This page was last updated on Tuesday, 22 July, 2014.
Harry Buys a gun....
14 July, 2014
14 July, 2014
Listening to the 6:00 news one evening and hearing of a robbery that took place only a few blocks down the street from their home, Harry turns to his wife Lisa and says, "honey I think we need a gun in the house for protection. In fact, I think we need to start carrying a gun because of all the violence that is taking place." Harry's wife with a shocked look on her face responds, "I don't think that's such a good idea. Guns are dangerous and I am afraid of them. They will bring nothing but trouble into our home and we don't need them, that's what the police are for." Harry after thinking for a moment, quickly jumps out of his sofa chair and says, "Well if you don't want one.....I do...., somebody has to protect this family and it’s my job to do so. I am going to apply for my License to Carry (LTC) tomorrow and when I get it, I am going to buy a handgun for self protection." Knowing that she can not change Harry's mind, Lisa decides to say nothing more and let him go on with his quest.
Harry lives in a State that has strict gun laws and discovers to obtain a LTC permit is complex and time consuming. First, before applying, he must attend a hand gun safety course sanctioned by the State he lives in. Harry decides to contact and join his local Rod & Gun club. After speaking with club officials, he quickly finds a suitable course and signs up for the first available safety class. He is so excited and pleased with himself, that he is on the road to protecting himself and his family.
As Harry, enters the class, he notices people of all ages, both women and men that are seeking their LTC. Harry concludes, since it's a four hour course, it should be very helpful, even if it is taking him away from Monday night football. After all, it's a good idea to get some safety information and knowledge about handling a firearm, to avoid any potential accidents. Sitting down next to a man who is similar to his age, Harry introduces himself and says, “I take it you are here for the same reason I am....the ability to get a gun.” The man looks up and responds, “Yeah...my house was broken into and that was the straw that broke the camels back...no more being a victim for me.” Harry ponders for a minute and blurts, “Too much crap is going on......I‘m sick of it.....If the police can’t protect us then its time we all get guns....my wife is not too happy about this....but what do women know anyway?.....Besides, I know what my family needs and I am ready to use a gun big time if a crook tries to rob or hurt me!” As a door opens, the instructor enters the room, carrying a .22 pistol on his hip. Harry says to his new friend, “You see.....now...there’s a man who can take care of himself!”
As Harry listens intently to the instructor, go through the do's and don'ts of using a handgun, he is becoming very confident that he will be able to handle a gun safely and be ready “when and if the time comes”. The instructor goes through topics, such as treating every gun as if it was loaded, being careful of never pointing a gun at anyone, and securing your weapon and ammunition in the home from children, etc. At the end of the four hour session, all the students are given the chance to fire the instructor’s .22 caliber handgun once at a target. This is an opportunity for everyone “to get the feel of shooting a weapon”. Upon everyone taking their turn, a certificate is issued by the instructor to each class member certifying that they satisfactorily completed the course. Harry can’t wait to tell his wife that he is now “certified” and can apply for his LTC. Driving home, Harry thinks to himself, “well that wasn’t so bad....in fact most of it was common sense....it was really no big deal at all.....I should have done this long ago.”
After about 10 weeks after submitting his application, along with fingerprints and going through the necessary background checks, Harry receives in the mail a License to Carry a concealed weapon for self protection. Finally, he declares, now that I have my LTC, it’s off to the gun shop and pick out my gun.
