A Personal Decision

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Without going into unsuitable personal detail in an inappropriate forum, I am a man of faith. I have arrived at that decision after a lifetime of difficulty and doubt.

This past month, I had an opportunity to interview another man of faith, Jim Ott. Jim lives in Ohio, and his story will appear in Concealed Carry Magazine in 2020. His decisions have puzzled many people, but they were his decisions … and perhaps they will be yours.

Home Invasion

Jim was the victim of a home invasion and a vicious blow to the head — a single blow that gave him a concussion and sent him to the hospital for stitches and staples. Even though he was carrying his 9mm Glock 17 at the time — and it was fully loaded — the assault took place so fast and was so momentarily stunning that he could not immediately defend himself. But after the initial attack, Jim drew his handgun.

Jim did not know his assailant. He had never heard of him or met him before. And throughout the brief encounter, the assailant, standing barely yards away, continued to taunt him, daring him to shoot and threatening Jim’s life.

So Jim could have shot the man. On multiple occasions during the assault, before the man got into his red Saturn and drove away, Jim had an opportunity to shoot him. In fact, when several sheriff’s deputies arrived in response to the 911 call, they wondered why Jim hadn’t shot. One of them, seeing the 79-year-old covered in his own blood from a wicked blow to the head, told him he would have been within his rights to shoot the man in the back when he eventually turned and walked out of the house.

A white senior citizen with liver-spotted hands cross-draws a small black pistol out of an IWB holster at his waist.

Sometimes your handgun can save your life even if you don’t pull the trigger. (Photo by Rick Sapp)

And yet, Jim did not shoot. His drawn handgun may well have saved his life because the intruder was certainly out of his mind with anger (though Jim described him as “not on drugs”).

A Man of Faith

I asked Jim why he didn’t shoot. After all, it turns out the intruder had multiple warrants for his arrest for domestic violence, and others had taken out restraining orders. Wouldn’t Jim have been doing the world a favor by taking this piece of trash out of the gene pool? Wouldn’t putting the man down have been doing humanity a favor? Jim, of course, didn’t know this during his assault.

Over the telephone, Jim seemed to sigh, as if he were tired of answering that question. He responded that with the man backing away, he no longer had reason to shoot him. Even with the man telling him, repeatedly, “I’m going to kill you, bitch,” Jim did not pull the trigger. Jim had a lifetime in the corporate and executive security business. He could easily have killed his assailant. The man turned his back and walked to his car, ignoring Jim’s orders to halt and wait for the police.

Eventually, Jim simply told me, “I’m a man of faith. I will not kill someone if I don’t have to.” In other words, even at a moment of personal crisis when his own life was in jeopardy, he was thoughtful enough to make a decision — a decision that would have permanently affected several lives and families.

Jim didn’t say, “I would never shoot.” He simply did not fire at a time when he could have done so; at a time when the law and public opinion and morality said he could have fired and been revenged on his assailant.

It took a great deal of self-discipline not to kill the intruder. If the assault had continued or the assailant had moved toward Jim’s wife, I’m guessing the story might have ended differently.

Thankfully, Jim Ott’s gun saved his life … even if he didn’t fire it.

About Rick Sapp

Rick Sapp earned his Ph.D. in social anthropology after his time in the U.S. Army working for the 66th Military Intelligence Group, USAREUR, during the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Following his time in Paris, France, he worked for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service before turning to journalism and freelance writing. Along with being published in several newspapers and magazines, Rick has authored more than 50 books for a variety of publishers.

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