Ep. 10 Should I Shoot? Restaurant Etiquette

Madrid, Spain - October 21, 2012: People eat at Mercado San Miguel on October 21, 2012 in Madrid. According to Tripadvisor, it is the 2nd top shopping destination in Madrid.

Editor’s Note: The following is a post from Sammy Reese, a former Marine Corps Artillery Officer and retired police officer from California. He is a part-time range master for the police department he retired from as well as a life-long martial artist and combatives coach.

Check out the last five episodes in this series:

Hopefully, if you are reading this, you already know how to behave in a restaurant. What I’m talking about in terms of etiquette is what your plan is when something goes bad while you are seated in a booth or table with your family. By going bad, I’m talking a take-over type robbery where the suspect or suspects want more than just the cash in the register – they want the patrons’ watches, wallets, and everything else. On the extreme end of bad, a nut off his meds decides to start shooting patrons or hacking on them with a machete. If you are thinking you only go to restaurants in nice neighborhoods and this won’t happen to you, my mission here is to get you thinking about what would happen if it did and what your plans are if it does.


Start with the basic decision of where you should sit. You might not have your choice of table, but you can make sure you sit where you can get the best view of the front door and as much of the establishment as possible. I know it sounds cliché, but sitting so you don’t have your back to the door isn’t just a movie line, it’s common sense. If you can see the bad guys out the front window of the establishment gearing up, you might have time to evacuate your family before they make it inside. Trust your gut. If something looks wrong, get out and reevaluate.

Do you know where the exits are? Sure, there are signs over the doors, but can you get out through the kitchen if need be? Where is your closest exit and a backup if the first option is blocked? Can you throw a chair through a window? If you need your concealed weapon, can you draw it from the position in which you’re seated? This one can be practiced in the comforts of your own home and done with live-fire on the range. Have you talked to you family about what to do if “X” happens? I trained my kids when they were very little to follow my instructions without hesitation. If I told them to get down on the floor, they did it.


If you find yourself in the middle of the take-over robbery, what’s your plan of action or non-action? If all the robbers want is my money, my old beat-up G Shock and the engagement ring I gave my wife are theirs — insurance will cover the loss.

What’s the plan if it goes sideways and they start shooting people? I’ve said it before: I can’t tell you what to do. I can, however, ask whether you’ve practiced drawing and shooting from the seated position so you know what your capabilities and limitations are? Are you prepared to take the shot? Can you safely evacuate your family from the building? Or is the floor under the table the best option so you can focus on employing deadly force?

I highly recommend force-on-force training with Simunitions if you can find a facility at which to train. I’ve learned more from running scenarios based on “what if?” questions and getting stung by paint pellets than any other form of training.

Summertime is here and that means a lot of family time and hopefully some vacation time, too. Bad things can happen anywhere at any time, not just restaurants. Any place people congregate is just as much a target as a secluded parking garage or back alley. They both have their dangers, and we should prepare for every environment we might possibly find ourselves in. If the motivation is robbery, the more victims in one place, the higher the yield. If the motivation is mass murder, we already know anywhere from schools to malls can be targets.

Having thought through as many scenarios as possible makes you that much more prepared. Remember the primary mission is to keep your family safe.

For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Paul August 12, 2016, 3:55 pm

    We absolutely need well-trained, level-headed good Samaritans carrying concealed. Those words I used have critical meaning, and I often worry that too many ARE carrying who either don’t know the law, don’t know their weapon well enough, or are simply mentally unprepared to be of any use in a real “situation”. The world is coming to America, and they are coming with bad intentions. They won’t be obtain permits of any kind, and many have nothing to lose. I just hope that the good-intending CCW holders have regular planning meetings with themselves considering the extreme responsibility they have to themselves, and society. Things are going to get much worse in this country, and the police will rarely be there to stop the bad guys, in time.

  • fbtool August 12, 2016, 1:24 pm

    problem is most restaurants don’t allow C.C inside, so if the day comes, your helpless.

