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By Rob Morse

Crime happens. That fact is timeless, but it also changes over time. We are not the society we used to be. We might sit on the couch and watch big-city crime shows every night, but most of us know that the police won’t get to us in time to stop a criminal’s violent attack.

Given where we live, the police may be simply too far away. That’s true in rural areas and in small towns across the country. Given reductions in police budgets, it might be true in your city, too.

We also know that fewer criminals are being taken off the streets by our courts. That leaves the responsibility with us to defend ourselves until the police arrive.

This news story took place in a small rural town. It’s unlikely that the town of Ellijay, Georgia has a police force since the population is less than 2000 people. That means law enforcement is probably handled by county sheriff’s deputies or by the state police. This story was nearly over by the time the police arrived on the scene. Put yourself in this situation and see what happened a half hour after sunset last Monday.

A store clerk in a gas station-convenience store knew he had a problem when a customer pulled a gun from their pocket and pointed the gun at the clerk’s head. The robber had underwear around his neck and pulled it up over his face as a disguise. The robber walked behind the counter, pointed a pistol at the clerk’s head and demanded the money in the cash drawer. The store clerk thought the robber might kill him since other robbers have shot and killed store clerks before.

Though neither the robber nor the store clerk knew it at the time, the robber wasn’t the only person with a gun in that rural convenience store. One of the customers there was carrying a concealed handgun. The armed customer heard the clerk cry out. He saw the robber pointing his gun at the store clerk’s head and the mask on the robber’s face.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that scene was a picture of an innocent store clerk facing a lethal threat. The customer believed what he was seeing.


We’re not sure exactly what happened next. We know the armed customer presented his firearm. He told the robber to stop. We don’t know if the customer moved so he was harder to see or harder to shoot. We don’t know if the robber lowered his gun. We know that there were other customers in the store during the robbery, and we don’t know if the armed customer had a clear shot at the robber without putting the store clerk or other innocent parties at risk.

That was when a second customer ran outside and grabbed his handgun from his truck. The second armed customer then ran back inside and also pointed his firearm at the robber. With both armed customers pointing guns at him, the robber inched towards the front door and no one fired.

Details matter and we don’t have security video to show us exactly what happened. The robber was a lethal and immediate threat when he had his firearm pointed at the clerk. It’s arguable that the threat was not immediate if the robber lowered his gun. Even though he was armed, the robber wasn’t an immediate threat if he turned away and was moving toward the door.

A third customer was outside pumping gas during the robbery. He either saw the robbery or saw the second customer get the gun from his truck. The third customer grabbed his firearm and ran inside convenience store. He told the robber to stop.

The robber was surrounded. The robber would become an immediate threat and be shot if he moved toward any of the armed customers or the store clerk. One of the customers told the robber to drop his gun and get on the floor. The robber did so and they took his gun.

The first armed customer told the other defenders to raise their firearms. We’re not sure who called 911.

The robber wasn’t very cooperative when police arrived. He kept trying to run out the door and officers had to tase him in order to put handcuffs on him. The officers secured the attacker’s gun. They also arrested the robber’s wife. She was acting as the getaway driver and was waiting in their car outside the store.

The robber was charged with armed robbery, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The wife was charged with armed robbery. Both remained in jail without bond.

It probably took longer to read this story than it took for the robbery and capture to unfold. If you hadn’t thought about what to do ahead of time, you probably wouldn’t know what to do even if you had a firearm with you.

These points stand out . . .

  • Criminal don’t obey gun laws.
  • The armed robber was initially a lethal, immediate, and unavoidable threat to an innocent person. That justified the use of force, including lethal force. Said another way, using a gun might have been the safest thing to do.
  • Good guys are reluctant to shoot bad guys even when they’re legally justified in doing so.
  • Dangerous threats require an immediate response. The first defender didn’t have time to run to his car and get his firearm. Because the first customer was armed, the other customers had time to grab their firearms and respond.
  • The robber was no longer a threat when he dropped his gun and laid on the floor. The defenders were wise to take their fingers off their triggers and point their firearms in safer directions. You don’t point a gun at someone if they aren’t a threat.
  • The first armed customer may very well have saved the store clerk’s life. The other armed customers allowed the police to capture the criminal.

