To Call Or Not To Call

To Call Or Not To Call

This is a discussion on To Call Or Not To Call within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I recently had a discussion with a friend as to the following hypothetical. I was wondering what others would do in the following scenarios. You ...

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Thread: To Call Or Not To Call

  1. #1
    Restricted Member Array SelfDefense's Avatar
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    To Call Or Not To Call

    I recently had a discussion with a friend as to the following hypothetical. I was wondering what others would do in the following scenarios.

    You are walking to your car in a parking lot. No one is around and the area is poorly lit. Two men are coming towards you; they are twenty yards away. You can clearly see they are of the unsavory type. You verbally command them not to come any closer. They ignore your command. Now they are at ten yards. You see that one of them is holding something in his hand but you cannot identify what it is. You present your weapon and they quickly turn tail and run.

    Do you call 911 or do you simply go to your car and leave? It seems pretty obvious the two thugs are not going to call 911 and claim that you were guilty of aggravated assault (brandishing in AZ.) Then again, you never know...

    Did you present your weapon prematurely? You were clearly in fear of severe bodily harm and death, yet there was no immediate threat.

    Would the answer be different if you clearly saw a knife, gun or bat?


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    He who calls 911 first in almost any situation wins.........

    No, my answer wouldn't change - I'd still call.


    The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins. ― The Journals of Kierkegaard

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    Member Array steveHK's Avatar
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    That would be prematurely brandishing your weapon. There was no immediate threat and you really can brandish your weapon on a hunch. If that was the case I would be drawing down on people at least one a week

    In PA there is no open carry law, so I might just “accidently” let them know that I had a gun, but I certainly wouldn’t draw my weapon.

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    VIP Member Array peacefuljeffrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SelfDefense View Post
    You are walking to your car in a parking lot. No one is around and the area is poorly lit. Two men are coming towards you; they are twenty yards away. You can clearly see they are of the unsavory type. You verbally command them not to come any closer. They ignore your command. Now they are at ten yards. You see that one of them is holding something in his hand but you cannot identify what it is. You present your weapon and they quickly turn tail and run.

    Do you call 911 or do you simply go to your car and leave? It seems pretty obvious the two thugs are not going to call 911 and claim that you were guilty of aggravated assault (brandishing in AZ.) Then again, you never know...
    First off, you must make sure that you can protect yourself on the spot, so the telephone call to 911 comes second to making sure that I will be able to bring my gun to bear. In flying, we say that the order of priority is, "Aviate... Navigate... Communicate." It does you no good to be talking with air traffic control if you're about to hit a mountain. They can't save you from that over the radio.

    Likewise with a gun: if two guys are coming at me in the lot, if I have a 911 operator on the phone but I'm so preoccupied with the conversation that I can't/don't draw/operate my gun, what good will she do me? Not any.

    In Florida, we are protected from prosecution and civil liability if we use a gun because we "reasonably feared" harm or death. I don't think that means we have to SEE A WEAPON. Two guys with a menacing demeanor, in an unpopulated, dimly lit area, who don't stop after I warn them that I feel threatened, are enough to make a "reasonable person" fear for his safety, so I don't think that drawing and even pointing a gun would legally constitute "brandishing." Nope.

    Did you present your weapon prematurely? You were clearly in fear of severe bodily harm and death, yet there was no immediate threat.

    Would the answer be different if you clearly saw a knife, gun or bat?
    I don't think the law says you have to see a weapon; only that you have to be in reasonable fear of injury or death. To me, the only difference if there was a knife/gun/bat, would be that there was even less doubt about the reasonableness of your actions.

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    Restricted Member Array SelfDefense's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peacefuljeffrey View Post
    First off, you must make sure that you can protect yourself on the spot, so the telephone call to 911 comes second to making sure that I will be able to bring my gun to bear.
    PJ, the call to 911 would potentially come after, not before the incident. At twenty yards there is no time to call 911.

    The difference in the scenario (i.e. gun/knife visible) is if you could clearly see a weapon then a 911 call would be to report aggravated assault in addition to your drawing your weapon. If you cannot clearly identify a weapon then it would simply be a report of suspicious people and drawing your weapon.

    I completely agree that drawing the weapon is unquestionably justified (in AZ.) The contentious point is whether to report it after nothing illegal transpired.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SelfDefense View Post
    .......the call.......would potentially come after, not before the incident. At twenty yards there is no time to call 911.
    That's what I assumed when I answered originally: To call 911, Or not call 911 AFTER the incident. Having assumed it was after the incident, I thus recommend, based on my opinion only, that the call be made asap. This could:

    Take two possible bad guys off the streets quickly;
    Possibly preempt a claim by the BG's to police about that "crazed guy" threatening us; and
    Protect my position as a CCW (e.g. I called the LEO'se ,tc. - I did everything correctly)

    Any LEO's, past and present out there?