    • Paul August 12, 2016, 3:39 pm

      You have a CC permit, so if its concealed, how do they know? Law enforcement in plain clothes, ( I’m former) do not reveal their carry status to anyone other than other LEOs, so why should you? When to unholster is a huge decision, and the key is recognition ; situation awareness. All good lawmen are constantly playing the “what If” game in their head, just like every good pilot is always thinking, “where should I land…right now, if things turn to sh*t on me? You said it, “you’re helpless if you’re without a plan, and a weapon”. If you are a guy who is of the mind to be part of the solution, then know the problem ahead of time. If not, don’t carry a weapon, because you aren’t really prepared to use it effectively.

  • Kalashnikov Dude July 8, 2016, 11:55 pm

    About 1989 in Phoenix AZ. I was a 17 year old kid, with a super crappy job. Actually, I’d just started that hot summer day. When I say hot, I mean triple digits. So here I am walking up and down Camelback road on foot, carrying a briefcase, entering businesses and schmoozing with the office personal, attempting to leave for them a catalog and an order form for knick knacks, and children’s toys and such. With the idea that I would return in a weeks time to get the hopefully full order forms and fulfill the orders. All morning in the heat, wearing a button down, heavily starched collared shirt, a tie, and hard soled shoes. All for a shitty commission. About 2:30 PM I come across a Burger King. Like any red blooded American boy, I went in and ordered a 50 gallon refillable soda cup and a 99 cent Whopper. After filling my drink and proceeding to a chair/table, toward the back of the restaurant away from the larger part of the crowd, as I prefer to eat my processed meat and cool flowing liquid sugar with a minimum of drama. This day, it wasn’t to be. Instead, a Jerry curled, track suit, gold chain wearing gangbanger of the style that was common back in the day sauntered in through the street entrance. Apparently directly after entering, he took offense with a Hispanic fellow who looked like he just got to Phoenix traveling under the dashboard of some coyote’s Ford Granada, all the way from down south. The ganbanger was yelling at him complete with all the drama and expletives I was sure I had made a point of trying to avoid. The Hispanic didn’t even look like he understood a word of any of it. Then Mr ganbanger upped the anti. He pulled out what I knew to be a chrome Taurus 9mm pistol and began brandishing the thing in the general direction of that poor wet back. He was just frozen like a deer in headlights. Me? I wasn’t. See, what I noticed was that with the ambient light and the direction the barrel of that gun was aimed, I was quite able to see the round nosed, copper jacketed bullet chambered in that pistol. I was thinking he may be yelling at the wet back, but that fucking bullet is going to rip through my head, probably right between my eyes! That’s a lot for a poor kid just wanting to cool off a bit and eat his Whopper to digest. As it turns out, Mr ganbanger’s ire was as quick to leave as it was to show up. I had other things going on at that moment, so I couldn’t even hazard a guess at what might have transpired to calm that piece of shit down. Maybe it was one of those miracles folks are always talking about. At any rate, he “pantsed” his “gat” and walked out the same door, never to be seen again. OK, so long story short as they say, I have never left my home since, that I wasn’t packing some kind of firearm. At least one, most often two, and plenty of times a Rifle and plenty of mags and ammo. And that plan? The minute some fucker reaches for his, He’ll already be facing mine. The next choice is all his. Subject of course to any required changes in order to better defend myself, my loved ones, and the peace and order of my local Burger King. This is my natural right as an American and it is not open for debate with Obama, Hillary, or anyone else. On pain of pistol whipping and potentially death. That’s how it is for me. That’s how it’s gonna be for my kids and theirs. Unless the rest of you people let these dirt bags have their way. Wake up people! Tyranny is upon us! BTW, I placed more order forms that day than any employee in the short history of that company. The next day, I went back. They had some kind of jacked up pep rally where the company owners and leaders yelled and screamed about juice or something and then told everyone to shake their asses. The guy who hired me asked me why I seemed…..less than animated during the rally. I explained that the kind of jumping around and yelling simply was not my style. He told me he understood that I was more than capable at the job, but that I needed to help him motivate the others. I replied that perhaps if the others had motivation issues, they may not be a good fit. Then he said maybe I wasn’t a good fit. I said you know what? You’re right. I removed that hateful tie, and placed it on his desk as a remembrance of what might have been. Anyways, I sure as hell didn’t want it. I ripped the buttons off that shirt to a tolerable level, commensurate with the rising heat of that Phoenix summer day as I walked out, never to return.

