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Situational Theory

Discussion in 'Legal' started by skeptiq, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. skeptiq

    skeptiq Well-Known Member

    So here's my question that I have been pondering lately. A little background... I am new to handguns. Bought my first a few weeks ago. I fully intend to take get my concealed carry permit and carry. Since I have found this site, it has made think about gun law and how it applies to everyday situations, which brings me to this scenario:

    Suppose you run into Quickie Mart for a Snickers and while you are picking out your tasty treat and some dude walks in with a gun and tells everyone to get on the floor. At what point are you (if at all) are you threatened enough to use lethal force? Meaning does he have to point the gun at you or is the presence of the gun pointed at the clerk enough? I guess my real question is what are the rules of engagement regarding a situation like this... I know it may vary state by state. Let’s assume this is NOT happening in non-friendly CC states. Along the same lines, what is our responsibility as people who carry (myself not included yet of course) to use lethal force in a situation like that?
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2008
  2. indoorsoccerfrea

    indoorsoccerfrea Well-Known Member

    this is for me personally, but it doesn't matter if he threatened me or not. i would like the think that i would do whatever is in my power to help those around me, regardless of whether or not it is legal. seems to me that it would simply be the right thing to do. whether he pointed the gun at me or not, i would draw and fire in order to protect life and limb of self and others.
  3. Coyote3855

    Coyote3855 Well-Known Member

    You better think this one through. The scenario has been discussed ad nauseum on this forum. If you "draw and fire to protect life and limb" and turn an armed robbery into a homicide scene, you will be the one spending time and money in criminal and civil court.
  4. skeptiq

    skeptiq Well-Known Member

    In my opinion, I think the bad guy brandishing a firearm at me in that situation would just cause for action. I am somewhat jaded in that I don't have full confidence in our legal system to protect me.

    One step further in the above situation. How would you react?

    * Immediatly draw and fire on BG?
    * Get down, coverd, and shoot BG from behind (this is what raises the most red flags in my book)?
    * Get down, wait until you have a good frontal shot?
    * Do nothing and hopes he doesn't open fire?
  5. cbrgator

    cbrgator Well-Known Member

    If he is brandishing the weapon in a threatening manner then you have the authority to respond with lethal force. BUT you have no responsibility to do so.
  6. Sinixstar

    Sinixstar member

    One of the things you have to consider - is whether or not you're really in a position to do ANYTHING.
    If BG already has his gun out and is waving it around - what is the realistic possibility that you can pull your weapon, draw down, and take a shot - without getting shot yourself in the process. BG has the advantage - as even though you have a weapon, you are essentially un-armed at the time. Are you standing next to the guy - where he's going to see you going for a weapon? Are you in the back of the store where you can duck down behind an aisle and have some concealment?

    I look at it very simply. I am not the police. My job is not to "stop the bad guy". My job is to prevent myself from getting shot, and if I can prevent others from being shot - so much the better. That's going to be exactly what I do. Duck down, draw your weapon when you can - be prepared - but don't be a hero. Don't bring fire onto yourself for the sake of being a big bad CCW holder. Not your job.

    Maybe that's not the "man" thing to do - but it sure beats an unnecessary firefight in a public space.
  7. d2wing

    d2wing Well-Known Member

    If you think the guy intends to shoot you or someone else you may want to shoot first if you are pretty sure and can do so without getting shot. If he has opened fire that's a no brainer. Is it worth it for a few bucks? You must decide beforehand if you really want to kill or injure someone. Before you carry a gun you should know how to handle it and what you intend to use it for. If you do use it there will be consequences you may not forsee. Will you want to answer to yourself forever for shooting someone? Will you want to face his mother in a courtroom? And last of all, can you be sure that you won't shoot yourself or the wrong person like some pro sports figures. If you draw yours, you will start a gunfight. Carrying a gun may give you a feeling of confidence but actually useing it is different. You have to figure all this out.
  8. esq_stu

    esq_stu Well-Known Member

    In MI, I can legally defend others if they are threatened.

