There is a great book currently on the market: Left of Bang. You should buy it and read it.

Consider any violent action as a timeline, starting on your left with, let’s say, you waking up in the morning. Sometime during the day, you will be involved in a violent action that could result in gunfire. The timeline starts moving from the left and somewhere along that line we get to “bang.” This is the point on the timeline when the gunfire erupts.

Patrick Van Horne and Jason Riley, co-authors of Left of Bang, are former active-duty Marine Corps officers and instructors who helped enhance and evolve the Combat Hunter training program at the Marines Corps’ Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico, VA. Their specialty, and the focus of the book, is “how to read the human terrain through an increased understanding of human behavior” across all cultural lines. The goal is to stop threats before they erupt. Van Horne and Riley want you, through the understanding of human behavior, to avoid the gunfire and thus, as much as possible, stay to the left side of “bang.”

But what if you cannot? What if the fight comes to you in such a manner that you cannot avoid it? If you suddenly find yourself on the right side of “bang,” you will need to know a great many things and do some things correctly to stay alive and stay out of jail.

First and foremost, you must stay alive. That means you must combine sound tactics and effective execution of those tactics during AND IMMEDIATELY AFTER the exchange of gunfire.

This topic came to mind because I recently watched a video of a store owner who was killed by a robber as that robber lay on the floor following the initial exchange of gunfire. As tragic as this is, that storeowner would be alive today if he had known what to do immediately after that initial exchange of gunfire.

Here is the scenario: Four armed men burst into a store and punched the clerk (the storeowner’s wife), knocking her unconscious. The storeowner came out of the back room and engaged all four armed men with highly accurate and effective gunfire. The storeowner hit three of the four men and three of them fled. The fourth fell to the floor as a result of his wounds. But this man was still armed and firing. He still posed a deadly threat. What would you do?

The storeowner gave up his cover and advanced to continue engaging the armed man who, despite being on the floor, still posed a viable deadly threat. As the owner moved to attempt to end this threat, the robber shot and killed him. To add insult to injury, the robber is trying to claim he is not guilty of felony first-degree murder by reason of self-defense. The robber said he shot the storeowner in self-defense.

The legal side of the case will be decided at trial. Let’s talk about the tactical side. Let’s talk about the actions to the right of bang.

If you are involved in a gunfight, move to cover. If you have cover, only move to better cover or to a position of tactical advantage. This is true even if your enemy goes down but is not entirely out of the fight. In this case, we will never know what the storeowner was thinking, but it was pretty clear from the video that he could have remained at his cover to see what the robber would do next. The robber was armed, but he was down. He was still a deadly threat, but by moving from cover, the storeowner gave up his tactical advantage. With the robber down but still shooting, the storeowner’s best option was likely to maintain his position of cover and see if the robber would present a shot that the storeowner could take from a covered position.

The storeowner moved to get a better angle, but he did not move to better cover. His movement exposed him to incoming fire. For this he ended up dead.

This is just one very confusing option to consider if you are involved in a gunfight. The best course of action is to avoid the fight if possible, but always remember that once the fight starts, you must maintain the advantage. For the most part, that means finding cover and only moving from that cover if you are headed to better cover. Think about it. What would you do?