade for catching the bad guy.

        • Zimmerman made it quite clear both before and after the incident that his wish was to make his own home and neighborhood safer for himself and his family. Few seem to realize that his little faux-gated-community had been subject to a dramatic change, and recently. The town had gained permission to declare its 500+ units of HUD-subsidized housing unfit for habitation. The residents were given vouchers to find new housing. Zimmerman’s little paradise was one neighborhood to which the people moved, and the more that arrived there, the more its owners moved out and put their condo up for rental. Crime really did soar. Just another snapshot of American life. Zimmerman was, to me, a Don Quixote figure, dreaming he could make a difference. How old fashioned. Apparently.

        • Even though he had good intentions, he had an inaccurate estimate of the situation. He thought his efforts would be appreciated and even rewarded. He imagined that others would view him and his actions the same way he viewed himself and his actions. That was foolishness. I think your comparison to Dox Quixote was very apt. There’s the way things ought to be, and then there’s the way things are.

      • Barstow “Cowboy”?

        I have always seen the cowboy as being the iconic image of being the defender of the helpless, the weak and the defenseless. The one to risk life, limb and law suit to do the “Right Thing”.

        The one to stop the bad guys from terrorizing a town of law abiding citizens.

        I guess your handle doesn’t represent that particular image or personal belief.

        • Nah, more like 19th century ditch digger. An individual who is simply not qualified to do anything but keep the cows from wandering off.

        • uh, Cowboys were none of that romantic Hollywood crap. they just rounded up and herded cows. sure, most were probably good guys and they probably helped their partners in a jam. but they didn’t “stand” for anything except getting cattle to market.

        • The iconic image of the cowboy is actually one of independence and just wanting to be left alone to do his own thing, searching for happiness in his own way. If you’ll think back to those old westerns, you might notice that someone(often a banker or other rich Easterner) was usually trying to control him, and that is what made the cowboy go on his warpath.
          As for protectors of the helpless and defender of the American way, I think you might be confusing cowboys and Superman.

  4. Personally I don’t think I could fail to take some form of action given the circumstances. Most likely look for the closest cover, take aim, and then shout “Stop” or “Freeze” if only to try to get the bad guy to instinctively pull his aim off the apparent victim. If the swing started my way, definitely shoot. Shooting someone that is holding a gun to another’s head without warning is not only premature given the lack of information but may well guarantee the injury or death of the hostage. One assumes that if the gun holder were a “good guy” they would simply stop and either offer up information or if a LEO identify as such. In a perfect world.

    Stay safe.

  5. Seriously? If gun owners are ever going to sway public perception we need to stop talking and acting like cowards who are just in it for self defense. We need to adopt the Heinlein model of citizenship where you make the safety of yourself and everyone around you your personal responsibility. You should always be willing to face death and incarceration to do what is right. If you don’t act with moral superiority gun ownership becomes nothing more than a hobby that kills tens of thousands of people a year.

    The carrier in the above situation acted EXACTLY as I would have. I find it disgusting to think that any gun owner would recommend just walking away OR firing without warning. We have to be better than that or we will lose our rights. It is exactly that kind of cowardly “me first” gun use that has turned our police into thugs. Be better than that!

    • I agree, we’re not cowards, we’re not heros, and we’re certainly not enforcers of the law. We’re average citizens with the right to carry weapons. The right to carry a weapon though I believe carries with it the responsibility to use it in any situation where there is a moral imperative to do so. in the Clackamas mall shooting a man carrying concealed drew his weapon but he held his fire because he was afraid of hitting people behind the shooter with an errant shot. For him that was the right choice, If I was in that situation I would probably do the same. These situations happen in seconds and you are confronted with them in the blink of an eye, making any choice, let alone the right one, is damn tough.

    • So, it’s cowardice to recognize the perils of the legal side of armed self defense? I don’t know if you know this, but even if you do everything perfectly in a DGU, you’re still going to spend thousands (possibly tens of thousands) of dollars and a tremendous amount of time and energy to protect yourself, and you may STILL wind up with a murder conviction, which will absolutely ruin your life.

      Or are you the kind of starry-eyed idealistic idiot who truly thinks that if you did nothing wrong, you will walk away scott-free? Hell, even if you are acquitted, you’re still gonna need to deal with the civil suit(s) thrown your way by the dead scumbag’s friends and family. By the way, I totally agree with you regarding the idea that a citizen has an obligation to protect others. But your ignorance about the complexities of such a situation is pathetic. Educate yourself before speaking/typing, and you’ll embarrass yourself a whole lot less.

      • Its not ignorance, I know full well that doing the right thing is more likely than not to result in your death, incarnation or financial ruin.

        I am saying that you should be willing to ruin or lose your own life for the sake of doing what is right. I am saying that gun owners should not just be willing to take life, but to sacrifice their own to save others.