Harry awakens the next day and gets dressed in a hurry and heads down stairs to get some quick breakfast. His wife Lisa, observing her husband's eagerness in gobbling down a couple of doughnuts with a cup of coffee, asks "Boy, you are in a hurry this morning....what's so important?" Harry barely able to speak with a full mouth of food responds, "I told you I am on my way to the gun shop to pick out my firearm. I don't want to waste anytime in getting one." A surprise look comes over Lisa's face, " You are serious about this aren't you?....You really are going to start carrying a gun?" Harry gulping down his second doughnut looks up at his wife and says, "I won't be a victim...the only way not to be is to "carry a big stick"....and my "stick" is going to be real big....no one is going to mess with me." Lisa looking at Harry just shakes her head and says, "So how much is this going to cost?" Harry grabs his wallet and opens it showing a bunch of bills to his wife, "I don't care what it costs, our lives are more important than money!"....He slams his wallet shut and grabs his coat, "well it's off to the gun shop...see you later this afternoon." As Harry leaves, Lisa gives a wave and says to herself, "You are so stubborn Harry Trent.....I hope you know what you are doing.....well,.... you took a hand gun safety course.....I guess you should be alright...., and she heads downstairs to do the laundry.
The local gun shop owner is very accommodating and offers Harry several selections of firearms to pick from. As he gazes over the guns in the glass cases, he thinks, "There are so many to chose from....let me see....which one is right for me?" Then, he remembers the movie “Dirty Harry” and asks the gun dealer if he is familiar with that weapon. “Of course I am”, the shop owner responds, “here it is, the Smith & Wesson .44 magnum (mag.), but if you chose this gun, I would recommend a 4 inch barrel and not a 6 inch as in the movie. The 4 inch version would be much easier to conceal.” As Harry picks up the gun and examines it closely by looking up and down at it, a feeling of power and glowing confidence comes over him. He hears the shop owner say, “Although this is a good gun for self defense, it is very powerful, has a lot of recoil, and is expensive to practice with. But if you want something that will take out a bad guy...then this gun will definitely do the job.”
As Harry is gazing at the weapon in his hand, he thinks for a moment and grins at the gun dealer saying, "It’s supposed to be the most powerful handgun in the world... isn’t it?” The shop owner goes onto explain to Harry that it was, but there are more powerful ones made today such as the .50 caliber Action Express. “However,” he says “that gun was really designed for hunting and not made to carry for self protection because it’s just too big and awkward to do so.” Harry ponders for a moment, “You say this will definitely stop a bad man, heh?” ...“Definitely...it will stop anybody in their tracks” the shop owner quickly responds. “Then, this gun is for me”, as Harry fondles the .44 magnum, “I want something with real power.”
Harry goes on to discuss with the gun dealer a suitable holster and he recommends an outside pants belt type or a shoulder holster. Again, Harry remembers the movie with Clint Eastwood and decides on the shoulder holster, along with two boxes of ammunition. The shop owner suggests 240 grain wad cutters to practice with and a box of 240 grain Hydra- Shok Federal Premium jacketed hollow points (JHP) for self protection. Also, he recommends a pair of muffs for ear protection and some shooting glasses. Harry asks, "Do you think that's all I will need?" As the shop owner moves everything into a pile near the cash register, "Yeah...I think you should be all set...but you will need to practice." Harry staring at the pile, "No problem....I plan to practice.... I want to be ready." After his background check comes back positive, Harry whips out his cash and purchases the lot. On the way home with his “pile of treasures”, he is thinking that he and his family will be finally secure. He says happily to himself, "Because of my quick and decisive action of acquiring a firearm, we all can sleep well tonight....my family and I will not have to worry about a thing again."
On Saturday, Harry heads to the rod and gun club range to try out his new .44 mag Smith and Wesson revolver. Driving there, he remembers from his reading and research that most gun fight altercations happen between 10-15 feet and decides to set up his silhouette man target at 12 feet to practice. He takes the gun out of the box and loads up his .44 mag with the 240 grain wad cutters that the shop owner told him to use. Putting his eye and hearing protection on, he faces the target, cocks the hammer back every time before each shot, and fires all six rounds at the target. "Wow!" He says to himself, “this gun has some real power and look; I did not do too badly for my first time.” As he walks up to the target, he sees that one shot even hit inside the 7 ring and some actually hit somewhere on the body of the silhouetted man. Brewing with confidence, he reloads, cocks the hammer back and fires several more times using the entire box of 50 shells. At the end of his practice session he is hitting the silhouetted man all the time. As he packs up and leaves the range, he pats himself on the back and thinks, “That wasn’t too bad at all, in fact I got the hang of it right away.....why didn't I do this long ago?.....Now..... Let somebody try and mess with my family or me.....I am good to go!”
