About a month ago a Minnesota carry permit holder pursued a man who had attacked and robbed a woman. After chasing the robber into a corner of a parking lot, the robber pulled a gun on the permit holder who then drew, shot and killed the thief. The story is here:
A few details are a bit sketchy and have been reported differently by different sources, among them the age of the woman--I have seen her age go from 53 to 80s. Also, it's still unclear whether the permit holder was merely a "witness" to the initial attack and robbery or if he had actually come upon it and tried to stop it.
This case raises an interesting point: are responsibly armed citizens prevented from helping out their neighbors?
It seems to me that with the hassle of getting a gun permit and the detail with which you have to study the law, just to carry legally, most permit holders take seriously the incumbent responsibilities, as well as obligations to protect those around them. Listening to critics saying this armed citizen should have done nothing, I thought, "if not him, then who?"
Generally, I think we would all prefer to live in a world where we could count on a passer-by to help us if we fell over from a heart attack or were being jumped by four punks. But, anecdotally at least, we've all come to realize that this isn't our world. As a result, we put a premium on people who do actually go out of their way to help someone out--police departments give them awards, the news interviews them, etc.
The problem, as I see it, is that these two segments of society largely overlap. On the one hand, you have people willing to take personal risks to help others out. This type of involvement is considered good. On the other hand, you have people who routinely carry a weapon for self-defense. When they engage in similar behavior, this can have dire consequences and we generally label their involvement as bad. So, in effect, society has to choose which is better. We either allow people who carry to stay engaged and help others out, but risk the chance that a BG will occasionally get hurt. Or, alternately, we continue to deplore any activity by an armed citizen unless it is absolutely a life or death necessity, and lose the benefit of these members' willingness to take risks to help others.
NOTE: in none of this do I support vigilantism. I'm merely attempting to get at the gray areas presented to armed citizens anytime they confront these situations.