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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. As recently as this past week, RF posted a video from the First Person Defender YouTube Series in which an armed citizen had to deal with a convenience store robbery. The decisions she made in both the first and second run throughs were thoroughly discussed in the comments section.  One of the issues raised was 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 the 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 fact, in some jurisdictions, making the decision to attempt a defense can leave you with a whole pot of legal pain.  Note that this also applies to the military – even, I suspect members of the Military Police.  Only sworn civilian law enforcement officers have any requirement or responsibility to involve themselves in third party confrontations and even there, according to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals decision in Warren v. District of Columbia,  police in fact have no duty to provide police services to individuals.

So, ordinary citizens who carry a gun have no legal obligation to assist others.  What about the moral duty?  Well, that is a tricky question.  If you are single, have no dependents and the loss of your life, loss of much of your money (in a trial defense), 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.  You need to think about this now, not when the you-know-what hits the fan.

Let’s say that you decide to intervene.  Do you really know the situation?  Just because one person is holding a gun on another does not automatically classify them as bad guy and victim.  It could be undercover cop and bad guy.  Shoot the wrong person and you will be in big trouble.  The First Person Defender Video above shows a couple of armed citizen scenarios and gives us something to think about.

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  1. The Title

    Should A Concealed Carrier Intervene in an Unknown Situation?

    Absolutely not unless the unknown becomes known.

    • if you dont know who the bad guy is, then you may have just become an accomplice to armed robbery, aggravated assault, or some other felony. how many times do you see the police handcuff the good guy after a DGU, until they sort it out.

    • Word. You damn well better know before you pull the trigger. Once that bullet flies, there is no way to call it back.

    • +1

      I am willing to take personal responsibility for my own safety and the safety of my loved ones, but I am not going to put myself into a lethal-force situation that is ambiguous. If I can escape such a situation safely, I will follow the recommendations of all the gummint agencies from the Feds on down – call 911 and let the professionals handle it. Sorry about that, threatened strangers, but I am not willing to risk my life, my health, and everything I worked 50 years for, in order to protect someone who is not willing to take personal responsibility to protect themselves.

      Yeah, there are exceptions (see above note on “ambiguous situations”). If someone is shooting up a bunch of kids in a playground as I drive by, I will squash him with my truck. Shooting him would depend on whether or not I could do so without a chance of hitting an innocent 3rd party.

      When even the police have no legal duty to protect individuals from criminal assault, why would I assume the risks of such a duty? Is that a moral failing? It would have been when I was growing up in the 1950s, but the pop culture moral standards of today’s America require me to NOT get involved – and if I do get involved, especially where a possible criminal is of a different ethnic/racial group from mine, I can expect to receive the same treatment our wonderful media/government gave to George Zimmerman. I will note that one of the intended effects of the persecution of Zimmerman was no doubt to discourage honest citizens from trying to fight crime. That worked for me.

      • The criminal doesn’t strictly have to be of the same race/ethnic group as yours to prevent a Zimmerman case, you could be black and the criminal could be any race and you’d be OK. Let’s just say it.

  2. As an instructor in MN, this is what I tell my students in class: If I can get my wife and myself out of the situation, I will. Anyone between me and that goal is going to have a bad day. I will not interfere for anyone but blood.

    That’s my personal moral code. I don’t know who is who out in the world and I am not going to stick around a situation to figure it out. If something goes down in my area, my wife and I are out the door, period. If they get in the way of my ability to do that, appropriate force will be applied.

    • So here’s the bottom line, REALLY:

      Get licensed and carry a pistol for your own protection. If you are expecting or hoping that an armed citizen or even a police officer will arrive and intervene to save you and you have not made the effort to arm and save yourself then you are just shooting craps and if you survive it will be pure dumb luck. An armed citizen is just as likely to run away to save himself, his family and his personal fortune as to stop and help a stranger in an armed confrontation. A police officer, even if he arrives before you are shot, has no legal DUTY to protect you, only to enforce the law.

      Get a pistol, get some training, carry a cell phone. Other than that, get religion and learn to pray. At the very least you have a chance at going to Heaven where you just might run into the guy who walked away from you in your moment of need trying to argue his case with St. Peter.

      • I think the problem isn’t that CCers don’t want to help other, but that it’s incredibly difficult to figure out WHO to help. In so many situations, it may be very hard to tell who is the aggressor/criminal and who is the victim. If you don’t know what is going on in a situation, then it is better to remove yourself from that situation than to intervene, possibly on the wrong side. Of course, all bets are off if somebody is trying to prevent your escape.