        Maybe I just think that gun owners should hold themselves to the same standards as firemen, for me this comes easy since I am fireman and I carry a gun with the same philosophy that I use when I’m responding to a burning building. At let me tell you something ,just like with defensive gun use, every emergency response has the potential to end in lawsuits and personal ruination, we train and fear that aspect more than any fire but yet we do it anyway, as I believe should gun owners.

        • You make more sense now that you say you’re a fireman. I’m glad I didn’t respond to my first impression. So yes, a fireman signs up to risk his life for others. I thank you for doing that. But since I own a fire extinguisher, would you say that I’m obligated to enter a burning building without agreeing to such? Of course you wouldn’t, I’d just die for no good reason and do no good. By the same token, I wouldn’t draw my 7rd capacity pistol if I were present at the Hollywood shootout. And I wouldn’t even think about leaving my wife husbandless and my (imaginary) children fatherless for the good of Joe Blow family dollar cashier. Of course I would do what’s right whenever I thought I could, and safety is never guaranteed, but I’m sure as heck not anyone’s martyr. Everyone has the same opportunity to get a concealed carry weapon as I did. If they didn’t and I can’t safely help them, then too bad.

    • Heinlein model, I had to look that one up. I remember the movie Starship Troopers, I would do well in that society, but most Americans wouldn’t at all.

      Cowards. Pretty strong language. Be willing to face death or incarceration to do what is right….yea I don’t see many people lining up for that. Sounds good on a blog or a Facebook post, but in reality it just isn’t so.

      There is only one reason to shoot. You truly believe that the employee is about to experience death or grave bodily injury.

      The authors gave a couple reasons not to shoot, well here is a huge one when it comes to a courtroom. What if your action of firing a weapon causes more harm than good. What if you miss and the bad guy shoots back and injures another (perhaps your family with you)? What if you miss and the bad guy blows off the employee’s head? He could always say he had no intent on actually killing the employee, after all several witnesses heard him say, “if you just give me the money, no one will get hurt”.

      What if there were others who already left the store, but now they have to return to get their buddy, and oh yea, shoot the place up in retaliation.

      For the record, I carry for “self-defense”. That’s what I put on my CC permit as justification. If I wanted to prevent crime, I would have gone to the police academy. I’ve done the “face death” thing, killed enemy, and now I see them in my sleep, what little Ambien induced I get. For you to call ordinary folk “cowards” for carrying a weapon to protect themselves and loved ones ONLY is pugnacious.

      • I guess I do not believe “ordinary folks” should be carrying. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that only police or military should carry. But you can be far from “ordinary” without a special license.

        Most ordinary people don’t even own guns, they never served their country, they don’t volunteer in their community, if they see a car wreck they keep driving. They go to work, pay their taxes and look out for themselves and only themselves. They live nice safe lives and stay as far away from trouble as they can. These are the ordinary people, they are not cowards because they are not equipped to deal with danger and have no recourse but to run and hide.

        What I am saying is that if you carry a gun you shouldn’t think of yourself as an ordinary person. You have chosen to hold the power of life and death in your hand, you have chosen to take responsibility for your own life and anything that gets in the way of your gun. You have taken extraordinary power and made it your own. In my opinion this means you need to hold yourself to a higher standard than “ordinary” people.

        If you claim this power, a power that does have a very real dark side, and choose to only use it for yourself when given the opportunity to help others simply because you are afraid that someone may sue you, OR if you use it without careful thought and do not provide the opportunity for your target to surrender (when possible) because you are so afraid that you may get shot first that you preemptively strike, then yes, I call you a coward at best and selfish at worst.

        • OK, we get it now. You’re a crackerjack Call of Duty player, you’re looking for a starring role in the remake of Death Wish and you have delusions of adequacy.

        • Is that you, Gecko45?

          I’ve never done this before, but I’m calling troll on this guy. Anyone know this guy?

        • Yep, Aerindel, how the mighty have fallen.

          Our founders and our early American citizen soldiers took on the greatest military power of the time because of the belief that freedom, their rights and the protection of their community was more important than their life.

          Now we have current day Americans saying they won’t intervene to protect other fellow Americans from human predators because they might get sued.

          Just….wow!

          There is a reason why a once free people fall into tyranny and enslavement, this attitude is one of those reasons.

