Self defense during a terrorist attack?

calebibcalebib Senior MemberPosts: 1,701 Senior Member
Pardon me if this has been covered but I think it's worth discussing.

Let's say you are in a major US city and a scenario similar to the Paris Charlie Hebdo attacks starts down the block from you. As a responsible, armed US citizen, how do you respond? You have a clear line of site to the shooters and can see them casually killing innocents, what do you do? Do you do what you can to end the threat or do you retreat? How do you identify yourself to the police responding to the attack to avoid being mistaken for one of the bad guys? What are the potential legal ramifications of stepping in (not that that should stop you from doing the right thing)? Does the Charlie Hebdo attack (and others like it) change how you prepare yourself?

I know this is an issue without a single, good answer but given the times I think it's something to consider.
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Replies

  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,258 Senior Member
    Just a personal opinion- - - -I would consider doing anything other than attempting to come to the aid of helpless victims to be an act of cowardice. If police are already on the scene and responding to the threat, don't interfere, but if I'm the only one able to mount an armed response, I would consider it to be my duty to do so. Once police or other armed responders arrive, I would do my best to surrender to them without getting killed! I seldom, if ever leave home without being armed- - - -things are just too unpredictable to do otherwise.
    Jerry
    Hide and wail in terror, Eloi- - - -We Morlocks are on the hunt!
    ASK-HOLE Someone who asks for advice and always does something opposite
  • calebibcalebib Senior Member Posts: 1,701 Senior Member
    Pretty much my thought on it too.
  • BAMAAKBAMAAK Senior Member Posts: 4,259 Senior Member
    If I'm alone I help, if I'm with a loved one, I protect them first, then maybe help.

    I posed this question to my daughters BF while at the movies, what if a shooter came in the door which was maybe 30-35 yds away. There were only two choices as we were in the corner with no way out. He claimed it would be an easy shot and he'd take it. I thought it was to far and would bring the shooters attention to you. Again, if alone maybe but not with family.
    "He only earns his freedom and his life Who takes them every day by storm."

    -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and politician
  • MississippiBoyMississippiBoy Senior Member Posts: 819 Senior Member
    I don't know if it would be a good idea or not, but I don't think I could stand there or run the other way if I saw them mercilessly shooting people lying on the ground, begging for their lives. So I imagine I would try to stop them, but I don't really know.
    Now, if my wife and/or kids are with me, I'm picking all 3 of them up and taking them the hell out of there ASAP.....not passing "Go," not collecting $200.
    As far as ID'ing myself to LEO's, I don't know.....probably get behind cover, just in case, call out to them saying I'm friendly and not to shoot, slide my gun way out away from me and follow instructions EXACTLY. But if I'm still shooting when the cops get there and can't stop and disarm, who knows? Keep yelling to them that I'm one of the good guys and hope they believe me, I guess.....
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    One of the things I learned as a LEO, plain clothes etc.... there is no way to tell the good guys from the bad guys often times, sometimes "the color of the day" is used so responding Uniformed Officers can distinguish an Undercover officer, from the bad guys, I agree that one must do something, if innocents are getting shot.

    However until responding LEOs can sort the good guys from the bad guys, you might get roughed up or worse....... when I was a LEO, I often wore a LEO style nylon windbreaker, and since only certain police equipment stores carried it, most LEOs that would see it, figured the wearer likely to be a LEO....

    Stakeout squads had a windbreaker logo of a trashcan with eyes peeping out from under the lid.....

    You should be prepared for the eventuality every undercover LEO faces when responding to a call, you might get shot as a bad guy.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    You might want to re-phrase your comment, it was nebulous at best, hard to understand, etc.....
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    You should be prepared for the eventuality every undercover LEO faces when responding to a call, you might get shot as a bad guy.

    This is an excellent point. Untrained civilians have often gotten themselves in trouble during a police incident, particularly if the cop is plainclothes.

    The original premise is framed such that there are several possibilities.

    Let's for example imagine that you've got a small pistol for self protection (.380-ish) and the raiders or bad guys are several, all armed with automatic rifles, and wearing ballistic gear (it happens). You'd probably be smartest to stay down and protect yourself.

    Or maybe the guys are like 2 only, have handguns and you're better armed -- a large caliber pistol or carbine or whatever. Maybe then you could insert yourself and do some good.

    It's situational. And therefore like any self defense scenario -- options and possibilities are many, and I don't think there is any perfectly clear action to be taken.

    As far as legal ramifications, Texas law is pretty amenable to armed civilians but some other jurisdictions might not be so helpful or sympathetic.

    Morally, as Jerry says, of course you are compelled to help. My only caution to that is if you're totally overgunned, a small caliber pistol vs automatic rifle fire from a number of trained thugs, being reticent is understandable. Sacrificing yourself is not requisite, of course.

    A good thread, thanks!