    • Perhaps you should add a few exceptions to your code:
      You’ve got to step in, for example, if the President is under fire because, well, Biden.

  3. Is there a video? All I see is space above the article. All of the other videos here on TTAG work for me.

  4. No, you shouldn’t intervene in an “unknown” situation, but I wouldn’t consider a convenience store robbery an unknown situation. If you’re standing there minding your own business and someone walks in and pulls a gun on the clerk and demands money – there’s nothing ambiguous about that. Shoot the f#*ker in the head.

    • I think he meant, what if you walk into a convenience store on what “appears” to be a robbery i progress…but is it?

      • In that case find cover fast and draw your weapon. Your presence alone could make you a target. If your still in your car, get out, get behind your vehicle if no better cover can be found, draw your weapon and call 911 (make sure they know you’re there with a weapon). If you’re really not sure what is going on, keep a low guard. As soon as you hear the sirens pulling up holster your weapon and hold your hands up. If the suspect comes out the door raise your weapon, bark out a command to drop the weapon and shoot if he makes the slightest motion that suggests non compliance.

        • Even that is a recipe for disaster.

          Firstly, you don’t know a robbery is in progress when you pull up to the store – its happening on the inside. But hey!, lets say you heard a shot.

          You draw your gun and get in a low guard behind you vehicle. Out staggers an armed man with an abdominal wound. You yell instructions to drop the weapon, but he is to dazed to respond. When he notices you yelling he looks up and sees you pointing a gun at him and he raises his gun. You shoot center-mass and he goes down….You’re a HERO!….or are you. You have no idea.

          Now lets go rewind and go inside.

          A clerk is busy minding his store, a little tired after pulling a double. So tired he lets his guard down and doesn’t notice the man walk up behind the counter with a gun drawn. The clerk is ordered to open the register and hand the cash over. Shocked and surprised he goes for his weapon and raises it at the robber, shoots center mass and drops him, but not before the robber jerks his trigger and catches the clerk in the gut. Alarmed and bleeding the clerk staggers towards the door to get help from anyone who might be around. But as soon as he gets through the door he finds a stranger, perhaps the robbers buddy, pointing a gun at him and screaming. He doesn’t want to die today – he raises his gun and YOU kill him.

        • BDub, that was a scary accurate description of how things can go very, very wrong despite everyone doing what they thought was right. People should take note.

        • BDub, you can concoct a million hypothetical situations, but what are the odds? If there’s a million to one chance that you’ve got a bead on a murderous felon do you pull the trigger or do you let an innocent person be killed because of the one chance that you’ve assessed the situation wrong? Cops kill other cops, and cops kill innocent civilians, yet we are safer with cops than without. Best bet is just to use your better judgement and hope for the best.

    • Agreed. That example is NOT an “unknown situation”! Whereas seeing someone holding a gun on someone else IS. I will defend myself and my family while un-assing the area.

    • And then find out later it’s the clerk’s roommate who has a twisted sense of what’s funny in practical jokes… I’d suggest that sometimes even the obvious isn’t always so.

      • That roommate has already committed multiple felonies during his “prank”. If he gets shot, it’s on him.

        • Or maybe the guy holding the gun on the clerk is an undercover LEO making a bust on a clerk selling beer to underage kids.

        • Well sure Pete, if you live in Virginia. Most places the police have enough sense to realize that could get them shot and send in a uniformed officer to write the $500 misdemeanor ticket (weapon holstered). Even in Virginia they swarm the car of the teenage girl with the bottled water, guns drawn, not the clerk.

    • And then the robber’s accomplice who is at the back of the store shoots you.

      Ok, it was an episode of CSI: NY, but it’s possible if not likely. Just because you can see only one BG, doesn’t mean that there are not more.

      Or the robber was actually using an Airsoft to rob the store, he’s actually 16 years old and his name is Trayvon . . .

      • The lesson we should have learned from the CSI:NY is don’t put your back to a door. A solid wall is much safer.

      • Second lesson from the CSI scenario: just because you shot one BG, don’t presume the fight is over. Retain situational awareness!

