Words to the Wise

In most areas of life, “reviewing the basics” from time to time is just common sense. It is an especially good idea when it comes to carrying a firearm for self-defense. Spending sufficient range time or practicing your draw from concealment — both are good things to do regularly.

But I’m talking about mentally reviewing the “dos and don’ts” of carry. We need to think about protecting ourselves not just physically but legally. A good example of why this is important is a case that I learned about during a recent conversation I had with a local sheriff’s deputy. Like most such incidents where no one is harmed, it barely got a 10-second mention on the local news, with no mention of the particular details.

After all, major media outlets are only interested when someone is shot. And if such an incident also involves a legally armed civilian, it will make national headlines: The George Zimmerman/ Trayvon Martin media circus is a perfect example.

Back to the case at hand. In summary, two armed robbers attempted to hold up a small private store in Central Florida. The young girl at the counter nervously emptied the register and handed the money to the robbers.

At this point, another employee of the store, who was legally carrying, drew his own gun and yelled at them to “Stop!” He then fired one shot, missing the two suspects, who turned and retreated out the door.

Then, rather than immediately calling 911 to report the incident, the employee instead bolted from behind the counter, ran out the door and began firing at the suspects as they ran down the street. It was at this point that the employee went back into the store.

The young female employee had by then called police. When officers arrived, they took both of their statements. Later that night, the suspects were apprehended; turns out that while they had tossed their guns, they still had the wads of store money on them!

Initially, no charges were filed against the armed store employee. All good, right?

Not so fast.

It was later discovered that two teenage girls walking by the store had heard the first shot, and immediately began video-recording the event on their cellphone cameras. The video begins at the point that the two suspects came running out the door, with the store employee exiting a couple of seconds afterward.

Worse, the employee is clearly shown, outside the store, firing at the two young men fleeing the scene. As a result, even though responding police did not initially recommend any charges, prosecutors have decided to take a second look. The case is currently pending, and we have no way of knowing how it will ultimately turn out.

But what you and I can do is learn from the realities that this incident underscores:

First, once an attacker ceases to be a threat, our ability to use deadly force ceases. And pursuing an assailant is, with only a few extreme exceptions, a bad idea. It can change your status from victim to aggressor.

Second, in any armed encounter, and most certainly once shots are fired, NO conversation with police should occur without having your attorney by your side.

Finally, in today’s world, video cameras are everywhere. Behave as if you are always being recorded, because, let’s face it, you probably are.

So, be smart. Practice frequently, and regularly review the “basics” of self-defense.