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. 46 Should I Shoot? The Assailant and the Attendant
- Ep. 47 Should I Shoot? Late Night Banging at Your Door
- Ep. 48 Should I Shoot? Elevated Awareness on the Train
- Ep. 49 Should I Shoot? The Sloppy Concealed Carrier
- Ep. 50 Should I Shoot? Trouble at the ATM
It’s Saturday morning and you’re driving about 25 miles from your home to the closest gun store. You own several guns already; you’re an avid shooter and you’ve had a concealed pistol license for about five years. And you always carry — even to the gun store!
Today you’re carrying a snub-nosed revolver, a gun you intend to replace with a slim 9 you hope to purchase on this visit. The revolver you carry has served you well with legendary reliability, decent accuracy and more aftermarket accessories available than you’ll ever need. But it only carries five rounds and, while that’s probably enough for any situation you’d face, you’d just be more comfortable carrying a few more rounds on board while having the ability to quickly reload with a magazine if need be. Plus, you’ve test-fired the slim 9 you want to buy and were amazed with its accuracy. So, it’s time to buy the new gun.
You arrive at the gun store, park in the back and walk around to go in the front door. As you open the door, a beeping noise announces to the rest of the store your entry through the first of two doors. You have nothing in your hands, but your snubbie rides in an inside-the-waistband holster at 2 o’clock — the same way you intend to carry the slim 9. As you walk in through the second door to the store, you chuckle at the signage: “FIREARMS WELCOME. Please keep all weapons holstered unless need arises. In such a case, judicious marksmanship is appreciated.”
The gun store staff has always been helpful and friendly — the owner especially so — and they all open carry. The younger staffers generally carry black polymer pistols chambered in 9mm. Their holsters are also black plastic. The older staffers and the owner prefer Commander-sized 1911s in .45 ACP. Most of their 1911s are a satin stainless finish with custom grip panels, and their holsters are horsehide. As you greet the staff, they ask you if this is the day you’ll be picking up your new gun. The big smile on your face tells the story and you give a thumbs-up as you look over the selection of holsters.
The owner has the gun you’re buying ready for you at the counter. It comes with a second magazine, a magazine loading assist tool and a cleaning tool. He also has the paperwork prepared in advance. All you need to do is to pick out a holster.
As you’re checking out some Kydex inside-the-waistband holsters, a beeping sound announces another customer is walking through the first of the two doors to the gun store. Instinctively, you look up from the holsters toward the door — as do several of the staffers — to see who else is there to shop, browse or buy. It’s a man and a woman. They’re clearly not from the area. As they walk in, they look around nervously as if unsure where to go. One of the staffers greets them and asks how he can help them.
“We’re just looking for some .22 for squirrel hunting,” the man answers.
The staffer directs them to the end cap of the ammo aisle where .22 ammo is on sale. The man picks up one box of 50 rounds, pays for it in cash at the counter, and then leaves with the woman and a small bag with his purchase in hand. All the staffers and you give a quizzical look at each other, shrug it off and go back to business. You find a holster and head to the counter to finish your transaction. While you’re there, you ask the owner to add a couple boxes of self-defense ammo to your purchase.
The owner punches a few buttons on the register, clicks on the laptop computer nearby and gets your signature on several papers. You pay and the owner rewards you with a bag containing your goods. Saying goodbye to the staffers, they wish you well with your purchase as you head out the double front doors.
After you get to your car, you get inside and decide to take a minute to look everything over. Before you do, you carefully remove your snub-nosed revolver and holster and put it in your glove box. Removing the new pistol from its case, you open a box of ammo and load up the two magazines. The rounds go in easy and, with this gun, you’re carrying 7+1 instead of just five. You slide a magazine into the gun and it seats with a confident snap. As a general rule, you don’t carry a gun until you’ve test fired it with a couple hundred rounds or so, but you’re so happy with how this new gun feels, you want to holster it and see how it rides on your belt. You look in the bag for the holster, but it’s not there. The receipt shows you purchased the holster, but after a quick search of your car, it still doesn’t show up. Maybe the owner forgot to bag it or maybe you left it back in the gun store. Leaving your revolver behind, you put your new gun in your jacket pocket and get out of your car for what should be a one-minute trip back into the gun store.
As you close your car door, you peer across the parking lot. About 15 cars away is the couple who entered the gun store while you were in there. They’re standing next to a car with its door open and you can see a person sitting in the driver’s seat. The man and the woman are talking with the man but looking around nervously, just like they were in the store. Your path back to the front entrance of the gun store won’t cross their location, but it will bring you closer to them for a moment.
The exchange between the man and the woman and the driver doesn’t look right and you’re immediately conflicted on what to do. On the one hand, it could be nothing. Or it could be a simple matter, such as someone accidently bumping into another person’s car and now they’re trying to work it all out. Or you could be witnessing a hold-up in broad daylight right behind a gun store. Or it could be something else.
Should I Shoot?
Scenario 1. You decide to assume the best and start walking toward the corner of the building that will lead you to the front entrance. Your hands are in your pockets and your strong hand is on your new unfired pistol. Mentally, you kick yourself. The revolver would have been a better choice. You know that gun. Worse, you didn’t chamber a round.
As you walk, the threesome comes into better view. You turn your head just slightly and strain your eyes to see what you can. The man and woman are standing very close to the driver, between him and his open car door, making for an intimidating conversation at the least. The driver of the car is a young man who seems to be trying to explain something to the man and woman. Occasionally, his arms go up in the air in exasperation. The woman has a purse pulled next to her and the man has his hands in his pockets. All three are speaking a different language. The man and the woman are clearly aggravated and occasionally raise their voice at the young man while looking around the parking lot. You keep walking.
Scenario 2. As you round the corner of the building, out of sight of the threesome, you stop and listen to see if you can determine not only what’s going on but also what, if anything, you should do. You hear the argument between the three escalate.
Carefully peering back around the corner of the building, you see the woman with her hand out toward the young man. He hands her some cash. The man is standing there with his hands in his pockets. The woman puts the cash in her purse. Then the man and woman step back and urge the young man out of the car. The arguing and the exasperated gestures continue as the young man exits the vehicle. They all nervously look around the parking lot but don’t see you watching. Then the man and woman get into the young man’s car, start the engine and begin to drive away.
Scenario 3. The young man, showing obvious signs of frustration, walks in a determined manner away from your post. The man and the woman in the car circle the gun store parking lot and then turn onto the street adjacent to the sidewalk you are on. They are heading right toward you, slowly.
The woman is in the passenger seat — the side of the car you are on as you begin walking toward the front of the gun store. They pull up right next to you and she rolls her window down, looking right at you. You’re nervous and you can’t see her hands, but she has her purse on her lap.
Just then, the owner of the gun store comes around the corner with your forgotten holster in his hand, his openly carried 1911 in plain sight. The woman and man in the car see the gun store owner, exchange some brief words of warning or command, and speed off.
Should I Shoot?
How would Scenario 1, 2 or 3 have to change in order for you to be justified in drawing and shooting your pistol? What are the assumptions you made as the scenarios unfolded?
For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.