It is just before 7:30 at night. Customers are coming and going from your small corner market. One customer is shopping when another man walks inside. The second customer throws a bag on the counter, pulls a gun from his pants, and says, give him the money.
You own a gun. You walk to the cash register. You wait until the robber turns to look at another customer, and then you grab the gun that sits above the cash register. You shoot your attacker, and he runs from the store. You call 911.
You give a statement to the police and also give them the store security video. Police find your wounded attacker nearby and disarm him. EMTs to take him to the hospital where he is expected to recover. The robber is suspected of robbing four stores in the previous four hours.. until he came to your store.
Our defender did a number of things correctly. He recognized a threat. He defended himself. He stopped shooting when the bad guy stopped being a threat. The shopkeeper stayed in the store. He called the police, made a brief statement, and filed a report.
How do we defend ourselves without being shot when the robber already has his gun out and pointed at us?
Yes, you can grab for your gun, but you want to avoid a gunfight with bullets flying both ways. This store owner had been robbed before. This time he was armed. Our defender did not try to grab his gun when the robber had his gun pointed at him. Instead, the defender opened the cash drawer and waited until the robber pointed his gun somewhere else. In this case, the robber pointed his gun at another customer. That is when our defender grabbed his gun and shot the robber. That delay has been called “waiting your turn”, or “tactical patience.” That presence of mind let the store clerk defend himself without being wounded. Our defender was in a shooting but avoided a gunfight.
We also want to be armed all the time. The video shows that the store owner kept his firearm stored on a shelf above the cash register. That means the store owner was disarmed when he was away from the register, for example when the robber came in the store and pulled his gun. The store owner was disarmed when he stocked shelves, swept the floor, or brought merchandise in through the back door.
Leaving the gun on the shelf also meant that anyone could grab the gun if they came behind the counter. We don’t want to leave firearms where the public has access to them.
When he defended himself, the shopkeeper pointed his gun around the cash register and fired. It does not look like he used the sights to hit his target. You can either use sighted fire or unsighted fire. Both have their place. Both take practice. You can not count on luck. Practice so that using the sights becomes a habit when the target is more than a few yards away.
Turning back to this robbery, lock the doors if you can once the bad guy runs away. There are usually several attackers in a store robbery and you don’t want to be surprised by another armed man coming through the door. Check on your customers and staff to see if anyone is hurt. Another reason to carry your firearm on your body is so you have someplace to put your handgun and are not pointing it at the people who witnessed the crime. Call 911 and ask everyone else to call 911 too. Do you have a trauma kit in your store to treat someone who dove for the floor and was cut by falling glass?
Give the police a copy of your security video, but keep the original file for your lawyer. Tell the police you and the other customers were threatened at gunpoint. You defended yourself and the other customers. You are willing to file a complaint against the robber. Tell the police that you want to talk to your lawyer before you answer any other questions. Now is the time to think about what we should do because it is hard to stop talking when we’re that excited.
I bet my hands and voice would be shaking after a robbery. It would be almost impossible for me to tell the officers what happened in the exact order in which it occurred. Telling the story out of order means we can be accused of being an inaccurate or untrustworthy witness. Let your lawyer straighten out the story for you. Hint- that is why the security video is so helpful to both your lawyer and to the prosecuting attorney.
The news video shows the shopkeeper talking to reporters. We feel like we want to talk to someone after a traumatic event. However, talking to a news reporter is more likely to work against us than to work in our favor.
Rob Morse highlights the latest self-defense and other shootings of the week. See what went wrong, what went right, and what we can learn from real-life self-defense with a gun. Even the most justified self-defense shooting can go wrong, especially after the shot. Get the education, the training, and the liability coverage you and your family deserve, join USCCA.
About Rob Morse
Rob writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily, and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob was an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.
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