Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Check out the last five episodes in this series:
- Ep. 39 Should I Shoot? ‘You Mad, Bro?’
- Ep. 40 Should I Shoot? Your Carry Gun vs. the Man with the AK
- Ep. 41 Should I Shoot? Do You Carry in the Home? Do You Know the J.A.M. Calculation?
- Ep. 42 Should I Shoot? When Do You Call 911?
- Ep. 43 Should I Shoot? The Trench Coat and the Crowded Church
It’s 7:05 a.m. and as typical a Tuesday morning as there ever was. You’re driving in your SUV on your way to the office where you work. You live in a half-suburban, half-rural area, but it seems there’s always a healthy measure of rush-hour traffic. The commute, while only 11 miles, often takes 20 to 30 minutes when the weather is good. And any amount of precipitation might double your driving time.
It’s winter and there’s a light snow falling. Traffic on the southbound two-lane road you’re on has backed up, more than what you would have expected. As you brake and take your spot in the line of vehicles, you look at the other drivers around you. Most are showing signs of frustration, some are looking at their phones, some are glancing at their watches. You look in your rearview mirror and watch the driver behind you throw his hand, which had been on the top of the steering wheel, up in the air as if to say, disgustedly, “Well, this is just great.”
As you and other drivers inch forward around a curve and over a slight hill, the reason for the backup becomes apparent. It’s not the weather, at least not directly. It’s what looks like a fender-bender: Two southbound vehicles are partially pulled over on the right shoulder but still on the road enough that traffic has to carefully go around them. The vehicle in front is a new black sports car, and the vehicle behind it is a very large older pickup truck. Probably an accident, you think, but there are no police officers on the scene. At least not yet.
As you inch up on this scene, you see the rear bumper of the sports car has been significantly damaged. The front of the pickup truck, equipped with an old, rusty grill guard, has no visible signs of damage. But you quickly lose interest in the vehicle damages when you see a man, presumably the driver of sports car, out of his car, standing between the two vehicles, gesturing at the truck driver. The truck driver is still inside his truck. The sports car driver wants him to get out.
You’ve heard of road rage but never really seen what looks like is going to turn into an active fight or at least some kind of heightened confrontation. But your attention to the situation hits its apex when you see that the driver of the sports car is carrying a handgun in his right hand. Looks like a Glock. Right out in the open.
To make the situation worse, a couple of the passing drivers lay on their horns or gesture to express their displeasure at the delay caused by the two vehicles on the side of the road. You wonder: Do they not see the gun? As you take all this in, you hear the distant wail of a siren; sounds like the county is on the way. The sports car driver is still gesturing to the truck driver, pointing at him and then pointing to the shoulder of the road and beckoning him to get out. The driver of the truck does not seem to be responding.
At this point, your SUV is in the right lane and you’re looking at the scene through your windshield and your passenger side window. And suddenly you realize you’re about to be uncomfortably close to a man with a gun who’s just been rear-ended.
You’ve had a concealed pistol license for more than 10 years but never had to use your gun, let alone put your hand on it in a scenario where you felt even a bit threatened. But, today, with this situation brewing, you find your right hand has moved toward the passenger seat, toward the side zip pocket of your shoulder bag, where your handgun resides in a holster attached to a stiff panel — an off-body concealed carry solution you got for Christmas.
Should I Shoot?
Scenario 1: As you inch forward, passing the sports car, your eyes remain on its driver. You turn your head back and forth, watching the vehicle in front of you, then watching him directly and then, as you pass him, watching him by using your side and rearview mirrors. He seems engrossed with the pickup driver and something on the other side of the vehicles. All of the sudden, the sports car driver moves from between the two vehicles and starts walking southbound, next to his car. In fact, he is walking toward you, approaching your vehicle’s rear passenger side. Your eyes dart from the road in front of you — blocked by traffic — to the gun in the man’s hand. He seems to be looking right into your rearview mirror. And now he’s gesturing at you to…what, pull over and stop? Seriously?
Scenario 2: Your heart pounds as you watch this unfold, seemingly in slow motion. Does nobody else around you notice? Or care? The vehicle in front of you has stopped and so you have to stop. The sports car driver is now directly outside your passenger-side window. Your window is up. Your doors are locked. Your right hand is now moving to unzip the side-zip concealed carry pocket, which is going to be difficult with one-handed. Escape seems impossible; you’re blocked in by traffic, but you don’t want to leave the relative safety of your vehicle. You’re watching the sports car driver immediately outside your vehicle. You can’t see his gun any longer and he’s now turning toward your vehicle, about to engage you in some way. Your mind races as you contemplate what you would do if he bangs on the window or yanks on the door in an attempt to open it.
Scenario 3: The sports car driver peers into your vehicle and you lock eyes with him. His right hand comes up and he presses a sheriff’s badge to the window while signaling with his left hand for you to roll down the window. You glance at your rearview mirror at the sports car and notice its headlights flashing in an alternating pattern and red and blue flashing lights in what looks like a damaged grill. It’s an undercover sheriff’s vehicle. Relief pours over you as you slowly move your hand from the zipper pocket of your shoulder bag and rest it on your car’s shifter. The sports car driver, a county sheriff’s officer, raps his knuckles on the window with a friendly smile. You roll it down all the way.
“Hey buddy, I’m Lt. Christiansen, Grove County Sheriff,” he says. “Can you pull over for a quick minute and help me out? I just hit a deer with my car, which in turn resulted in the poor guy in the truck hitting me. My car won’t budge and I want to move it further off the road and into the shoulder. Not sure what the truck driver’s doing; he’s probably in a bit of shock. Anyway, I have a tow strap and I figure your SUV would have no trouble with this while I wait for a wrecker…”
“Sure, glad to help,” you respond. “But for your safety and mine, I want you to know I have a license to carry a concealed pistol and I do have my gun in the car with me — in this shoulder bag, in fact.”
“OK, buddy. Thanks for letting me know,” he says. “You keep your gun in your bag and we’ll be good, OK?”
“Um, Lieutenant, didn’t you have your gun out a second ago?” you ask. “What was going on with that?”
“Yep, unfortunately, I had to put the deer out of its misery,” he says. “It’s laying just off the road on the other side of my car.”
As you carefully pull off the road and position your SUV to help the police officer, you reflect on the presumptions that abounded in the scenario and how things turned out to be not what they seemed. A vehicle hitting a deer, an unmarked police car, a plainclothes officer, a scared pickup truck driver, the possibility of slippery roads, rush hour traffic, a law enforcement officer who had to put a hurt deer down and blocked traffic patterns. Plenty of room for an accident to go from bad to worse.
In what way would Scenario 1 or 2 have to change in order for you to be justified in drawing your gun and shooting?
For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.