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Old August 22, 2013, 10:59 AM   #1
Kimio
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A response to a co-worker on defensive shooting

I was talking with one of my co-workers today about handguns, going over various laws and so on.

He's a new shooter, and doesn't know much about guns, let alone concealed carry (Which he is considering). During this discussion he touched on the topic of defensive shooting in the event of something like the theater shooting in Aurora or perhaps even Virginia Tech.

He had asked what I would do in such a situation, would I try to help by neutralizing the threat (provided I was armed at the time, regardless of how unlikely it was considering the laws regarding such zones in the given state)

I replied stating that at risk of sounding calloused or cold, I would not do anything until I had a more clear understand of what is going on. My first and foremost objective is to ensure that me and those who I love/care about get out of the area safely. If the perpatrator is not aiming his gun at me, I will not fire my weapon unless there is a clear threat to me and those I hold dear.

He was a little perplexed by this response, asking why I wouldn't fire if I had the opportunity to prevent others from getting hurt.

My response to this is that hindsight is a luxuary that we have as onlookers/survivors. They should have done this, he/she should have done that, I could have done this etc.

We can look at the situation and make sound logical judgements because we have a more clear understanding of what was taking place at that time.

The problem is, if you try to look at the event objectively, and from the point of view of the victims, the scene would likely be chaotic, confusing with emotions and adrenaline running high.

People likely would be running in every direction, harkening back to our "fight or flight" insticts, natural response would be to flee the threat. Granted lets say I do decide to try and assist in preventing that threat from committing further atrocities, a logical analysis of the situation would likely not be in my favor at that time (which of course is very subjective to the eb and flow of the events taking place at that time and location)

dozens if not hundreds of people fleeing the area, without any sense of coordination, mass panic, and in the case of aurora, a heavily armed and armored individual being the cause.

There are some things to consider in such a situation, all of which may not be easy to process at the time.

First, if I fire, I increase the liklihood of myself getting shot myself, that in itself is something to consider, especially if the hostile individual is not threatening me at that immediate time (As in actively shooting at me in particular), why draw his fire at me, which may work for or against me in a court case (more on that later)

second, I must take into account that if I miss, I have a fairly high probablity of hitting an innocent, wounding or in the worst case scenario, killing them outright, making me guilty of 2nd degree manslaughter and/or possibly other charges.

third, even if I don't miss, there are other innocents around my immediate vicinity, if that first shot is not an incapacitating one (the human body is extremely resilient, especially in such cases and can operate even when mortally wounded. Anything less than a vital shot to the head or perhaps even the heart may not end the threat at that moment) this may endanger those around me as the hostile individual may begin focusing his or her fire on me, and those around me. I am suddenly not only charged with my own safety but of those around me. I can see the court hearing already, stating that if I had not fired, several joes or janes may not have been wounded/killed.

Would I help if the situation and the parameters surrounding that situation were right? Maybe, it really depends. My duty, at least IMO, is to get those that I care about to safety, I am not a vigilante nor am I a sheepdog.

All of this is subjective of course, and to be honest I am not entirely sure what I would do in such a situation (logic would dictate that I would flee with those I love to get them out of harms way).

A clear understanding of both local and federal laws is necessary if you wish to CCW, not to mention what responsabilities that come with it to include the legal implications surrounding such privilages incur if you find yourself in a situation (god forbid) where you must use that weapon.

A little food for thought for the new guy.

I'd appreciate some of your feedback on how I handled this topic, as well as how you interpret it.
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Old August 22, 2013, 12:52 PM   #2
MLeake
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You hit the main points, IMO.

I would help if:

I had a clear picture of what was happening;

I had a realistic chance of improving the situation;

I could do so while not risking the safety of loved ones.

At risk of sounding selfish, my wife and son come first.
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Old August 22, 2013, 05:25 PM   #3
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run hide fight....