As the weeks pass, Harry while working as a traveling insurance man, carries his new prized possession on him utilizing the shoulder holster he purchased with the gun. He discovers, since his job requires him to wear a sports coat all the time, the gun although large in size, can generally be kept hidden beneath his jacket. It is cumbersome, he thinks, but is worth the inconvenience to assure his safety at all times on the road. “If a crook comes at me, it’s a small price to pay in order to be ready", as he pats his new found security beneath his jacket while driving to his next appointment.
One sunny October day, the alarm awakens Harry at 6:00 A.M. to get ready for work. As he dresses himself, he puts on the shoulder holster and loads his .44 mag with hollow points. His wife observing him comments, “Do you really have to wear that everyday?” Harry finishes loading it and shoves it hard into his holster and responds, “You betcha, anybody who screws with me is going to find out the hard way.” Harry grabs a quick muffin for breakfast, says good bye to his wife and hurries to his car to begin his day. As he leaves the yard, and drives down the street, he can feel “his new friend” pressing against his body reminding him that there is no need for any fear, because now he “can take care of himself”.
The morning is typical of every day, as he meets with several potential clients, and actually signs a few onto his company’s life insurance program. As noon approaches he is famished and decides to stop at a local sub shop, to get something to eat. Since, it was a place he had stopped many times before and always had a great sandwich; he was really looking forward to it. In fact, Ted the owner of the shop, was an old golfing buddy of his and they always had time to discuss the “politics of the day.” As he opens the door to the shop, the place is bustling with people and he notices 4-5 customers waiting in line and several others around the coolers to get their drinks. He sees his buddy Ted and gives him a waive, who is busily making sandwiches behind the counter. His daughter Mary, who is off from college on semester break, is taking orders and handing out subs to the patrons. “Well this place is definitely busy,” Harry thinks, “It’s going to be a while, but his sandwiches are sure worth the wait”.
As Harry stands in line and looks up at the menu above the counter, deciding what he is going to order, the second person in line suddenly steps to the side and yells, “Everybody stay where they are!", as he raises a handgun and points it at Mary, “nobody will get hurt, all I want is the money from the register, so hand it over! “ A deafening silence comes over the sub shop as Harry’s heart starts to pound as he can not believe what is happening. A thousand thoughts are going through his mind, “what should I do?”....should I stop him?..... I have a gun....this is the reason why I got it...my friends are in real trouble....I need to do something.....but what?...." Beads of cold sweat form along Harry's forehead, his hands begin to tremble and his heart is pounding so badly that a heart attack is surely on the way he thinks. "Give me the money", the gunman orders to Mary, "and you over there", yelling at Ted, "Let me see your hands." Harry watches Ted move to the side and raise his hands as the gunman motions him over with the gun. "That's better, nobody will get hurt, just do what I say!" As the gunman focuses his attention back to Mary, she begins to beg him not to hurt her and starts to cry hysterically. Mary pleads, "Please....Please don't kill me" as she backs away from the counter. "Where do you think you're going bitch...get back here" the gunman orders waving his gun. Harry wants to do something, but his arms and legs will not move, as he is almost paralyzed with fear. "My friends are counting on me", he mutters to himself, "My god...are my hands shaking....calm down.......get a hold of yourself and put a stop to this ......you can do it....you know you can....you have a gun..... So use it!" Harry carefully reaches beneath his suit jacket and tries to grab his .44 mag from his shoulder holster with his shaking, clammy hand, but the gun will not move. Panic stricken, he looks down at his holster and tries to wiggle the weapon free but it just won’t release from the holster. “What’s wrong with this damn thing anyway?......what a piece of crap.......why can’t I get it out?......boy, is this a pain in the ass......as Harry struggles and mumbles to himself trying to shake the gun free. Finally, in total desperation, he throws his sports coat open, grabs the holster with his left hand and with his right, yanks the gun out hitting himself in the chin which knocks his head backwards causing his eyes to well up with tears. He can barely see because of the pain, but he cocks the hammer back while raising his “instrument of justice” and points it shakily at the robber and hollers, “freeze, I got you covered you son of a bitch!” As the gunman turns his head to face him, a noise distracts Harry beside him and his eyes stray to look what it is and he sees another man to his left raising a gun. Harry quickly turns and fires at him and sees the man slam backwards into the glass cooler door. Then suddenly, another loud shot rings out and Harry feels a burning sensation in his upper abdomen, and a second shot follows with Harry rearing backwards with excruciating pain in his groin area. “The other bastard is trying to kill me....ok take this”, as Harry turns back towards the gunman at the counter and while falling and cocking the hammer, he discharges his .44 magnum with 240 grain hollow point bullets. He tries to cock the hammer back again but he sees stars and flashes of white light, crashes into a display case, passes out and collapses on the floor.