        • It’s good to know that you’re a firefighter. Thank you for your service. As a firefighter I presume that any actions taken in the performance of your duties are covered by some form of insurance and that you are entitled to legal representation paid for by your union or the taxpayers. I, as a private citizen, carrying a small gun for self defense and the defense of my loved ones, may avail myself of no such protection. I have read extensively about the laws regarding use of deadly force and I take this responsibility I have assumed, that of a person who carries an instrument that is capable of inflicting death or serious injury, very seriously. Mr. Farago reasonably poses some very thought-provoking questions. If you regard me as a coward because I would attempt to evaluate a situation and try to determine the correct course of action, assuming there was an opportunity to do so, rather than instantly springing into action, hoping I was right, than so be it, call me what you will, sticks and stones and all that. I don’t carry a gun because I expect or hope to one day prove my manhood by ventilating some bad guy(s). I am confident in my manhood and need provide no proof to anyone, including myself. I will act if given no other choice. Otherwise it is my fervent wish that I will grow old and die having never fired any of my guns outside of a firing range.

      • I thought it was well understood that the police have no obligation to prevent crime and that attempts to use them in that capacity are a large part of our problem with law enforcement. A cops duty is simply to investigate crimes and apprehend suspects. Nothing more. If you want to prevent crime being a cop ain’t what you want.

      • I find it fascinating that Aerindale and ThomasR are critical of viewpoints like yours, yet you’ve actually been in combat. Sort of that naive theory vs harsh reality dichotomy.

    • So, now that this anonymous guy in Alabama was a gun hero, I can expect a massive shift in public opinion? I’m going to go check the MDA and Brady Bunch websites to see if they’ve disbanded.

      Nope. Still there.

      • I would hardly consider those two groups the voice of “public opinion”. And if so, they haven’t been doing a good job reflecting those public sentiments in recent years.

  6. “If his life was not in danger… what gives him the right to think it’s okay to just shoot someone? You should have just left the store…”

    Followed by:

    “We don’t know. Like I said, we don’t know anything.”

    Can anyone explain this woman’s logic to me?

    • I, too, found that sequence remarkable. I shouldn’t have. It’s probably the norm for a family that cultivates armed robbers. As we all know.

      • Sounds kind of like the ferguson protestors, or Trayvon supporters: unable to absorb the evidence and facts.

    • My favorite part, even to the “he fell in with a bad crowd.” Umhmm. The only thing missing was “he was turning his life around when you done shot him…” “He shoulda just leff and call the po-leece.” Um, okay, and what would the police have done differently? Oh, that’s right, they would have ventilated him more thoroughly…..

  7. unless YOU or your loved ones are at risk, it is stupid to “drawandfire”. depending on the state, you may be criminally liable for shooting someone who was not a threat to you or or your family. depending on state law, you may be civilly liable, which is easier to prove.

    IMO (and it it just an opinion), the best thing to do is take cover, dial 911, and while it is ringing yell “freeze, I’ve called the police!”, and THEN if he swings the gun towards you, plug him until “the threat is neutralized”.

        • In my experience, most cops, firemen and military do have family, its usually for their sake that they are willing to sacrifice themselves to make the world a better place.

        • After reading your responses Ralph and Barstow, I feel sorry for you. To be so full of hate, derision and contempt for an ideal of wanting to make the world a better place, even if it means giving your life to help make it so.

          Honor to the death, integrity to the death; a persons word is your bond, to the death. The willingness to give ones life for something greater than ones simple survival.

          For truth, justice, G-d and the American way. Words to live by and to die by. The one true reason to live, is defined by what are your willing to die for.

          I prefer my world to yours. What a bleak and hopeless world you both seem to exist in. .

        • ThomasR, after reading your response to my response I feel sorry for me too. Pardon me, I have to go feed my Bald Eagle, eat hot dogs and jam out to my John Philip Sousa records.

        • @ Aerindale: Soldiers and cops don’t generally needlessly sacrifice themselves. After all, if you do something stupid as a Soldier on patrol, you put your buddies at risk because they have to evac you.

          Note that I didn’t say I would walk away and leave the clerk to his fate. Everything is situational.

      • so Aerindale, why aren’t you in Sierra Leone, fighting ebola? or why don’t you sell all your worldly belongings and give the proceeds to save starving children in India?

        you platitudes are sophomoric. Not wrong, but incomplete.

      • I know jurisdictions where the defense of others is considered an affirmative defense that the shooter must prove.

        • This may well have been your point (stated poetically), but isn’t SELF defense also an Affirmative Defense that the defendant must himself prove at trial if charged?

      • I can think of a few. Just off the top of my head: NYC, Boston, Anywhere in Connecticut or New Jersey, Detroit, Any city with population above a half million and in California, Pretty much any campus anywhere in the USA, as well as the myriad of other “gun free”, “safe”(at least for the perps) victim slaughter zones, etc…etc.

  8. If I’m on a different isle, drop to a crouch, pull out phone and dial 911.

    “Family Dollar, corner of ‘X’ and ‘Y’, armed robbery in progress…”

    Draw my pistol in case Mr. Robber hears and comes looking for me…

  9. This is a tricky situation and I’m glad it worked out the way it did, could’ve gone a lot worse. Just looking at it as such I think the best thing would be to draw on the guy while observing the situation for a few moments. At that point you can decide if you want or need to fire. Speaking to the guy seems to be counter-productive.