I'd refer your shooter pal to the city of Houston TX Run Hide Fight training video.
I don't fully agree with the "hide" part. If terrorists or spree killers plant IEDs or plan to create diversions/ambushes with bombs or explosives, hiding isn't very smart.

To flee or run for cover isn't being a coward or risk adverse. As a license holder, you are not a sworn LE officer. You may hinder or delay first responders by acting as some ad hoc homeland security official.
I'd also suggest your bud take a few classes or seminars to understand use of force & gun laws. See www.NRA.org www.gunvideo.com www.massadayoobgroup.com www.handgunlaw.us www.deltapress.com
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Old August 22, 2013, 05:55 PM   #4
Bullcamp82834
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As a retired LEO I can state unequivocally that although I carry at all times when out of my home I will not intervene in any potentially lethal situation unless.......

- me or mine are placed in jeopardy of serious injury

Or

- I see a situation in which a LEO is in need of immediate help to save his/her life.

It's called liability and I didn't create the climate in which we live. I just live in it.
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Old August 22, 2013, 06:44 PM   #5
amd6547
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So...you will aid a LEO who needs help...but not your fellow citizens. Yeah, they are not worthy, let them die.
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Old August 22, 2013, 07:02 PM   #6
olddav
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OK I'll join the other camp.

While you are right to protect your family first why wait till there is a weapon pointed directly at them to take action. It seems to me that your best chance to protect them is to take advantage of his focus being directed elsewhere. You could get a couple of good shots off before he knows where it's coming from.

That being said I also agree that you have to access a confusing and chaotic. situation, leaving a lot of room for misinterpretation of events. I hope the good LORD will give me clarity if ever faced with a situation that would require me to act.
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Old August 22, 2013, 08:13 PM   #7
Wreck-n-Crew
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We have had a very similar discussion on here just recently.

If the scenario is a gunman killing everyone in a movie theatre, just like the one that happened you know where, the parameters are set in my mind.

He will not stop until someone stops him and I have the opportunity to act to save lives, I would.

To me it's my duty as a human being to not allow the slaughter of innocent human beings if there is a way to stop it. There is no way I can change who I am, that was formed by my upbringing and that is what I am. No excuses nor claims of being better or more honorable. I don't seek glory, I am no chest thumper, or a hero.

Be who you are and do what you do, I expect nothing more, nothing less.

However I would not be surprised if the situation ever arose, you likely would find out that many people would not follow a bunch of pre-thought especially as it pertains to this scenario. Something takes over and things change when your heart is doing 200bpm due to the large quantity of adrenaline flowing through your veins.
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Old August 22, 2013, 09:16 PM   #8
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimio
...He was a little perplexed by this response, asking why I wouldn't fire if I had the opportunity to prevent others from getting hurt....
These can be complex situations, and what would constitute an appropriate response is highly dependent on (1) exactly what is happening and how it is happening; (2) how well you really understand what is going on; and (3) what your true skill level is.
  • Third Party Defense

    • This has been discussed at length on this board, including here, here, here, and here.

    • You may be legally justified in using lethal force in defense of others, but in doing so, you step into the shoes of the person you are defending. If that person would have been justified to use lethal force to defend himself, you would be justified in using lethal force in his defense. But if not, your act of violence would be a criminal act subjecting you to prosecution, conviction and jail.

    • So if you are considering using force in defense of someone, are you sure you know what happened? Are you sure you know who the original aggressor was? Are you sure that the person you intend to help is the innocent good guy? If you think you know, but are wrong, you are risking jail and your family's future.

    • And if you think you know, but are wrong, you will be shooting the innocent good guy.

  • The Rampage in a Crowd

    • We've had a few discussions on that topic as well, including here, here, here, here, and here.

    • How you might be able to effectively deal with such a situation will depend on exactly what is happening and how, what tools you have available and what your skill level is.

    • A confined area crowded with panicking people presents a difficult situation for even a very well trained and skilled person. Michael Bane in a recent article described the results of modeling the Aurora Theater incident. In the Gabrielle Giffords, bystanders were able to physically subdue the gunman.

