It’s too Crowded to Shoot

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

It’s easy, when one starts carrying a gun, to think that pretty much any violent, dangerous situation can be solved with that gun. After all, it worked for the heroes in the old westerns, and although times have changed, people haven’t, right?

Okay, maybe you never watched westerns; but you’ve probably watched something on television or in the movies where the good guy uses violence to solve their problems, even if they don’t use guns. I’m a fan of the Marvel movies and the heroes there are always punching or shooting their way out of every situation. There’s just one thing… I’m sure that if I tried the same thing, I’d end up in jail.

While I do carry a pistol and have used that to stop crimes; thank God, I’ve never had to fire a shot in anger. In all of those cases, just the fact that I was armed was enough to cause the criminals to flee. Fortunately, most criminals who carry guns only use them for show, to intimidate their intended victims. They don’t want to shoot anyone and they definitely don’t want to get into a shootout.

But we’ve all seen the rise of mass shootings in our country, many of which have taken place in schools and other “gun free” zones. Those shooters are considerably different than other criminals, in that they do intend to shoot and they don’t expect to survive the encounter. That makes them much more dangerous than the average stickup artist.

I know many a gun owner who has talked about being in such a situation, wishing for the opportunity to be the one to take one of those mass shooters down, like Elishsha Dicken did in the Greenwood Park Mall shooting just recently. He was apparently the right person, in the right place, at the right time, with the right training to do what had to be done. That has earned him a place in Valhalla as a hero.

Considering that the shooter selected a Saturday to shoot up that mall, Dicken took a real chance in engaging him. Had his shots not gone true, he could very easily have shot and even killed an innocent bystander. If that had happened, he would be being held under charges for murder, rather than being hailed as a hero.

But Dicken’s tactics were sound and he keep his cool. Starting from about 30 yards away, he carefully moved closer to the shooter, telling people behind him to clear the area. He didn’t shoot wildly and apparently waited until he was close enough to be sure of his shots to shoot at all. Because of that, he succeeded in his mission, taking out the shooter before he could do much more damage. It’s the classic case of a good guy with a gun.

But not all situations work out that way.

Back in 2012, there was a mass shooting at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, during the Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises.” Twelve people died in that shooting, before the shooter fled the scene. From first accounts, it would seem that there was nobody there who was able to stop him.

But that’s not the whole story. There was, in fact, a man in that audience with a concealed carry license, who was carrying that night. Yet, even though he was there and armed, he made no attempt to confront the shooter. Rather, if I remember correctly, he covered his girlfriend with his own body, waiting for the shooting to stop.

So, if that man was armed, why didn’t he shoot?

According to reports, the armed man evaluated the situation in the crowded theatre, which included people running back and forth across his sight line. From his vantage point, shooting looked too risky, both because it was difficult to make out the shooter, who was wearing tactical clothing, in the dark theatre, and because there was too much of a chance of hitting an innocent bystander.

Many would say that this man’s actions were wrong; because he didn’t take the chance to get the shooter. Bringing the potential risk of hitting an innocent bystander up just gets a response of “That’s a risk he should have been willing to take.” But I’m not so sure about that. What would those people have said if he had inadvertently hit someone just trying to run? Would he have been a hero? Would they dismiss that as irrelevant or would they condemn him as a murderer?

The law would definitely condemn him, making the idea of taking that chance something very risky. With that being part of the consideration, he did the best he could, protecting his girlfriend, literally with his own body.

Yes, it’s nice to be the hero; but not at the price of killing an innocent bystander. Sometimes, it’s just too crowded to be sure of getting that good shot. When that’s the case, we need to concentrate on surviving, not being a hero.

There’s much more to defending ourselves and our families than just knowing how to shoot; knowing when to shoot is just as important. Like keeping our powder dry and our survival gear close at hand, knowing when to shoot will help us survive the encounter.

Dr. Rich

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