Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt.
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. But staying out of everything doesn't have to be the mantra either. Like many things - it depends.
So I am not saying to default to doing nothing, merely that you should have sufficient information on what is happening before reacting. Lacking sufficient information, minding your own business may be a better option. 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 unless what you are witnessing shocks the consciousness of mankind.
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 lengthy trial because you decided to “do the right thing”.
Again, I am not saying to default to do nothing, but neither is everything worthy of your risks. If you don't have a gun its a moot point. If its legal for you to carry its also a moot point...for the most part.
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 when circumstances present themselves.
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.
But companions may also slant the balance of power the other way. If my staff and I are at an eatery after a training course, some twelve of us, former military or police, well-trained, fit and armed...well, that changes the possibilities.
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, or the desire to not get involved in other people's business. The less information I have, the less likely I am going to do anything but leave. The more information and certainty I have the better decision I can make. What you see may not give the total picture.
Active shooter terrorist problems are easy. When you see a man with an assault rifle shooting kids in the kindergarten playground, you can venture a guess that that is the bad guy and that he is the one that needs to be shot. And I do not think that I could justify in my soul simply running away...specially if I could skill him from ambush without a single word spoken. But those are not the ones that cause us problem are they.
Two guys fighting? None of my business. Unless one of them is wearing a police uniform.
Two guys beating up a third guy? Do you act now?
Honestly, for me it I need more information. If they are two gang-type thugs beating up a defenseless old lady, the choice is pretty clear. That shocks the mind and 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, or not - but either way I don’t plan to jump in to intervene. 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 things that shock the mind and that we consider unacceptable. 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...or a grandmother? Things just changed because of the information I have. Make the guy a gang-thug and the girl a meth-mouth whore? Sorry…not my fight.
The only time I will get proactively involved in where I am not the focus of the event is if what I am seeing shocks the consciousness of mankind, such as the active shooter or terrorist, or when I have enough information about my situation and what is happening to determine the reality of what I am seeing, and what I personally should do about it.
If there is any doubt, there is no doubt.