It’s a he said, she said story at this point. Protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, claim that the owner of a local pizzeria pulled a gun on them last Thursday during a demonstration near the restaurant.
Yet, the owner of the pizza place, Faraci’s Pizza, and his wife say they didn’t brandish the firearm but grabbed it for personal protection out of plain sight and the only reason why the protestors noticed the firearm was because of the night vision camera they had brought with them.
“They had a night vision camera, and when he went over and picked up the gun and put in his pocket, a man shouted ‘He’s pointing a gun at protesters,” said Dawn Marshall of her husband Jim.
However, Dr. Henry Logan, a local pastor who was there during the protest, said the gun owner stood in the store’s main window with a gun in his hand.
“They’re not going to bother your business, just stay calm and let them do what they’re going to do and they’ll be in and out,” said Logan. “Showing the gun kind of excited things almost like he wanted a confrontation.”
Who is telling the truth? It’s difficult to say, but it should be noted that police said that no charges were filed against the Marshalls because no protestor would sign a witness statement. That doesn’t mean the protestors are lying, but it does give one pause.
Putting the he said/she said debate aside, the real issue this story raises is whether it’s ever a good idea to pull a firearm on a large crowd of people. Unless one is in imminent danger, fearing great bodily injury or death, it’s probably never a good idea to draw down on a large crowd of people. There’s too much that can go wrong. It can incite the crowd, as the pastor mentioned. It can alert anyone in the crowd who may also be armed that one is armed, putting one at a distinct disadvantage. It can make an already tense situation even worse.
Instead of pulling the firearm, the optimal response is to call the authorities, and while one is awaiting their arrival one should attempt to avoid the crowd altogether or to de-escalate the situation by communicating with the leaders of the protest in a respectful manner (There were complaints from witnesses that the pizza owner used racial slurs. Never a good idea). Talk it out. There are very few times in life when sober and reasoned dialogue can’t solve the problem. The gun should always be the last resort.