    • the situation you just described is as followed. If your out pumping gas and you see someone inside holding the clerk at gunpoint …… 911…..but if your inside and your at harms way by all means you have that right to make sure you protect yourself indeed……I heard of a story where a CC person was driving down the interstate and as passing a car on the side of the road seen a man beating a woman with a tire iron …..the CC person stopped and pulled the weapon on the man and held him at gunpoint till the police came……..Come to find out the woman had tried to hijack the man and it led to a scuffle and the man was able to pull a tire iron from the car to protect him from the attack…….When the CC person stopped to assist he assumed the man with the tire iron was the attacker making him a third party involved. The woman and the CC person was arrested. Again you never know the situation why I would protect myself and loved ones in my family……

      • Sounds fishy. What weapon did the woman have? Was the man wounded? You wouldn’t have to beat a woman very long with a tire iron before she was dead. And was the CCW holder arrested or convicted? Or just taken in for questioning?

    • Situations in real life are often “a little light in the info area”. The question is “How do you deal with that?”, because a wrong assumption can have disastrous effects when a gun is involved.

  5. By definition…NO! Unknown, means unknown. Only cops have the authority to wade into the shit while letting assumptions and bullets fly.

  6. In general, no…you shouldn’t. You don’t get a badge with a CCW.

    But it is situational. How clear cut is it? Who’s with me? Without my wife or family there, then I can afford to be more concerned for my fellow man. If, for example, you’re in a convenience store, the guy is pointing a gun at the clerk’s head, and he’s between you and the exit…then you have to do what your conscience dictates. In my case, it’s probably going to be a bad day for the assailant. I can’t sit there and watch someone potentially be shot…the situation seems clear cut…and I’m not going to chance that they’ll stop with just the clerk.

    But if my wife or kids are with me…there’s a store room and probably a back exit. I’m backing them out that way and the clerk is on their own.

  7. No. The better part of valor is not getting ventilated by poorly trained civilian obedience enforcers.

  8. This is huge area of gray.

    To me it is clear, including with the state, given the way things have been setup, everyone has their own personal responsibility to look out for themselves and no one else.

    If you help someone else, unless the threat was clear, YMMV depending on which state you live in and where it happened and how much political hay this can make for the DA.

    While not gun related, in some states that have “Good Samaritan laws” those laws do not pertain to people who are not police, EMS or firefighters (although there is a special provision for those who are certified in CPR). In CT, a simple Joe citizen can be sued because Good Samaritan laws do not apply to them. It sucks to the point that Good Samaritan laws do not even apply to teachers and only the school nurse (regardless of the law, case law says differently). In case of car accident, you call 911 and sit back and do nothing.

    Connecticut Constitution Article I, Section 15
    Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.

    Who is the ‘state”?

    From a moral perspective, if I am in a store being robbed and there is gun pointed where someone else’s life is in danger, I am getting involved. It has to be a very clear threat. Outside of that, I am calling 911 and wishing the people in the situation the best of luck. if it directly involves me, I am not going down without a fight.

    I believe individual protection and protection of your family is well established, for anyone else, it depends on your morals and how bad the DA and police want to nail you for doing their job.

    • In Texas the GS Law applies to everyone acting voluntarily and for free. If it is your profession and on duty and in response to being called the GS law does not apply. If it is your profession and you volunteered to act or offer your help and you are not being paid, you are protected.

  9. If by the grace of the powers that be I could CCW in L.A., I would not intervene in an unknown situation, simply because it is unknown. In fact, even if I could CCW, unless the threat was direct and immediate to me or mine, I do not think I’d intervene. I know a LOT of local LEOs, and you’d be hard pressed to distinguish some of the UC guys/gals from your average street thug. That’s exactly why they’re so good at being UC. And we all know that shooting a LEO never ends well for the shooter, regardless of the best of intentions.

    • Which attitude brings up a question. Why does the author of the post assume it’s possible that single people might place less value on their freedom and money than those married with kids? It is obvious that the contrary is true, which is evidenced by their remaining single.

  10. Everybody carries a cell phone. Call 911 and vector the cops in. Give them all the info you can without putting yourself at risk. An unknown situation is just that, unknown.

  11. The key is ‘unknown’ .. when do you ever really know what’s going on? I was in a bank branch once, and an old man in a wheelchair came in with what seemed to be his attendant, a young man. The young man wheeled the old man to the counter, told the clerk he needed to make a cash withdrawal, then said he needed to retrieve something from his car. As soon as he moved away, the old man said “help, they’re tying to rob me!”. I quietly left the bank and don’t know how it played out, except that I never read anything about it in the local news.

