Lessons from a gas station robbery video

Karl passed this to me. Some good CC footage of a convenience store robbery.

Some things to note:

  • Look how quickly it unfolded. Once second you’re helping a customer paying for their stuff, the next second you’ve got a gun in your face.
  • As well, look how quickly it ended. This isn’t a sporting event with 3 5-minute rounds. The sooner you can end it, the better.
  • The clerk had a gun, but it was on a shelf under the counter. He’s lucky he was able to retrieve the gun, but only barely. Better choice is to have the gun on you in a holster, that way wherever you are, there it is at hand.
  • Concealment isn’t cover. It’s better than standing out in the open, and making yourself small and difficult to hit is good (better to not get shot than it is to shoot). But also remember, not only can they shoot through cover, so can you. Consider that to your advantage.
  • When the fur flies and the adrenaline is pumping, tunnel vision will set in hard. This is one reason why in Defensive Pistol Skills 1 we emphasize the need to SCAN SCAN SCAN!

Another thing to consider. If you were the man in the cowboy hat, what would you have done? There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s a matter of considering yourself in that situation and figuring out what you would do. Better to have a plan before things happen than to come up with one while things are unfolding.

11 thoughts on “Lessons from a gas station robbery video

  1. Given the price of a concealed carry license, a relatively minor percentage of people obtain them — thus the cowboy was probably unarmed.
    I would have kept going and not stopped — falling or not, I would have made for the back way out.

    Now, if in that situation armed — I might have shot at least the pistol armed thug in the back. He was actively engaged in multiple felonies and might try to kill me next, I don’t feel compelled to be sporting about it.

    I’ve been mulling this over and think it brings up another issue — Open Carry.

    A CHL is costly for most people – especially ones working as clerks in a convenience store. Heck from my reading, even the owners aren’t making much in many cases.
    Combine that with wardrobe costs and concealing a pistol becomes very expensive.

    While it is legal for a person to carry in their business; it is cumbersome and difficult to carry ONLY at a business.
    A better option would be Constitutional Carry — no permit, no concealing required. I wonder how robberies would drop if people were openly carrying as customers and employees?

    Definitely would make it easier for people to actually carry a firearm

    • I’m sure the cowboy was unarmed… but more because of the dazed “oh shit! flee!” look on his face than any sort of kicking into a warrior mindset. But I could be reading it wrong too. Nothing says a CHL holder must fight… I’m not in it to be a hero. But then you are right… you have no guarantee what they will do. Oh sure, they just want the easy money, but they may not want witnesses either… or maybe it’s a gang initiation or a desire to build some “street cred” so shooting innocent people may be in the cards. Who knows. But there’s nothing wrong with some Nike Fu and getting the hell out of there: staying safe and alive is the core… that whole maxim about maximizing your enjoyment of beer and TV.

      It’s cumbersome and difficult to carry, period. You have to determine if the cost is worth it tho… a little inconvenience vs. your life? Everyone will value things differently. I do recall walking into a convenience store out in Lee County and was talking with the man behind the counter there… I reckon he was the owner. As I was following him from the back food area up to the cash register area, I saw he had some sort of semi-auto pistol (don’t recall what it was now) just dangling out of his back pocket. Plain sight, his property, and out in the country there no one would care. I just wished he used a proper holster since it was about to fall out onto the floor. 🙂

      Could open carry discourage? Well, like all things in the open carry debate, there will be people presenting stories from both sides. The most famous and recent is the Waffle House in Kennesaw, GA back in 2010, and apparently open carry worked. I also recall reading in Chris Bird’s “The Concealed Handgun Manual” numerous stories where yes, open carry on the business premesis diffused and deterred a lot of crime.

      My personal feeling at this point is I’d like to see people be more free, to have more options. I’d like to see Texas law changed such that open carry (in some form, be it like HB2756 from this last leg session where it just crossed out “concealed” from the existing laws on the books; or Constitutional Carry) was an option for those that wanted it. The only counter-arguments I keep seeing are “it’s scary” and “this isn’t the Wild Wild West”, and frankly fear is not a reasonable grounds upon which to make laws and abridge good citizens. I may choose to not open carry, but then at least it’s a choice I get to make.

  2. My current thinking – If I’m the cowboy and armed? I definitely finding the closest thing to cover that I can, first… I don’t know if that freezer that’s behind him at the start counts, or not… probably not (but it’s close, and harder than racks of chips)… Then assess. When the bad guy pops the first cap (looks like he fires at least two?), I have to assume that things are going to get uglier – and he’s had a look at me as he came in the door. It’s quite probably a “him or me” situation at that point, and that’s not really much of a choice.

    Here’s another thought – and I don’t think there’s a good answer here, either (it’s a personal thing, of course). Is there a moral obligation as a CHL holder in this situation to intervene on the behalf of the store clerk? At this point, if you were the cowboy and if you were armed, you are likely the only guy that can prevent him from being killed (besides himself, and you don’t know if he’s armed or not). Do you have (or do you feel you have) an obligation to help the guy out? Does your opinion change after the bad guy breaks his first shot? I wrestle with this one myself – I have no skin (other than my own) in the game, here, and I certainly have an obligation to my wife to come home in one piece and continue our lives uninterrupted. I’m also not a cop, and thereof not bound by oath to try to stop the situation or protect the store clerk, either. At the same time, I feel a duty to assist and help my fellow citizens – similar to providing first aid, or whatever. I do feel a responsibility, as a CHL holder, to help “protect the flock” (after all, don’t we claim to be sheepdogs, too?)

