By Steve Adcock, The Shooting Channel
When law-abiding citizens carry a gun, they implicitly decide to take the responsibility of protecting themselves against potential threats and also accept the legal and moral consequences of carrying a deadly weapon. Pulling your concealed firearm to stop a crime in progress is a life-changing decision.
When should you pull your gun?
Before carrying your gun again in public, ask yourself whether or not you are prepared to go to jail to stop a crime. Most concealed gun carriers will risk their lives and freedom to defend themselves and their immediate family. But defending others, even when the use of deadly force is warranted, ups the ante. Is it your moral obligation to step in and help when a crime is in progress?
No one can truly answer this question for you. The decision to pull your gun in public is a deeply personal one and a choice that will definitely have lifelong consequences. Depending on your state, “self-defense” may or may not help you. What if you decide to pull your gun and things get out of hand, forcing you to pull the trigger? What happens to your wife and kids if you intervene in the situation and get killed or severely injured? Or, what if you’re charged with a crime and spend several months in jail before trial? How will your family survive?
I learned through an Arizona concealed carry class that if you pull your gun, prepare for the possibility that your life, as you know it, might be over. Whether or not the state charges you with a crime is secondary to the psychological ramifications of using your weapon. If you intervene in a crime and kill or injure someone, even when in legitimate defense of law-abiding victims, it changes people profoundly. Your life will never be the same again – I do not care how tough you think you are. Everything changes.
Consider this situation: You’re getting out of your car in a convenience store parking lot and glance inside and notice that a man is holding a gun to the head of the cashier and demanding money. First, you probably call 911. But do you run in and attempt to stop the robbery in progress? Maybe not?
But, what if you are already inside the store and waiting in line to make a purchase and the gunman is standing mere feet away from you? Do you draw your gun then and stop the crime in progress? What if you are in the back of the store instead? Do you approach the gunman if you are inside the building?
A lot of it depends on the situation. According to one Arizona resident who preferred to remain anonymous, “If the gunman is simply holding up the clerk, I’d do nothing,” he said. But, “if the guy starts shooting at the clerk, then I would draw and start shooting back,” except, of course, if he happens to be with his wife and kids. “My first priority would be finding shelter for my family.”
These questions get to the heart of how prepared you are to stop a crime, even when your life may not be immediately in danger but someone else’s is. In Arizona, for example, people are legally authorized to use deadly force to stop a crime in progress if another person’s life is at risk. What about your state? Does your state offer protections to “Good Samaritans” that use their gun to stop a crime? Does your state provide you with legal protections, or will it leave you with the risk of being thrown in jail for the rest of your life, for the crime of protecting someone else’s life?
Once again, nobody can answer this question for you. But, take some time to consider what your heart is telling you. At what point are you prepared to pull your gun to confront a deadly situation that does not immediately involve you? Are you willing to face the legal and psychological consequences of pulling your weapon?
Well, are you?