    Now, were they trying to rob a helpless old man? Or was the old man senile and did this kind of thing everytime they took him out in public? Either is possible, and since you don’t have a badge, you don’t have writ to step in and try to sort it out.

  12. TO: All
    RE: As We Say in the Army….

    It all depends on the situation.

    Store armed robbery? Certainly!

    Someone about to throw a flaming molotov cocktail into an occupied residence? Ferser!

    Two guys facing each other with drawn weapons? Not so sure.

    The rule of thumb, as drummed into our wee wittle brains before deploying to DC for the ’71 May Day Riots was…..

    If there is imminent threat to human life, the use of deadly force is authorized.

    [NOTE: It was rather odd that—while deployed on that operation—the only people were live ammo in our platoon of paratroopers were (1) the LT and (2) the M60 machine gunner. The former with his M1911A1 .45 cal ACP. The latter with 200 rounds of disintegrating belt-link 7.62mm. I guess the platoon sniper with the M21 was supposed to swipe a few rounds from the machine gunner, should the need arise.]


    [Tanks are for crowd control. APERS rounds are for crowd dispersal. — Army Tank Commander]

    • P.S. In that two guys with weapons drawn facing each other situation….

      ….I guess one could kill them both to prevent them from murdering each other.

      Sort of a….

      ….We had to destroy the village in order to save it action.

      But heaven help you if one or both of them are undercover cops.

  13. You see a Holmes or Lanza gunning down innocent people in a mass murder situation?

    What you gonna do? Run? Hide? And call the cops? While the murderer keeps killing people?

    Even if the killer is dressed like a cop, I’m going to stop the blackguard.

      • Well….all thinks considered. If it doesn’t sound like an outright firefight between squad sized units and I’m not part of a combat unit myself, i.e., I’m just an armed citizen on the streets, it is inculcated in me to move to the sound of the guns, evaluate the situation and act accordingly. The distaff, if she’s with me, has my back.

  14. The answer is “it depends.” If you come upon trouble intervention is dicey thing but if trouble come to you then you have a better chance of knowing who the bad guy is. The CHL holder’s creed is the same as the gamblers:

    “You have to know when to hold;
    know when to fold ’em;
    know when to walk away;
    know when to run.”

  15. “A person who is not a sworn law enforcement person has no legal duty to defend another person”

    False implication here: A person who IS a sworn law enforcement person STILL has no legal duty to defend another person… Supreme court has upheld that sentiment on numerous occasions…

    Don’t paint cops as ‘the good guys who are out to protect you’ because that isn’t their job…

    • Yeah….

      That To Serve and To Protect is the greatest piece of propaganda ever created in the US.

    • Do me a favor and finish reading a paragraph before you angrily hit the comment button. Just a few more sentences would have taken you to the part where I cite the specific District Court case (not Supreme Court by the way) where the ruling was that officers had no duty to provide police services to the victim.

      • TO: Jim Barrett
        RE: Uuuuhhhh…..

        ….to whom are you addressing that angry comment?

        ADDENDUM: Ack tso. I see the indentation and realize you’re addressing James.

        And by the way, the way some states name their various levels of court, it can be rather confusing.

        I recall reading an item about a ruling—I think it was New York state—where the state court of appeals upheld a ruling by a—get this—supreme court.


        [Good formatting helps avoid confused communications.]

      • And there’s this recent case, decided only a few weeks ago in New York City:

        It’s not a Supreme Court decision, but it’s chilling enough. The police aren’t legally obligated to do anything at all to help anyone, not even if a homicidal maniac is trying to stab you to death right in front of them. (Which isn’t to say that no cop ever would help…but apparently it’s optional.)

  16. Like commented on in an earlier post, don’t jump to conclusions. A guy dressed in biker garb and wearing a helmet with a full face shield came into a Seven Eleven. He walked up to the counter and told the boldly clerk to hand over the cash or he’d kill him. By chance, there were at least three CCW holders in the store who overheard and two of them drew down on the perp. Everyone in the place instantly suffered from severe anal retention except the biker dude, he almost lost it into his leather pants. As it turned out….this time, he was the clerk’s friend and was just pulling a prank on him. As a bystander and the third CCW holder, it was a solid example of how quickly good intentions could go horribly wrong if you act on the unknown.

  17. If it’s not my fight, my involvement begins and ends with dialing 9-1-1, whether the situation is clear or not. I’m not going to risk death for a stranger who, when push comes to shove, couldn’t care less whether I live or die.

