Should You Act? - Get Involved Or Get Away?
Every so often we get a thread at Warrior Talk asking about what a CCW person should do if he sees a crime, or some apparent victimization. The implied question of course is the quest for justification of the desire to jump in with both feet to save the day. That inherent desire, while noble, may also be quite foolish and self-destructive.
I am not saying to default to doing nothing, merely that you should think it through before taking action that could adversely affect you for the rest of your life. Your decision will be based on three factors – location, companions, and information. Let’s discuss it.
Location. I have traveled in places that I refer to as Non-Permissive Environments. Those are areas where the legality of being armed may be questionable, yet where it is so dangerous that going unarmed would be stupid. In such places getting involved in anyone else’s problem is a bad decision no matter the situation.
In some places saving the day will get you a medal of valor, while in others, even if you saved everyone, the political environment would still cause you to be arrested and likely prosecuted. If you are in an environment like the latter, I suggest not getting involved in anything that does not directly endanger you or yours.
Look at it this way, will you trade your freedom, and finances to save strangers? That is what it boils down to. It is easy to be indignant at my suggestion from the safety of the internet in your living room, it is also quite easy to disagree when you carry the “Badge of America” card as an LEO with the full umbrella of protection your agency provides, but it is another matter altogether when you are sitting in the defendant’s chair, a civilian paying your own way, looking at a prison sentence because you decided to “do the right thing”.
If you don't have a gun its a moot point. If its legal for you to carry its also a moot point.
In a free area where you are legal to carry your pistol, again the choice is clear. Good guys can intervene in times of danger and victimization secure that if they act properly, they will probably be fine afterward. That is the reality of why places where gun laws are lax are far safer than places where gun laws are strict…because good guys are not afraid to be good guys.
Companions will also have an effect on your decisions. I spoke to an LA County Deputy once whose daughter was shot and killed by two armed robbers when he elected to intervene at the store they were robbing. Listen people…if you have your family with you, everyone else is on their own. Unless the bad guys have targeted you and them specifically, go on your way. Whatever is happening is none of your business. Certainly, call 911, but leave and keep them safe. Sorry to sound “cowardly” but anyone who says they will risk their family to save someone else’s money is a fool.
Whether you act or not also depends on how much information you have about what is going on. The information present and available to you may over ride the presence in an NPE, but rarely. The less Intel I have, the less likely I am to do anything but leave. The more Intel I have the better decision I can make. What you see may not give the total picture.
Active shooter problems are easy. When you see a man with an assault rifle shooting into the Toys R Us, you can venture a guess that that is the bad guy and that he is the one that needs to be shot. But those are not the ones that cause us problem are they.
Two guys fighting? None of my business.
Two guys beating up a third guy? Do you act now? Honestly, for me it depends on what they look like. If they are two gang-type thugs beating up an old man, the choice is pretty clear. I would have to intervene. But if two gang-type thugs are beating up a third gang-type thug, its none of my business. I may make a 911 call, but I don’t plan to stick around. Is the fight you see two cops beating up a gang-thug? Cool, but still nothing to do with you. How about two homeys beating up a cop? Now we are back to helping out the good guys. All different stories, eliciting different responses aren't they. Here are a few more.
One guy slapping a girl? None of my business. “Hey wait a minute!”, I can hear the chivalrous crowd yelling from across the nation. Chivalry demands the presence of a lady. Is the apparent victim a lady? Are you willing to risk your life for her? Think with your brain and not your sword. Just on the face of the description I do not have enough to get involved, sorry. Make the guy a gang-thug and the girl a typical soccer mom? Things just changed because of the Intel. Make the guy a gang-thug and the girl a meth-mouth whore? Sorry…not my fight. My Glock will stay in the holster and my phone will be used for 911 instead.
Its 2010 and your CCW stands for Cary (of) Concealed Weapons, not for Captain America. The only time I will get involved in someone else's fight is when I have enough info on what I am seeing to determine who is who and what is happening, I am alone or with other combatants, and then only if not doing something would shock my personal conscience.