I don’t want to shoot anyone, but sometimes bad guys need to be shot. The fact is that until he lowered his gun, the robber could have murdered the store clerk. Fortunately verbal commands worked in this case. They don’t work every time. That leaves me with more questions than answers.

Should we use words and try to defuse the situation if a robber is threatening one of our loved ones? Should we pull the trigger if a criminal is threatening a stranger? What changed from one case to the other? I thought I knew the answers, but now I’m not so sure. I bing up those questions precisely because I need to think about them.

We won’t have time to weigh competing arguments when someone screams in fear. Thank you for being one of the good guys who goes armed and who has thought about what to do.


This article originally appeared at Slow Facts and is reprinted here with permission. 

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  1. But I was told in scenarios like this everybody would be firing willy-nilly in all directions unsure of who the bad guy and when the cops instantaneously teleport in they’d just shoot everyone on scene.

    Such has been prophesized by the Bloomberg/Giffords/Monsanto Mom sages.

  2. not joining in on the speculation; glad for the ends.
    takeaway: don’t leave your protection in the truck.

  3. Just to play “what if”, if the robber had suddenly moved while turning his firearm to the first armed citizen, the good guy would probably be in the position of being fired on before he could respond to the now moving bad guy. Some criminals are going to try to nullify an armed interference, no matter the risk to him/herself.
    Perhaps shooting first might be the preferred response…

    • Each person has to decide for themselves how to proceed. In civilian life I’ve never shot first. With one exception presenting a firearm has been enough to stop the immediate threat.

      In the one exception he fired at me first and missed. I fired back and assume I missed as he dropped his gun and went rabbit. It was not reported to law and I have no idea what became of him.

    • My thoughts exactly. A convicted felon is experienced in holdup scenarios if not by actual participation but vicariously from discussions with other holdup men in prison. Most of us have never participated in a holdup or even discussed the mechanics of same with experienced individuals. I have watched Front Sight’s videos of armed holdups or shootings and those involving off duty cops have always had the cop shoot first and put the b.g. on the ground before engaging in dialog. Not sure how I would react, but I might well be guided by what I saw experienced cops do.

  4. “They also arrested the robber’s wife. She was acting as the getaway driver and was waiting in their car outside the store.”

    That’s some dedicated stupid right there. She had to notice two guys with guns entering the store and think “Gee, I wonder if they gonna stop my sweetie pie or get the drop on him. Oh well, i’ll just stick around and wait for my honey bunny.” instead of thinking “Well, looks like maybe I should not wait around ’cause someone probably called the cops.”

    but who knows.

    • She probably realized that running was useless. Her hubby would have ratted her to the cops in hopes of getting a deal for himself.

      I worked at a state prison for a year. My brother retired from one. The number one activity of inmates was ratting on each other. All. The. Time.

      • …. “whats for dinner hon ?”
        ” I dunno, what’d you bring home after work…all we gots is hot dogs and gin ”
        ” What , we outta’ whisky agin?… I’m headin’ inna’ town”
        ” Oh, okay, I’ll grab my coat and go with. Hey, bring your undies with… might as well rob the place while we’re there ”
        ” Oh baby, now I ‘member why we done got hitched “

        • ” what’d you just blow outta your nose”?
          “Scrambled eggs”
          ” clean it up.. I ain’t the Maid ”
          … hey, thanks Peanut Butter !

    • where’s the G.D, like button? My 1st thought was she wasn’t arrested for the robbery but for Criminal Stupidity

  5. “Good guys are reluctant to shoot bad guys even when they’re legally justified in doing so.”

    They actually only shoot and then only when necessary in less than 5% of cases. Contrary to the anti-gun insane paint-by-numbers picture, law abiding gun owners are not armed just to shoot at people every time they draw their firearms – there is exactly zero ‘rivers of blood’ in the street from law abiding gun owners carrying firearms contrary to the picture anti-gun wants to paint.

    • This is why I laughed every time someone brought up “brandishing” during COVID like there was never a situation where the gun being presented was the de-escalator or the solution to stop the crime all together.

      It’s not always clear cut black and white. There are variables.

