The Most Heavily Armed Man in the Produce Section

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In the past year, a number of violent crimes have hit the news involving grocery stores. In each, you can draw a lesson in personal protection.

In January, two men burst into a supermarket in Milwaukee with the intent to rob it. One of the alleged robbers was waving a shotgun around and acting in a threatening manner. He received gunfire from a CCW holder that wounded and disarmed him. The suspects were taken into custody and Milwaukee police suspect them in a string of robberies in the area. The CCW-holding citizen in most cases would have been well within reason to simply take a good and accurate description of the suspects and allowed them to leave. Property crimes, especially on third parties where you are an observer, present a lot of potential liability that is better off avoided. However, if at any time the citizen felt their life or the lives of others were threatened, the decision to act was valid.

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In the small arts community of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, two homeless men under 35 assaulted a 61-year-old grandmother in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart super store. Aiming to steal her purse, the two came face to face with the woman's 380 auto and decided to look for easier prey. There is a school of thought that she should have just handed over the purse and walked away. This is a valid concept, as no property is worth either killing or dying over. However, at what point do you refuse to be a victim? What would have happened had the grandmother not been armed? Would it have stopped as a property crime or would it have moved to kidnapping or worse? Of course, there is always the possibility that the would-be muggers could have stripped her firearm away but something tells me she would have at least put up a fight.

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Then there is an active shooter. Someone who is bent on doing just as much damage as they can get away with, usually due to some implied wrong done to them by society. A good example of an active shooter is Charles Whitman, who climbed the University of Texas tower in Austin and shot 16 people until rushed by police an armed civilian. However, an active shooter is not always armed with a firearm.

Just this month, an emotionally disturbed man entered a Smith's grocery store in Salt Lake City, Utah. He promptly took a knife from the shelf and just started stabbing people yelling, "You killed my people. You killed my people." An armed CCW holder produced his firearm and ordered the knife-wielding suspect to stop. He did and was taken into custody at the scene.

The CCW-holder's presence and presentation ended the assailant's threat and provided him with a moment of pause. This was accomplished without a single round fired and undoubtedly saved lives and prevented a possible hostage situation.

The implication of not carrying for the protection of yourself and those around you can be tragic. Remember to heed the old adage, 'it's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.'

Who can forget one of the most famous of grocery store shootings in recent years? At a Safeway in Tucson, Arizona, a 22-year-old mentally incompetent college student with a history of emotional issues opened fire on a crowd of outside the store's entrance. In 33 shots, he killed six including a federal judge and a 9-year old girl. He also wounded 13 including US Representative Gabrielle Gifford. While performing a botched magazine exchange, the shooter was tackled by a 74-year old retired Army colonel, among others, and subdued. While you cannot fault the bravery of the unarmed crowd that rushed the gunman, you likewise cannot help but wonder if a CCW practitioner in that crowd may have stopped the carnage earlier.

With each of these instances, a lesson is learned. A lesson is taught. What you do with that knowledge is up to you.

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May 5, 2012  •  02:18 PM
Great article. I just took a defensive course from the government, most of which involved crouching behind objects. Not once was the option of being armed and resisting covered.
May 8, 2012  •  05:39 PM
Sounds more like passive than defensive to me. Good way to get you killed. Ask any soldier where is his defensive training he was taught to hide. Taking cover until the spray has subsided is one thing, but if you are intent on sending a round in my direction be sure that round is well placed and fatal because I will return the favor and am not likely to miss all 30 times!
June 22, 2012  •  11:47 AM
Nice article Chris. We must always keep in mind that we do not know the mind of the attacker or how committed he/she is to the crime underway. Would they just take property and leave or would they want to eliminate potential witnesses? Are they going to take the purse and flee or are they going to cut the victims throat so she can not call for help or police as they leave? The person committing the crime is already showing blatant disregard for the rights and safety of those around them so it would always be my choice to respond with fear for my own life and of those innocents around me. This means that my brain would say deadly force is authorized and an appropriate response needs to immediately be put into action. This would especially apply if I observe any kind of weapon or multiple attackers. Maybe they do not have a weapon or their intent is only to rob. Should I stake my life or the life of others on a perception of the intent of the bad guy? I think not.
August 20, 2012  •  06:54 PM
Great article indeed. What gets me with these '"what if..." hindsight authorities' is the initial act had saved lives. Period. To further the 'what if' as if it is a courtroom of 'philosophical musings and second-guessings,' is just an exercise in verbal masturbation. Just be grateful that the CCW holders were responsbile citizens capable of making a proper judgment call that averted tragedy.