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What if. Those two little words are responsible for opening more cans o’ worms than any other two words in the English language. (Okay, “I’m pregnant” is close in a photo-finish kinda way. Still.) So with the rash of flash mobs that have made a progression from “novelty act” and “stunt” to “violence” and “criminal act,” I have to wonder, why is it that these things usually take place in places that have the most stringent, restrictive laws on the personal ownership of guns?

In Texas and other states where restrictive gun laws have been banished from the books, shop owners are allowed to keep guns behind the counter. Now watch the video above, and consider the question, what if the shop clerk had a gun? Plays out a little differently in your mind, doesn’t it?

If a clerk is afraid for his or her life (and I think you can argue that a mob descending on his or her store and overwhelming the place to steal merchandise en masse could sit right on the edge of that legal standard in a lot of states), can you imagine how different it would be with a mob if they faced someone wielding an 870?

More to the point, there’s no reason that a shop owner would have to actually pull out the gun. In a lot of locales, it’s enough of a deterrent to know that there’s even a possibility that a store might be “protected by Smith & Wesson,” if you know what I mean.

Let me go on record as stating that I do not recommend, condone, or encourage anyone to brandish a gun unless/until they face a life-threatening situation. Having said that, if I sat on a grand jury that was considering the question of charging a shop owner with “assault with a deadly weapon” for brandishing said gun when confronted by a flash mob, I’d be inclined to cut the guy some slack, especially if no lives were lost.

My folks owned a rental property (a duplex) next door to their office. One side was leased by a young man who worked at a nearby Circle K convenience store. The widely publicized store policy of Circle K was that employees should offer no resistance whatsoever, should they be held up, regardless of if the robber was armed or not.

When the guy came in to pay his rent, he told my mom that he’d been held up the night before, by a guy with a gun. He didn’t resist, but still got pistol-whipped for his trouble. The following month, he was late with the rent, which was unusual for him.

A week later, his brother came in to pay the rent and tell my mom that he’d have the apartment vacated by the end of the week. My mom asked why. The man reported that his brother had been robbed a second time by the same man. He didn’t resist this time either. But the police said that, because the clerk showed a flash of recognition towards the bandit, they scumbag decided to leave no witnesses behind. (He apparently forgot about the surveillance camera.)

I come down on the side of guns acting as a deterrent, especially if the bad guys are left to wonder “does he, or doesn’t he” when it comes to a potential victim’s carry status. That’s why concealed carry makes a lot of sense. But when criminals know there’s virtually no chance that they might face an armed response to their criminal acts, it’s hard to argue that gun control laws make the world a safer place.

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  1. I believe that video is from a 7-11 in Montgomery County, Maryland. Close to DC, but not in DC. Montgomery County is one of the top 5 richest counties in the country, but it has poor areas and close proximity to DC and Prince George County Maryland (which is one of the top 10 richest counties in the country, but their public school system is the second worst in the nation).

    • they said it was on Benning Rd in NW. this is in WASHINGTON DC. the one that occured recently in Germantown, in Mongonery coutnty , MD.i know PG county schools are bad, but i’m not sure they are not the “second worst” in the country”

      “which is one of the top 10 richest counties in the country, but their public school system is the second worst in the nation).”

      put Black before richest and your stat is correct.This is roughly because of two or three towns and cities within the entire county.there is a BIG different between inside the beltway and outside the beltway around here.

      I am a PG county native by the way, and guess who did not go to public school in my own area?

  2. Of course your going to have MORE crime in areas with the STRICTEST gun laws, because the criminals have no fear of being stopped. Try this sh!t in the great state of Texas and you’ll get an A$$ full of buck shot.

    • “you’ll get an A$$ full of buck shot”

      Well, they’d have to be running away to catch a double cheekful, but a true Texan would rather shoot them coming in than going out.

      Why? Less lead.

  3. “I come down on the side of guns acting as a deterrent, especially if the bad guys are left to wonder “does he, or doesn’t he” when it comes to a potential victim’s carry status. “

    There’s no need to take your word for it, either. Multiple surveys have been conducted on inmates over the years and a solid majority of them always answer that the possibility of an armed victim affects their plans.

    All predators in every species prefer the victim that’s least able to fight back, it’s basic self-interest.

  4. Brad, your post examines both sides of the same coin: The idea of the POSSIBILITY of a gun serving as a deterrent and the REALITY of a gun in plain sight doing the talking. However in the case of the flash mob descending upon a store that you use as the springboard for your post, option A has already been rendered moot. Even if that possibility exists, if you find yourself in that situation, it hasn’t worked. Leaving option B…

    At what point is the clerk justified in drawing a weapon; when 5 people enter or 10? The clip shows nobody approaching the counter, instead they all focus on grabbing their desired merchandise and leaving quickly. Has the threshold of armed self preservation been crossed yet?

    Suppose in the clerk’s mind it has, what exactly are you envisioning the clerk/owner doing with the 870 here? Is he actively aiming it or strafing the muzzle chest high around the store or is it more of a “Take what you want , but don’t come near ME” posture with the gun cradled in his folded arms?

