You are walking down the street after 10 pm. You see a man stop in front of an alleyway and draw a firearm. He shoots at three unarmed people standing in the alley. You hear them scream and the murderer keeps shooting.
You have your Illinois Firearms Owners Identification card. You own a gun. You also have your Illinois concealed carry license, and you’re armed tonight. You draw your firearm and shoot the attacker. You hit the attacker in the elbow and the hip. He drops his gun and falls to the ground.
You call 911 and ask for help. Emergency Medical Services said one of the victims died at the scene from a head wound. The other two victims and the murderer were taken to the hospital. You give a statement to the police.
Another witness corroborates your story. You’re neither charged, nor named in the newspapers.
This armed defender did a number of things that saved lives that night. To begin with, he was armed. He recognized an immediate, lethal, and unavoidable threat to innocent parties. He was able to put effective shots on the attacker in a low-light situation. The defender didn’t get shot, and he stopped shooting when the attacker was no longer a threat. Our good guy stayed at the scene and called 911 to ask for help. The defender gave a brief statement when the police arrived. I am grateful that this armed citizen stopped mass murder.
Unfortunately, we don’t get all the information we want from a newspaper account. The story didn’t tell us that it now takes seven months to get your Illinois Firearms Owner Identification Card from the Illinois State Police. They left out the fact that it takes an average of five-and-a-half months to get your Concealed Carry License approved. Half of the applicants have to wait longer.
This defender worked his way through the bureaucratic requirements in Illinois. He was able to save lives today because he started the application process years ago. He also learned how to live with a gun and to carry concealed in public.
In addition to the paperwork, this defender did his mental homework. Our body can’t do what our mind hasn’t imagined. We react rather than think during a stressful situation. The defender imagined what an attack on the street might look like. As obvious as that sounds, it is neither easy nor obvious. Three guys doing a drug deal in an alley could have attacked someone passing by. That looks similar, but not the same, as what the defender saw that night. Our defender was able to react quickly because he recognized a self-defense situation that he had already visualized.
Our usual reaction to murder is one of shock. A practiced reaction is to stop the threat. That practice saved lives that night.
The defender had practiced presenting his firearm. That practice left him confident that he could draw and shoot his firearm in public without fumbling with his clothes or his holster. Yes, I’ve seen new students drop their gun. That is a bad way to start to a gunfight. Dry practice has other benefits. This presentation practice lets us find the gun sights quickly rather than having to spend critical moments hunting for the sights in dim light.
The attack happened at night. That means the scene was probably illuminated by streetlights and lights from nearby shops. I’ve taken several self-defense classes where we shot at night and in the dark. It is also easy to give yourself dry practice in the dim. I recommend low-light practice since about half of assaults happen at night. Practice helps a lot because we want to recognize what our sights look like at night rather than searching for them while an armed murderer is a few yards away.
We are held responsible for every shot we fire. The closest experience I’ve had to this gunfight was a force-on-force exercise during self-defense training. I was struggling to keep up because things were happening so fast. This defender recognized when the attacker was no longer a threat and stopped shooting. That is good work under the most stressful of situations.
What this defender did was important. There were over a hundred people shot in Chicago over the 4th of July weekend. The police, prosecutors and judges won’t stop the violence. It is up to individual citizens at the scene to save lives.
We also have to save our future and our fortune. Have your gun back in your holster by the time the police arrive. Follow the officer’s instructions and give them the simplest facts. Point out any evidence and witnesses. Be polite and do not argue with the officers. Contact your lawyer and have him submit your statement.
You just shot someone. That has an emotional impact. That is true even if the bad guy clearly needed to be shot, and if they survive. The more you have thought about it ahead of time the better you will be at processing the emotions after the incident. Some self-defense insurance firms can recommend experienced counselors for you to talk to. If I ever have to use my firearm, I plan to talk to a counselor.. after I talk to my lawyer.
Rob Morse highlights the latest self-defense and other shootings of the week. See what went wrong, what went right, and what we can learn from real-life self-defense with a gun. Even the most justified self-defense shooting can go wrong, especially after the shot. Get the education, the training, and the liability coverage you and your family deserve, join USCCA.