    • The point for the armed private citizen would be to exercise good judgment so as to not do more harm than good.
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Old August 22, 2013, 09:42 PM   #9
ClydeFrog
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Superman Syndrome....

I think the remarks of #5 are a bit harsh.
A lethal force event or spree shooting isn't a simple, slow process where you can make informed decisions or assess & plan what you are going to do at your leisure.
Things will be fast, chaotic and stressful at best. You or your family/spouse will need to flee and or fight your way to a safe location.

You can not turn into some Navy SEAL or SWAT commander & start calling plays in a critical event. If you are a armed citizen or CC license holder, NO ONE in a chaotic event will ID you as a "good guy with a gun" & comply with everything you say or do.
You'll be lucky if another armed citizen or uniformed first responder does not shoot you too. Research the killing of Mario Jenkins in Orlando FL. Author & tactics expert, Massad Ayoob wrote a Ayoob Files article about the events a few years ago.
Jenkins, a young plainclothes police officer & USMC reserve member was working at a college football game when he was attacked by a group of angry drunks.
He drew his Glock sidearm & was then shot several times by a retired LE officer from another PD who was also at the game working as a reserve officer(bike patrol).

Sidearms or weapons do not make you a superhero. If you are armed and witness a violent crime or feel you can stop a threat without risk or harm to any bystanders then so be it. But in a spree attack or active shooter incident, the best move is to get to safety ASAP.
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Old August 22, 2013, 11:15 PM   #10
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A response to a co-worker on defensive shooting

amd, it is much easier for me to help an LEO because identifying the "good guy" is much easier.

You see two people dressed in civilian clothes shooting at one another, how do you know what side is the "right" side to be on? You make it seem like it is so easy, but I'm guessing this is not a point that you have really thought of.


I guess you will just join the side of whoever is wearing the least amount of black clothing?

Would I help another civilian? Certainly, so long as it didn't put my loved ones in harm's way and I can identify who is the good guy. However, when you take into account how long most 'shootings' typically last, chances are that you won't have the luxury of time to determine who is the good guy...


If there is a single shooter who is shooting at unarmed people? Yes, I will engage him as soon as it is tactically sound for me to do so (i.e. when I am in a position that I trust myself to make my shots count). Again, if me firing draws return fire towards my family then I won't shoot.
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Old August 23, 2013, 12:50 AM   #11
ClydeFrog
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post #10....

I don't understand the remarks in post 10.
What's easy? If 2 unknown people are shooting at each other, you as a license holder/citizen wouldnt know all the facts or who's involved.

In the FBI Miami FL shooting with Platt & Matix, on-lookers & residents called 911 saying the huge gun fight was drug dealers or gang members.

The black clothing remark doesn't make sense either.
I can tell you as a security officer I've ran across every type of situation where a person's demeanor or appearance was not what you'd expect.
When you carry a loaded firearm concealed you need to use sound judgement and be aware of your surroundings.
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Old August 23, 2013, 01:04 AM   #12
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Clyde, he's referring to LEOs in uniform; it's much easier to determine who's the good guy if one of them is wearing the uniform of a police officer.

And I assume the "black clothing" remark is tongue-in-cheeck: he's referring to a situation where it's difficult to figure out who's the bad guy so you just pick the guy with the black clothing.
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Old August 23, 2013, 01:24 AM   #13
allaroundhunter
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A response to a co-worker on defensive shooting

Theo is correct on both points in comprehension of my post. I could have been a little more detailed and said 'uniformed' LEOs, but I took that to be understood.

The 'black clothing' was indeed tongue-in-cheek.
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Old August 23, 2013, 05:46 AM   #14
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Point worth noting. In the Gifford shooting there were I believe two armed citizens, one who I think helped tackle the shooter. Both CCW's chose not to shoot due to the crowd.
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Old August 23, 2013, 06:26 AM   #15
ClydeFrog
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spree shooters, shoot/no shoot.....