Harry awakens and hears a distant voice, “Harry....Harry...it's Lisa...Harry”. As he opens his eyes, he is in a hospital bed, and it’s his wife looking down at him with tears running down her cheeks. “You have come back to me” she whimpers, “Thank God you made it”, as she grabs his hand. Harry, feeling ever so weak, says “I fixed both of their asses” and passes out again.
The next day, Harry is visited by his doctors and wife, who explain to him that his injuries are quite serious with potential permanent paralysis of his lower body due to spinal damage by one of the bullets. Also his kidneys and liver will need additional surgeries, and hopefully, dialysis will not be a life long requirement. “You are very lucky to be alive, Mr. Trent,...anyone that receives two 9mm’s to the waist area and comes out of it....should be very thankful”, the doctor declares as he looks at Harry’s chart, “but, your rehab will require a substantial amount of time and there may be a few more surgeries needed to repair the immense damage to your kidney area.” The doctor then sighs, “as far as the extent and length of your paralysis, only time will tell.”
Harry’s wife informs him two men are outside his room waiting to talk to him about the incident. His wife warns him, “The doctors have cleared you to speak to them and they have instructed me not to say anything about the incident to you,.... please be careful on what you say to them honey....just..”, Harry interrupts her, “Why should I be worried?........I did the right thing to shoot the crooks didn’t I?.....plus they were nothing but a couple of scum bags anyway...they deserved what they got...” Lisa in a calming voice and while stroking her husband on the shoulder responds, “Calm down Harry...just be careful about what you say...” as she leaves the room.
Before reading on, take a few minutes and evaluate the above sequence of events. Think about what you might have done in the sub shop if you were carrying a hand gun. Also, consider the following questions;
- Was Harry adequately prepared to carry a weapon
concealed? If not, what should of he done
- Was he justified to use lethal force in the
above situation and do you think he might be in
anyway prosecuted for his actions?
- If you were in the sub shop that day and were
carrying a firearm, would you have acted the same
as Harry? Or differently? How?
- Since the gunman at the counter was pointing a
gun at Mary and possibly threatening her life,
would you have shot the thief immediately? Without
telling him to "freeze?" Would your actions be
- What about the other man on the side of Harry
who was drawing his weapon, would you have shot
him as Harry did? Or would you have warned him
The criteria for you to consider in your evaluation should be; were Harry’s or your possible actions that you have decided on Logical, Reasonable, and Absolutely Necessary?
We now return to the incident;
As two men in suit coats and ties, enter Harry’s room, one says “I am Detective Ross and this is my associate Detective Wingate, we are both with the State Police and are here to investigate the homicides at Ted’s Sub shop on June 20, 2014 that you were involved in and would like to ask you a few questions.” Harry says, “Sure, I would be glad to help you with anything I can.” Detective Ross, says “Do you mind if we tape this interview?” Harry, beaming with confidence, quickly replies, “No, I have no problem with that at all”. As both detectives take a seat, they set the tape recorder on the end table by the bed and Ross begins, “This is an interview conducted with Mr. Harry Trent who resides at 4978 Highland Ave., Hill City, Some State, at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Today is June 21, 2014, the time is 2:15 P.M. and present along with Mr. Trent are Detective Ross and Detective Wingate of the State Police investigative unit. Mr. Trent will you please describe in your own words the events on June 20, 2014 at Ted’s Sub Shop at 41 South St., Gardner City, Some State.”
