Heard an interesting story today at work. Apparently this past weekend there was an attempted smash and grab of a jewelry store at a local mall. It happens. There is a criminal element of people out there who would do this. This isn’t about the smash and grab though, it is about some people who responded. According to the story, three individuals who are licensed to carry concealed chased the proverbial bad guys (who dropped their haul and turned tail and ran, incidentally). One even went so far as to get into his car and follow the would-be thieves and called the local police to apprehend the individuals.
That’s how the story went. The truth is a bit different, but I’m going to discuss the facts as presented in the story…
The concealed carriers acted poorly, and inappropriately in this situation. From what I understand, at no point was anyone’s life threatened by the criminals. The jewelry store has insurance against such an occurrence so they wouldn’t lose any money with the exception of possibly some insurance money, in the form of a deductible or higher premiums and so on. There was absolutely no reason for the concealed carriers to chase the thieves, and by doing so may have actually endangered lives if the criminals had been armed and decided to shoot at their pursuers. Those individuals who gave chase in this instance were the aggressors, and as such would potentially be held criminally liable for any lives lost or injuries sustained during this encounter. While trying to be the heroes, they would have been criminals instead. Not a smart move on their part. An actual police officer is expected to give chase, to engage and apprehend the criminals, and because of that they do have some protections that we armed civilians do not have. Unless there is an actual threat to someone’s life, in which case then I would hope that those concealed carriers would engage the criminals. Giving chase also reduces situational awareness dramatically. While they were giving chase to the criminals, they may not notice their accomplice who casually picks up the discarded merchandise because their attention is on the person they were giving chase to. Is it likely to happen? I don’t know, but it is one of a myriad of possibilities that may happen, that as a concealed carrier may have been overlooked.
So what should the concealed carriers have done instead? Be a good witness. Pull out their cell phones and record. They should have been the damned paparazzi to the criminals. They should have called the police to alert them of the situation. With no apparent threat to anyone’s life, there is no reason for the concealed carriers to get directly involved. They should still be vigilant though, at any moment there could suddenly be an immediate threat to someone’s life.
If you have a license to carry, that’s great. That is not a badge however. You are not a police officer. You have been empowered to have the means to defend your life and the lives of those near you. You have not been sworn as a peace officer, so don’t act like you are one.