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    VIP Member Array obxned's Avatar
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    I would have moved laterally when I first identified these 'fellow shoppers' as a threat. If these two unknown persons with what could possibly be a weapon change course to intercept me, then they get to see the muzzle. If they then seek fame and fortune elsewhere, I absolutely, positively call 911. They would by their actions have indicated that they were hunting for a victim. Call now and maybe save some other person from these creeps.
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    Can you retreat?

    Quote Originally Posted by SelfDefense View Post
    I recently had a discussion with a friend as to the following hypothetical. I was wondering what others would do in the following scenarios.

    You are walking to your car in a parking lot. No one is around and the area is poorly lit. Two men are coming towards you; they are twenty yards away. You can clearly see they are of the unsavory type. You verbally command them not to come any closer. They ignore your command. Now they are at ten yards. You see that one of them is holding something in his hand but you cannot identify what it is. You present your weapon and they quickly turn tail and run.

    Do you call 911 or do you simply go to your car and leave? It seems pretty obvious the two thugs are not going to call 911 and claim that you were guilty of aggravated assault (brandishing in AZ.) Then again, you never know...

    Did you present your weapon prematurely? You were clearly in fear of severe bodily harm and death, yet there was no immediate threat.

    Would the answer be different if you clearly saw a knife, gun or bat?
    Can you take cover or alter your course away from them? I would not keep walking toward them, that is for sure. I may have my hand on my gun, even draw it but would not show it to them initially. So far they have done nothing wrong other than look unsavory which is not a crime. Even telling them not to come any closer is a stretch as up to now they have done nothing wrong. Sticky situation, that is for sure. Best bet, have your gun in hand, out of sight, and get away as quickly as possible.
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    Member Array BlackJack's Avatar
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    Sorry, but I would say that you were premature in drawing a weapon. I understand that two people that look "unsavory" might make you feel uncomfortable, but it just is not reasonable to draw a weapon on somebody that has done nothing wrong and is not in the wrong place. If I were to put myself in thier place I would also ignore somebody across the parking lot that was yelling at me, he would look like a "nut" to me.

    In your shoes, I would have altered my direction of travel to see if they change thier route to intercept. If they do, then I have my justification to feel threatened and give warning.

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    I Agree...

    Quote Originally Posted by obxned View Post
    I would have moved laterally when I first identified these 'fellow shoppers' as a threat. If these two unknown persons with what could possibly be a weapon change course to intercept me, then they get to see the muzzle. If they then seek fame and fortune elsewhere, I absolutely, positively call 911. They would by their actions have indicated that they were hunting for a victim. Call now and maybe save some other person from these creeps.
    This is an excellent description of the proper response to the 'noted' situation...

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    Senior Member Array purple88yj's Avatar
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    I echo the words of obxned. Defensive actions begin long before the muzzle breaks leather.

    If, as described in the OP, you are walking down a travel lane in a parking lot, and the unsavory's are approaching, change direction, preferably putting something big, heavy, and potentially bullet resistant between you and they. If that option is not avaliable, such as in a parking garage or building side parking, cross the lane at 90 degrees, not 45, not 76.5, 90 degrees. This is the shortest distance between you and the other side of the lane. If there is a travel lane on the other side, use that one. NEVER take your eyes off the potential threat.

    If they mirror or change their course to intercept you, then at that point you may just have a possible situation to handle.


    Edited to add: To answer the question posed in the starting post, yes, call. Tell the dispatcher what you can. If nothing came of it, it could have been something as simple as your radar was wound too tight, to getting some dirt balls hassled or arrested.
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    I could see where someone with a ccw but who does not have a lot of tactical training and not feeling too secure with their methods of self defense kind of jump the gun like that. (pardon the pun)

    In any case, you should call 911 and report it! As a legal ccw holder you really should report the incident for the reasons others have posted. a) as the first reporting party, by default, you are usually seen as "the victim" b) it might help mitigate things if they later call and claim you were a nut out brandishing a weapon and a few of the other reasons already listed.

    However, lack of proper defense tactics training does not mean a person like that wasn't in his mind, legitimately afraid of the situation and fearful of a possible attack.

    But, if you pulled your weapon as described in the initial situation (two men coming toward you in a parking lot... not two men traveling in one direction and then upon seeing you, turning around to follow you), and describe that to the responding LEO's, I would expect that person at the very least would be on the receiving end of a very stern lecture in proper use of a handgun and situations where displaying it is warranted and which situations are not! And at worst, you may be cited for brandishing in this situation!

