More on The Wal-Mart Encounter
I frequently don't read comments on blogs other than my own, so I figure possibly others may not as well. Quite a few of the questions regarding this encounter were pertinent and relevant. I tried to answer honestly and to the point, but I decided to make another blog post based on some of those questions, and cut & paste and elaborate on my answers a bit. My answers may not be right for everyone, but they are right for me.
Thank you to all who commented. You make me think. You make us all think.
Two questions: Did you knock over the cart so it could not be rolled/pushed clear? Also, did you have a talk with your daughter to explain the dynamics of the situation, especially after realizing the focus of the impending attack was the gameboy?
The cart was upright but jammed between the SUVs. At the moment, I felt the need to get my hand on my sidearm and confront the fellow coming up behind, where I was unprotected. The cart gave me just a little protection to the rear, where I couldn't be approached without noise. I suspect the guy blocked by the cart gave up the attack first, or at least simultaneously with the other.
I did talk to my daughter about it afterwards. I pointed out that some people will do bad things to take what she has, and it is best to avoid them. If they can't be avoided, defend yourself.
This morning, when I told her I blogged about it, she remembered the experience. Her comment......"Yeah, that was funny...." I asked her to elaborate. Funny it wasn't, I said, I was scared. She said, "I wasn't, I was with you." Such is the trust granted to us by our children. We should strive to deserve it.
Last Chance Safari Company and Blackwing1 referenced the "brandishing' aspect of my actions, really more a discussion of semantics than anything...
I do not disagree with them. My response:
I do not consider my actions that day to be brandishing.
My actions that day were the preparation for defending my life and my child's life.
Perhaps BW chose a word that was tangently applicable, but I understand his thoughts.
From the American Heritage Dictionary: bran·dish
1. To wave or flourish (a weapon, for example) menacingly.
2. To display ostentatiously.
There was no wave, no flourish, and no ostentatiousness in my actions. I was not attempting to impress anybody. I was preparing to preserve my life and limb, and that of my child. Brandishing is an empty threat. The unholstering of my gun that day was a commitment to life and limb. I'm glad the other two men were also committed to their own life and limb, and made the choices they did quickly.
This happened on a Sunday morning?
Great story, I shared it with many people (concealed carriers and others).
When I shared it with my girlfriend her first reaction was that "That was the wrong thing to do, he should have gone back in and yelled for help". She said that is what is taught in womens self defense class.
IMHO, you did the right thing. Putting distance between yourself and a possible attacker is always the best option.
While I respect your girlfriend's opinion, and it might be the best course for her, my thoughts for myself based on my options at that moment differ. You have to remember that I did not know what they wanted. It could have been anything. At the time, I never dreamed it might have been a GameBoy. Even now, I only suspect that was the reason. My suspicions may only be my mind trying to rationalize an unrational fearful event.
I did what I felt was necessary at the time, and I took the best course of action I saw. I was being actively followed by two men working in concert, who knew I was aware of their presence. They were using my awareness against me, perhaps hoping I would turn back towards the store. Turning back towards the store was not an option, as I would have been cut off by the two men. They were actively herding me from behind. Had I turned back, I would have been quickly intercepted. Instead, I led them to a place of my choosing.
Running with a seven year old girl in tow was not an option. Fist-fighting with a seven year old girl in tow was not an option. Leaving the security of my vehicle once I was inside it was not an option. Going into Wal-Mart with a drawn pistol was not an option. Holstering the weapon was not an option.
I had pulled a loaded gun and used it to deter two aggressors. I wanted to deal with real law enforcement, not Wal-Mart security folks. I needed to deal with real law enforcement without Wal-Mart security coloring the story. Control of the story and the presentation of the facts as they were was probably the reason this situation worked out the way it did.
I waited for law enforcement in a locked vehicle, in the open with no way anyone could approach it without being seen. My options at that point remained open. If approached by these two people, even if they were in a car, I could have put my Jeep in gear and escape. I felt strongly though, that they had given up the attack, and had vacated the place. Law enforcement had a description of my Jeep and approached in a marked car.