    Have you ever heard of a person — saved by a Good Samaritan who was killed in the effort — raising the rescuer’s children, paying for their college education or making the dead guy’s mortgage payments?

    Neither have I.

    How about if the rescuer lives. Have you ever heard of a situation where the saved party paid for the rescuer’s legal bills?

    Neither have I.

    The consequences of a shooting go on and on for years after the event. I’m perfectly willing to accept those consequences in the defense of me and mine. Strangers, however, are on their own.

    • So you’d be no Dirty Harry, eh?

      Remember his behavior when he saw a naked man with an erection and a knife chasing a woman down an alley.

      You’d let the murderous rapist have his way, eh?

      By the time you’d called 911 and the police finally arrived, she’d be dead.

      • So she has no responsibility for her own defense? Where is her CCW and pistol? Are you being sexist?

      • Hey, Chuck, you do know that Dirty Harry was a movie, right? With, like, actors and a script and cameras and all that Hollywood stuff.

        Let’s get the record straight. If I saw you running down an alley naked with a boner chasing a woman, no, I wouldn’t shoot you. Maybe I’d write a memo.

  18. A situation happened in my city where a woman was being dragged outside an SUV at 30 mph. A passerby licensed to carry shot and killed the driver. Problem was, the woman being dragged had just tried to carjack the driver. The victim was trying to get away when the CCW holder decided to get involved–and that person is in a world of legal hurt.

    Unless my family or I are in fear for our lives or if grave bodily harm is eminent, I don’t get involved and the weapon stays holstered. At that point I dial 911 and be the best witness I can possibly be.

      • It happened in Detroit a while ago. Unfortunately, with the sheer volume of carjackings here and subsequent media coverage, finding a link to that particular crime is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

        • Gotta name of the perp? Or the poor sap who got himself involved?

          I find it interesting because even if the perp was the person being dragged by the vehicle, that is still something that could be perceived as imminent threat to human life. In this case the perps.

          I’d like so see the proverbial ‘rest of the story’ to grasp it all.

  19. “Rescue” a stranger? Almost certainly not, unless you witnessed the situation from the beginning, know exactly what’s happening, and it’s definitely not a domestic dispute (don’t touch that with a 10ft pole).

    Ventilate a criminal to save tax money and serve as a deterrent to other criminals? Every chance you get.

    • Ventilate anyone and in most cases, you are going to be spending a fair amount of your money on a court defense. I’ll thank you for saving us some tax money prosecuting and housing the dude, but don’t ever expect me to be the one doing the ventilation unless there is a 100% chance that prosecution will not even get started on me or I’m doing it to save my life or a member of my family’s

      • In DGU there is never a 100% chance you will not be prosicuted. Even at 4am a large man kicks in your door and goes for your daughters bedroom. He could be the prosecuting attorney’s intoxicated cousin with a 65 IQ and lived in that room 25 years ago.

  20. “Should A Concealed Carrier Intervene in an Unknown Situation?” If the situation is truly unknown then I think the answer is easy. No, never, no way.

    “according to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals decision in Warren v. District of Columbia, police in fact have no duty to provide police services to individuals.”

    Bringing up this case as having any bearing on whether you should intervene in an unknown situtation is ridiculous. This case is about tort law and says that you can’t sue the police for not protecting you. It doesn’t say it is not their job. It is still their job and they should be fired for not doing their job. Of course depending on the political climate in the jursidiction this may or may not happen. Either way it is irrelevant to the decision to interviene in an unknown situation. If a person makes the decision to interviene based on the fact that the police can’t be sued for not protecting and individual unless a special relationship was established ahead of time then they are an idiot.. However, knowing that the police aren’t there at the time and may take too long to respond is relevant. Ok, I got that off my chest.

    The decision to interviene on behalf of another should only happen if you know the facts, who is the good guy, bad guy etc. It is too easy otherwise to shoot the wrong person and get first hand experience on the losing end of tort law. As has already been pointed out even if you know the facts you have no legal duty to interviene. Your own moral standard is another issue and you must balance the possibility of helping the situation against the possibility of hurting the situation or opening yourself to some type of criminal or civil action. It is not easy to make that decision under pressure and most likely very quickly. That is why I can understand why many people say, if it is not my family then I am not getting involved. Personallly, there are others that I may choose to protect but that will be a decision made in the moment that, if I am fortunate, never comes.

    • “Bringing up this case as having any bearing on whether you should intervene in an unknown situtation is ridiculous.”