    Is a store owner justified in brandishing a weapon just because a flash mob is walking away with a few hundred dollars worth of candy bars that insurance will cover? I’m not defending the actions shown in that clip by any stretch, but how would a store owner’s life be considered in danger here? Isn’t it possible that by bringing the 870 to bear that the owner escalates the situation to a deadly level? What if one of the teens, in an act of (admittedly foolish) bravado, verbally calls the bluff but in no way further advances; does the owner shoot or back down? Either way, what happens next?

    • Isn’t deadly force authorized in protection of personal property? So wouldn’t he be authorized to fire even if they were stealing things and not directly threatening him or customers?

      And I have to ask…why should the danger of escalation through brandishing be a factor? A person should cower and not stand up to thugs because there’s a danger he might have to shoot them? That’s why the 2A exists, for protection of life and property. If you’re not prepared to confront that possibility, why own a gun that’s ostensibly for protection?

      (I’m not going against you, just exploring the questions. They’re good things to consider.)

    • Frankly, I think this situation argues for a loosening of brandishing laws for protecting property. I wouldn’t want convenience store clerks to start shooting people over candy bars, but if they want to have a gun with them for protection in plain sight when confronting criminals in their place of business, the law should explicitly allow that. It shouldn’t come down to having sympathetic people on the jury willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  5. whats the difference between this bull and all the crap that happened in london? this to me is the precursor to that

    • I disagree. In a mob rule situation with massive ongoing riots, looting, burning, etc. you’re in a state of escalation far above the sort of flash mob seen in the embedded video.

      Again, I’m not downplaying what we saw here, but it’s not near the same level as nationwide chaos.

    • that is quite a jump, these are TEENAGE GIRLS we talking about here. i think a button triggered door lock (keeping them inside the store) and a shotgun (beanbag rounds in this case) would keep these dummies in check until the 5-0 get to the scene. In the case of violence, shoot on right in the chest, or pepper gel them into submission until the cops come.
      Zealot’s comments are right on the money, the UK riots are a big difference. – 5,000 for the protectionist culture rationale

  6. Using deadly force against petty thieves who are not threatening you in any way is poorly received in most jurisdictions. And yes, bean-bag rounds are deadly force.

    • “Using deadly force against petty thieves who are not threatening you in any way is poorly received in most jurisdictions.”
      the beanbags were one of 2 possibilities, read my post.

  7. What if the clerk had an extuingisher sized can of bear spray? Give em a little warning puff and then let it fly. Just deny the whole area.

    Of course you are gonna get a taste of it yourself, so maybe unleash it on your way out the door… They also make pepper spray grenades. Probably less messy…

    Where is the immediate, unavoidable threat of grave bodily harm or injury? MAYBE it is implied by the size of the group, but without aggression or a “known to you” recent history of these things escalating, you would be facing an uphill battle.

    We don’t carry guns to stop people from doing things we don’t like. They are there for the protection of ourselves and the people we care about.

    • this is why i suggested the pepper gel as an alternative to the bean bags, it is localized to area you fire it at and it has further range and does not fog the area in a burning cloud of awful for the innocents in the vicinity.

  8. I wouldn’t even say anything about guns will solve it truly.

    You use non lethal shot gun ammo, they sue you. You use bird shot. They sue you. You use buckshot. Their parents sue you.

  9. Zealot your wrong flat out, if they’re willing to do this what’s gunna stop them from rioting when they get the excuse. And where the hell is jesse jacksons big stupid face when this type of crap happens

  10. if they’re willing to do this what’s gunna stop them from rioting when they get the excuse”.so you are after of a urban teenager girl riot in……….. the nation’s capital,
    it would be squashed like an insect by the DCPD and whatever govenement agancies are selected to suppress them.we are talking about the home of the federal government here.
    there is WAY too much money and armed government factions for that to happen.

  11. Brad,

    I don’t know if Circle K policy is different in AZ versus where you’re mentioning, but when I worked for Circle K in AZ, they had an explicit written policy that “discouraged but did not ban bringing weapons to work.” In other words, weapons at work were not just cause to be fired.

    Nor was there any sort of “don’t resist when being robbed” policy. However, it’s been 8 or 9 years since I worked at Circle K.

    It’s also the only place I’ve ever worked that had a $50K accidental death insurance policy the company paid for. And the insurance policy was in force from day 1 of your employment.

  12. You just literally took what I said and twisted completely out of context as to what I’m saying. Do I think deadly force should have been used? Hell no, but I do see were this type of behavior can lead. They have no respect for others, and clearly have some sense of entitlement. This is the cap that leads from “flash mob” to “mob rule”. And don’t think just because they’re teenage girls they aren’t dangerous, I just helped admit a man who got hit in the head with a beer bottle by a “teenage girl”

  13. Not that I’m opposed to gun ownership, or having a gun behind the counter when you’re in a store, but what do you imagine is going to happen with one of these flash mobs, if the guy behind the counter is armed? He’s going to wave it around, and the kids will either ignore him, loot the store anyway, and then leave, or he’ll shoot someone, and he and the store owner will get sued. None of the kids in these mobs have threatened anyone, they’re just stealing stuff. I’m not saying it’s right, but the argument is going to be that no one’s life is worth a bag of chips or a can of soda.

    If you want Al Sharpton to have something to do after the Trayvon Martin silliness is over, shoot some kids in one of these flash mobs, and he’ll be outside your house or business, leading the demonstration.

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