As far as I know, Wal-Mart never knew what happened. The two men were never caught, at least not in connection with this act.
Felix Estrella said...
I can only hope that were I in the same situation, I would handle myself as well. Just curious: why did you call the cops afterwards?
Felix, often the first person to make contact with the police is listed as the complainant. This is often interpreted as "victim." It is true that I may have been able to simply drive away and do nothing further.
However.....Let's suppose the two men returned to the store, complained that a man matching my description had pulled a gun on them for no reason, or even that I tried to rob them, and had Wal-Mart security call the police. It would have been their word against my own. Or suppose I had been observed by a passerby, and the same was reported.....I would be gone, having left the scene, but suppose a review of the parking lot video, if there was one, had revealed who I was through my license plate, and I had the police come knocking on my door. I would be in a defensive mode trying to explain why I pulled a gun on someone and then left the area.
It's far better to be the complainant in this situation, to take an offensive posture and be the first to say "He tried to attack me." It's a matter of taking control of the situation.
What would be the legal/ethical situation if the second guy had kept coming toward you? I presume that, under ideal circumstances (i.e., enough time) you would have raised the gun and warned him to stop. But with no weapon in view (I know, I'm basically positing worst-case stupid person baddie), what sort of ground do you think you would have been on if you had shot him? My biggest reluctance to carry is the fact that, by doing so, there's at least one gun in a situation where there might not have been any. I feel like a lot of opinion about concealed carry assumes that (1) the threat runs away when he sees the gun or (2) it's "OK" to shoot if he keeps advancing. But what if he advances without showing a weapon? Just wondering your thoughts.
That's a very tough situation Sutton. My legal standing had I shot him would be dicey at best. No witnesses, no proof of aggression. His partner would have likely testified against me. I suppose I would be hoping there was security video......
On the other hand, failure to pull a gun would have resulted in physical contact, at the least. At the time, I did not know what their interest in me was. I actually still do not know, I can only speculate. All I knew at the time is what I felt intuitively. I acted on that intuition rather than trying to rationalize it away.
Had I known or even suspected they wanted a GameBoy, I would have gladly tossed it to them and hopefully been on my way, never having pulled a gun. Of course then, the result may have been a demand for my wallet. Then my car. Then my girl.
If I had allowed them to make physical contact with me, yes, there would be at least one gun in the fight.......Mine. I had to keep control of that gun. That is one of the hazards of carrying a gun. The option of a physical fight is no longer present. we have to remember that the person who carries a concealed gun always reserves the option of never revealing it is there. The concealed firearm is not a cause of violence. It is a means of preserving one's life from violence.
When engaged, these men were within my 21 foot margin. I had no indicator they were armed, but it was two against one. I suspect they were armed, but that is not something I can really say. They might have been planning a snatch and run, tossing the GameBoy between them to secure their getaway. At the time though, I did not know their intentions. All I knew was that I was being herded, despite my obvious awareness of their prescence.
I am grateful they made the choice to give up the fight that day. My life/freedom hung on their choice, as did theirs.
Let me be clear that I am not saying this is the right or the wrong way to handle a situation like this. Each situation is different, and sometimes we have to act on instinct. Our inner voice will alert us to dangers that our mind will rationalize away. Post event analysis does not take into account a lot of the little factors that add up to a cohesive intuitive whole that one understands at the moment of truth. The cornered animal never questions why it must fight it's attacker, or whether it is right to do so. The cornered animal only knows that if it does not fight, it will die. At that time the choice is not fight or flight. It is fight or die. The choice is no choice at all.
Here on my blog, I often analyze the encounters that others experience. I do this to teach myself and others, but I always give the defender the benefit of the doubt. I was not present, and I did not see with my own eyes what they saw, nor felt in my own bones what they felt. More importantly, the person defending themselves often rationalizes away the intuition that saved them afterwards. The cemetery is full of people who rationalized away their intuition beforehand. The human mind is like that. It seeks security in an unsecure world. It seeks reason in unreasonablness. If there is anything I strive to teach it is to develop and trust in your intuition. It is intuition that will save you. Trust your instincts. Trust the animal within your mind.
Labels: Self Defense