      Context is everything. I brought this case up for a couple of reasons. First of all, people frequently cite a case attributed to SCOTUS that says cops have no duty to protect the citizens. Rather than following suit and citing a non-specific case that I could not find any reference to, I cited the actual court case the concept of police not being required to protect citizens stems from.

      Secondly, I brought it up specifically in answer to a comment made earlier this week about how if EMTs have a duty to assist in an accident, one day as lawyer might try to make the case that a CCP holder might have a similar duty to intervene in a life and death situation. This is obviously a mistaken assumption and I highlighted that by pointing out that if cops don’t have a duty to provide police services to individuals, then CCP holders certainly don’t either.

      “It doesn’t say it is not their job. It is still their job and they should be fired for not doing their job.”

      I hate to break it to you, but in this day and age of powerful police unions and ass-covering on a grand scale, this case certainly set a precedent that might protect any cop who chooses not to put their lives at risk. I agree that it is a cop’s job and many do in fact take it seriously, but at the end of the day, there was no legal penalty when the cops failed to do that job and the lack of legal consequences likely suggest there will be a lack of any consequences.

      • “Context is everything. I brought this case up for a couple of reasons. First of all, people frequently cite a case attributed to SCOTUS that says cops have no duty to protect the citizens.”

        You are correct in that context is everything. In the context of making that decision in the moment this case should be irrelevant to you.

        “I hate to break it to you, but in this day and age of powerful police unions and ass-covering on a grand scale, this case certainly set a precedent that might protect any cop who chooses not to put their lives at risk”

        You are not breaking anything to me. I specifically said it depends on the political climate whether they will be fired or not. In many places, maybe even most, I understand that this will not happen.

        I do think this is an excellent post and question for any concealed carrier to examine ahead of time so they know the issues and have an idea of how they will respond if this happens to them.

        I still contend that whether or not you as an individual can sue the police for not doing their job should have no bearing on the answer to the question you asked in the title of this post. “Should A Concealed Carrier Intervene in an Unknown Situation?” On the other hand, the question of whether the police can or will respond in time is completely relevant and so is whether I will be sued or not.

      • From Wikipedia:
        DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services
        Supreme Court of the United States (109 S. Ct. 998; 103 L. Ed. 2d 249; 1989 U.S. LEXIS 1039; 57 U.S.L.W. 4218)
        The court opinion, by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, held that the Due Process Clause protects against state action only, and as it was Randy DeShaney who abused Joshua [a 4-yr old boy]; a state actor (the Winnebago County Department of Social Services) was not responsible.
        Furthermore, they ruled that the DSS could not be found liable, as a matter of constitutional law, for failure to protect Joshua DeShaney from a private actor. Although there exist conditions in which the state (or a subsidiary agency, like a county department of social services) is obligated to provide protection against private actors, and failure to do so is a violation of 14th Amendment rights, the court reasoned, “The affirmative duty to protect arises not from the State’s knowledge of the individual’s predicament or from its expressions of intent to help him, but from the limitation which it has imposed on his freedom to act on his own behalf… it is the State’s affirmative act of restraining the individual’s freedom to act on his own behalf – through incarceration, institutionalization, or other similar restraint of personal liberty – which is the “deprivation of liberty” triggering the protections of the Due Process Clause, not its failure to act to protect his liberty interests against harms inflicted by other means.”.[4] Since Joshua DeShaney was not in the custody of the DSS, the DSS was not required to protect him from harm. In reaching this conclusion, the court opinion relied heavily on its precedents in Estelle v. Gamble and Youngberg v. Romeo.

  21. Hello All:

    Along the lines of this discussion…has anyone here ever needed and then used the legal services of

    Thank you,

    Lancaster, PA

  22. A scenario I use for my CWP students in SC is that you come around a corner and see two guys kicking and beating a man on the ground and a woman who looks like she was raped lying a few feet away. Most say they would help the guy on the ground assuming he and the lady were acquaintances.

    So what happens when the guy getting kicked was in the act of raping the woman and the guys stomping him were the ones who saved the woman?

    • ^ this. If you don’t know the whole picture– the totality of circumstances– you are taking on a huge risk if you intervene.

    • Personally? I’d tell everyone, EVERYONE, to stop what the fvck they were doing, and that I was calling the police, because even if the guy on the ground is the rapist, kicking and stomping him is fvcking illegal. I might give the kicking and stomping guys the courtesy of un-assing the area before the cops arrived so they didn’t get arrested for agg assault, but I’m not going to let the agg assault continue.