    As far as Open Carry goes, I’ve heard the same BS arguments, John – and all one has to do is look to states where it’s already legal (for instance, New Mexico). I mean, they have so many “showdowns at noon” in the streets there, right? (rolling eyes). Of course they don’t… I heard the same stuff in Florida when I was a kid before they passed their concealed carry laws, and – no surprise – none of those things played out, either. I’m for Open Carry – I’m not sure I’d do it, myself (I enjoy the tactical advantage I have now), but I’d prefer that folks have that option, too…

    • In the cowboy case well… so much time passes between things that by the time you got to such a point, could/should you have been out of there? That’s the thing with these situations: you just don’t know and won’t know until it unfolds because every situation will be unique. Still, my main point is to think about it beforehand so you have a plan instead of freezing because you don’t.

      The obligation question you raise is the very stuff I consider as well. If I was there, hard to say what I’d do because yes, my bigger obligation is to my wife and kids and to come home alive and in one piece. That’s my main concern. Yes I feel some obligation to the clerk and other innocent people, but I have a larger obligation to my family.

      The Open Carry thing… well you know, it’s the same emotional appeals, little logic, no data. But on the “pro gun” side of it, is divided too. To me, it comes down to a couple things: legal issue, tactical issue. A lot of people lump it all together, but I think it’s a mulit-faceted issue. So, legally? Yeah, legalize it (don’t criticize it). Tactically? *I* probably wouldn’t do it in general, but as I commented above to Bob, there’ve been enough situations where it was a tactical advantage… so like all tactics, depends upon the particulars.

      I think the funniest (saddest?) part tho is when people find out that open carry isn’t legal in Texas. I mean, of all places!

    • No, I have no moral obligation to protect you; nor you to protect me.

      I may choose to intervene on your behalf, but I’m not obliged to. My CC license is not conscript papers.

      Now, that said, in this situation the perps had pretty significant tunnel vision, IMHO. Cowboy was paid no attention at the counter and less when he backed away. Move to concealment, draw, then engage at the first shot or move towards my position.

      The way they were falling all over each other on the counter left them ill

      • (stoopid iPhone keypad…)

        The way the perps were falling all over each other on the counter left them ill prepared to attack Cowboy; had he been armed. Draw. 14 shots into the pile of criminal meat at point blank range on the counter. Shots would even have been going down, significantly reducing the chance of hitting bystanders, even.

        However, my big problem in that situation is that I don’t have a green “Good Guy” halo around me like in video games. How screwed am I when the clerk pulls out his piece (late in this case) and sees me standing there with a smoking Glock? Is he going to figure out that I’m not with these dickheads? I dunno. I don’t want to be in a gunfight with the clerk. That’s going to be really really hard to explain to a jury.

        Basically, I don’t give a damn about your register. They can take all of it. I don’t want to be a witness to your murder. I may choose to prevent yours; but I’m not going to take your bullet for you either.

        The math of the situation might change things though:
        12 attackers in a gang vs. you? Good luck, buddy. I’m outta here. Changing the odds to 12 vs. 2 is not a huge improvement.
        1 active attacker vs. 12 victims (like Luby’s)? I’m in. I’d risk my life in an attempt to save 12. That’s probably a fair trade.
        1 active attacker vs. 12 victims (like Luby’s) and I’ve got my kids with me? I’m back out. I’m getting my kids out and the rest of the crowd is on their own. (Unless the best way out is drawing and shooting, them I’m back in again).

        Under no circumstance will I go looking for trouble. If I’m in aisle 37 of Walmart and hear gunshots up near the registers I’ll read all about it in tomorrow’s paper. I’m not going up there to see.

        • But the key here is that you’ve already made your decision. You know your line and where you may or may no cross it. That’s really what matters. You’re prepared.

      • Yeah, the tunnel vision was something I noted, and it was certainly an opportunity/opening… but by then, I may have beat-feet enough to have not noticed. 🙂

  3. Perhaps you have heard the below – I did a quick search and found the details on http://psacake.com/dial_911.asp

    No Duty to Protect

    It’s not just that the police cannot protect you. They don’t even have to come when you call. In most states the government and police owe no legal duty to protect individual citizens from criminal attack. The District of Columbia’s highest court spelled out plainly the “fundamental principle that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen.”[5]
    In the especially gruesome landmark case the “no-duty” rule got ugly. Just before dawn on March 16, 1975, two men broke down the back door of a three-story home in Washington, D.C., shared by three women and a child. On the second floor one woman was sexually attacked. Her housemates on the third floor heard her screams and called the police.

    The women’s first call to D.C. police got assigned a low priority, so the responding officers arrived at the house, got no answer to their knocks on the door, did a quick check around, and left. When the women frantically called the police a second time, the dispatcher promised help would come—but no officers were even dispatched.
    The attackers kidnapped, robbed, raped, and beat all three women over 14 hours. When these women later sued the city and its police for negligently failing to protect them or even to answer their second call, the court held that government had no duty to respond to their call or to protect them. Case dismissed.

    The law is similar in most states. A Kansas statute precludes citizens from suing the government or the police for negligently failing to enforce the law or for failing to provide police or fire protection. A California law states that “neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to establish a police department or otherwise provide police protection service.”[6] As one California appellate court wrote, “police officers have no affirmative statutory duty to do anything.

    • I hadn’t read that particular one, but I do know the police — despite the common motto “to protect and serve” — are under no obligation to actually do so. Most police officers are good,honorable people and will strive to protect and serve, but it’s useful to know they don’t HAVE to.

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