    You have to look at the situation, and in this case in a public parking lot... I would think the two "scuzzy looking guys" (and that's your opinion of them) had every legal right to be there as the ccw person did. Dimly lit parking lot... heck, most parking lots are dimly lit.

    If you are afraid of your own shadow... have not planned out "tactical responses to situations" and have had no additional training other than you "initial ccw qualification class", you might find yourself getting into trouble with that gun one day.

    I have to agree with oxbned and Blackjack on this one in that you should try to manuver away from the two "potential" assailants, giving yourself options, distance, and possibly able to get behind cover... then as oxbned states, If They Change Course To Intercept You... then they have just given you reason for be in fear of an attack and now it's time to draw your weapon and challenge them at gunpoint!

    As always, regardless, in most circumstances, if you draw your weapon... Be sure to draw it in time to safe your life! Don't wait until it's too late to save yourself!

    The point is, the more tactics you know, understand and use... the better you are able to control the situation, avoid trouble in the first place and quite possibly put you on more solid ground if you do draw your gun.

    Also, be aware that there are all sorts of ccw holders out there with a wide range of training, understanding or lack of understanding on use of tactics and various levels of fear and mental state... They are still legal ccw holders none the less.

    But this instance clearly shows the difference between those of us, who participate in forums like this.... those of us to actively train for such situations and those who do not!

    I think it was a good thread with a good scenario that provided some excellent responses from the folks here.

    Good food for thought and opinions!

    :rant off: Stay Safe, Carry On!
    Last edited by Bark'n; August 5th, 2007 at 02:02 AM. Reason: Clarification
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  13. #13
    JD
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    About 2.5 years ago I was in you hypothetical situation.

    I was in downtown Philly on a Friday night leaving a tower site at around 1am, I was laden down with a 37 lbs service monitor on my back, a duffel bag with about 20 lbs of equipment slung cross body on my right side, small case of gear in my left hand and my lap top bag with the shoulder strap over my shoulders so it was sitting on my chest.

    I had the presence of mind knowing that it was late and a not so good area, to put my pistol in the front flap of my laptop bag to make for easier access if needed.

    My service van was parked about 2 blocks from the building I was in and the only other car in the lot was a Benz.

    As I was making my way to the van, three guys that were on the other side of the street stopped walking in their original direction and started crossing the street and advancing in my direction, not in the direction of the other car in the lot, and as the lot is fenced in on 3 sides, there is no "short cut" to or from anywhere.

    I was too far from the van to make a dash for the door, too loaded down to try and shuck my gear and run (in PA your legally required to flee if in public before using deadly force) so I was basically trapped in a bad situation, my best guess is that they saw me as an easy mark, defenseless and unable to run, and figured I'd be an easy roll for my wallet and whatever else I may have on me.

    I kept proceeding to my van reaching in my laptop bag like I was getting out my keys (which were all ready in my left hand) and once they got within 25 yards I just turned toward them while removing my hand which had a really big Para P16-40 in it.

    All three of them stopped dead in their tracks, actually said "sorry man" and pulled the quickiest about face I'd ever seen and took off.

    Now seeing as how they did not have a weapon and I did not have a good physical description as the lot was poorly lit, and they did not appear to be armed, I just kept my gun in hand, loaded my gear into the van and left.

    I had no relevant info to give PD, so I didn't call.

    Did I draw prematurely? Maybe, but I'm still here with all my gear and that's what matters.

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    VIP Member Array farronwolf's Avatar
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    I am sorry, but if someone is in a parking lot and tells me to not come any closer at a distance of 20 yds or 60 ft, I am going to ignore them. That is regardless of what I look like. If you don't want them to get any closer to you, then you need to change your course or do something else, maybe not go out at night for starters.

    If it is your property, then you might have a justification, but in a public parking lot I think your being a bit over zealous in your presentation of a weapon.

    If I were you I would call 911 and let them know so that if the other people did happen to call 911 and tell them that someone was brandishing a weapon that you would at least have some info to the police before they come looking for a man with a gun as reported by the two unsavory characters you were scared of.

    If you were in fear of bodily harm or death, again I would advise not to go out at night.

    Now, if you clearly saw a knife or gun or bat, that changes things drastically. First because they are definately breaking the law if they are displaying a weapon openly, and second because they are then posing a threat to you. If you aren't sure of what they are doing, or what they have in their hands, then your clearly in the wrong given the scenario you have posed.
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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    Could be they are deaf, dial 911 or leave would be my call.

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