    • Also: “I don’t want to shoot anyone, but sometimes bad guys need to be shot. The fact is that until he lowered his gun…” That is not a fact, it is the reality of the situation that we are in. Quite simply and factually, bad guys DO need to be shot. They are a scourge, they are a cancer, they need to be eliminated.

      The days for reform where when the felon was in prison for his prior conviction(s). He has demonstrated his unwillingness to be a part of a functioning and peaceful society and therefore must be expunged. That is the fact. But it is not the reality. That is not hard, unmerciful, or calloused, it is what we must do if we are to have any chance of remaining a civilized society. If you can’t be civil, remove yourself or society will do it for you.

      If I ever do run for any political office, that will be my platform. I do not expect many votes as we seem to be (hopelessly?) overrun with snowflakes, but it would be my position and platform nonetheless.

      Stay in condition yellow.

      • I worked in court in Kallyfornicadia for 25 years. I believe in life imprisonment. I do not agree with folks who say we can’t afford it. My position is that we cannot afford to let criminals out of prison. The establishment is against it because it would mean a lot of lost jobs. Fewer judges, fewer probation officers, fewer court clerks, and other attaches to the court system and all the supporting staff for the whole criminal court system. We might even have to cut back on cops or course the could seek employment as prison guards. The court system is a huge industry and locking up three time losers for life would certainly cut down on the court system employment. Why judges might even have to go back to lawyering and public defenders and DAs also. That might lower lawyer fees because of all the competition. Gadzooks! Can’t have that happening.

        • Reading that he had underwear around his neck that he pulled up over his face made me wonder. Upper underwear or lower underwear? Clean or used? Whose underwear, his or wifey’s? With all the masks left over from The Plague, why would one wear underwear for a mask when a simple mask would do just as well and not look strange like wearing some kind of underwear around one’s neck. Obviously not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. On the other hand I once met in court a guy who said he did stickups because he wasn’t smart enough to be a burglar. Well, who was it who said, “A man’s gotta know his limitations”? Was it John Wayne or Clint Eastwood?

  6. “That was when a second customer ran outside and grabbed his handgun from his truck.”

    When will people LEARN??? ALWAYS CARRY!

  7. “Should we use words and try to defuse the situation if a robber is threatening one of our loved ones?”

    Roll the dice and take a chance?

    Been there, my words are “are you still alive?” to the bad guy after shooting the bad guy.

    I’m not taking that chance and not gonna play that game. I know statistically the odds are in favor of the bad guy pulling that trigger either intentionally or accidentally, I know statistically the odds are in favor of the bad guy inflicting harm even if they do not have a gun. And I know that compliance will not keep one of those things from happening, the bad guy controls all that. Sure it might not happen, but I’m not willing to roll the dice and find out and I’m not going to gamble with the life of a loved one either. But sure, there might be a situation where words work – but for a loved one if I get the chance I’m going to end the bad guy if he hasn’t managed to run away due to those words.

    • The perp thought his life was worth a few hundred in the till and was willing to kill for it.

    • Well, Georgia is considered the ‘Deep South’, so I suppose ‘Southern Hospitality’ was in order… 🙂

  8. It’s arguable that the threat was not immediate if the robber lowered his gun.

    I do not agree that this is arguable. Firearm in hand immediately after pointing it at someone with malice == imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm.

    Even though he was armed, the robber wasn’t an immediate threat if he turned away and was moving toward the door.

    I disagree. As I stated above, firearm in hand immediately after pointing it at someone with malice == imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm.

    Furthermore, the armed robber, who suddenly discovers that two or three armed Good Samaritans are challenging him, could simply be moving to find cover or get a better angle on one or more of the defenders to then begin shooting at those armed defenders.

    In other words, it does not matter which way the armed robber is facing, which way he is moving, and which direction he is aiming his firearm. He is still an imminent threat if he still has his firearm in hand.

    Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and the above is NOT legal advice.

    • Concur.
      IANAL either, but I am former LE.
      There is little doubt in my mind that most people cannot pull the trigger quickly enough to stop a robber from raising the gun and firing a shot, if the gun is in his hand.