Harry anxiously replies to the detective, “I stopped at the sub shop to get some lunch and since the place was very busy that day, I had to stand in line for a while. A man standing in front of me pulled a gun and started to rob the place. I had to do something, as my friends were in real danger, so I took out my gun, and told him to "freeze" as I pointed it at him. Someone dropped or knocked over something on the side of me and I looked in that direction for an instant and saw another man to my left raising a gun. I thought he must be a partner of the gunman at the counter, so I turned and fired at him and saw him go down. At the same time, the gunman at the counter must have turned and fired at me....hitting me in the gut.., so I turned my gun back at him and shot him too. I know he hit me at least once maybe twice, before I passed out. I don’t remember anything after that.” The detectives both look at each other, one writes a few additional notes and Detective Ross says, “Anything else you want to add before we continue?” Harry thinks for a moment and replies, “No...That’s about it, I think”. The detective asks again, “are you really sure you do not have anything else to add?” Harry can not understand their persistence. What else can there be? After pondering for a moment, Harry angrily responds to the detectives, “Everybody should be thankful for what I did and you should not be giving me the third degree about all of this. After all, the bastard at the counter threatened my friends with a gun and was robbing them......plus he shot me and I might be permanently paralyzed because of him.....and his partner beside me...,he....he was going to kill me too.... so I shot both of them,..... plain and simple.....as far as I am concerned they got what they deserved....there is really nothing else to say.” The two detectives look at each other and then inform Harry that they need to step outside for a moment and will be right back. As the two men leave the room, Harry is really perplexed about the whole mess. After all, he is the “good Samaritan” who came to the rescue of some friends in real trouble and was badly hurt in the process. If it wasn’t for him, god knows what would have happened to the people in the sub shop that day. The crooks were bad men with guns and he quickly “took care of the problem.” He can’t understand the detective’s confrontational attitude towards him and continues to wonder, “What the hell is going on here?”
After about 10 minutes, the two detectives return to Harry’s bedside, restart the tape recorder and say, “Thank you for your description of the incident Mr. Trent, but we have several eye witnesses and other factors that do not collaborate your version of events. Unfortunately, the man who shot you was not the suspect robbing the place at the counter, but appears to be his partner in the store, who was assisting him in the robbery. Evidently, he was standing near the milk cooler behind you, and was the back up man.” Harry is amazed on what the detectives are telling him and becomes angry and bitter about the “back shooter”, wishing he could have saw him before all of this happened. “If I only could have noticed him, I would of taken care of him too”, Harry responds to the detectives. “Well, there must of been a third thief then,” Harry quickly adds, “That was the one on the left side of me that had a gun, but I know I got the son of bitch because he crashed backwards into the beer cooler door after I shot him......since I passed out, the one I shot at the counter I am not sure about.....but I think I got that bastard too.” The detective pauses for a moment and then continues, “I regret to inform you, that the man you shot and saw fall against the beer cooler door was an innocent armed citizen who decided to apparently help you....his name was William Bender, a bank executive, at the Grand Central Bank, located two blocks north from the sub shop. Sadly, Mr. Bender died this morning from a single gunshot wound to the chest. Plus, it is also very unfortunate that both robbery suspects ran out of the store and are still at large.” Harry becomes really upset and nervous, thinking he accidentally killed an innocent man, missed both thieves and because of them he might not be able to walk again. All that has come out of this is him becoming a possible invalid and mistakenly shooting and killing a helpful citizen. “All because I tried to do the right thing,” he murmurs. “Now, I alone suffer the tragic consequences.......they both got away....I wish I had a second chance at them, I‘d show them a thing or two...but I might be in real trouble now for killing the bank executive by mistake.......this could be real bad.......but it was an accident......just a true accident......he shouldn't have pulled his gun.....how was I to know?.....maybe I am going to be sued for this....will I go to Jail?....what is my family going to do?,” runs through Harry’s mind.
