In order to take advantage of some of the lowest prices of the season, many of us shop on Black Friday. Despite stores now opening on Thanksgiving evening, the crowds are still overwhelming. Most of the people braving these conditions have good intentions and know the challenges they face.
There will likely be a large number of concealed carry license holders bringing their firearms with them on Black Friday. Here are some things you should consider before you decide to carry.
One month ago a woman, Tatiana Duva-Rodriguez, in Auburn Hills, Michigan, shot at the tires of a fleeing shoplifter’s car. She has since been charged for reckless discharge of a firearm, a misdemeanor in Michigan. Her case was shocking. Here are the possible ramifications of her actions: missing and hitting bystanders, accidentally shooting the suspect of a property crime, and/or being charged for reckless discharge of a firearm.
Even if Duva-Rodriguez’s intent was to shoot out tires, the risk of hitting a person is too high—not to mention that flat tires are rarely a deterrent for determined criminals. The only time the police try to shoot out the tires of a car is if the crime itself warrants deadly and imminent force. Even if the crime meets that threshold, there are other ramifications and potential outcomes an officer must weigh. Law enforcement subscribe to this adage before using force: The benefit must outweigh the risk. Most police agencies do not allow police officers to shoot warning shots or fire at fleeing cars because the danger it poses to the general public outweighs the benefit.
Most concealed carry laws essentially revolve around the concept that using a firearm is a tool of last resort in order to protect your life or the life of another. You must be very careful with the latter portion as it applies in your particular state’s law. It is very easy to defend shooting someone when you reasonably believe your life is in danger. At times, people will try to manipulate this reasonableness clause. The fact is, if your life is in danger, you can trust me when I tell you that you will know it! In short, if you have to think about whether or not discharging your firearm would meet the standards for the use of deadly force…it probably doesn’t.
A good friend of mine, also a retired police officer, was involved in a shoplifting call at a local Walmart. As he arrived in his squad car he saw the shoplifter threatening a security guard with a knife in the parking lot. He told me he considered shooting the armed suspect but there were too many people in the area and he feared hitting an innocent bystander. Instead, he opted to run him over.
How often do we think about the fact that a firearm may not be the best deadly force tool? Sometimes we can’t use a firearm to shoot someone because of the risk to others. This may apply in deadly-force situations at gas station or in large crowds. This means that if we need to use deadly force, we’ll have to consider other ways to defend ourselves (see my previous article on developing a divergent mindset). Deadly force is deadly force, and sometimes we must consider viable lethal options when a gun won’t do, such as a knife, a blunt object, a caustic substance, a rock or even a car.
As you walk back to your car, arms overflowing with bargains (because no carts are available), remember that you are vulnerable. If someone spontaneously attacks you, armed or not, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to process what is occurring, drop your purchases, access your concealed firearm, and defend yourself … and downright dangerous to try. Action (of the suspect) always trumps reaction (of the victim).
These confrontations on Black Friday are probably due to the victim being distracted and having her hands occupied. Most likely the suspect wants the money or property they know shoppers have with them, so the best response is to just give it up! (This might be a good time to mention that carrying a firearm on your body is always my recommendation, so if your purse is stolen you didn’t just arm the bad guy.)
Shopping on Black Friday is hectic. I don’t think I have ever had the pleasure of obtaining a shopping cart. Instead, I lug around large items. As my body temperature rises, I eventually start removing layers of clothing. I have to make sure that I don’t unintentionally reveal my firearm when removing layers, reaching for items up high, and carrying an armful of merchandise. Law enforcement officers respond to calls about armed subjects, and the tactics for approaching armed subjects are not usually pleasant…so keep your firearm covered, yet accessible!
If you’re a Black Friday shopper like me, and you choose to carry a concealed firearm, make sure you understand your use-of-force options. Be sure to keep your firearm concealed and accessible, and pay attention to your surroundings. Always have a plan for spontaneous encounters, and never risk your life to save property.