      • So it’s best to take the shot when you have it. If you shoot first, your shot will hit before they can even think about pulling the trigger.

        • Not “even thinking about pulling the trigger”. Luke Short shot Charlie Storms in Tombstone in the early 1880’s. Luke fired twice, one bullet pierced Charlie’s heart. As he was falling he fired two shots into the ground, from a SSA style revolver. Reflex?

    • I agree that he was a threat if the gun was in his hand lowered or not. If the robber had uttered the words “I will kill you” and has a lowered gun is he threat or not?

      I was not there, but anyone IMO, that holds a gun, bat, golf club, tent stake, ect can be construed as a threat depending on the situation and distance. Remember ‘Ability, Opportunity and Jeopardy’.

    • I was going to ask the same question why someone would think “Even though he was armed, the robber wasn’t an immediate threat if he turned away and was moving toward the door.” In my view this is not correct since in a heartbeat the bad guy can fire punitive rounds at anyone inside or outside.

  9. I Can’t wait to see what everyone’s two favorite Communists have to say about this story. Here fishy, fishy.

  10. Elijay, GA! That’s the hometown of Bill Roger’s shooting school. Though, I think he’s retired now. If you don’t know Bill Rogers, think Wilson/Roger’s 1911 magazines and Safariland LE retention holsters, among other things. If those customers had been through one of his classes then the suspect’s shit was very weak.

    • Not retired yet, just letting some of his minions carry some of the load. He’s still there on day one doing demos. And yes, Ellijay has a police department and a top notch Sheriff’s department as well. Many of them are graduates of the Rogers Shooting School.

  11. Thanks for posting; I came here to mention this very thing. The act of the threat lowering the gun and moving away doesn’t mean the threat was stopped. It merely means the threat is complying until such time as the threat can make it’s escape or gain an advantage over its foil.

  12. Words or not until that gun is not in the bad guys hand any longer he/she is still a threat. period. If they are complying with words, fine but while they have that gun they are an active and viable threat.

    There are many cases of bad guys faking compliance or surrender in response to words, and they ended up shooting either their victim or at the defenders. Bad guys tend to take advantage of ‘weakness’ and ‘situations/circumstances’ they can exploit and one of these is the defender lowering their gun or taking their finger off the trigger because they think the bad guy is giving up and thus less of a threat. Words or not, the bad guy complying or not, If that gun or other weapon is in the bad guy hand they are and should be considered a viable threat.

    Even after they had ditched the weapon and are complying, they are and should be considered a viable threat because bad guys also want to get away and are willing to stop complying and fight if they get the chance. So they didn’t get shot because they ditched the gun but in complying they are still looking for a way out, a way to escape, and they might decide that way is through you.

  13. “Even though he was armed, the robber wasn’t an immediate threat if he turned away and was moving toward the door.”

    Sorry, but that’s a bit of nonsense. You don’t know, you can’t know, that the robber won’t start spraying bullets, hosing the place down, hoping that it helps to cover his escape. IMHO, the sumb*tch pulled a gun, and threatened people’s lives, so he remains a threat until he puts the gun away, surrenders the gun, or is lying on the floor in a pool of blood. When an armed person does illegal, and/or irrational things while armed, he remains a threat until neutralized, in one manner or another.

  14. Soro most likely lost around eleventy gazillion dollars on his favored Intel stock yesterday, so he’s probably sent out a notice to his robots to hold back for awhile… might have to wait for an entertaining paid response from our favorite ignant trolls for at least long enough for the checks to clear.

  15. In this case no one got killed but if the robber had been suicidal or desperate a tremendous gun battle would have ensued and every customer in the store including the clerk would have been in danger and all for a couple of bucks in the cash register.

    It is truly sickening how the far right crow about gun toting hillbillies taking the law into their own hands over a couple of bucks in the cash register, which was not even their money anyway, and putting an entire store of customers in danger of flying bullets in every direction.

    Now you know why foreign countries outlaw concealed carry and make handguns tough to get by draconian vetting of every gun sale, not just new guns.

    When Japan had only 1 death last year from gunfire compared to 45,000 U.S. slaughters sane people know that Japanese gun laws are superior.

