In February, a criminal murdered a DeKalb County, Georgia man with his own firearm, after the criminal disarmed him in a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot. Then a similar incident occurred on March 30th in Clayton County, Georgia. Again, a criminal disarmed a man, but this time, an accomplice of the suspect shot the victim. Recognizing the similarities between these two incidents, and the big difference, is important to our defensive strategy.
Similar Shooting Incidents—
I wrote about the DeKalb County incident in this post called Man Disarmed And Shot With Own Handgun in Parking Lot. A quick summary of that incident is that the criminal observed the victim carrying a handgun on his waistline. The suspect grabbed the gun and ran, with the owner chasing to retrieve the gun. The two men got into a physical fight over the gun, and the criminal used the gun to shoot and kill the owner.
In that story, there was no information as to if the victim purposefully carried the gun openly or just did a poor job of carrying the gun concealed.
The latest incident from Clayton County has a familiar beginning. According to LawOfficer.com, the victim called Watkins was waiting in line at a Shell gas station. The suspect was behind him in line and:
“quickly disarmed Watkins by grabbing the holstered weapon from his hip and then ran from the store. Watkins gave chase and caught the suspect in an attempt to retrieve his firearm”
While Watkins fought the suspect for control of the stolen firearm,
“a second suspect exited a car, pulled out a gun and opened fire on Watkins, hitting him multiple times”
Again, the reports didn’t provide the detail on whether Watkins carried the gun openly, or just concealed it poorly.
Lesson One, Open Carry & Improperly Concealed Guns—
In most contexts, open carry puts you at a tactical disadvantage. The downsides far outweigh the benefits. Not all criminals are afraid of an armed citizen, or law enforcement officer, for that matter. And often, it makes you a target of criminals, anti-gun activists who call the police or people who just freak out at the site of guns.
- Must See – Gun Disarm Surveillance Video Reveals so Much
- Another Open Carry Fail—Criminal Takes Gun From Man in Columbus, Ohio
- Open Carry Gun Owner Has Gun Stolen From Behind
If the few links to stories above don’t convince you, check out this article from Greg Ellifritz where he provides links to 103 news stories where criminals disarmed someone of a firearm.
We don’t know how either of these men carried their firearms, openly or poorly concealed. But it really doesn’t matter because, in a practical sense, a poorly concealed gun isn’t much different from a gun carried openly. If you’re pro open carry argument is that these guys might have been carrying concealed—like several comments on the post of the first story—you’re missing the point.
If the criminal took the gun because the victims improperly concealed it, they would certainly have done the same thing if it the victim’s carried it openly. And while a retention holster is a must if you open carry, in and of itself, doesn’t ensure a criminal can’t disarm you. I’ve seen holsters torn off belts, and criminals defeat active retention systems on holsters. Firearm retention involves gear, but it’s there is technique as well.
At the same time, advocates of concealed carry need also to recognize that the gun needs to remain concealed. There is a balance between fixating on a little bump and thinking everyone knows it’s a gun printing, and not caring about the obvious gun-shaped bulge under our shirt. This is yet another reason I don’t recommend small of back (SOB) carry. It’s just too easy for your shirt to ride up and expose the gun without you being aware.
Lesson Two, Don’t Chase—
In both of these incidents, after the suspect disarmed the men, they chased after the person who took their gun. I’m not sure why saying this is an extremely unwise thing to do is controversial. Certainly, everyone may do what they think is best, but it doesn’t make it wise in practice.
When I made this point in a prior article, people argued that the criminal now had a gun and could use it to harm innocent people. That is absolutely true. What is also true is that once they shoot you, they will still have the gun to use it in a crime against innocent people. How about instead of getting shot trying to get your gun back, you do everything in your power to make sure you’re not disarmed to begin with? This includes using proper gear concealing well, and learning some basic gun retention techniques.
Situational awareness is important, but it doesn’t insulate you from unavoidable confrontations. Readiness is necessary when avoidance is not an option. Are you training so you’re ready to respond?
I’m not making excuses for the criminal. If you’re going to carry a gun—and I am all in favor of you doing so—you need to understand the reality of the violence. Both of these incidents happened in Georgia, but this type of violence isn’t confined to a geographical area.
I highly recommend checking out this post called 4 Deal Breaking Criteria for Holsters, And Why the Majority of Holster Fail. The rules will help you if you’re looking for a new holster and provide guidance on how you can test your current holster.
We encourage you to leave your opinion in the comments below.