    Bottom like, as I see it, regardless of whether the thugs are terrorists or just street goons, if there is a way you can help without foolishly getting yourself killed, then assisting someone in peril is a duty that we should be cognizant of, and part of our innate responsibility as sensible gun owners. Some members here have had this occur and hopefully acquitted themselves accordingly.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Perhaps I was not clear enough, when I was working as an active LEO, in plain clothes, undercover, I knew the risk of getting shot as a bad guy, by the good guys was ever present, so I learned enhanced methods of letting the good guys know I was a good guy, that still did not mean the good guys assumed I was one of them, I had muzzles pointed in my direction enough times, until my identity as a LEO could be confirmed, unless someone knew me from another op.....

    As a non LEO helping out, the danger is greater, you need to determine also if your abilities are up to the task too, it is not the gun you carry as much as your skills and resolve in meeting the task at hand, however, I carry a full size duty sidearm and not a lil .380 acp.......
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • calebibcalebib Senior Member Posts: 1,701 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »

    Let's for example imagine that you've got a small pistol for self protection (.380-ish) and the raiders or bad guys are several, all armed with automatic rifles, and wearing ballistic gear (it happens). You'd probably be smartest to stay down and protect yourself.

    Or maybe the guys are like 2 only, have handguns and you're better armed -- a large caliber pistol or carbine or whatever. Maybe then you could insert yourself and do some good.

    It's situational. And therefore like any self defense scenario -- options and possibilities are many, and I don't think there is any perfectly clear action to be taken.

    That's why I asked about if this had made anyone change how they prepare themselves for their self defense. I've never been a fan of carrying anything smaller than a 9mm and lately I've been keeping a carbine in the truck when I venture away from home. I always have my "get home" bag with me so at the very least, I have a pistol and at 45+ rounds.
  • calebibcalebib Senior Member Posts: 1,701 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    Perhaps I was not clear enough, when I was working as an active LEO, in plain clothes, undercover, I knew the risk of getting shot as a bad guy, by the good guys was ever present, so I learned enhanced methods of letting the good guys know I was a good guy, that still did not mean the good guys assumed I was one of them, I had muzzles pointed in my direction enough times, until my identity as a LEO could be confirmed, unless someone knew me from another op.....

    As a non LEO helping out, the danger is greater, you need to determine also if your abilities are up to the task too, it is not the gun you carry as much as your skills and resolve in meeting the task at hand, hence why I carry a full size duty sidearm and not a lil .380 acp.......

    As a civilian, how would you go about identifying yourself as a good guy?
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,042 Senior Member
    calebib wrote: »
    As a civilian, how would you go about identifying yourself as a good guy?

    There's the problem. Just no way to do it safely, and in a situation where 12 people have been killed and more wounded, in America where armed police are more numerous, you just got to take your chances. I'd do a lot of yelling and the moment LEOs showed up, I'd assume the position or you might be misidentified. When I was working UC, the agency was small enough and if we needed help, we always announced (or the dispatcher did) that UCs were on the scene. Then it was badge time but it never was a gimme situation.

    The more people shooting in such a situation, the diceyier it would be; especially automatic fire triggers a spray and pray response. At least I believe it would, I've not been in a civilian situation (I know in Viet Nam, bullets were flying everywhere.)

    Chances are you might wind up being a dead hero. But I'd take that chance, I think.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Well, that is a tough one, but simple answer, private security guards have sometimes assisted LE agencies at such incidents......
    Unusual occurrences are a good reason to have a carbine accessible, an AR platform....... good optics, perhaps a laser....
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 14,834 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    Texas law is pretty amenable to armed civilians /QUOTE]

    Yeah...I don't think anyone had any issues when all those civilians grabbed their deer rifles and started shooting back at Charles Whitman....
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,042 Senior Member
    Jayhawker wrote: »
    samzhere wrote: »
    Texas law is pretty amenable to armed civilians /QUOTE]

    Yeah...I don't think anyone had any issues when all those civilians grabbed their deer rifles and started shooting back at Charles Whitman....

    That was the Howard Johnson shooting in New Orleans, I believe. A commercial radio station called for civilians to bring weapons and defend their city during that event, and many responded. There was a civilian at TU involved in killing Whitman, and several officers went home and got rifles, but I don't remember any wholesale civilian involvement in TX.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Best idea, drop flat on your face, hands out flat, weapons clear of your body, that way you present a much smaller target and are less likely to be shot, remember, the bad guys might still be shooting, as well as the good guys, so anyone is fair game for getting shot.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • NCFUBARNCFUBAR Senior Member Posts: 4,324 Senior Member
    Gene L wrote: »
    Jayhawker wrote: »

    That was the Howard Johnson shooting in New Orleans, I believe. A commercial radio station called for civilians to bring weapons and defend their city during that event, and many responded. There was a civilian at TU involved in killing Whitman, and several officers went home and got rifles, but I don't remember any wholesale civilian involvement in TX.

    Essex had taken atleast 4 or 5 LEOs down and been on the loose for a week or so ... they just wanted him DRT.

    Another difference is both were over 40 years ago. LEO response then was not as SWAT like and also LEOs were not as leery of civilian help. Most Town and Counties know me but still a civilian is not welcome unless it is a last resort.
    “The further a society drifts from truth ... the more it will hate those who speak it."
    - George Orwell
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Jayhawker wrote: »
    samzhere wrote: »
    Texas law is pretty amenable to armed civilians /QUOTE]

    Yeah...I don't think anyone had any issues when all those civilians grabbed their deer rifles and started shooting back at Charles Whitman....

