There has been a running discussion on a number of training blogs/Facebook pages that I frequent recently on the topic of when, exactly, would you or I, as a person who carries a weapon for personal defense, inject ourselves and our weapons into a confrontation between two or more other people. A dicey situation to say the least. One that can easily be made much complex if we come into the middle of the situation rather than being able to watch it unfold before our eyes.
There is a well-known blogger/trainer/police officer by the name of Greg Ellifritz who recently related a call he was involved with in an article entitled “A Cautionary Tale for CCW Permit Carriers”. The link will take you to his company page. Take a moment and read the article, it will put the rest of this post in context.
There are many ways this event could have gone sideways. The civilian could have shot the loss prevention officer. Or, the officer could have engaged the civilian. The officer arriving on scene could have engaged the civilian. Thankfully the civilian left, the thief was arrested and everyone went home at the end of the day.
There are other examples floating around out there – and they all give pause to this thought . . . what would YOU do? Let’s talk about this a bit.
I divide this topic into two separate categories – “Accompanied” and “Un-Accompanied”.
I am out and about “accompanied” by my wife, friend, kids, grandkids or someone else I would consider as being under my protection. And THAT is where my allegiance lies should I happen upon a situation where it appears that one person is being attacked by one or more attackers. Those people IN MY CHARGE are my primary responsibility and I will do what I must to protect THEM from harm – period! I will guide them away from the area immediately if possible, I will take them to cover if that is my only option and I will remain with them and protect them until help arrives or I’m dead.
There is a great deal you can do that is helpful while you are securing your charges. Call 911, tell them who you are, where you are, what is going on, give full and complete descriptions, tell them you are protecting those in your charge and that you are armed, describe your location, what you are wearing and then stay on the line until assistance arrives. Your moral obligation lies with those in your charge – and nowhere else.
Sound harsh? Perhaps, but if your involvement has any possibility of putting your loved ones in harm’s way – I earnestly suggest you take a pass, protect your charges and then be the best witness you can be.
In this case, I am out and about by myself – no charges under my protection. At this point I recommend the “ZipLoc Test”. I see an encounter between two people – and it is obvious that one of them is about to go home in a ZipLoc – the person under attack may be about to be shot, stabbed or beaten to death with some blunt object. At that point I would make the decision whether to intervene or not. Honestly, I do not believe I could take a pass and walk away and let a person be killed in front of me. Gratefully I have never been in such an encounter – but I have thought about it, have gamed different scenarios as I walk the street or parking lot or restaurant or store. And the ZipLoc Test is my go/no go point.
Once that decision has been made – that you ARE going to act, a number of other factors come into play . . .
- One or Multiple Attackers
- Type of weapon/weapons the attacker is using
- Possible “tail gunners” (others involved that are hanging in the crowd to see if there are any “Duddly Do-Rights” like you out there)
- Do you have a shot?
- Where are the exits and entrances?
- Is cover available?
- Have the police been called?
Once you decide to act, once you have drawn your weapon – you have entered a world where you have chosen to use deadly force to stop the encounter if necessary. From the instant your weapon clears the holster you own everything you do – the words you use, the rounds you fire and the lives you take. You MUST be able to justify every action and every piece of equipment you have on you from your weapon to the rounds in the chamber. You must be able to articulate this in a clear and concise fashion.
And, should the attacker suddenly turn on you – you must be willing to stop the threat. That instant is life changing. It is a grave responsibility to take another life. The time to prepare for an encounter like this, or an encounter that threatens only you – is now, today . . . not with your attorney as you prep for your trial.
You MUST be proficient in the use of your weapon. You MUST understand how to defend your actions. You MUST be able to justify and articulate your actions, your weapons, your ammunition, your training . . . your entire history in the use of firearms. In the course work I teach I continually preach the idea of a “thinking shooter”. I understand the “rush” of the quick draw and the two rounds on target in less than two seconds. But if it is done in situations like those above and done without thought or full evaluation of what is going on . . . your day may not end well.
Obviously the response to a direct “Condition Red” situation is much different than you being drawn into a situation involving two or more other people. In “Condition Red” you are simply reacting to save your own life. But, to inject yourself into someone else’s situation – that demands that your head be in the game, that you be a thinking shooter and not just some guy/gal packin’ heat that decides to go all sheepdog.
Bottom line – YOU are responsible for your actions . . . and you better be damn clear why you took them . . .