  23. After reading all your comments I find it surprising that no one , unless I missed it, mentioned that the student was hit twice. Once in the face, which looked like a kill shot to me.
    If for no other reason, that one convinces me to stay out of it.

  24. Some people think voting is a ‘moral duty’. I think it’s a moral duty not to vote unless you’ve researched what you’re voting on.

    I don’t believe I have a moral duty to protect those who feel no duty to protect themselves.

    Convenience store robbery isn’t clear cut. What if the clerk, working alone, comes out of the bathroom to find a stranger opening the cash register and draws on him? And what if you, Dudley Dooright, walk in and draw on the clerk for holding a gun on the guy standing behind the till?

  25. I have not yet read all the previous responses so I hope this is not a duplicate post. (I am short on time today.) I have responded to the general question before. An armed citizen should NOT intervene in an apparent crime unless the citizen has seen everything and knows with absolute certainty who are criminals and who are citizens. Even then intervening is optional depending on several factors.

    My primary consideration whether to intervene (assuming I know for certain which participants are criminals) would be based on tactical advantage. If four assailants are armed, behind cover, have rifles, and I am standing out in the open, I am not going to intervene. We accomplish nothing for the good of society if the original victim and an armed citizen both die. In that situation the most good I can accomplish is being an excellent witness and help bring justice to the attackers after the fact.

    I also subscribe to the mantra, “You make your bed, you lie in it.” If an adult chooses to go out into the world without the means to defend themselves, that is their choice and they can enjoy (or regret) that choice. I am reluctant to put my @$$ on the line for an adult who did not care to invest the money and time to acquire a firearm and be proficient with it. When it comes to minors however, who cannot legally possess firearms as they go about their business, I am much more likely to intervene. In that situation I go by the Golden Rule. If a criminal was attacking one of my children, I sure hope an armed citizen would intervene on their behalf. Well if I expect someone else to intervene for my children, then it is only fair that I intervene for another person’s child.

  26. My short answer: It depends. I don’t want to be shot, but I also want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and say “You did all you could.”

    If I’m not in any danger, and if my loved ones aren’t in any danger, then I want to keep it that way.

    I own a cellphone, I’ll go ahead and call 9-1-1, I’ve done my Good Samaritan Duty.

    It also depends entirely on the situation: Am I alone, or with my family? Am I driving along and see something? Am I in a large crowded area? Is someone else stepping up to the plate to check things out? Etc. Etc…

    If I’m driving by, and I see an altercation on the side of the road, then I’ll call 9-1-1, and tell them what I saw.

    If I’m alone, and I saw someone on their knees with a gun to their head, and I’m armed, then there would be a small chance I’d intervene. If I were with my loved ones though and saw that same thing, I’ll be getting them and myself to safety ASAP.

    If I’m alone, and I see some little child screaming “No, you’re not my daddy!” or “No, you’re not my mommy!” while being pulled away, then things will be totally different. How would I feel if my child was being kidnapped and screaming that, and no one stood up, and tried to at least keep them there until the authorities came to sort things out?

    Again, it’s a case-by-case thing…

    • I actually witnessed a public “you’re not my mommy” incident. The little girl was my daughter. The evil kidnapping woman was my girlfriend (I was divorced at the time) who was trying to keep my daughter out of trouble. I’m glad nobody shot my girlfriend. She was kinda cute.

      The phrase “unknown situation” shouldn’t just cover circumstances. It should also mean that the people are unknown.

      • I think my reaction to a “you’re not my mommy” incident would be determined by what the “not mommy” was trying to do. Pulling kids off playground equipment, or stopping them from running out of a gate, or stopping them from doing something else that’s going to get them or another kid injured? Not really a cause for my alarm. Dragging the kid toward the parking lot while the kid screams that? I’m probably calling the cops. Not necessarily (or even likely) gunplay, but definitely calling the cops with a description, tag number, and direction of travel. I might even hop in my own car and follow them ’til the cops caught up.

  27. Unknown? A convenience store robbery is pretty unequivocal.

    Other stuff can be more murky, but unless the situation is hopelessly muddled it should be pretty easy to distinguish aggressor from besieged.

  28. An instructor I took a CHL class from told us that one time he pulled his gun and stopped some teens who were curb stomping another teen’s head. He said he only stopped to help because it looked as if the kid was going to get killed. It turned out to be a gang initiation, and the stompee was angry at his rescuer for interrupting. The police were blasé about what the kids were doing too, so the instructor decided that was the last time he’d step up for a stranger.