    • Wow – you seem to be a troubled person. It is shameful to blame anyone except the person committing the offense. Maybe you should step up and hand them your money and belongings while they point a firearm at you. Very sad.

    • dacian, the DUNDERHEAD. If in one hand and you know what is in the other. It seems that what you are worrying about is just not the case. Seems you think that the US is unsafe. So when are you leaving? We don’t really give a rat’s behind what other countries do. If you think it is so much better elsewhere, go. Multiple people have offered to set up a “Go Fund Me” page for you to cover your expenses. There is of course a condition. If you take up our offer, you can never return.

      • The grinning idiot in his SJW zeal doesn’t realize it is the criminal who thinks their life is worth the money in the cash register and is often willing to kill for it going so far to even eliminate witnesses.

        He can’t leave the country. Something to do with an ankle bracelet and passport getting revoked. Probably from activities in antifa’s NAMBLA brigade.

    • DAcian, how about using facts in your diatribes? Even though you are a leftist.

      In Japan, people use knives and swords to off one another – their culture. BTW, Finland has the highest homicide RATE in the world. By removing the stats for black shootings in big Dem run cities, the USA falls from #3 to #173 for homicide RATES. (I am assuming your know the difference between a count and a rate based on population size.

      In 2021 (latest FBI stats) there were almost 10,000 homicides by firearms. Your number is bogus (suicides are not murder, unless you also want to count abortions as murder, which they are). About 1/3 is bad guys shooting other gangbangers (all blacks), 1/3 is bad guys killing good guys, and another 1/3 is good guys killing bad guys. And most of the first 2/3s are by blacks in the 12-28 age group. Tribalism, lack of impulse control.

  16. A lesson from this to consider – seldom find only one maggot. Even the dumbest maggot likely has a getaway “plan” of some kind. Where is it? And is it ALSO armed? (watch your 6).

    The “old lady” could easily come in with her .380 blazing to save her honeybun. #1 citizen did very well in giving instructions to #2 & #3. But could have assigned one watch the door for accomplices and trigger-happy coven of responding cops.

  17. Late to the discussion, but if you shoot the bad guy he could have a sympathetic squeeze of the trigger while that gun is pointed at the innocent clerk.

    • “…but if you shoot the bad guy he could have a sympathetic squeeze of the trigger while that gun is pointed at the innocent clerk.”

      What you are talking about is actually called an ‘involuntary trigger squeeze’. ‘sympathetic’ is just another way of saying it because its a ‘sympathetic response’ to a high stress situation, a response that you do not control thus ‘involuntary’. More correctly, in its physical manifestation, its called ‘inter-limb interaction’ which is the simultaneous movement of the opposite fingers or fingers or hand during and in response to ‘high stress events’ (such as, for example, self defense or being shot, or when tense due to the circumstances and adrenaline).

      It can happen if you shoot the bad guy, yes, its possible. But its more likely for every second the bad guy has that gun pointed at the victim they will pull the trigger anyway due to an ‘involuntary trigger squeeze’ (or intentionally) even if there is no defender there pointing a gun at them.

      People think a robber (criminal) just waltzes in and conducts the robbery (crime), the victim complies, and the robber (criminal) doesn’t harm the victim because they complied, and then the robber (criminal) leaves. Well, yeah that does happen but its not true overall and it never has actually been true that compliance means no harm to the victim. The danger is still there even if a person complies. Aside from the changes in ‘criminal behavior’ of the past to the more modern day ‘gang affiliated’ criminals with an overall motto of ‘ya gotta hurt the victim’, the reason is this:

      The criminal is also experiencing the primal ‘fight or flight’ (AKA ‘stress response’) response adrenaline flooding their body that a self-defender has but the difference is the criminal has their gun pointed at the victim (or has another type of weapon to bring to bear). Its happening to the robber even though they may appear ‘calm’. That adrenaline flooding the body makes them ‘twitchy’ and causes a sort of feeling like their muscles may move on their own and that feeling is for a reason because the body is right on the very edge of moving on its own if they lose track of their body state. So when they start moving around during their crime or focusing on the victim and/or the prize they lose track of their body state because their sympathetic nervous system has taken over automatically and suppressed (somewhat) their parasympathetic nervous system. This results in a higher chance of an ‘involuntary trigger squeeze’ by the bad guy with their gun pointed at the victim (or use of another weapon), and its not just guns either as the criminal is also prone to have a ‘sympathetic response’ with any weapon they may have (e.g. knife, blunt object, hands-feet etc…).

