Why think ahead and why practice?

Today’s news contains an article with several lessons in it for the Armed Private Citizen.

Police: Man outside Walmart shot [his gun] in self-defense

The lessons cut across an array of topics relevant to Personal Protection. Let’s use the CAN/MAY/SHOULD/MUST paradigm as a basis for the discussion.

First, let’s think about the CAN (personal ability) issue.

The patron then pulled out his own gun and fired one shot toward the Jeep.

There was no evidence the shot hit the Jeep when officers found it, Peters said, so it’s unclear where the bullet went.

One of the concepts in military engagements is “Big sky, little bullet.” This means that when firing artillery at the enemy, if friendly aircraft happen to be within the zone being fired into, the danger of incidentally hitting a friendly is small. That’s not a concept we, as responsible citizens, can afford to indulge in. Rather, we need, and I emphasize need, to think:

Every errant round is headed directly toward a busload of nuns, orphans, and Special Needs children being followed by a limousine full of personal injury attorneys on a conference call with the District Attorney.

The essential problem is that when we practice, we live in a 180 degree world. That is to say, everything forward of our firing point is a relatively safe backstop. Even then, we have to be aware of not shooting into the ceiling, overhead lights, etc. Once we leave the range almost nothing is a safe backstop, i.e., it’s a 360 degree world. The only safe backstop is a violent criminal’s body. This distinction can easily be forgotten if we don’t think about it in advance. The results can be tragic, as they were in the Bonney Lake shooting. It resulted in eight years prison time for the shooter.

Think about the shooter’s inability to hit a target as large as a car at close range. This kind of failure is an example of how important it is to get your gun in the eye-target line and use the sights. While point shooting has its place in our skillset, that place is confined to stationary targets within touching distance. Beyond that distance, we have to use the sights.

Here’s a drill that can be done at any range having a minimum shooting distance of no more than five yards. For those who want to gauge how effective point shooting is, cover your sights with masking tape and shoot the drill from a High Compressed Ready. Then take the tape off, use the sights while shooting a second run, and look at the difference.

4 inch circles with aiming points

Next, let’s consider the MAY (legal) aspect. The person who interjected himself into this situation almost certainly had no legal authority to do so. While the concept of ‘Citizen’s Arrest’ exists in most States, its legal and appropriate usage is extremely narrow. Stopping shoplifters is not an appropriate usage. Every confrontation carries with it an Element of Chance and the possibility of escalation. For an Armed Private Citizen, it means at least one firearm has been introduced into the clash. The presence of a firearm implies that Deadly Force may either be threatened or actually used. This is inappropriate in situations involving only personal property. When it’s someone else’s property, the inappropriateness level goes off the scale.

That brings us to the SHOULD part of the paradigm. It has several related applications in this incident.

The first application is that we should consider whether others even want us sticking our noses in their affairs. As previously mentioned, the introduction of a firearm as part of a confrontation means Deadly Force may be threatened or used. Do you think WalMart, the largest retailer in the world, with a Gross 2017 Profit of $124,617,000 wants you to use Deadly Force against someone in their parking lot for $100 worth of WalMart’s groceries? I think not. A very smart retired cop friend says, “Tend to your own business.” That’s excellent advice.

A lawyer friend commented, “I think in shoplifting intervention examples where confederates are in the parking lot awaiting, the do-gooder doesn’t realize that they are prepared for him (like they are for unarmed store security) better than he is able to handle multiple bad guys.” This is known as the ‘Plus 1 rule.’ Plus 1 means that we SHOULD always keep in mind that there may be One More Bad Guy than we know about. ‘Task Fixation’ does not just apply to performing innocuous tasks. It’s just, if not more, applicable to confrontations. In this case, the intervenor was fixated on the White shoplifter and then got a surprise when the Black driver pulled a gun.

An earlier report contained two other items to consider.

The middle row passenger’s window was covered in plastic, police said.

Windows covered in plastic are a good indicator that the window has been broken out. The FBI calls this a ‘clue’ that the vehicle has been stolen. Stealing vehicles is a felony, so we can reasonably suspect merely by observation that the persons inside are probably felons. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to do this kind of deduction, just a little bit of forethought and cool thinking at the scene.

Police said a second concerned citizen followed the Jeep onto McKinley Road, where the driver of the Jeep stopped, got out of the vehicle, and again brandished a weapon and told the citizen to stop following him.

Even worse than having to use Deadly Force is having Deadly Force used against you. Is it worth getting shot for $100 worth of WalMart’s groceries? The Return On Investment of that investment of your precious life is less than zero. Once again, “Tend to your own business.” Almost all cell phones have cameras. If you feel the philosophical need to intervene, know how to use your camera quickly. Practice with it and plan ahead of time to use it instead of putting yourself in danger.

Think ahead, know what you’re doing, and be conscious of the effects on your family that trying to be a hero or ‘concerned citizen’ may be. “That calculus isn’t particular difficult” as one of my professors liked to say.

5 responses

  1. That Johnson fella is one lucky dude. 1. There was no one in danger until he interceded at which point he placed himself in danger. All in the name of assorted “stuff”. Outside the home and in fact in most places killing someone to save “stuff” is not justifiable. 2. Damn lucky he didn’t get shot. 3. Damn lucky that round fired didn’t hit an innocent.

    In many jurisdictions he would be cited for public endangerment and would spend a lot of money in his defense. POOR JUDGMENT!

    1. People forgot their is more than just shooting making brass with training . We all need to understand the law and what is justified and not justified. Especially when it comes to drawing a concealed pistol in public. Sounds like the guy in the article has watched to many action movies .

  2. Thank you for the 4” circles . I’m a huge fan of training with small circle and 3×5 and 4×6 cards. I think the real big target people shoot are good for the egos. Also I think the big targets people use cause sloppy shooting. Like when training with a 2’ x2’ AR 500 target at 7 yards . I don’t know if anyone agrees with this reading this ?

    Also a excellent point is made in the article . The first thing I learned is “ every bullet has a lawyer attached to it

  3. Great walk-through of a real world incident to teach fundamental truths and give them tangible context.
    My personal motto:
    “Not my monkey, not my circus”.

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