    But in my mind I train myself to think in terms of trying to escape or get behind cover and concealment if I can't escape. On the way to cover, draw weapon and keep weapon at low ready. Let him come after me.
  9. skeptiq

    skeptiq Well-Known Member

    And that is exactly why I am here. Regardless of my intent to carry "full time," I feel like I should have my concealed carry if not for anything more than to support the 2nd Ammendment. However, with training and soul searching, I trust myself to make the right decision to carry or not when that time comes. Seeing what other people would do can bring up very valid points, just as this thread has already done (at least for me being so new to even the idea of carrying).

    Thanks guys (and gals)!
  10. HoosierQ

    HoosierQ Well-Known Member

    Quick thinking would be necessary to evaluate the situation.

    My grandfather's older brother worked on the Elevated Railway in Chicago during the 20's and 30's. He was robbed a number of times of fare money. He was a lot more afraid of the shivering, sweating, kid/ junkie (yes, there were drug addicts in the 20's) than the bold, confident, "professional" thief and apparently my great uncle got pretty good at spotting them. He'd just give them the money, right a report, and that was that...no heroics necessary...it wasn't even his money. When a junkie came up, he feared for his life and protected himself by slamming down a steal door or whatever...something that required some time...time he wouldn't have had with the "pros" who knew about the door and always said "don't touch the door and give me the money".

    So where this comes in with you: Shooting somebody so that the QuickieMart corporation holds on to a couple of hundred bucks frankly doesn't make you a hero. It's not the guy behind the counter's money unless it is a mom and pop place and then well, it's still not your money. So if it looks like the felon is in for the money and then on his way, I, personally would not intervene. I'd do more good making sure I could identify him for the PD.

    Now if you or any body else is in danger of loosing their life, you will have to choose between strict self preservation (which you could do by running or hiding maybe) or saving others. That is a very tough call. I have made my choice (which I see no value in sharing here or anywhere) by thinking through the basic scenarios and coming to terms with what it means to be a citizen and a fellow human being. You need to have that thought exercise and make your choices...because as noted in posts above, you do have choices to make, there is not one course of action in any given scenario and that is up to the individual...and of course there are probably an infinite number of scenarios.
  11. skeptiq

    skeptiq Well-Known Member

    I was just reading over the Ohio Concealed Carry Packet, and I think this pretty much sums it up:

    "Do not allow the license to carry a concealed handgun to give you a false sense of security or empowerment. Let law enforcement officers do their job. If you want to be a Good Samaritan, call the police."

    After reading and re-reading the Ohio CC Packet, things are much more clear now as to what you can and can't do in this particular situation.
  12. Sinixstar

    Sinixstar member

    Something else you need to be prepared for, is the fact that facing a situation in real life -and playing it out in your head are two different things. Nerves come into play, and stress can cloud judgment. The decision to act or not to act may have to be made in a split-second, at a time when even the slightest hesitation could tip your hand, and get you shot.
    If you decide to act, you have to act decisively, swiftly, and without hesitation. This is why professionals train for these situations over and over and over, so it becomes second-nature - rather then something they have to wrestle with mentally. If you're standing there thinking about whether or not you should act, chances are - you probably shouldn't.
  13. skeptiq

    skeptiq Well-Known Member

    I agree 100%.

    The first thing I learned after joining this site was training, training, training... It's a whole lot of mental preparation as well as range time and situational theory (like what's being discussed now)...
  14. Bubba613

    Bubba613 member

    Almost that exact situation happened here. It was a liquor store not a candy store but same thing. Two guys walk in with guns, yell everyone down. Armed citizen in one of the aisles about 40 feet away. Armed citizen pulls Springfield XD .40 loaded with Hydroshocks and shoots both bad guys, one of them three times. The one shot three times stumbled into the parking lot and died. The other ran off but was caught several days later.
    Now the kicker: what do you think happened to the armed citizen?
  15. Sinixstar

    Sinixstar member

    Since you made a point of asking "what do you think happened to the armed citizen" - my guess is, either A) he got sued in civil court by the family of whoever it was he shot, or B) he got in some hot water.
  16. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator


    This is a huge question and has been discussed at length, in various forms, on this and other forums. There is no simple, pat answer. I recently took a five day class called The Judicious Use of Lethal Force (LFI-1, taught by Massad Ayoob, Google him and check out his books). We spent between 25 and 30 hours discussing this sort of thing (the rest of the time we spent shooting), and pretty much just scratched the surface.

