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Thread: Good Samaritans

  1. #1

    Good Samaritans

    I've been watching a ton of videos on YouTube and reading articles so that I am educated when I start carrying (don't own a gun yet, cause I still live with my parents and as I mentioned before, my mom is nervous about firearms around my younger siblings.)

    One thing that I don't understand, however, is people deriding what they call "vigilantism." Even the most pro-gun activists require that you only use a firearm to defend your *own* life. I don't understand this.

    Police encourage people to get involved with preventing crime through giving info to the Police. Why, if I'm in a bank and someone robs one of the casiers, shouldn't I act to prevent the criminal from escaping and detain him until the authorities arrived? Or what if I hear shots in a parking garage, why should I be barred from confronting the gun man and saving lives?

    I'm not talking about gunning them down, unless they threatened me, but detaining them at gun point until the authorities arrived.

    Before anyone says that they won't be able to distinguish me from the gun man, they wouldn't be able to tell if an off-duty or plain clothes cop wasn't the perpetrator and they are EXPECTED to act.

  2. #2
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    Most people aren't trained in the detention of armed criminals. In reality it's probably a lot dicier than it seems when it's just in your head. That said, in Florida at least, you aren't at all barred from defending others with deadly force, as long as they would be justified in using deadly force to defend themselves. You can also use deadly force to prevent the commission of a forcible felony, as long as it's absolutely necessary to prevent the crime. Of course that wouldn't apply to someone who has stopped committing a crime or is trying to run away. I don't think it's a good idea to pull out a gun if all you're intending to do is detain someone, though. It's a very specialized tool for very specific circumstances. Your examples may fall into that category or they may not. If there isn't an immediate threat to my life or someone else's, the best thing I can do is remember everything I can about the perpetrator. If a situation can be resolved without any threat of deadly force I would consider that the best option.
    "Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." - Frederic Bastiat, The Law

  3. #3
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    I carry 24/7. If I'm not physically carrying then a firearm is within arms reach.
    That being said, the purpose of carrying for me is to make sure I arrive home safe and sound. If someone's life is threatened then I would intervene. If it's a property crime(theft, robbery, etc.) but no one has been injured then the ideal thing for me to do is call 911 on my cell and be a good witness.
    The average person is not trained in detention of dangerous armed potential felons. The last thing you want is to get shot with your own firearm. When you call 911 you are getting involved, be a good witness, unless the situation changes to a life threatening one.
    "WWJBD"-(What would Jack Bauer do)

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    I think it is possible to exaggerate the difficulty of detaining someone, or at least of driving them off. So yeah, being "vigilant" and helping others is a good thing. There is one problem however. Our criminal justice system is insane, so you may be punished for your good deeds. So it's a good idea to keep self-preservation firmly in mind if you want to try something like this.

  5. #5
    Thanks for both your responses. Just to clarify, I'm not strongly on one side or another on this issue. I just wanted to know more about it, plus I don't like it when the news/politicians deride people as "vigilantes." It makes it sound as if they are looking for trouble or trying to subvert the legal system and act as judge, jury, and executioner, when they are trying to assist the Police bring criminals to justice.

    What if the criminal has a mask on, and I am an ex-Green Beret? Being a witness won't do much good, whereas holding the person will. Just playing "devil's advocate" (don't like that phrasing either, but can't think of a better way to put it.)

    I'm planning on joining the Police force, and if there was a situation where the odds were bad that we would be able to catch the guy if he escaped, I would appreciate a capable person, who did not endanger innocent bystanders in the process, holding him/her. Maybe I just don't fully understand the issue and all the consequences, so feel free to shoot me down (no pun intended :P)

  6. #6
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    What if the criminal has a mask on, and I am an ex-Green Beret?
    Then you still have to decide whether confronting the person is worth the risk to your life. I've known Green Berets (married one once, actually), SEALS, etc. and none of them are bullet-proof or invincible. Neither is anyone else. If you're willing to take the risk to your well-being in that moment and to your freedom if you're charged with a crime later, then do what you think is necessary.
    "Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." - Frederic Bastiat, The Law

  7. #7
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    I don't like it when the news/politicians deride people as "vigilantes."
    Neither do I.

    "Vigilante" used to be a term of honor. Especially after the Civil War and especially in the South and West, professional law enforcement was often absent. And that could leave communities at risk.

    Concerned and able citizens (men, back then) banded together as vigilantes to protect their communities, so that, if a "bad element" moved in, the vigilantes could convince them to move along. They were simply trying to bring law and order to their own communities, during a time when (because of rapid expansion or post-war disorganization) their communities had no "official" law enforcement.