I recall a active shooter event in WA state a few years ago where reportedly a few license holders(CC citizens) saw & heard AK type rifles but were not sure if it was airsoft/toy guns or not.
As noted, you can't draw a gun & start blasting in a crowded area then think either you won't get smoked or if you are detained being charged with multiple felony counts.

Recently, I watched a cop drama from the UK called; The Sweeney. In the film, a group of detectives in the "Flying Squad" which is like the LAPD's elite SIS get into a huge shoot out with 2 bad guys armed with full auto rifles. The plain clothes cops chase the subjects & a few civilians get shot.
It's a graphic example of how even trained, experienced LE officers can't prevent collateral damage or risks to the public all the time.
LE agencies know going in they will get civil actions & bad PR nearly anytime they use lethal force.
In my local area, a group of sworn deputies involved in a LE shooting where nearly 150 rounds were fired at the scene decided to settle the wrongful death action brought against them by the subjects family members. The deputies were cleared by the sheriff's office & faced no charges by the state prosecutors.
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Old August 23, 2013, 06:27 AM   #16
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I'm more pragmatic about this. I carry a gun to protect me and mine. Period. Everyone has the opportunity to make the choice I have to carry a gun for their protection. If they chose not to, well, it sucks to be them. Don't count on me to save your butt.
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Old August 23, 2013, 06:47 AM   #17
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Quote:
I replied stating that at risk of sounding calloused or cold, I would not do anything until I had a more clear understand of what is going on. My first and foremost objective is to ensure that me and those who I love/care about get out of the area safely. If the perpatrator is not aiming his gun at me, I will not fire my weapon unless there is a clear threat to me and those I hold dear.
+1 with this.

This training video depicts the result of not thinking clearly and how going for the gun as your first instinct is a bad choice.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zS4svHr7DLE
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Old August 23, 2013, 08:12 AM   #18
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My main reason for carrying CCW is for the protection of me and mine. given how we treat some SD shootings I would not be beyond a full retreat if I could keep me and mine the safest that way.

I'm not saying that I wouldn't step in and fire my weapon on someone doing great harm to a stranger, but I would need to have a clear and precise picture of the situation before I would.

I have had several thousand dollars worth of training and practice often, but I don't have the same benefits as LE, I must be absolutely sure on my justification BEFORE I fire my weapon, or be prosecuted.
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Last edited by iraiam; August 23, 2013 at 08:44 AM.
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Old August 23, 2013, 08:29 AM   #19
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Even if you are sure, and correct, you could still be prosecuted. It is a risk that should be considered. It may be outweighed by necessity (self-preservation or moral), but it is always there.
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Old August 23, 2013, 08:38 AM   #20
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If I heard a gunshot go off in a theater, first thing I would do is hit the floor and/or find cover. Beyond that, I have no idea what I'd do. There's a zillion and one factors to consider at the time all of this is happening.
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Old August 23, 2013, 08:47 AM   #21
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Even if you are sure, and correct, you could still be prosecuted. It is a risk that should be considered. It may be outweighed by necessity (self-preservation or moral), but it is always there.
Very true, there would be nothing to stop a DA with an anti-gun or other agenda from prosecuting, even if I was 100% legally justified in a shooting.
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Old August 23, 2013, 02:49 PM   #22
Hiker 1
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It's all situational. In Aurora the victims were packed in and stampeding for the doors. For the shooter, that's optimum for causing max casualties. I don't see the point in not fighting back if I'm in that situation.

Look up Jeanne Assam.
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Old August 23, 2013, 03:09 PM   #23
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Quote:
I was talking with one of my co-workers today about handguns, going over various laws and so on.

He's a new shooter, and doesn't know much about guns, let alone concealed carry (Which he is considering). During this discussion he touched on the topic of defensive shooting in the event of something like the theater shooting in Aurora or perhaps even Virginia Tech.