Detective Ross clears his throat and looks directly at Harry, and with a complete solemn look continues, "and most unfortunately for you, your round that missed the robbery suspect at the counter, appears to have hit and killed the cashier,..... I believe her name was, let me see here ...Mary Brown, the daughter of the owner.....she was declared dead at the scene.” A deep sickening feeling of tremendous guilt, along with severe nausea, rapidly overwhelms Harry, “I....I...killed Mary too?” being barely able to get the words out, he begins to sob uncontrollably. “Mary is gone......I shot and killed one of my best friend’s daughter ......a beautiful and warm person who wouldn't hurt anyone...... and I shot an innocent man.....I can’t walk.....the thieves got away....... my life is totally ruined along with my family’s......I can‘t believe this is happening to me.....this is a bad dream.....I need to wake up......oh...please.....please wake up.....but I am awake.......I hate myself......that gun.......if only I never had bought it........none of this would have ever happened.” All of these thoughts run randomly at light speed through Harry’s mind as he suddenly falls into a deep, lonely abyss of darkness and despair. Harry’s eagerness for a path to "self protection" has ended on a high speed highway of unspeakable tragedy and horror.
The above scenario is basically true, and can or will happen again, if proper instruction is not obtained by the concealed carry enthusiast. Obtaining a LTC is taking on a huge responsibility and can not be dealt with lightly. Carrying a gun on the street in public is a “world of hurt in the making” if the individual has not undergone extensive lethal force training. Now, I know some of you reading this article, are going to think, that I am anti gun and only police should be allowed to have them. On the contrary, I fully believe in the second amendment in our right to bear arms. Everyone should be entitled (less felons and mentally incompetent people) to have a gun in the home for self protection, but if that gun is carried on the street, then the rules change dramatically and simply obtaining a LTC, in my opinion, is no way near enough. Learning hand gun safety via a four hour course and then shooting a single shot from a .22 hand gun at the range is severely inadequate as preparation for someone to carry a gun in the public arena. (These are the actual requirements in one State to obtain a LTC)
There are many schools available today that provide the necessary instruction in the proper use of lethal force and they should be attended by anyone planning on carrying concealed. Not only do they provide excellent shooting instruction and defensive tactics with firearms, they provide legal advice and discussion on the theory of the use of lethal force and its ramifications against you within the legal system. If you plan on attending a “gun school“, above all, make sure the place has an instructor with extensive knowledge, background, and who is properly certified in the legal use of deadly force.
Needless to say, Harry did a lot of things wrong in his preparation to carry a weapon for self defense. Some of the proper shooting and practicing techniques that are necessary, in my opinion, are outlined in a previous article by me titled “So you want to carry a gun....” and I will not address them here. However, the legal side of the right to use lethal force is often complex and unclear in many states. Plus laws and legal justifications of deadly force vary from state to state. This generally leaves the “righteousness” of your shooting to your trial in the courts. It is almost certain, that if you are found not responsible on the criminal side because the shooting is determined to be justified by the police and the District Attorney, you are still not "off the hook". Since, you are most surely going to be prosecuted on the civil side in a wrongful death suit by the victim’s family or relatives. Plan on spending a minimum of $100,000 on lawyer’s fees in your defense. In Harry’s case, he will be surely tried both criminally (minimum manslaughter) and civilly.
