You know, looking at this thread, I am rather surprised at my response, and wonder where it came from. It certainly would not have come from me twenty years ago, or even five years ago. I have little doubt that given the opportunity to save a life with minimum chance of injuring innocents vs watching an innocent be murdered, I would take action. I think it is all in the perception of the threat to the teller's life.
I have been trying to figure out where this response came from for the past several hours. Then I recalled a crusty old Master Chief I knew in the Philipines. He would go out every Friday night he could and find a young Marine to fight. When the gator freighters were not at Subic Bay, the pickings for a fight would be pretty slim. It seemed every Marine on base knew this man's reputation, knew that he could and would fight, that he would spend the weekend in the brig or the hospital until the CO got him out on Monday and drove him to work. Master Chief McClary was never, to my knowlege, busted. Why? He was the kind of guy you wanted at your back. He was honorable and trustworthy. He just felt a need to show himself that he still had what it takes to go against young men. He had also lived his life, he had made his contributions, and he would rather die in a barfight in Barrio Baretta than in a nursing home in Boise Idaho. He basically had nothing to loose. I remember one time that McClary told me "There comes a time when a man doesn't care about what will happen, but instead how he will be remembered." I never forgot that.
I have to wonder if there is an age or experience division that separates the people who would act and the people who would stand by. I see my life now as winding down, much like McClary did. My thoughts and resolve are now very different than they were thirty years ago. I do not believe a man could turn and take my gun from me before I could put a bullet in his skull, and yes, I know action beats reaction. All I know is if his gun did not hit the counter immediately, my trigger would be pulled. I would never wait for him to begin to turn. Beware the old man such as McClary and now myself. Our actions may not fit the mold, and we might even be surprised ourselves.