By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
While legal concealed carry does give the armed citizen the means to defend themselves and others, intervening or otherwise being a “Good Samaritan” is a sticky wicket. On the one hand, armed citizens can be an effective first line of defense against violent criminals, murderous lunatics and terrorists. On the other hand, intervening puts you in danger that you might not otherwise have to be subjected to.
It can also land you in a prison cell.
Some would argue that intervening, trying to be a Good Samaritan is something you should avoid due to the inherent risks, legal and otherwise. Others would opine that if you are the only person capable of stopping a violent crime in progress or attack of some sort that you should – since not acting is practically letting it happen. That’s for each person to decide for themselves and is certainly something a person should reflect on before they put a gun in a concealed carry holster and head out the door.
However, if you decide that intervening is something that you will do if you are capable of doing so, you had better be right and you had better not do so frivolously.
Obviously, some situations are quite clear-cut. An armed robbery in a gas station, for instance, or take the recent case of Brandon Teel. Teel, according to Little Rock, Ark. ABC affiliate KATV, witnessed a domestic dispute unfolding when one of the two men involved pulled a knife and stabbed the other. Teel, a Lieutenant in the Air Force Reserves and licensed concealed carrier, drew his firearm and detained the perpetrator until police arrived.
There are plenty of other examples to go with that one. People who act in this situation should be commended for their bravery in putting paid violent criminals and are good examples of how a good guy with a gun definitely DOES make a difference at times.
But that’s when everything is clear-cut that lives were on the line. A person that is stabbing an unarmed person is unambiguous in this regard; a bank robbery is likewise unequivocal that harm would have come to others. In either instance, police and a court of law would likely have no qualms about a legally armed citizen drawing their CCW and putting paid the insidious designs of a malefactor at large.
What if it isn’t?
That’s when intervening will get you into serious trouble. A carry license is not a badge, and some people get the idea – consciously or subconsciously – that one could be. Those are the people who wind up as examples of what not to do. The Detroit Home Depot shooter from several years ago is a good example; a licensed carrier took a few shots at a fleeing shoplifter and was subsequently stripped of her license to carry.
Luckily no one was hurt in that incident. However, that was not the case with an incident that occurred in Orange County, Fla. in February of this year. One Lonnie Leonard was carrying a pistol illegally, so he certainly can’t be counted among the ranks of law-abiding carriers, but according to Orange County ABC affiliate WFTV Leonard inserted himself into a confrontation between a loss prevention specialist at a Walmart, who was confronting an attempted shoplifter.
The shoplifter, 19-year-old Arthur Adams, was attempting to steal diapers.
Adams was arguing with the store detective when Leonard perceived that he might be reaching for a weapon, and shot Adams. Adams was found at a nearby gas station and was taken to hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival. Leonard is currently facing charges of manslaughter, aggravated battery with a firearm and illegally concealing a pistol.
In this instance, the shooter clearly got involved with something where there wasn’t a real and present danger and instead of walking away or just calling police, a young man is dead over diapers. Obviously shoplifting is wrong, but ultimately a shooting took place over a bag of Pampers.
Again, intervening when one’s own life isn’t in immediate jeopardy is something that every person has to weigh for themselves. To some it isn’t worth the risks, to some it is…but you better be sure before you do. A license to carry is not the same as being a police officer and while a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun, it’s also true that the road to hell (or jail) is sometimes paved with good intentions. If you are tempted to intervene, but don’t see a real and immediate threat to your or someone else’s life or limb, it may be best to call authorities rather than risk getting involved.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.