      The body autonomic nervous system has two components, the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is what triggers the fight-or-flight response and puts the body in overdrive. The parasympathetic nervous system acts like a ‘slow down’ system that invokes a “rest and digest” response that calms the body down. Normally, without a ‘stress event’ these two systems work in unison to balance each other out (in a person in which the systems are working properly) but with the parasympathetic nervous system in more control and basically suppressing the sympathetic nervous system except for the awareness of the need for fight-or-flight response, but the parasympathetic nervous system is also what makes a person aware of their body status. Because the sympathetic nervous system has taken over its also called a ‘sympathetic response’ or in your context a ‘sympathetic squeeze of the trigger’.

      Yes dacian is probably going to come in here with his bogus ‘chicago’ study and this or that other bogus study, ranting about how if one complies they will not be harmed – its a lie. Complying victims are more likely to be harmed simply because of the ‘sympathetic response’ and also within the last 20 years its increased that they are more likely to be harmed intentionally. What his studies are pointing out is ‘intentional’ not ‘sympathetic response’ which they left out on purpose to keep their numbers artificially lower to substantiate their claims that ‘comply’ will offer the best chance.

      Kleck on the other hand takes this into account by including all, thus….

      According to Kleck’s “Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America” – the leading authority on the subject of compliance:

      1. Any form of resistance, except with firearm, carries with it an injury rate of 52%.

      2. Resistance with a firearm carried with it the risk of injury of 17%, but use of a firearm early in an encounter carries with it a risk of injury of 6%.

      Overall, in Kleck, you have a minimum of a 25% chance of being injured if you comply, but you are 4 time less likely to be injured if you have your firearm and are prepared to use it.

      Take away here summary: compliance may still result in injury (which includes death), resistance without a firearm carries a 52% chance of injury (which includes death), resistance with a firearm lowers chance of injury (which includes death) to 17%, resistance with a firearm early in the encounter further lowers risk of injury (which includes death) to 6%

      If you are armed are you willing to gamble that you are not in the 25%?
      if you are not armed are you willing to gamble that you are not in the 52%?

      Compliance or not, resistance or not – is not a decision one needs to make. The answer is already provided, non-compliance via firearms resistance offers the best chance of less injury. But if you want, you can roll the dice and take the chance of being a good-n-dead witness.


      overall, around 2% of ordinary law abiding citizen victims employing defensive gun use are harmed or killed by their violent attackers, the rest (including those they may be defending) escape being harmed or killed by their violent attackers because they employed defensive gun use to stop the threat even if that DGU was simply brandishing.

      overall, around 80% of ordinary law abiding citizen victims that are not armed with a firearm are harmed or killed by their violent attackers even if they complied.

      • So overall, the fact is the criminal is always a viable and real threat any time they show up even if they do not have a gun.

        Only about 12% of violent criminals uses a gun for their crimes. The rest use other weapons ranging from knives to hands-feet (all sorts of things in between). Heck, more than 20,000 victims of violent crime annually in public schools while school is in session are attacked by their violent attacker intentionally with a sharpened #2 pencil.

        • Pencil-free classrooms…it’s for da Children!
          Pencils are Rassisst!
          Pencils are $exxest!
          Pencils are Elitist!
          More pencils equal more crime.
          Pencil Control!
          Ban fully semi-automatic pencils.
          My child has a click pencil- neither in nor out.

          You’re correct. it is too absurdly easy to focus on a word to the exclusion of common sense.

  18. Just not fair. A robber should not run into armed resistance. Studies show that they just need money for grandmas cancer surgery, to help mom pay the rent, so, or other justified reasons. If obama had a son….

  19. I had a different take on this. He used underwear for a mask. Boxer or briefs? If briefs, did he use the leg holes to see out. I hope they were clean. I can imagine the underwear on his head with a brown streak between his eyes. Still laughing at that image.

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