September 20, 2011
By Robert W. Hunnicutt
Well-known trainer Gabe Suarez has a site called Warrior Talk and commented recently on the Sept. 6 shooting at an International House of Pancakes in Carson, City, Nev. If you recall the incident, a man with a record of mental illness shot 12 people, killing four, including three National Guardsmen.
The owner of a barbecue restaurant across the street told the local media he had a pistol at hand, but thought better of putting it up against the killer's AK-47. "You just can't believe the amount of rounds coming out of that gun. There was no way that I was gonna go up and try to shoot him. He had too much firepower," he said.
Suarez criticized the restauranteur on his site (http://www.warriortalknews.com/) for failing to fire on the criminal. Several of those commenting on his take (though not Suarez) tossed the term "coward" into the discussion.
I think we can all agree that if the man from the barbecue stand had charged across 100 yards of parking lot successfully to put a stop to the shooting spree, that would have been very praiseworthy. Would it, however, have been good tactics? Pistols, as experts from Jeff Cooper on down have reminded us, are arms of defense, not offense.
The barbecue man had no way of knowing whether the gunman was alone or part of a gang. Leaving his station would have left his own family and customers defenseless. He well might have been shot himself while running in the open, with his pistol taken out of the fight.
Should he have taken a potshot at the killer from long range, hoping to startle him into keeping his head down? Sounds good if you're sure the bad guy is alone, which the purveyor of pulled pork was not. Taking that circus pop might have drawn rifle fire back through his own front window. Press reports didn't indicate what sort of sidearm he had: could have been a Coonan .357, could have been a Ruger LCP. A 100-yard shot with the former might have made an impact. With the latter, not so much.
In short, the man in the apron faced a terribly dangerous and confusing situation the likes of which very few us, thank God, will ever confront. Some of those vilifying him from the comfort of their computer keyboards feel free to assert he had only two choices: reckless heroism or cowardice.
My guess is that it's a lot easier to imagine grabbing a pistol and charging a nut shooting an AK while seated in your easy chair, a warm drink at your side, than it is when bullets are flying. I'd be happy to hear different from anyone who's ever done it, but my guess is the list of those who've done it and lived is a short one.
In my mind the barbecue man was right to get his gun, stay alert and stand ready to protect his family and customers pending the arrival of the SWAT team. What do you think?