Ep. 45 Should I Shoot? Date Night Goes Wrong

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:

It’s been a while since you and your significant other have been out on an honest-to-goodness date. While the last couple “dates” at least had some element of eating out, you ended up going to the big-box home supply store to pick up things you needed for the house. Which means there was house stuff to do when you got home. Which for those nights pretty much deflated date night and turned it into something not very romantic. But tonight’s different. No house projects are calling and you two are thinking about the menu at your favorite restaurant and then coffee and dessert at the local coffee house.

You’ve had your concealed carry permit for more than 10 years now, you carry regularly and your significant other is used to your about-to-leave-the-house routine: You chamber a round in your single-stack 9, carefully holster it and then carefully insert the holstered gun inside your waistband at 4 o’clock. Then, a spare magazine goes in magazine holster attached to your gun belt on your weak side.

After a short drive into town, you’re both sitting at a table in a small but popular restaurant, looking over the menu. Since you’re big on situational awareness, you’re not only looking over the menu, trying to decide what to order, you’re also looking over the menu at the other patrons in the restaurant. You’ve gotten good at spotting other people who might be carrying concealed — every now and again a pistol stock prints behind a shirt — and generally keeping an eye on things. Your significant other has picked up on this too, and at times, can spot a DLR (“doesn’t look right”) or even a concealed carry purse. You’re not paranoid, but you also generally pick a seat and table that gives you a view of the exits and most of the people in the room.

Thankfully, dinner is quite enjoyable and there’s no cause for any kind of alarm, let alone defensive action. So, it’s on to the local coffee house — just a short walk up the street — which specializes in homemade cheesecake and hand-crafted coffees. The coffee house is jammed with patrons who are standing or sitting on a lot of “vintage” furniture and crowding the exits front and rear. You’ve been in this local coffee house many times and, while it’s great dessert and coffee, from a tactical or defensive standpoint, it’s a nightmare. Narrow entries and exits, a single aisle down the middle with hardly any room, and people everywhere. You and your significant other order at the counter and get a table. You get a seat with your back to the wall — a small but helpful point of relief for you.

This part of your date night is going well too, when you notice a couple walk in. Nothing really catches your attention about this couple except that the man has a somewhat nervous look on his face and you immediately notice he’s constantly tugging at his white, straight-hemmed, untucked shirt, sort of pulling it down around his waist. Except it’s not riding up in any way. You watch them walk through the coffee house. The man stands up straighter than most and continues tugging at his shirt, usually with the thumbs and index fingers of both hands, at 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock. They look like a nice enough couple and, thinking the best, you figure he has a concealed pistol license and is probably carrying a gun. A good guy. But you keep an eye on him nonetheless.

At some point, you forget about the other couple and finish your dessert and coffee, enjoying the date night and promising yourself you’ll do this again soon. You and your significant other leave the coffee house, strolling out on the sidewalk where you immediately bump into some friends and strike up a conversation. After a few minutes of chatting, the couple you noticed earlier comes out of the coffee house. They turn away from you and your group, walking arm in arm. And that’s when you see the clear outline of a full-size pistol in the small of the man’s back. Her arm around him has pressed his shirt against his back, causing the gun to print. He goes for another tug with the hand not around her but to no avail. The gun still prints clearly. And he continues walking very erect, trying to give the shirt as much slack as possible. You smirk, grateful to know others are carrying but hoping the man can improve on his concealment methods.

As the couple walks away, arm in arm, their path runs headlong into four young men who, by their appearance, look like typical high school kids. The kids split into twos as the couple passes between them. Suddenly, one kid on the man’s side sucker punches the man in the back of the head while the other kid on the man’s side swings a kick at the man’s shins. Their strength and timing is well-calculated; the man doesn’t have a chance. He goes sprawling forward, collapsing on the ground, holding his head with both hands. At the same time, the other two kids on the woman’s side have also acted: One kid pushes the woman toward the man as he is falling while the other kid grabs her purse, ripping it from her arm. The woman trips over the man and crashes to the ground with him. Two of the kids take off running down the street. The other two (one with the stolen purse) take off running up the street, toward you.

Should I Shoot?

Scenario 1. Your friends hear the commotion, but you see it and hear it. They turn and look at what you’re looking at. For a moment, you’re all stunned, watching what looks like a common purse-snatching in progress. Except it all seems to be going in slow motion. Two of the kids are running right toward your group. Angered by their actions, not sure what to do but wanting to help, you instinctively pull your friends away from the path of the two thieves and, at just the right moment, you swing a kick at the leg of the kid with the purse. Your foot connects with his ankle, causing it to move behind his other leg while he’s in full stride, effectively tripping him. He screams and falls in a sprawl to the ground about 5 feet from you, dropping the purse, which causes its contents to spill out. Scraped and bruised, he starts to pick himself up while he looks back at you with shock and anger in his eyes. On the ground in front of him are some of the contents of the stolen purse, including a wallet, some change, a smartphone and a holstered revolver. The other kid continues running.

Scenario 2. You hear a shout from behind you, “Stop right there!” The kid in front of you looks past you and a look of horror crosses his face. You freeze, thinking the voice behind you might be a police officer, but you’re also watching the kid’s hands and the holstered revolver on the ground. The kid doesn’t seem to have noticed it … yet. You turn your head slightly and, out of your peripheral vision, you see that the man who was attacked is on his feet, limping toward you, gun in hand. You’re pretty sure he’s not coming for you, but who knows what the man is assuming at this point. Your friends are melting away from the path of the man … but you’re directly in his path. At this point, the kid makes his move, lunging in the direction opposite the man to make a run for it, leaving the purse and all its contents behind. The man tries to chase the kid but the pain in his leg and head is too great. Instead, he looks down at the purse, sees the holstered revolver and then looks directly at you.