    The general rule is that you may use lethal force if a reasonable and prudent person, in a like situation and knowing what you know, would conclude that the use of lethal force was necessary to prevent immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily injury to an innocent. The rule may change slightly in jurisdictions that have adopted some form of a "Castle Doctrine" law, but the general rule is good for most discussion purposes.

    But now, as they say, "The devil is in the details." You've described a scenario in very broad and vague terms, but whether or not lethal force may be permissible in any particular situation may well depend on the exact details of the particular situation. Every situation is different.

    So in the particular situation you are facing, if you use lethal force will you be able to articulate why you concluded that the assailant presented a threat justifying a response with lethal force? In your hypothetical, he clearly has a gun and therefore the ability to kill or cripple. He also has the gun out and therefore has the opportunity to immediately deploy lethal force. So the question will be whether he manifested the intent to actually kill or cripple. You will need to quickly make a judgment based on the exact circumstances presented. If you conclude that he did manifest such intent, will you be able to articulate why you did?


    There are tactical considerations as well. Does the BG have one or more accomplices? Can you engage the BG without risk to bystanders?

    There are a lot of "moving parts" to these situations. That's a reason that good training and practice are so important. Training will help give you judgment tools useful for quickly analyzing and making decisions about these situations. Training and practice will also improve your shooting skills and give you confidence in your shooting skills; so if you're confronted with a situation, you will be focusing on "do I shoot or not?" rather than "how do I shoot my gun?".
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  17. Bubba613

    Bubba613 member

    After a couple of hours of questioning by police at the scene he was released. Videos showed him getting handshakes from the local cops and attaboys from the clerks.
    To my knowledge he was not sued.
  18. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

    Sounds good to me. Sometimes the good guys actually do win.
  19. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

    Normally, if you draw and fire on someone brandishing a gun, and who is using it to threaten, you will not be charged. The person brandishing the gun is using it to intimidate and threaten you and everyone else in the vicinity, and thus is making a plausible a threat to the lives of everyone in the room. The use of the gun is itself the threat. You are in immediate danger, and deadly force is thus justified.

    Now, I say NORMALLY. In some nazi-ish areas, they may have laws stating that you cannot respond to a robbery with deadly force, under the assumption that he will take what he wants and leave without bloodshed. These laws turn people into victims because more often than not a robber will just shoot you rather than risk being identified.

    Personally, I'd rather take my risk of being trumped up on charges than being dead. In almost all circumstances, if the bad guy had a gun, that's the end of it. That's your justification that he posed a clear and present danger, and police will do nothing more than ask you a few questions. It's the same reason that armed robbery is classified as a violent crime, whereas simple robbery or burglary is not.
  20. Fiddletown

    Once again, thanks for the sound advice. I would like the opportunity to spend some time with Massad Ayoob myself. I read his articles each and every time I find one. I think I'll get his books as well.

    My thoughts on such a scenario are that one cannot "pre-guess" or "second guess" what one would do if thrust into such a situation.

    Situational awareness is your first defense in all you do each and every day. When thrust into a dilemma, there are so many things that will affect what you do. The criminal's behavior might raise a flag or two before he engages in his criminal activity.

    How he appears to concentrate his efforts during his act of malice might tell you he intends to leave no witnesses(orders people to line up or head for the freezer), or that he's just in for a quick turnaround(waves his gun around menacingly but doesn't appear to draw down on any individual).

    I couldn't say what I'd do as a rule, but if I did feel threatened, or witnessed the beginning of a massacre, I'd do my best to put an end to my fear or the massacre.

    But, the best advice I've seen you give here is to be prepared and "well regulated" in the use of your arms. Remembering to snick off the safety, or making a practiced assessment of your target and what lies beyond should be second nature so that you can concentrate on what to do and not how to do it.

    (This is nice, but arguing with you is much more fun.)


    How you prepare yourself today is all you'll have to defend yourself tomorrow. B.E. Wood

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