Run, Hide, or Fight

I saw a Proving Ground where the CC person was the only one with a gun when a shooter started to shoot others in a store (as an example). The CC person chose to escape the store to remain safe but left the others inside to possibly be shot. Is it legal to defend the others if you have a safe way out?

I’m new at this so please advise and give me your opinions. I know laws vary state to state but ethically, I am not sure what to do or what I would do. Not sure I’d run from the scene if I could help end the shooting.

Thanks everyone…


It probably depends on the state in which you live. In GA deadly force may be used to protect a third party. “a person is justified in using force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or a third person or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” Ga code 16-3-21


You are right with respect to laws caring by state. In Kentucky, where I live, was a LEO and where I practice law, allows us to use force to defense ourselves and others to the extent the others would be allowed to use force. So here, it is legal, ethical and moral to use force to protect others.
However, what you do depends on you. You are not legally obligated to protect others in most situations. It is a very personal decision whether, in a situation like you described, you retreat and be a good witness, or you engage the aggressor and put yourself at risk.


Im trying to find out about Massachusetts. Thanks Robert…


Mike, do you know about Mass laws?


There you go Wanda. :+1:


Massachusetts is a Castle Doctrine state. Massachusetts law states that, in the prosecution of a person who is an occupant of a dwelling charged with killing or injuring one who was unlawfully in the dwelling, it is a defense that the occupant was in one’s dwelling at the time of the offense and that he or she acted in the reasonable belief that the person unlawfully in the dwelling was about to inflict great bodily injury or death upon the occupant, and that the occupant used reasonable means to defend himself or herself or another person lawfully in the dwelling. There is no duty to retreat in a person’s dwelling, although there is a duty to retreat outside of one’s home.

“Dwelling” is defined as a building that’s a permanent or temporary residence, which means that tents, motor homes and boats may not qualify as a dwelling where the doctrine would apply. It’s also important to be aware that common areas of buildings, like hallways, don’t fall under the castle doctrine.

[Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278 §8A and ch. 231 § 85U]


Just a word of confidence in the comments listed here. They are truthful. Please research your state laws and research may be needed.

In Florida, we have a “STAND YOUR GROUND LAW”, but I was trained with others to run for safety; a must do. Everything is questioned serverly and weighed heavily by the legal means, why did not you run for safety or find the nearest exit ?



Thanks Bruce. That clarifies defending yourself at home. I wonder though if it is a public situation, like a terrorist shooting for example, is one is legally covered to defend others? I can’t find that online so far. We are not a stand your ground state. With things the way they are, you never know when a shooter will go into a church or a store or wherever…


It says you have a Duty to Retreat outside the dwelling. :+1:


That makes total sense. Run or hide if possible, escape the danger. Thank you.


It that situation you described if you can be a good witness and find an out would be your best recourse. As a civilian you don’t have to run towards danger.


Good advice. That helps…


The answer we always get is “Maybe, and It Depends”.


I feel like there are two separate issues here. What is legal and what is practical/advisable/smart.

Obviously an individual’s state law is going to determine what is allowable or not in that state. I would be surprised if a state law does not allow for the use of deadly force in the defense of others. Of course I do not know, but most of the self-defense laws I have seen for many states include some aspect of “in defense of another”. Here in California, our laws do include “in defense of another” and there is no duty to retreat.

Now, I have not heard of any state that has laws which would obligate a concealed carrier to act and intervene. Maybe that exists somewhere, but again I have never heard that.

Practically speaking, you are taking a big risk by intervening. What if you engage and shoot an innocent person? Are you witnessing what is truly an active shooter situation, or a quarrel or fight between a small group of people (like rival gang members).

Me personally? I would let the individual situation I find myself in dictate my actions. I might flee to safety, I might intervene. I am confident in my state either action would be lawful.

I bet I can create scenario after scenario that would cause even the most hesitant of those here to act and engage an active shooter. Each and every situation and detail within it (the totality of the facts) will be the driving force in those decisions.


That is an excellent breakdown of my complicated question. It makes sense to not intervene if possible as a situation can be misunderstood and events unfold quickly. And truly, every situation is different. I hope I never have to decide or figure out what to do in those situations! Thank you for your thoughtful response.


That’s a moral question. Maybe I come from a different planet! IMHO. There would be less MASS shootings, meaning less of a body count if concealed carriers with the right mindset acted to stop loss of life. I can recall a Sheriff who stood down! 17 lives were lost. Laws are by state! But how do you sleep if you knew you could have saved just one, I pose this question respectfully, and I know many of us have ran the scenarios and millions of what if’s. How many lives could have been saved in any major shooting in the US, if just one man interfered with the shooter?
Is there anyone here, trained and confident in his/her skills, that hears gunfire in a store, a school, a theater, a bowling alley or just an outdoor cafe and the cops are 6 minutes out, that would take the best shot if available? So as to not make this too much of a hypothetical, everything is in your favor except the gunman, do you save a life or two or three or 17?
Most MASS shooting classes are teaching to get involved (somewhat) either by diversion, group takedown, or anything that may prevent the shooter from taking more lives. Hustling people out of a danger zones, calling 911, passing along valuable information.
I tend to think of the guys on United flight 93. Last words “let’s roll!”
Airplane, bar, church, school, restaurant or car. If there is a mad man indiscriminately shooting people, judge for yourself ! None of us should EVER have to make that decision. However, when forced, do the RIGHT thing for yourself and other innocents! Just my out of the world opinion!


As a retired law enforcement officer, I tend to want to rush in. Then I remember many chats I had with people about it maybe right but is it right. For example you’re driving down the highway and an another vehicle is getting on the highway. They have a yield sign, you have the right of way. You continue even though you could have avoided the other car. You crash with the other vehicle. You had the right of way but you could’ve slowed down and avoided the crash. You’re going to need to be able to justify your actions. If someone was badly injured in the crash or even worse a fatality, you’re really going to justify your actions. So being right is not always right. Same thing here. You may have a right by law to rush in but is it right. If you’ve never had to use deadly force on someone, you need to know a lot of things need to happen in your favor, for a good outcome. I don’t doubt my skill, it’s been tested before. However I am not covered or backed by a big police department or city any longer. I live in what I used to think was a very conservative state. However I’ve seen some weird things go on lately. Just be prepared when you make what ever decision you make, you’re going to have to justify your actions. I would even say not only the action you take at the time but your actions up to and including the previous 24 hours leading up to the incident.


Some folks keep themselves safe ,something about getting home to your family ,good advice I guess. Some folks stick it out & tcb. Have to choose which one are you?


I am not familiar with Mass. law on self defense. What I have seen is that it is a castle doctrine state but not a stand your ground state. The law allows you to defend yourself and others, however, you also have a duty to retreat unless in your home. I am attaching a good article on self defense in the home, however, your question, I assume, would be outside the home.

The problem with defense of others and a duty to retreat if you can do so safely is that you probably do have the ability to retreat safely but that would leave the victim in the cold. I think the law would allow you to use the same force at that time as if you were defending yourself.


That was very helpful…thank you! I have to say this paragraph is shocking and something I did not know…

''Typically, a person being placed under arrest cannot use force to resist the arrest (even if the arrest is unlawful). However, if the cops are using excessive force to make an arrest (which happens all the time), the person being arrested is permitted to use reasonable force to defend himself."

Has this ever happened, I wonder, and do citizens even know about this (at least in Mass.)? And what was the outcome of someone defending themselves against police?

Thanks for the research you did on this!