    • If speaking to him gets him to turn his gun and attention away from the hostage giving you better shot then it has a purpose. Its just like whistling at a deer to make it turn when your hunting.

      Its also morally a better choice as it gives the perp a split second to change his mind about how he wants this day to end.

      • aka disrupting his OODA loop.

        Of course, it is disrupting yours, too. I know at least one trainer that has said speaking during a violent encounter is bad-bad-bad, as speaking overlaps with other things you might want your brain to be doing at that moment.

        No single “right” answer…very situation dependent.

  10. 2 things: is the guy wearing a mask or not?

    if he is wearing a mask draw your weapon to protect yourself, then yell in a loud voice “where’s the Pepsi?”
    99.99% of the time this guy will run because he is not known and now there is an audience. If he turns shoot him.

    If he is not wearing a mask he is planning to shoot the witness. Just shoot this guy as quickly as possible because your a witness also.

  11. I think our Good Samaritan was exactly right in his actions, provided he did 3 things first:

    1) Check for other Bad Guys in the immediate area.

    2) Get the Bad Guy in his sights

    3) Insure he could keep him in the sights long enough to give him a few good shots, not just one

    Then speak.

    I’m with Aerindel on this one. If your outgunned, its fine to retreat, otherwise its your civic duty to step in. If you follow the above steps, you have the advantage.

    • You said you’re with Aerindel on this? You said that as long as you’re not outgunned you have an obligation to do something. Aerindel, on the other hand, thinks that even if you ARE outgunned you are a coward if you don’t lay down your life for the noble cashier. Here’s what he said:

      “I am saying that you should be willing to ruin or lose your own life for the sake of doing what is right. I am saying that gun owners should not just be willing to take life, but to sacrifice their own to save others.”

      • +1

        There’s a chasm of difference between weighing options with critical thought (and forethought…mental prep for your go/no-go triggers) and charging in even when outgunned. Screw that. I’d rather my wife ask me why I had a bad day and have to explain I witnessed a tragedy downtown, than have her stand by my graveside.

        • Nothing wrong at all with analyzing the situation. In fact, its a necessity. There are many situations where not shooting is the best option. Its not about charging in, its about looking at a situation and trying to make it better in any way you can.

          The problem I have is with people who say they only carry to protect themselves and who would just walk away even if they could make a difference in someone else’s life. That kind of callousness is part of the problem that gun ownership is mean to fight.

        • The problem I have is with people who say they only carry to protect themselves and who would just walk away even if they could make a difference in someone else’s life.

          You want someone else to put themselves in a precarious legal situation that may put them in prison for you when you aren’t willing to do that for your own self? Are you serious?

  12. It takes less time for a bad guy to swing around and shoot you than it takes for you to shoot him. Action beats reaction.

    Assuming you get your gun up before yelling the message of the day, you will be performing the action, the perp will be reacting. Nothing wrong with yelling “P…lease, freeze.” Make sure you draw out the “P….” and shorten the “ease.” It’s been litigated, and it’s fine to yell that. If you’re actually an LEO, it’s OK to shoot first and then yell the warning. Stress and all that.

    So how did he know the bad guy from the good guy?

    It may be a superficial analysis, but I think the guy with “the mask” has volunteered to be the bad guy. If there’s another guy with a mask, assume he’s an accomplice.

    “A man’s got to know his limitations,” and err on the side of caution if he isn’t rich or poor. If he’s quite rich, he can defend any civil suit and ride the perp’s family into the ground. If he’s poor, he has nothing to lose but his honor. In the middle? Ah, that’s the tough spot to be in.

    Hypotheticals. Get too fancy with these in your spare time and you’ll find it difficult to act. I also believe guys with multiple divorces ‘under their belt’ are extra touchy about the threat-to-your-wealth bit. Ah, to be young and poor again! Laugh.

    • I failed to point out that a court may take your money, but it can’t make you young again. Acquiring wealth takes time, often a lot of time. Therefore boldness is more often an attribute of the young or poor, rather than the old and moderately rich. Time is the lord of all, and filthy lucre (together with friendships)….is the strength of the old and weak. Cynical? No. Realistic.

    • i’m dubious as to being told that with a braced bead on an individual said culprit will be able to turn, aim and shoot before an index finger can be twitched (or yanked if aiming a glock).
      i’m not surprised when these self defense tips bring out the bubba- chair world savers. wade through the chest puffing and there really are some excellent points to consider here. follow up protocol: good to have a course of action to follow after your decided course of action.
      i’m sure some of you know exactly how you’ll react. i think i have a pretty good idea. it may not jibe with the hero theme. one never knows, does one?
      and “proper” shouldn’t be in bunny ears unless inside of quotes. there, i annoyed myself.