He had asked what I would do in such a situation, would I try to help by neutralizing the threat (provided I was armed at the time, regardless of how unlikely it was considering the laws regarding such zones in the given state)

I replied stating that at risk of sounding calloused or cold, I would not do anything until I had a more clear understand of what is going on. My first and foremost objective is to ensure that me and those who I love/care about get out of the area safely. If the perpatrator is not aiming his gun at me, I will not fire my weapon unless there is a clear threat to me and those I hold dear.

He was a little perplexed by this response, asking why I wouldn't fire if I had the opportunity to prevent others from getting hurt.

My response to this is that hindsight is a luxuary that we have as onlookers/survivors. They should have done this, he/she should have done that, I could have done this etc.

We can look at the situation and make sound logical judgements because we have a more clear understanding of what was taking place at that time.

The problem is, if you try to look at the event objectively, and from the point of view of the victims, the scene would likely be chaotic, confusing with emotions and adrenaline running high.

People likely would be running in every direction, harkening back to our "fight or flight" insticts, natural response would be to flee the threat. Granted lets say I do decide to try and assist in preventing that threat from committing further atrocities, a logical analysis of the situation would likely not be in my favor at that time (which of course is very subjective to the eb and flow of the events taking place at that time and location)

dozens if not hundreds of people fleeing the area, without any sense of coordination, mass panic, and in the case of aurora, a heavily armed and armored individual being the cause.

There are some things to consider in such a situation, all of which may not be easy to process at the time.

First, if I fire, I increase the liklihood of myself getting shot myself, that in itself is something to consider, especially if the hostile individual is not threatening me at that immediate time (As in actively shooting at me in particular), why draw his fire at me, which may work for or against me in a court case (more on that later)

second, I must take into account that if I miss, I have a fairly high probablity of hitting an innocent, wounding or in the worst case scenario, killing them outright, making me guilty of 2nd degree manslaughter and/or possibly other charges.

third, even if I don't miss, there are other innocents around my immediate vicinity, if that first shot is not an incapacitating one (the human body is extremely resilient, especially in such cases and can operate even when mortally wounded. Anything less than a vital shot to the head or perhaps even the heart may not end the threat at that moment) this may endanger those around me as the hostile individual may begin focusing his or her fire on me, and those around me. I am suddenly not only charged with my own safety but of those around me. I can see the court hearing already, stating that if I had not fired, several joes or janes may not have been wounded/killed.

Would I help if the situation and the parameters surrounding that situation were right? Maybe, it really depends. My duty, at least IMO, is to get those that I care about to safety, I am not a vigilante nor am I a sheepdog.

All of this is subjective of course, and to be honest I am not entirely sure what I would do in such a situation (logic would dictate that I would flee with those I love to get them out of harms way).

A clear understanding of both local and federal laws is necessary if you wish to CCW, not to mention what responsabilities that come with it to include the legal implications surrounding such privilages incur if you find yourself in a situation (god forbid) where you must use that weapon.

A little food for thought for the new guy.

I'd appreciate some of your feedback on how I handled this topic, as well as how you interpret it.
I agree with you 100%. Another thing to consider, what if you start shooting back and some other person with a CCW starts shooting at you because he mistook you for the bad guy. Either way, unless you know with absolute certainty you're not endangering yourself or others then it should be handled with extreme caution
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Old August 23, 2013, 03:44 PM   #24
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Hiker1, bear in mind that Jeanne Assam was part of her church security team; that the situation developed in front of her and she knew what was happening; and that there really was no grey area for her.

She had to have the fortitude to act, but she was in a scenario for which she had already accepted responsibility by joining the security team.
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Old August 23, 2013, 11:33 PM   #25
Hiker 1
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^ She was definitely expecting trouble as the shooter had committed a murder at a missionary in Arvada the night before.

I don't see where this mentality of it'll be too confusing-loud-scary-chaotic to-do-anything comes from. What do we think a defensive shooting is going to be like? A day at the range?
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