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.
- Ep. 1 Should I Shoot? When Lethal Force Can Be Used
- Ep. 2 Should I Shoot? Why You Need a Lawyer Now
- Ep. 3 Should I Shoot? ‘What Gun Should I Get?’
- Ep. 4 Should I Shoot? Probable Cause
- Ep. 5 Should I Shoot? What If the Crook has a Gun Pointed at the Clerk?
- Ep. 6 Should I Shoot? What Gun Should I Get Part II
- Ep. 7 Should I Shoot? The Fleeing Suspect And the Good (But Dead) Samaritan
Years ago, my FTO (field training officer) would quiz me throughout my shifts and ask me all kinds of questions. The one question I’ve never forgotten and ask myself quite often is, “Where is the line in the sand?” Will I disobey a direct order to disengage a pursuit of a vehicle in which a child has been abducted? Will I shoot the same person in the back as they flee from me with the child as I lay on the ground with a blown-out knee? Every day, we would play the “what if?” game and work on every possible angle we could come up with.
It’s been a long time since I was in Mike’s car, but I still play the “what if?” game to see where my line in the sand is on all types of “Oh *&^%”-type life events. I quiz my wife, kids and students every chance I get — “If you find yourself (fill in the blank), what is your plan? What is your secondary plan? Oh, I’m not done. What’s your third plan?”
One of the nightmare scenarios I think of a lot is what I would do if an attack occurred while I’m with my family. I’ve already made up my mind that if I’m carjacked at the gas station (weapon seen) and I’m alone and not going to be taken in the vehicle, the truck is his. It’s just a truck and insurance will cover it. I’m not going to use deadly force to fight for a 2006 pickup.
If the bad guy says he’s taking me, though, I’ve already drawn the line in the sand. I’ve seen the end result of a carjacking/kidnapping and it’s a horror I won’t ever forget. The same applies if my family is in the truck. He’s not getting them, and I will fight at a level the crook never dreamed existed — I will not let him take my family.
What if the above happened and you weren’t armed because you decided to take a day off from concealed carry? The bad guys don’t take a day off and neither should you.
Another nightmare is the active shooter/rapid mass murderer killing everyone he sees in the mall while I’m there with my family. In my mind, I have to protect my family at all costs. My primary objective is to get them out of the immediate area. If we can get out of the structure, that would be my first choice.
If I couldn’t evacuate my family, I would search for the best cover or concealment I could find. It might be a storeroom in the back of a store or a maintenance closet. I carry a small revolver as a backup to my primary concealed carry pistol. It’s a habit I started back in my cop days, and I continue to do so today. In this type of scenario, I’d be giving it to my wife or one of my kids. Yes, they all can shoot. Two of us can make for a better defense than just one.
Would I go hunting for the bad guys after I got my family to safety? That’s a question I ask myself a lot, and the more I ask it, the more I decide it depends on all kinds of factors. That’s not a cop-out, either. I would have to be very confident I had them secured where no one would be able to get them. We all bring different training and experience to the table. The decisions we make will all be different.
My line in the sand if I am solo is one I’ve considered a thousand times or so. I couldn’t live with myself if I ran to safety and let others get slaughtered. Doing everything possible to stop the threat is probably not the best choice in that scenario were I simply aiming to make it to rocking chair age, but that’s my choice.
I don’t plan on charging the machine guns like Audie Murphy, though. I’d go into hunt mode and use sound tactics to put the shooter(s) under duress. By this, I mean using proper movement and accurate fire to let them know they have resistance and it’s not the unopposed slaughter they’d hoped for. In most active shooter events, the bad guys beat feet or kill themselves when the good guys arrive.
The new breed of terrorist attack is very well planned and usually has multiple shooters who are extremely well armed. The last one was about an hour from where I live. Yes, ISIS is here despite what the politicians are telling us. I wish I had all the answers for every possible scenario, but no one has those answers and no one can tell you what to do. The decisions we make need to be based on our level of training and the info we can gather in a very short amount of time to formulate a plan.
What’s your nightmare? And what have you done to prepare for it?
For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.