When You Walk in on It

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Perhaps one of the worst situations that any of us could possibly walk in on is an existing active shooter situation. That’s actually a whole lot worse than having one develop with us in the middle of it.  About the only thing that could make it worse, is if there are two different shooters exchanging gunfire. Talk about confusion; how do you figure out what’s what and who’s who?

We’re supposed to be the good guys. That’s important. No matter what; we need to make sure that we stay good guys. We must always stay on the right side of the law, even if we find ourselves in a situation where we don’t necessarily agree with the law. We can’t expect the protections the law offers us for using deadly force in self defense, unless we are making sure that everything we do is in agreement with the law.

Ok, so where am I going with this?

We all know that shooting an innocent bystander is a no-no. That’s obvious. But here’s the question – How do you know who the innocent bystanders are? That’s usually pretty easy if a criminal takes action in your presence; but what if that’s not the situation. What if something else happens?

There are a lot of situations where you might not be able to readily tell who the good guys are and who are the bad guys. Take gang warfare, for example. Granted, in such a situation we could easily say there are no “good guys” and they are all bad guys. Even so, that doesn’t give us a right to shoot them, no matter how badly they might deserve it.

What about domestic violence? The tendency is to say that the man is the bad guy and to protect the woman. But what if she’s flipped out and is trying to kill her husband? What if all he’s trying to do is defend himself? Without knowing the players and what led up to the shooting, there’s no way to tell.

How about this one, you walk into a store and two shoppers are armed. As you watch, one shoots another, clearly killing them, and then holsters his gun. How do you tell which one is the bad guy? Is the shooter a criminal or were they someone with a concealed carry licenses, stopping a criminal? How do you tell?

The police take the basic stance that anyone shooting is a potential bad guy and will treat them as such, up until they have evidence otherwise. That means they will assume you are a bad guy as well, if you are standing there with a gun in your hand. Until they have proof otherwise, they can’t safely assume anything else. To do so would put themselves and everyone else in danger.

That’s actually a pretty good stance for us to take as well. But remember, the police might get a little more leeway in an investigation than you and I would. They are authorized to use deadly force in some situations where we aren’t. We can’t take that privilege, but must limit ourselves to what the law allows us to do.

Even that can be a bit tricky. Some states, like the one I live in, allow the use of deadly force in the defense of others, not only in self-defense. That means I can legally walk in on a situation and defend a total stranger. For that matter, my state allows me to walk in on a situation and use deadly force to defend someone else’s property; not that I can see myself shooting someone over a television set.

But here’s the problem… how do I know that I’m actually defending someone or their property, if I walk in on a situation? How do I know that I’m operating within the limits of the law?

That’s the risk we take and if I have to say it, that’s why we should be slow to get involved in someone else’s situation. Yes, we all want to be the hero. I want that too. But there are times when we might not be able to be that hero. That’s especially true if we aren’t absolutely sure that we know what the situation is. We have to take the time to figure that out, before we take any action.

Again, following the lead of the police is good in this case. Their first action, on walking into any dangerous situation, is going to try to be stabilizing the situation; preferably without firing a shot. That should be our goal as well. Shooting should only be reserved for situations where we need to shoot in order to defend life; anything less just isn’t enough. But even then, be careful.  If you’re not sure, don’t fire. A license to carry doesn’t make you 007. Still, we need to be ready. That’s why I always say – keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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