When NOT to Use Your Gun

During the hustle and bustle — and, quite possibly, the insanity — of getting ready for back-to-school activities last month, two pairs of women physically tussled over the last notebook on a shelf at a Michigan Walmart … until one of them pulled out her gun. Folks have been arguing that the mother was rightfully defending her daughter from the two other women who were beating her over the said school supply. But I can’t help but wonder about who instigated the fight, how all four women seemed to have kept the fight going, if there were opportunities to stop and remove themselves from the altercation and whether or not death or great bodily harm were part of this equation.

For all of these questions and more, I believe that this notebook dispute is a perfect example of when NOT to use your firearm. And all of this got me thinking: How many more stories like this exist, in which gun owners made poor choices, irresponsibly or irrationally pulled out their guns … and ended up making all of us look bad?

In some cases, drugs or alcohol were involved in these types of situations. In other cases, hurt feelings and bad tempers were escalated. And while there are millions of responsible gun owners out there, perhaps we can learn from the errors in judgment of the few who have used their guns in inappropriate and unacceptable ways. Following are some examples of what NOT to do:

  • July 2006: Three people were injured in a shooting outside Six Flags after an argument inside the park turned for the worse. One of the arguers pulled a gun and fired into the crowd at the bus station, hitting three bystanders.
  • November 2012: A shopper pulled a gun on a man who punched him in the face while waiting in line for Black Friday sales at a Sears store in Texas.
  • September 2014: A Chinese restaurant worker in Ohio rammed a gun into the chest of a 19-year-old customer after he asked for more soy sauce.
  • April 2015: In Oklahoma, when one little girl didn’t get to play in her team’s softball game, her grandfather wasn’t happy about it … and pointed a gun at one of the parents who tried to explain that not all the girls get to play all the time.
  • April 2015: After an odd confrontation, a 22-year-old Texas man pulled a gun on a family of four (whom he did not know) at a local park.
  • April 2015: A 34-year-old man lost his cool and pointed a gun at a competitor during a “friendly” basketball game at a Gold’s Gym in Texas.
  • June 2016: Georgia youth football turned ugly after a coach pulled a gun on a former coach, right after the team’s conditioning workout.
  • April 2017: During a fight with a woman at a Georgia bowling alley, a man waved a gun in front of nearby children.
  • May 2017: When an Indiana mom confronted another woman who was stealing her daughter’s tickets at Chuck E. Cheese, the woman pulled out a gun and shoved it in her face.
  • June 2017: A 19-year-old Washington state woman aimed a gun at four drive-through employees at a local Jack in the Box over some missing chicken nuggets.
  • August 2017: Arguing only hours after their nuptials, a Tennessee bride pulled a 9mm pistol out from beneath her wedding dress, pointed it at her new husband’s head and pulled the trigger. (It was unloaded.)

I hope all of these examples have you asking why … and shaking your head in disgust. As we know, a firearm is a tool to be used as a last resort to protect lives. It’s not for making a point, getting angry or proving something to someone. In order for deadly force to be justified, there must be an immediate, otherwise unavoidable threat of death or grave bodily harm to yourself or other innocents.

Having a firearm for self-defense is a huge responsibility. And using a firearm for self-defense is an even bigger one.