Armed civilians causing trouble

From this thread in GD:

In gun control debates, there is a frequent back-and-forth that is consistently repeated: people against gun control say that armed civilians would/could/should have been able to stop tragedy X if they had guns, and cite one or two examples of people shooting a shooter.

Then, supporters of gun control laws respond by pointing out that heroic civilians might have been mistaken for the criminal and shot by law enforcement or each other, or might simply make the tragedy worse by hitting bystanders. However, they seldom provide any anecdotal evidence to support their “might haves.”

Have their been any documented cases of such things happening? Has anyone been shot and killed as a result of using a gun to attempt to defend themselves and others?

I’ve related this before. A couple of years ago a local guy walked in to a C-store, in the midst of an armed robbery. He struggled w/ the robber and ended up w/ the gun, holding the robber flat on the sidewalk outside the store. While this was going on the clerk called 911. There was apparently a patrol car nearby. When the cop arrived he ordered the good samaritan to drop the gun. Apparently the guy was trying to explain the circumstances, but when he didn’t put the gun down the cop shot him. This was from the local TV news and I’m pretty sure the guy died. I tried to search for the story awhile back, but it was probably too old, I couldn’t find it.

I’ve also heard several reports, in the past year or so, about police shooting people who were holding toy pistols that appeared real from a distance. One here locally in the past month or two.

Well, yes. I can give you one example that’s sort of a hybrid of your questions.

In 2005, a man, David Arroyo, opened fire on his ex-wife and son in front of the courthouse in Tyler, Texas. He ended up killing his ex-wife.

Across the street was the apartment of local citizen Mark Allen Wilson, who had a valid Texas Concealed Handgun License and a .45 automatic. Upon hearing the shooting (Arroyo was using an AK-47) Wilson drew his weapon and moved into position behind the cover of an automobile. Arroyo was engaging Tyler police and sheriff’s deputies at the time, and presumably didn’t see Wilson.

Wilson fired a round at Arroyo, hitting him in the torso and causing him to stumble. According to witnesses, this was the first time Arroyo was hit. Wilson ducked behind the vehicle, which happened to be Arroyo’s. Arroyo started to approach his vehicle, and Wilson shot him again. However, Arroyo was wearing a bulletproof vest, and even the .45 slugs wouldn’t penetrate. Arroyo fired at least one shot at Wilson, who either ducked or fell behind the truck. Arroyo walked over and shot him 3 times, killing him. He then got into his vehicle and drove away, with the police in pursuit. Eventually, after a freeway shootout, Arroyo was killed by the police.

It is believed, by most everyone (including police) that Wilson’s firing on Arroyo distracted him and probably saved lives, including the life of Arroyo’s son. The Texas House unanimously passed a resolution honoring Wilson, and in Concealed Handgun License classes, his story is generally used as an example of a good shoot (albeit with bad tactics.)

Wiki has a page about it, with links to the newspaper articles and video footage.

Wikipedia Entry

Well, adults carrying toy guns are an endangered species, and I haven’t heard all that much anti-extinction fervor over them.

When there are people around shooting guns, you go for cover, and cover the innocent. After that, you assess the chance of taking action to reduce casualties. If words will work, you use them. You definitely don’t pull your gat, and stand up looking for targets. (Else why have a concealed weapon, right?) If the police show up, you stop doing the gun thing. Your rights are not the issue, simplifying that poor bastard’s tactical problems is the most help you can give him. Yeah, if you see an innocent, such as yourself in imminent danger, and you have a decent shot, you take it. Draw, stance, sight picture, squeeze. Center of mass, then head if the target doesn’t drop. Then you drop, and act as dead as you can.

A guy with a badge and a gun says “put the gun down” you . . . (ready for it?) . . . you put the damn gun down, keeping it pointed up, until it is on the ground. Explaining how you were on his side will be much easier if he doesn’t shoot you. You don’t get to use deadly force against him, just because he made a mistake, but he does. You did have the option of running away, and letting the bad guy shoot up the playground. You won’t even be mentioned in the news report. He gets vilified for not doing something, even if he does do something, and usually, even if he does the right thing, and it works.

Killing a person, even justly, is a very serious thing, with grave consequnces to you. It will matter for the rest of your life. Being the hero is usually not a good enough reward for the nightmares, and depression you are likely to have. Doing it and then finding out you are not the hero, but rather the idiot with a gun who shot the undercover cop, well, that’s gonna ruin your whole life.

Our Constitution expects you to be responsible for the right to bear arms. I think our founding fathers were a bit on the optomistic side, to be honest. It’s a machine designed to kill people. Any second during which you have one on your person, and don’t have that in mind, you are a danger to the public peace. If you start taking shots at people who do not pose an imminent, and deadly threat to anyone, Congratulation! You are now a dangerous criminal. I might have to shoot you. I sure hope not.

Some armed civilians might reduce the likelihood of deadly violence in public. Then again, others might well increase it. Holding people responsible for their use of arms is entirely constitutional.


“Write a wise saying and your name will live forever.” ~ Anonymous ~