    Well, I'm thinking of current times, not that long ago, and I'm mostly thinking about, as the original post says, if you're armed as a civilian with maybe a carry permit.

    Incidentally, the gal I married grew up in Austin, and she and her girlfriend were among the customers in the dime store on Guadalupe (The Drag) where Whitman was firing at people. The girls hid behind the counters for all that time. Very scary experience.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,042 Senior Member
    Essex and Whitman situations were both used as examples of the early need for SWAT teams. I went to SWAT school in 1977 at Quantico where studied these, and in 1978 another school in Nashville where a lecturer from NO talked about the problems with the HoJo shooting. It was in January, one of the best schools I've ever attended. I remember it snowed and we were basically snowed in for that school.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • calebibcalebib Senior Member Posts: 1,701 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    Best idea, drop flat on your face, hands out flat, weapons clear of your body, that way you present a much smaller target and are less likely to be shot, remember, the bad guys might still be shooting, as well as the good guys, so anyone is fair game for getting shot.
    Thats what I figured would be the best response. Make yourself small and no threat.
  • Fat BillyFat Billy Senior Member Posts: 1,813 Senior Member
    I think the key is imminent danger. A shooting a couple of blocks away would be iffy. A robber shooting or about to in a small area (store) where you could be next, no problem. Terrorists with long guns a couple of blocks away could be suicide if not properly armed. I they come toward me then they made the choice and would receive fire. If I could reach a place of good cover and they came close no problem. :up: Later,
    Fat Billy

    Recoil is how you know primer ignition is complete.
  • Dr. dbDr. db Senior Member Posts: 1,541 Senior Member
    I like this thread. I'm happy to be a part of it.
    It seems to me that we are mixing the moral with the tactical.
    Do I have a moral obligation to defend innocent life? I believe yes. However I do not have a moral obligation to throw my life away while attempting to defend innocent life. Therefore the tactical side of it comes in. I am too ignorant to comment on that side of it.
    Morally it was very hard to watch someone get shot because I didn't have a chance to stop them without being a bullet blanket.
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,050 Senior Member
    Seems to me that if you're not taking fire from the terrorists, but are instead engaging them you're no longer in the "self defense" arena...
    Overkill is underrated.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Seems to me that if you're not taking fire from the terrorists, but are instead engaging them you're no longer in the "self defense" arena...

    Good point, bream. The decision to engage in such a scenario would depend on several things, but perhaps inherent in this would be the "freedom" to enter the fray based on your knowledge of the conditions of how citizen involvement in these things is regarded by the authorities. It would be tragic to maybe play a role in stopping an attack and then find yourself charged with felonious assault (by not being an LEO). Some overzealous and idiotic prosecutor in an equally idiotic jurisdiction could do this, sadly.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Truth is, history shows people in places like NYC getting prosecuted for violating the old Sullivan law, not for self defense, I forget also what famous NYC case, a young Lady defended herself with a switchblade, she was not charged with assault, only Illegal possession of a switchblade.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 25,762 Senior Member
    Have to agree with Teach on this one. Have to try to close distance using available cover, and start attempting to take them out. It would redirect their attention and give the cops time to show up.

    When the cops DO show up, cease fire until the mess is over and hope they understand vulgar, vile, profanity laced English as to who is the bad guys, and obey any orders they give on arrival.
    Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.


  • twatwa Senior Member Posts: 2,231 Senior Member
    The biggest "what if" is what am I carrying at the time? If I only have what I carry most, a small Smith and Wesson bodyguard .380 probably not, if I am in my vehicle and have a rifle or high capacity pistol with several mags available, I would be hard pressed not to. Tough situation and you probably wouldn't exactly know how you would handle until the moment hit you. Above all safety for you and family foremost.
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Or you could be one if those people that does not carry because it is too safe to need carry, or they do not want to dress around carry, or wear jeans 1 or 2 sizes larger to accommodate carry, or they carry a NAA mini revolver or some hard to shoot .380 acp handgun because concealment is more important to them than a handgun that is easier to shoot well and accurately.

    Truth is, I want something I can shoot accurately, has high capacity, 9mm > etc...
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • Dr. dbDr. db Senior Member Posts: 1,541 Senior Member
    Day of Rage is a new book with this included. A teacher, with a child in the school, is in a school under attack by well trained and well armed terrorists. Not the usual crazy but people who barricade the school with a person charged with shooting first responder LEOs while the other two go methodically through the school shooting students. The teacher/parent, carrying illegally, has a Lorcin 380. No reloads. Scary tough read.
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Horrors ! a Lorcin ! That scares me more than Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhies !
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • Dr. dbDr. db Senior Member Posts: 1,541 Senior Member
    Wambli: there are a lot here who have done more everyday of their working lives. The subject just interests me because our society has evolved to a point where traditional first responders aren't FIRST any more.
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