By Sam Hoober
To intervene or not to intervene, that is the question. There’s no right answer; the idea here is not to persuade anyone to one side or another.
The idea instead is to think about what you think about being a “Good Samaritan.”
If something is happening around me, will I get involved regardless? Will I get involved only if it’s bad enough, only in certain circumstances?
Or am I staying out of the fray unless I don’t have a choice?
There’s no right answer; there’s merits to all of the above.
Staying out of things unless you have no choice is safest, personally as well as legally. The “perfect claim of self-defense” typically requires no viable alternative to the use of deadly force, so that more or less speaks for itself.
But some people also can’t stand doing nothing if they see something wrong.
If you’re going to go through with the rigmarole of concealed carry, getting a permit and training, buying the gun and the gear and some carry ammo (you aren’t using ball…RIGHT?) these are the kinds of things you really need to think through.
So here’s some food for thought.
An active shooting event recently took place in Arvada, Colo. The gunman opened fire in a shopping complex. The gunman is said to have specifically targeted a policeman, because he was a policeman.
A Good Samaritan, one John Hurley, drew his concealed pistol and ran out into the shopping complex where the shooting was occurring. Eyewitnesses reported that Hurley shot the gunman, but was shot and killed himself. The suspect died in the hospital hours later.
However, eyewitnesses also report that Hurley was shot and killed by responding police officers.
Officer Gordon Beesley – the officer targeted by the shooter – also died from his wounds.
Obviously, this isn’t to say that Hurley shouldn’t have responded “and that’s how he got himself killed!” What he did was nothing short of heroic.
This is instead to say that if or when a person intervenes in an emerging situation, it’s hard for the sworn, uniformed people to tell who’s who.
And it’s not the first time.
In 2018, one Jason Washington intervened in a bar fight near Portland, Ore. Washington’s gun fell out of his holster during the struggle.
When Portland State University police arrived, Washington was picking up his pistol. They shot him, fatally.
Washington was a veteran of the US Navy, and held a valid permit.
Other examples exist. While rare, it does happen that first responders can’t tell the good guys from bad. All they see is the gun.
Again, this isn’t to tell you what the right or wrong thing is.
In both instances, the Samaritans were absolutely doing a right thing. You can’t fault them.
In both instances, the police were doing the right thing. You can’t tell in the moment who’s who; you have to act on the information you have, and all they knew was there was someone with a gun. You can’t entirely fault them, either.
The point here is to think about the risk of intervening if you have an alternative.
Have any thoughts? Let us know in the comments.
Sam Hoober is a hunter and shooter based in the Inland Northwest.