As a general rule, in order to be justified in the use of lethal force, “your life must be in immediate danger of death or grievously bodily harm”. Considering the above mentioned criteria, were Harry's actions 1.) Logical, 2.) Reasonable, and most importantly 3.) Absolutely Necessary. Some additional thoughts to consider are;
- When he was finally able to draw his weapon and
if he had shot the thief at the counter
immediately, would he have met the criteria for
the legal use of deadly force? Was he in the right
to draw and only point his gun at the thief? Or
did that action “open doors to other potential
- Did he properly assess the situation? If not,
what should he have done differently?” One
observation missed by Harry was how everyone in
the sub shop was dressed and acting. Possibly, the
bank executive was in a suit (or a shirt and tie),
and this should of told Harry that person might be
a police detective or at least not someone serving
as a possible backup man.
- Was he justified, in any way, to shoot the man
on the left side of him near the beer cooler (the
banker) who was raising a gun? Or was the bank
executive at fault when he drew his weapon to
“help” Harry and escalated the situation? Would
this mistake on the banker's part exonerate Harry
of this accidental shooting? Criminally, Civilly?
- Should Harry have tried to shoot the gunman at
the counter, after being shot himself?
culprit? Or could this catastrophe be blamed on the "fog of war" principle? If so, then, is the shooting of Mary a simple unfortunate accident and spares Harry a criminal prosecution? Or was he just plain negligent and should be charged? And does it still leave him vulnerable to potential civil lawsuits for wrongful death?
- Finally, if one of the thieves shot one of the
patrons or sub shop personnel, would this action
have allowed Harry full and justifiable cause to
“open up” and shoot either assailants or both?
In reality, Harry was not immediately threatened and his life was not in “imminent” danger when the thief pulled his gun on the clerk. In fact, the gunman said no one would get hurt if they did what he said. Harry, in my opinion, had no business drawing his weapon to stop a burglary, due to someone losing some money, especially when it was not even his to lose. Probably, if he had not drawn his weapon, none of the above scenario would have taken place. More than likely, money would have been handed over or the thieves might have panicked, if things were taking too long. In either case, they probably would have left the store without further incident, and the above tragedies would have been prevented. As pointed out in my previous article, you should never draw your weapon unless you have no choice but to shoot! If you are in a situation that you are forced to draw your gun then you will fire it. Think of it, as if and when you have to draw, there is no going back. That’s the seriousness of you removing your gun from its holster and exposing it. A concealed weapon is definitely not meant for intimidation or to “play TV cop” with. What Harry did, if everything went perfectly, and the thieves eventually surrendered, would have probably made him into a hero. However, in the real world, when things can go bad, they will...and generally they go really...really bad and quickly spin out of control. To gamble with people's lives including your own, by using your weapon for intimidation (waving it about or pointing it at someone) is a very reckless and careless act which can force a situation in a very ugly direction and it usually has horrific consequences.
Additionally, without proper training and foresite, Harry did not suspect that another thief might be in the store to serve as a backup man. He did not take the time to totally assess the situation and observe everyone prior to taking possible action. How everyone is dressed, how they are acting, and where they are in the sub shop may have given some vital information to Harry on what direction the robbery might go. Additionally, during an extreme stressful situation, going into panic mode and not being confident of your abilities is a sure recipe for failure. Fumbling around trying to draw your gun because you have not practiced at the range or home enough is a “disaster in the making.” Actually, considering Harry’s antics, he probably would have been shot by the back up man, behind him, long before he even drew his weapon.
If the gunman, at the counter, had discharged his weapon or shot someone (Ted or his daughter Mary for example), then there would have been a definite “imminent danger” to Harry’s life and others. Therefore, theoretically he would probably of have been in the right to draw and fire his weapon at the assailant.
Another wrinkle that could have been in the mix, if the helpful citizen who drew his weapon to assist Harry was actually an off duty police officer. But, would have an off duty officer drawn his weapon in this case? Harry, in a suit, might have been mistaken by him or others in the sub shop for another off duty law person. This may have led the back up man to shoot Harry immediately or bail out of the situation and leave the shop. As one can surmise, there can be several courses of action depending on the views and split second decisions of the parties involved. In real life, “gray areas” due to varying circumstances are always going to create some problems or complications and affect the determination if a shooting is legally justifiable. As an incident progresses, the “domino effect” comes into play, and since it involves human decisions within seconds of time, anything can and will happen. But when all is said and done, and the lead ceases to fly, that’s when you will begin to fight another “battle” and that is in the court system.
