My question is as a new member to the CC community, I am looking for direction with regards to situational things in the public. I frequent my local WAWA daily (convenient store in PA) and my area in general appears to have several permit carry law abiding citizens and I wanted to know if I am in this store at a time of a robbery what are my options? and what does the threat to me mean as I may not be the intended person in danger. What are my obligations in this situation? please give feedback.
You have a lot of options and aren’t obligated to intervene as you are not a law enforcement officer.
If you can get out safely, that is always an option.
If you feel like you are in imminent danger of death or grave bodily harm, you can use lethal force to defend yourself in most states.
If others are in imminent danger of death or grave bodily harm, you can use lethal force to defend them in a lot of states. A lot of states allow for the defense of a 3rd party who is innocent (if you come upon two people fighting and you don’t know who started it or what is going on, be a good witness).
This new blog post by Kevin Michalowski may help you think through some of the options. It’s a different location, but the article will give you points to think about:
Here are the specific carry laws for Pennsylvania for your reference:
Being armed doesn’t imbue you with any special obligations.
If there is a deadly threat to yourself or others you have one more option available to you to deal with it than you’d have if you were not armed.
The best advice I can give is to just be sure not to escalate the situation unnecessarily, be the best witness you can be and avoid putting yourself or others in any greater danger.
If you have an obligation it is a moral obligation to first protect your loved ones, yourself, and to make sure you go go home to your family when it’s over.
If you’re not directly involved understand that by stepping into any third party encounter you put yourself at great risk and even if you know the people involved you’re going into it with only partial information.
Is the force you choose to use more than you needed to stop the threat?
Yes, depending on state you may have a duty to retreat if you can.
Yes, you do what you need to do to prevent injury or death.
Yes, find another defense option or simply be a very good witness.
Number three is tricky for several reasons, the main one depending on the weapon used deadly force may or may not be justified.
For instance if you’re maced, drawing and shooting could be justified based on the next actions of the subject. Are they now physically attacking you? Have you pinned to the ground, against a wall or …
The problem with addressing scenarios like this is that there are too many variables that may come into play. What may be justified in one state may put you on trial in another. What I do with these scenarios is answer from my gut and than check my state laws to see how my gut reaction is aligned with the law.
I was, @Raymond! It was an amazing experience! (Thanks for the tag @Zee)
The Proving Ground training I was a part of was a convenience store robbery. The first scenario he had a knife but couldn’t reach the cashier over the counter. She gave him the money and he left without incident. I didn’t draw as there wasn’t an imminent threat in my mind. I think I had my hand on my gun or should have.
The second scenario was an armed robbery with a gun. I had my gun drawn and was hiding as others got out of the store. No one was injured, but he came after me. I ended up firing in that scenario and he took off.
Each situation will be different, but thinking and talking about these scenarios can help you think through them in a high stress situation. It’s muscle memory for your brain.
I don’t believe there’s any state in which you would have to legally consider whether or not the person can reach you with the knife. We all know that it takes but a flash of a second for a knife wielding attacker to close the distance.
In that video your actions were perfectly fine but if you had chosen to draw and fire you’d have been just fine legally.
We have to remember that just because we can shoot in a given set of circumstances doesn’t mean we are required to.
I will start with I am an attorney but not licensed in PA and cannot give legal advice but am familiar with PA law.
Your options depend on the threat present at the time. PA allows use of force, including deadly force, for protection of self and of others when
“(i) the actor has a right to be in the place where he was attacked;
(ii) the actor believes it is immediately necessary to do so to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse by force or threat; and
(iii) the person against whom the force is used displays or otherwise uses:
(A) a firearm or replica of a firearm as defined in 42 Pa.C.S. § 9712 (relating to sentences for offenses committed with firearms); or
(B) any other weapon readily or apparently capable of lethal use.”
In the situation you describe, you can get out if safe to do so or engage if you can do so safely. You are not obligated to act.
My co workers and I had a pretty lengthy conversation about this following the El Paso shooting. The scenario was that Mr.X (my co worker), Mr. Y (my VP of Ops) and I were all in the Walmart at the time of the shooting.
We all pretty much unanimously agreed that we would draw and go to ground then find a position of COVER or advance to the gun fire (2 military, 1 civilian). It’s nice to have conversations with folks that know the proper terminology.
While we all agreed we would engage the shooter given the opportunity we all also agreed that not knowing who the shooter was we would also engage (or at least muzzle) each other. Mr X and I also agreed we would probably both shoot Mr. Y given the opportunity
It really set all of us back that if you add CCW #4 to the mix or responding LEO you could get your butt shot for having a gun out.
So the scenario changes:
A: You are standing at the checkout line and a guy comes through the door with a gun and begins firing or walks up to the cashier and sticks it in his/her face .
B: You at deciding which pint of ice cream you want at the rear of the store when you hear gun shots at the front of the store.
C: Hearing gun shots you draw your weapon and move to the sound. Coming from the other direction is a guy with a gun…
There are times to engage and times to hunker down and cover down.
You are absolutely right. Good guys with guns are a good but, unless you are sure to be identified as a good guy, you are also putting yourself in a position to be identified as the bad guy. Even police (usually plain clothes or off duty, have been shot by other police in similar situations.
@MikeBKY That was the crux of the conversation we had. IMHO, unless the police arrive when you are gun out approaching the guy on the ground, the best way to be discovered is after the fact. Getting shot by another “good guy” is a risk you take in that scenario and one you had better be ready to deal with if you ever draw in a public setting.
One of the extras I carry is a DSM banner (Don’t Shoot Me) in a small nylon case on my belt. It IDs me as a retired LEO. which may or may not help. I have it more for security at our church should the unthinkable occur but it is just as useful at walmart.