  29. The convenience store used to be a front for an illegal whatever and has been taken over by a TLA in an attempt at a sting operation. The clerks are TLA shooters. The customer is a local undercover who doesn’t know about the takeover. The robber is well known as real hard case (and is also an undercover.)

    You wander into their cluster fsck, draw down on them, and ….

  30. I actually had occasion to think about this situation, or more specifically the situation from the “Wait!” post linked above.

    I stopped by Circle K last night to grab a bag of ice on the way to a buddy’s house. When I walked in, there was a person at the counter paying, and another standing a bit off to one side, clearly waiting, but not “in line.” I turned to the right toward the ice case. A third person walked in behind me, and was given the “go ahead” by the guy standing off to the side.

    Now is an appropriate time to mention that the guy off to the side was a black guy, not dressed ghetto, but not “clean cut” either. Just an average guy, jeans, t-shirt, and a (OH MY GOD!) hoodie. (The OMG was a joke, stop hyperventilating.)

    I got up to the counter just as the third person finished paying, and I was also given the “go ahead” by the guy, who I had by now noticed had nothing whatsoever in his hands. Nothing ready to purchase, in other words. It crossed my mind that if someone was about to rob the place, they might wait until it was just them and the clerk before making their plans known, hence all the “go aheads.”

    I made my purchase and left, and as I exited, yet another person walked in, and that person was also given the go ahead by the guy.

    What was my course of action? Well, I’d parked well off to one side of the door, so I couldn’t see what was going on inside from my car. So I backed out and circled around to one of the gas pumps where I had a direct line of sight to the door, the guy, and the clerk. And I waited. The other customer finished their business and left, and that guy is still loitering inside the store, about four feet from the counter and clerk. After about 30 seconds he took a couple steps closer, and he and the clerk exchanged a couple words, but still nothing happened. No transaction, but no “transaction” either.

    About 30 seconds later a guy, dressed similarly to “my guy,” came walking around the corner of the building, across the front, and inside. He walked over, grabbed a drink (Arizona Watermelon? Nah, I think it was a Powerade.) and a couple other things, and then walked up to the counter where he was joined by “my guy,” and they paid and left.

    So, it was a non-story. Move along, nothing to see here. Was I wrong to get my attention up? I don’t think so. If that guy had pulled a gun (or just behaved in a manner that was visibly threatening) would I have intervened? Hell no, I was outside. But I was watching, and I’d damn sure been on the phone as soon as it happened.

  31. Don’t get involved.

    Cops aren’t going to roll up on a “Shots Fired” scene and start checking for permits. They will most likely assume, for their own safety and for the safety of others, that the people they see with guns are the bad guys. So when you do get involved you put yourself at risk and muddle the situation for people actually trained for this sort of thing. Those few seconds it takes for the cops to figure out who is who just might be the difference of life and death for the poor victim bleeding out on the floor.

    There’s also the Boogie Nights donut shop-scenario, where a wannabe vigilante creates a bloodbath when the perp most likely would have ran out the door with the cash with no need to actually use the gun. I doubt a lot of convenience store stick up hoodlums are looking to catch a lifetime bid for a $50 till. You could very well make a bad situation drastically worse.

  32. LISTEN…. YOU & I ARE NOT “SHEEPDOGS” or the POLICE…. Get that through your heads. You are not super hero’s. If you have delusions of grandeur, “make my day” dreams you should not have a gun. Case is closed. IT IS FOR YOUR PERSONAL PROTECTION & PROTECTION OF HOME AND FAMILY ….. If their name is not on your tax form and YOU are not in immediate risk of death yourself …. DON’T SHOOT!!!!!!!!! George Zimmerman may be legally in his rights, but he is an idiot for risking so much for strangers as a volunteer walking around SOLO with only a lethal defense weapon, aka gun. I guarantee if he had a partner with him and/or pepper spray, the end result would be different. By all means look out for bad folks, neighborhood WATCH, not neighborhood shoot.

  33. I guess I would have to agree with the majority of you…. but I have spent the past thirty five years running into the fire (so to speak). When lives were at risk I act. I can’t help it…. I will die trying to save any person at risk of death. But I guarantee you I will not act until I know who to act upon (like a ski mask in August in Texas with an exposed weapon), If who to act upon is not obvious there is no call for me to act at all. My phone works just fine.

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