Another important mistake Harry committed, even if he thought the shooting was totally justified on his part, was talking to the police without his attorney being present. Believe me; the police immediately want to question you when an incident involves a shooting. When I was shot and rushed to the emergency room by ambulance, I was not there for even 15 minutes and while the doctors and nurses were working on me, the State Police detectives and law personnel were trying to get in to see and tape me on my description of events. I was conscious and not on any pain killing drugs, so I was coherent and clear headed. Knowing I was just a total victim of a violent act, I allowed them into the room. They immediately took my work boots, pants, and what was left of my blood soaked tee shirt into evidence. Of course, in this situation, I was unarmed, and the gunman fired 3 shots into me with a .45 caliber semi automatic pistol before killing himself with a shot to the head, so the series of events were pretty clear cut and the total fault fell on the attempted murderer. However, in a situation where you have discharged your weapon in a self defense shooting, if and when you are conscious and able to, you must allow yourself at least 24 hours before you give your statement and above all, have your lawyer present. Naturally, a lethal force shooting is a very traumatic event, and this passage of time will allow you to settle down a bit and give you the ability to get your thoughts together. One must remember that depending on what you say during that interview will be helpful or devastating in your trial. This passage of time, that you allow yourself, is for your protection. The police have a job to do, and they could care less about any potential defense that may be needed by you while you go through the court system. They will press you for answers and facts. Even in my situation, they wasted no time in questioning me thoroughly and tape recorded the interview. Of course, questions like “Did you have a bad relationship with the gunman previous to this?”, “Did you at anytime have harsh words or actions between you?” or “have you or did you threaten him today or at anytime in the past?” and “did you have a weapon on you and if so what did you do with it?” are just some examples that they asked me. The point is, when you are involved in a shooting, the police will be like “hornets and swarm on you” to get the facts and what ever you say, as the words we have all heard before, “can be or will be used against you in a court of law”, will certainly come into the mix.
In summary, to have and hold a weapon in the home for self defense is a right granted to all of us by the constitution. Carrying a gun on the street, “opens the door to another world”, where if and when you ever have to use your gun, may lead to ugly, unforeseen consequences. Our society today, is not like Marshall Matt Dillon’s on Gunsmoke, where he declares you drew and fired in self defense at the scene, tells you there’s a stagecoach leaving Dodge in two hours and to be on it......instructs some of the town folk to pick up the body and bury it......then walks away and the case is closed......far from it........Carrying a gun on the street today places an immense responsibility on your shoulders. Never mind being concerned of your own well being but you have a definite obligation to the safety of innocent citizens who might just end up in the way of your “self protection actions.” Without proper training, you are “rolling the dice“, and what happened to Harry may happen to you!
So before you load up with hollow points, strap that gun on and carry it on the streets....ask yourself these very important questions:
- Have I taken an intensive tactical defensive,
lethal force gun course? (usually 40 hours)
- Can I efficiently draw and fire my weapon with
accuracy? Under stress? Consistently?
- Do I practice often at the range to maintain my
- Do I know and fully understand my State laws
regarding the lawful use of Lethal Force?
- Do I avoid bars, nightclubs and other events
which involve consuming alcohol by me and others
while carrying a concealed firearm?
- If I am unfortuately involved in a shooting, am
I prepared to spend at least $100,000 for my legal
defense? Even though I was completely justified?
- Can I live with the thought of taking another
person’s life in the protection of my own and
possibly others? Sounds simple, but the traumatic
stress created by committing such a violent act
will play a major impact on the rest of your life.
If your answers are no, then simply put, if you carry concealed, then you are “shooting from the hip” and indeed a very foolish person that will probably end up like Harry or worse.