    • barakeatshit July 13, 2016, 11:25 am

      haha You know, I think I worked for that same pyramid schemed company!
      The motivational “meeting” and “juice” rings my traumatizing bell. lol
      At any rate, I agree… I don’t leave home without my wallet, keys or gun(s)!
      Nice story btw… Too bad the wet back and piece of shit criminal ni***r didn’t take that outside, while you enjoyed your whopper.

  • jjt1 July 8, 2016, 3:26 pm

    All Good Thoughts, But until it’s there..? The more you train in real case (what if’s) the more you look, think, PLAN! I wish I could live blind, I just don’t know how. Let us hope some day

  • Larry July 8, 2016, 11:06 am

    In NM CCW classes, as well as in comments made by law enforcement, the line in the sand always seems to be “loss of property versus loss of life.” But in the restaurant scenario, if one of the perps takes your wife hostage on the way out the door, and you never see her again, you will have to live with your own inaction the rest of your life. Personally, I feel that protecting my family is part of my job description, and one of life’s highest callings, so I live by the adage “better to be judged by 12, than carried by 6.

  • Ron Stidham July 8, 2016, 5:30 am

    When in the fast food environment, I am usually the one left standing waiting for the food. My wife has already seated herself at a table, usually facing the door-I remind her of why my intentions are for her not to be in (my) seat. She always replies what if they come in while I’m not facing the door when it all goes bad. I see her point, and we talk about the what ifs on a fairly reasonable solution to this. She does not carry, she is a well crafted fighter. But her inpatients is going to get the best of her-us one of these days. In a perfect world, one doesn’t worry about these things. This isn’t a perfect world, being prepared is a must to survive the misgivings of others. My wife and I are in agreement that a good offense is the best defense. Being prepared for the worst isn’t a bad thing, but it wears on my mind. Being on alert is a hard thing to do, some people don’t understand how stressful it can be. Post traumatic stress is a very real thing, even for the civilian population. I carry concealed, don’t like the open carry option, in my opinion, that makes you the first target, not the first defender. Would I shoot in the midst of a restaurant full of patrons? Maybe, maybe not depending on the situation, are they after the register, is there a clear path to engage or escape? One never knows until it happens, should the SHTF. Be wise, be knowledgeable, be ready, be careful of others between the bad guy and your self, its a bad world out there, don’t get caught up in, I’m going to save the world today mentality. Train for the worst, expect the best, and have a good life while you still have one.

  • Will Drider July 6, 2016, 12:30 am

    Restaurant Multi BG event. Regardless of intent, they probably cased the place. They will need time to do what they planned to do. That means there will probably be a BG covering the rear exit for containment and he may be a sleeper until someone tries to go to the door. You must be ready to stop threats in your path to the exit AND any threat staged outside the door. Terrorist (s) or whack jobs might just start shooting as they approach targets, they don’t want to by-pass people that could thwart the plan. I don’t support stop the threat. I support shoot till the cranium is mush. They may have a explosive vest they could detonate even if down. Don’t worry about shooting and detonating a Vest, if you don’t get him he would pop it himself.
    Robbers interested in personal property will have to seperate in order to cover entrance and collect goods. Focus on the nearest Threat. BGs know they have a power advantage when only they have weapons. As soon as an opposing weapon is introduced, that power advantage is replaced with vulnerability. I have no problem firing the initial shot(s) when BGs are threatening with a weapon. Move, cover but conserve ammo! BGs may not know where shots came from! There is no loyalty among theives. When opposing fire is imposed they routinely flee if an exit is available. I think it is rare that a Robbery Crew would try and “Advance toward a Good Guy with a gun”. When you take down a threat, in your path or close proximity: get his weapon if possible. Make sure its on the ground when safe to do so don’t be a LE target, secure your CCW.

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