A few days ago a news report and video went around of an incident in Bellmead, TX.
In short, outside a WalMart a man tried to snatch an elderly woman’s purse. A bunch of good people observed this, gave chase, and were able to apprehend the man; it appears the intention was to hold him for police. Frankly up to this point, all things seem good and like any reasonable citizen would applaud.
Then the amateur video starts. In the video a woman was seen using a gun in a manner that appears to be trying to hold the man at gunpoint. The purse-snatcher breaks free of the men restraining him and begins to run off.
That’s when the woman fires her gun.
According to Bellmead Police, the armed female chose to fire a round over Andre and she left the scene without making contact with law enforcement.
As the video continues, the woman then dangles the gun at her side, sees the police arrive, and she walks off. According to the updated news story, it seems this woman has now visited the police and was released pending investigation. According to the news story, not only was the man arrested and charged with theft and credit card abuse, but it seems the woman may be charged with something and her behavior may be sent before a grand jury.
And should it?
Yes it should.
Here’s the thing.
Massad Ayoob often asks what CYA means. No, it’s not “cover your ass”. It’s “can you articulate?”
A gun is deadly force. Can she articulate how her life or someone else’s life was in danger?
Can this woman articulate why she pointed a gun at this man?
Can this woman articulate why she fired the gun?
In terms of public perception, the man was running away. As well, any shots fired then would be “in the back”. Can she articulate her reasoning for her actions given that situation?
Can this woman articulate why she chose to fire the gun over the man?
Can she articulate why she left the scene without speaking with police?
Because if she cannot articulate, she’s in for a heap of trouble.
And even if she can articulate, does it mesh with our legal framework?
I know I’m about to armchair quarterback this based off a little video and news story, so take the following in that light.
A gun is not a solution to every problem; it can be a tool used to aid in solving particular problems. Usually those particular problems involve some sort of immediate danger to your life or the life of someone else. Could there be something in the whole of this situation that involved such danger? Possible, because the video only shows so much.
But there’s so much the video does show that makes me think things are not going to go well for this woman. That she made a great many poor decisions, and it’s fortunate that no one was harmed by her poor choices. Slight correction: that the only person that’s going to be harmed by her poor choices is herself.
Thing is, if she had a gun on her, I would reckon she has a Texas Concealed Handgun License. Granted, she might not, but we’ll assume she does. Do you know what the CHL classes are all about? The law. Even if she didn’t have a CHL, it doesn’t preclude her from not knowing about the law. You need to know and understand the law – when you can, and when you cannot use force or deadly force – because you are directly affecting people’s lives. I don’t get the impression this woman understands those laws, and for that, she’s likely to pay the price.
Folks, when you choose to carry a gun you choose to accept a strong responsibility. Yes, some punk mugging an old woman is a scumbag, and I applaud the spirit of the people that didn’t want to see this dude get away with it. But in trying to stop his lawless behavior, we must remain within the law. We must know the law, and we must be able to articulate our choices.
The ability to articulate? It does not come from having a gun, or even from taking the minimal “training” that the CHL class provides. No, it comes from joining groups like the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network (disclosure: I’m a member), because they provide a great deal of education – as well as legal defense, if ever needed. But hopefully the education will serve you best.
It comes from taking additional training, not just in marksmanship, but also decision-making. Scenario training, also known as “force-on-force”, is invaluable towards helping you learn how to handle actual situations. It gives you a safe place to learn – which means making mistakes – so when the flag does fly, you have improved your chances of arriving at an acceptable outcome.
It comes from continuing education. Grandpa taking you into the back pasture as a kid may be a nice way to start, but it should not be the last time you received any sort of education. Going to the gun range once a year doesn’t count either. You need a good instructor (disclosure: I am an assistant instructor at KR Training). You need to spend time on topics that challenge you, that may humble you, but that will give you the skills needed to keep you out of trouble.
Because even if this woman lucks out, the need to obtain a lawyer, deal with a grand jury, and who knows what else may come her way… that can add up to thousands of dollars, much stress, much headache, maybe even jail time, the loss of her carry license, and who knows what other fallout.
As they often say, if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.