Scenario 3. The commotion has drawn a crowd and the man seems dazed. Your mind is racing, but you calmly say, “I’m here to help, buddy. Can you put your gun away?” The man seems to gather his wits quickly, realizing you’re not a threat and clumsily holsters his gun in the small of his back, pulling his shirt over it.

“This is your friend’s purse,” you say, gesturing toward it.

The man sees the holstered revolver on the ground and immediately stoops down to collect it and the rest of the belongings. You stoop down with him and ask to help him again. He rubs his head, nods and then walks over to where the woman is, to see if she’s OK. She’s now sitting on a bench and several people are with her, helping her treat a nasty scrape on her knee and elbow and a cut over her eye. You carefully place the holstered revolver and other items back in the purse and walk them over to the couple. Across the street, two police officers on bicycles notice the commotion and crowd and ride over to check out the situation. You start thinking through everything that’s happened, reviewing details and wondering whether it was wise to intervene like you did. The police officers roll up.

“What’s going on here? Is everybody OK?” they ask.

In what way would Scenario 1 or 2 have to change in order for you to be justified in drawing your gun and shooting? What if, in Scenario 3, any of the four kids showed up at the scene while you and the police officers were all there?

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.

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  • Fake Ensign Chekov March 10, 2017, 3:56 pm

    I haven’t read all of this series. Of the ones I read, I don’t recall one that would have made me feel justified in using deadly force or even threatening deadly force.

    I must be missing something. Why would I want to go to my maker with the death of two amateur 484PC /211PC artists on my conscious? Cops either come with no conscience or have it conditioned out of them. Let them deal with the grief of shooting someone over nothing.

    • Fake Ensign Chekov March 10, 2017, 8:29 pm

      Can’t spell “conscience” sorry about that.

  • cartmanea March 10, 2017, 11:40 am

    I don’t get the new “Scenario” layout. These are not 3 scenarios, but rather 3 parts of one scenario. If you’re trying to change it up, at least do it in a way that makes sense.

  • Irondoor91 March 10, 2017, 10:30 am

    The only persons in these scenarios (as presented and without any additional “but if’s) who are justified in using deadly force are the man and wife when they were under attack. Don’t shoot attackers who are running away. They did not appear to be armed. Don’t trip attackers who are running away. In fact, it could have turned out to be a major problem (and I will throw in a “but if” here) if the kid had gone for the gun that fell out of the purse. It fell out of the purse because you tripped the guy running away. There are several innocent people there and any of them could have been wounded or killed if the lead had started flying. There is no upside in it. The stolen stuff can be replaced. The cops may catch them when they try to sell the stuff or use the credit cards.

  • Will Drider March 8, 2017, 1:11 am

    If your chambering a round before you leave I hope its because your making a switch from your home carry gun to your Road carry gun!

    #1. If the initial attack continued and your prception of BGs force was beyond the GGS current caability to defend against it, jou would be justified to use appropriate force to stop it.
    #2. We don’t know if GG has regained his senses yet. His gun in hand is a natural defense move especially if he still feels vulnerable and is also trying to catch some of the BGs. We don’t know if he thinks your friend/foe or neutral or what he thinks a safe is! GG is a threat until you know he comrehends good from evil. At this point you just get out of the potential line of fire. You don’t dive for the purse gun as GG might think your going to grab and run making you a target. I would focus on the sprawling BG near the loose holsterd gun. If he goes for it I would draw on him.
    #3. If a BG showed up in thd crowd I would tell my wife to move to cover then discretely tell an officer I positively ID thug attacker, loc and description. Rejoin wife till arrest is made.

    • mark March 10, 2017, 10:50 am

      Will…seems like a good answer(s)…at no point do any show a “shoot” scenario

    • Jim Cargill March 11, 2017, 3:28 am

      Well, he did not ask, “When can you use appropriate force?” He asked “When can you shoot”. If the BG’s stayed on to continue the attack on the victims, and IF it appeared the attack could result in serious injury or death, a shooting may, or MAY NOT be found justifiable by a jury. If the BG on the ground moved for the holstered weapon, and brought it to bear upon any person, there is justification to shoot. If the BG on the ground only reaches toward the weapon, but does not secure it, there is no justification for shooting. The jurisdiction of the incident will involve many unknown factors. However, the bottom line ALL law-abiding citizens who carry must live by is: Shooting is only justified if, and when, an attacker has the means, and the obvious intent, to inflict serious bodily injury, or death, upon a victim, AND if there is no other way to prevent such injury or death.

      • Ned Harrison April 14, 2017, 1:04 pm

        “Shooting is only justified if, and when, an attacker has the means, and the obvious intent, to inflict serious bodily injury, or death, upon a victim, AND if there is no other way to prevent such injury or death.”
        Well, it varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some, brandishing is considered enough for intent. In others, there is no duty to retreat, or find another means if possible. Castle doctrine and “stand your ground” may also apply. It’s worth looking up, especially if you’re traveling.

        But yeah, They must present a clear and immediate threat. Trash-talking doesn’t count, for instance. And fleeing means put it up; you’re done.

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