January 5, 2018

The decision to become a licensed concealed carrier should not be made lightly. It is a grave responsibility that may require you to use deadly force to defend yourself against an attacker threatening to harm or kill you. In such instances, you must always be able to justify the deadly use of force. Sometimes, however, even if the deadly use of force would be justified, it may just be wiser to retreat.

Gyrell Lee had been celebrating New Year’s Eve with his cousin Jamiel Walker in the latter’s home. Throughout the evening, a known troublemaker, Quinton Epps, came by and argued with Walker. When Epps returned with friends and became increasingly belligerent, Lee decided that he should get his gun from his car just in case matters got worse. Lee had completed his concealed carry class and was familiar with the law on gun use. Epps returned once more and a shouting match between himself and Walker ensued in the street. Walker lost his temper and punched Epps, at which point Epps drew a pistol and shot Walker in the stomach. Walker fell and Epps then turned his gun on Lee, who had his gun out. Lee fired and killed Epps. Lee was subsequently arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

Lee had several opportunities to retreat before it ever came down to Epps drawing a weapon on Lee, but he didn’t take them. He chose to stay and watch the situation escalate.

Darrell Standberry was parked at the pump right in front of the gas station. He left his SUV running with the key in the ignition and exited his vehicle to go into the gas station. Before he even got through the front door, some young punk had jumped in his vehicle to steal it. Standberry yelled at the guy to get out of his car, but the guy told him to step back and reached for his pocket. Standberry drew his Sig Sauer .45, reached through the passenger side window and shot the carjacker in the torso. The would-be carjacker stepped on the gas, drove away but crashed into a tree. When police found the SUV, the carjacker was dead in the driver’s seat with a pistol in his pocket. Police deemed that Standberry was justified in shooting the carjacker.

Just because we can legally carry a concealed weapon, we don’t have the right to become vigilantes or to pull our weapon impulsively when someone pushes our buttons. Only after we have made every effort to de-escalate a confrontation, diffuse a fight or retreat, should we resort to the use of lethal force. The use of lethal force should always be the last option.

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