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There have been two national news shooting incidents that have resonated with me in a profound way. The first was the shooting at Virginia Tech. That shooting impacted me so strongly because I had been on that campus and in that building myself on several occasions as a recruiter for my company and as a parent of a graduate studies student. It was hard for me to not picture myself there during the incident.

The mall shootings and the church shootings had my attention, but for some reason did not grab me enough to get me to visualize my presence and to analyze what I would/should do in these circumstances except superficially. Now comes the movie theater shooting and for reasons not completely understood by me, it has occupied my thinking. Perhaps because theater attendance is one of the pleasures my wife and I try to indulge at least once a month.

Several questions come to mind. What do you think?
  • What would you do as a third party if you were armed?
  • Would you be inclined to use deadly force?
  • Would you attempt to hold the shooter at gun point?
  • Would you try to escort the shooter from the premises?
  • Would you try to empty the theater?
 
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There's a concealed carry forum for my state that has a section on real life stories of how either carrying or home defense was used. Thankfully most are prevention stories or close calls.

When reading the accounts, I ask similar questions about what would I have done. These recent examples Howard listed have all been in what you would think are safe public places. I'm in Utah where we had that shooting in 2007 at the Trolley Square mall in Salt Lake City. Every time I drive past it or go there I remember the video footage and wonder what I would have done.

I think a person could drive themself crazy trying to think of all the different scenario's they may be faced with. Something that can help is to have a mental checklist of your own basic "rules of engagement" so to speak, and ask yourself how you would apply them wherever you're at.

Define your abilities and limitations as a kind of "Go" or No-Go" test. That may be something like if I can't hit anything past 10 yards under pressure and I see a threat greater than 10 yards I'm not going to shoot, so I better figure something else out to get closer or get cover. Another is would you defend someone else against an attack. Maybe you're comfortable doing so, maybe you're not, maybe if it's family but not a stranger.

The important thing is to know what you're comfortable with because you're the one who's going to have to live with the consequences. It's hard standing by and doing nothing when someone needs help, but like the saying goes with Police, Fire and EMS, my priority is the safety of myself, my partner then the public. Sometimes bad things happen and there's nothing we can do about it, but when we can, we do so having full confidence in our ability to get the job done.
 

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We had a mall shooting (gang related) just last week in South Center Mall here in south Seattle.

As luck would have it a very good friend (and shooting partner) was right behind the perp when he opened fire. When his reactions allowed, he reached for the grip of his gun. By the time he got it all together, the shooter was rapidly moving away with his back to him.

The perp ran upstairs in the mall where, as things so happened, an off duty policewoman was standing. She could do nothing because she was unarmed.

The perp was later rounded up.

It got me thinking about the situation and I asked a LEO friend if my armed friend could have legally shot the perp in the back, had he been moving away at a slower rate and my friend was able to move after him.

His answer was "absolutely - no court would have brought charges." We discussed it at length. The idea was that no one could know that the perp was not going to shoot many more people in the mall. He could have and should have been stopped by any legally armed citizen. At least those were my LEO friend's opionions, based on his understanding of the law.

I'm wondering if there is a website or something where such things are routinely discussed and we could get our heads around what we can and cannot and should and shouldnot do in various cases.

I'm talking about "expert" opionions and their insight into the examples - not the ruminations of people like most of us as we converse in forums like this one. You know what they say about opionions. Uninformed opionions only muddy the water for us all.

It would be very helpful, indeed, to be enlightened by those who would really know the law and how it applies in the various shooting examples studied.
 

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My observations: When what if questions are asked of a lawyer. There is never any clear answers. It all depends on the details of the encounter being considered. The local applicable laws and what the jury would think subject to the skilled persuasions of the prosecutor. I do not believe there are any clear answers to these "what if" scenario questions.
 

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I just finished my CCW class for New Mexico on Saturday. I asked a similar question. Basically, if a person has threatened death or grave bodily harm on someone, then you have the right to defend you or that person. I asked if it was okay to shoot someone in the back in your house. "No" was the answer. What if a person was heading up with a knife or a gun up your stairs towards your kids' rooms? "Yes" because your kids are being threatened with death or grave bodily harm. You can shoot then in the back. The instructor is a LEO.


Another interesting thing: At what distance can you shoot someone that is threatening you with a knife? Twenty-five feet OR MORE. He said that if they ran at you, you can't get your gun out fast enough. He told us to try it with a friend who has paint on a stick or something.
 
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