    It was not unusual, well into the 20th Century, to find judges, mayors, and community leaders of all stripes who had served their communities as vigilantes. And who listed that service on their résumés.

    It was the 1974 movie Death Wish that, I think, more than any other influence came to re-define a "vigilante" into a negative stereotype: someone who's decided that, since he's fed up with criminals, it's okay to seek them out and kill them. This was at a time when prosecutions of US citizens under the GCA of 1968--and similar state laws--was taking off, and portraying urban private citizens with guns as obvious criminals or as criminals-in-waiting (Charles Bronson's character "snapped" after violent criminal attacks on his family) was in vogue.

    Ten years later, Bernard Goetz became known as "The Subway Vigilante."

    That having been said, I am one of those who has decided (personally, for myself only) that there are perhaps no circumstances in which I will put myself in mortal or legal jeopardy by using a firearm to save another, unless it is a loved one. I respect those who choose as I do, and those who choose the opposite course.

    Assuming one can actually know what he'll do until the "moment of truth"
    arrives. And I very much hope it never does.

    (I am indebted to David B. Kopel via his book The Samurai, The Mountie, and The Cowboy: Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies? for my information regarding the history of vigilantes.)

  8. #8
    Then you still have to decide whether confronting the person is worth the risk to your life. I've known Green Berets (married one once, actually), SEALS, etc. and none of them are bullet-proof or invincible. Neither is anyone else. If you're willing to take the risk to your well-being in that moment and to your freedom if you're charged with a crime later, then do what you think is necessary.
    Yeah, just the first example of someone who would have comparable training that popped into my head. I was considering joining the SEALs and the Green Berets/Airborne Rangers before deciding on Law Enforcement. I'm currently trying to get a job as a Armored Car Driver (a LEO friend said that might give me a leg up when applying to the PD.)

    "Vigilante" used to be a term of honor. Especially after the Civil War and especially in the South and West, professional law enforcement was often absent. And that could leave communities at risk.

    Concerned and able citizens (men, back then) banded together so that, if a "bad element" moved in, the vigilantes could convince them to move along. They were simply trying to bring law and order to their own communities, during a time when (because of rapid expansion or post-war disorganization) their communities had no "official" law enforcement.
    Wow, I didn't know that. That's cool.

  9. #9
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    The reason you should focus on carrying to protect yourself only (or a loved one, of course) is simple. All you need to do is look what happens to people who've done it. Even those who shoot under the most justifiable of circumstances are freqeuntly subjected to civil lawsuits.

    For the sake of argument, let's assume you're in that bank when the robbery occurs. You justifiably shoot at the robber. One of your bullets misses and hits a clerk and kills that clerk. Oooppps.

    Shooting someone who doesn't want to be shot is a lot more difficult than it sounds.

    Before you draw your gun on anyone, and especially before you shoot anyone, you should ask yourself, "Is this worth going to jail over, or is this worth losing everything I've ever worked for over?" If your life (or the life of someone you care about) is in jeopardy, the answer should be "yes". Otherwise, be a good witness.

    Other than providing you life experience that you may otherwise not have, driving an amored car will not help you into police work. What will help is a clean background, a passing "score" on the psych and polygraph tests and doing well in personal interviews in front of a hiring board. Having served on boards in the police officer hiring process those are the things most looked at. A good military record was a plus as was former sworn officer experience. People who came across as level-headed, quick-thinkers and appeared calm during the interview were the ones who got hired.
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  10. #10
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    Most people aren't trained in the detention of armed criminals.
    I would hope that nobody is trained in the detention of armed criminals; your first action should be to render them unable to use their weapon - preferably by disarming them, but you do what you gotta do - then getting them into a significantly disadvantaged position like laying face down, arms out, palms up, legs crossed, facing away from you. After that, it becomes a very situation-dependent matter.

    In the given bank robbery scenario, I'd probably look for a third party who's likely to be trustworthy - a teller or bank manager most likely - to secure the BG and/or his weapon so I can get mine back out of sight until responding officers are fully aware that the BG is the prone guy with a bank employee sitting on his shoulders.

  11. #11
    Other than providing you life experience that you may otherwise not have, driving an amored car will not help you into police work. What will help is a clean background, a passing "score" on the psych and polygraph tests and doing well in personal interviews in front of a hiring board. Having served on boards in the police officer hiring process those are the things most looked at. A good military record was a plus as was former sworn officer experience. People who came across as level-headed, quick-thinkers and appeared calm during the interview were the ones who got hired.
    I've got a clean record and I'm not nuts I *really do* have an invisible friend named Joe who lives in the cigar box under my bed (SNL rocks!)

    He was saying it might give me some experience and therefor make me more confident during the interview, making a better impression on the board.

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