Forgive me. In the state of Illinois we’re sort of new at this. I suppose that’s something for which I should be thankful.
Here’s the situation from just a few days ago. An 86 year-old gentleman, long time resident of suburban Chicago, considered by friends, neighbors and law enforcement to be a “model citizen,” approaches an AT&T store near his home. He notes there is a robbery in progress. He remains outside and warns fellow citizens not to enter, thus protecting them from harm. When he sees the robber escaping out a back door, our 86 year-old model citizen runs into the store following the suspect out the back door, pulling his concealed-carry Glock semi-automatic pistol from his person and fires two shots at the escaping suspect. One police officer already in pursuit of the suspect, not knowing where the two shots were fired from, is forced to temporarily suspend his pursuit and seek cover. Eventually the 17 year-old suspect is captured by police, charged with armed robbery and is currently being held in lieu of a million dollar bail.
Mr. 86 year-old Model Citizen (and I call him that because law enforcement officials refuse to identify him) is free to go. No charges will be filed against him. He had a properly registered gun, properly purchased. He had a proper concealed-carry permit from the state, having completed all the proper target testing and classroom instruction. That would be the classroom instruction that, as Mr. Grumpy has advised us on many occasions, would have taught Mr. Model Citizen that HE IS NOT A POLICE OFFICER! It would have taught him that he is not to pursue someone he believes is breaking the law. It would have taught him that the only appropriate time for the use of deadly force is as a last resort, when you believe your life is truly in danger. I don’t believe that anyone would judge a fleeing suspect not firing a weapon of any kind as life threatening. Classroom instructors would have said that you let him flee and call 9-1-1.
There is a pretty healthy list of very dark “what ifs” that goes along with this situation. What if Model Citizen shot an innocent bystander causing bodily injury or even death? What if Model Citizen shot the police officer pursuing the fleeing suspect? What if the police officer assumed Model Citizen was an accomplice of the suspect and shot him? After all, he did exit the phone store shortly after the robbery holding a semi-automatic weapon. And why did a state’s attorney choose not to press charges? Why were the local police willing to walk away from this situation? And since it’s a no harm, no foul thing I suppose our 86 year-old model citizen gets to keep his concealed-carry permit and go about his business packing heat under his shirt in public places. That’s just great.
What I’ve learned from this whole thing is that now there’s an even more urgent reason to run, as fast as possible, from the scene of a crime. You never know when your neighbor, the one the police will describe as a “model citizen” is going to accidentally plug you full of lead.