I’ve been teaching cops, prospective cops and civilians defensive shooting for a long time — 33 years to be exact. I have always preached that a firearm is not an instrument to be used as a bluff. This isn’t a new concept; thousands of other firearms instructors and experts echo this advice.
Could You Do It?
Anti-gunners love to warn people that a criminal can just take your gun away from you and use it against you. Remember that one? If you are certain that you can shoot another human being who is threatening your life or others, then a firearm is a handy self-defense tool. An attacker will only get your gun if you hesitate.
Before I relate an incident that occurred on the morning of March 24, 2019, let me emphasize one point. If you are unsure that you could shoot another human being in defense, then you have NO business considering a firearm for self-defense. If you are only interested in obtaining a gun to scare an attacker off, you should purchase a civilian Taser or even pepper spray for your safety — and everyone else’s.
Warning Shots Are Useless… and Dangerous
The incident in question happened in Maricopa County, Arizona. I want to say that the unnamed armed citizen in this case was doing his best to help a stranger. I also want to point out that I only have the Fox News account of what happened, so the facts may be incomplete or inaccurate. However, to make my points, I will assume the facts are correct.
A car driven by Fernando Acosta, age 25, and occupied by female passenger Martha Thy ran off the road when Acosta began stabbing Thy. He continued to attack her after the car came to a halt.
The accident caused several people to come to aid the victims. The good Samaritans encountered a bloody scene in the front seat. One of the men had a gun and attempted to intervene to save Thy as she was trying to crawl out of the car.
According to Fox News, “A man with a gun fired shots at the ground to try to scare the attacker.” Herein lies the problem — Acosta wasn’t scared or impressed by the gunfire. In his rage and desire to kill Thy, he likely didn’t even hear the gunshots because of auditory exclusion.
The Right Tool in the Wrong Hands
Here is what happened:
- Martha Thy died as the result of 20 or more stab wounds.
- Acosta reportedly confronted another witness with his knife after stabbing Thy. This person could have also been killed or seriously injured.
- Because the armed citizen didn’t use his firearm appropriately, an unarmed man had to risk his life by tackling Acosta and getting his knife away. Other bystanders also risked injury by piling on Acosta to pin him to the ground until the police arrived. The scene could have been much bloodier and horrific than it already was.
Also, the armed citizen could have been attacked by Acosta after emptying an unknown number of rounds into the ground — rounds that might have been needed to stop Acosta’s potential attack on him.
The outcome of this situation could have been different. Martha Thy could have survived, and unarmed citizens need not have placed themselves in unnecessary jeopardy. It also could have been different if the citizen had chosen, and properly deployed, a Taser instead of a gun.
If a law enforcement officer arrived in time to witness someone stabbing you, would you want him to fire his duty pistol into the ground or the attacker? This case underscores the warning that you should only use a defensive firearm as a deadly weapon — never as a bluff.