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. 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
- Ep. 51 Should I Shoot? Is that a Hold Up Behind the Gun Store?
Driving home from work one weekday, you pull into a gas station to fill up and get a cup of coffee. Pulling up next to the pump, you put your car in park and turn off the ignition, clipping your keys to your belt. You also retrieve your subcompact pistol from the backpack on the seat next to you and tuck the holstered gun into your belt — appendix carry. Your jacket will cover it nicely while you make this quick stop. Putting your gun on, even for quick errands like this, has become second nature to you. And you’ve seen enough gas station security video footage to know how quickly an incident can go down.
Normally you’d pay at the pump with your debit card, but because you’re getting a drink from the gas station, you decide to go in, get your drink and pay for the drink and the gas all at once. In the gas station store, you quickly glance over the myriad of refrigerated soda pop available to you and instead decide a large cup of coffee is the way to go. The commercial coffee machine is just completing a brew cycle so you’re assured it’ll be a fresh cup. Small pleasures.
Holding a large empty coffee cup in hand, you’re just about to pull the coffee machine handle and fill your cup when you hear an electronic chime behind you. It’s the sound of the gas station door, which is about 30 feet away, being opened. You instinctively look over your left shoulder and over the aisles to see who came in. The customer is an enormous man wearing gray sweatpants, a sweatshirt and work boots. He’s also wearing a baseball cap and large, dark sunglasses, and — of most interest to you — he has a messenger bag worn across his body, hanging off his right side. His right hand is tucked inside the bag.
The man walks up to the counter and hands the clerk a note. The clerk nervously takes the note, reads it and then looks up at the man. The man motions with his left hand toward the cash register and then uses his right hand to put the messenger bag on the counter. His hand is still in the bag, but you can see the clerk has a clear view of what’s inside. The clerk then punches a few buttons on the cash register, the cash drawer opens and the clerk steps back a few feet. At this point, the big man turns and looks around the store behind him and sees you standing at the coffee machine.
Should I Shoot?
Scenario 1. As the man looks at you, his right hand comes out of the messenger bag enough so that you see he is holding something black. Given the clerk’s reaction and the man’s behavior so far, you’re virtually certain it’s a gun. You stand completely still as your heart pounds and your mind races. Then the man speaks to you.
“Stay right there. Don’t try nothin’,” he says. “No one has to get hurt.”
You nod but say nothing. Your strong hand holds a large coffee cup and, regardless of what happens, you desperately want to free your hand in case you have to go for your gun. Then the man turns his attention to the register, and reaching across the counter with his left hand, he methodically starts grabbing bills from the open cash drawer, putting the money in the messenger bag, even as his right hand stays inside it, wrapped around … whatever he’s holding.
Scenario 2. The clerk has said nothing but has stood virtually frozen in place, just a yard from the cash drawer, eyes on the large man and the messenger bag. The clerk’s hands have been at his side, but you notice his right hand moving toward his back. You look at the clerk with a determined stare, as if to say, “Stay cool, man. Don’t try to be a hero.”
The large man finishes cleaning out the cash drawer and then speaks to the clerk.
“Get me some smokes,” he says.
Then the large man looks directly at you.
“Don’t try nothin’. Stay there,” he orders.
The clerk turns around and reaches for the packs of cigarettes lining the area behind him. He grabs two packs and holds them out to the man who takes them with his left hand and puts them in his messenger bag. At this point, the man brings his right hand out of the messenger bag. He’s holding a large semiautomatic pistol, which he points at the clerk and then at you, in quick sweeping motions, as he begins walking backward toward the door.
Scenario 3. You’ve seen replica BB guns before and you’ve seen more than enough news reports where thieves have used a BB gun in a robbery or hold-up. The guns are shiny black plastic. Often the would-be robber removes or colors the orange safety marker on the end of the barrel black in an obvious attempt to disguise the fact that the gun isn’t real. But replicas they are, and most of them are very good ones, matching the exact dimensions of the real guns they are intended to replicate. The gun in the large man’s hands looks real but not quite real, and you simply can’t be sure as he continues swinging it back and forth, pointing it at you and then the clerk as he walks backward out the gas station door.
After he exits the gas station, he gets into the passenger side of a waiting late-model coupe, which speeds off before you or anyone else can see the license plate. You make a mental note of the make and model of the car and its general direction when it left the gas station parking lot, while the store clerk dials 911.
In what way would any of the three situations have had 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.