February 5, 2015: Concealed Carry

Checking the online Merriam-Webster, Conceal: To hide from sight, to keep secret.

The point of Concealed Carry is to carry a firearm (or in Florida a weapon) in a manner that does not convey to viewers that you possess said firearm.   Although Florida has recently decriminalized the non-threatening exposure of a firearm here is an example of why you want to keep concealment by all possible means until you have to use it.

On Tuesday, January 20, 2015, just before noon, Michael Foster saw a man put a handgun in a holster under his jacket in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart on Causeway Blvd in Brandon Florida.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office as reported in the Tampa Tribune, Mr. Foster followed the armed gentleman into the Wal-Mart and attacked him from behind after they were both inside the store.  The Wal-Mart Security video released by the Sheriff’s office shows Mr. Foster pushing the neck of the armed Citizen to the right and possibly executing a lower leg block that results in the armed Citizen ending up on his back on the floor. Mr. Foster lands on his hands and knees.  From there the armed Citizen gets on his hands and knees and Foster grabs the front of the armed Citizens coat and pulls him forward and executes a swim over move to get his right arm around the Citizens neck from above and appears to be trying to retrieve the holstered gun.

The armed Citizen manages to block this so Foster rolls the armed Citizen over on his back and pins him to the ground.  At this moment a by-stander joins in assisting Foster and pins the armed Citizens right arm down. 

The armed Citizen appears to stop struggling because his left hand can be seen in a palm up position at his shoulder and then another by-stander joins in aiding Foster.  The armed Citizen is pinned on his back by three men. The first by-stander that joined in starts searching for the gun and gets it out of the holster. 

Within 18 seconds a licensed concealed carry armed Citizen has been imprisoned and dis-armed by three men.  At this point I’m thinking Mr. Dis-armed Citizen is feeling pretty helpless. 

Now the gun is handed off to another by-stander who hands it off to someone who might appear to be a Manager for the store.  The video ends with the three men still pinning Mr. Dis-armed Citizen to the floor.

Hillsborough County deputies arrive and sort the situation out.  They ascertain that Mr. Foster had not called 911 or alerted the Wal-Mart Management about his concern that an armed gentleman was in their store before attacking him.  Michael Foster was arrested for battery with a $500 bail.  The current Arrest Report indicates that he was released on January 25 on a $500 surety bond.  

There is no information on the two men who assisted Foster but they apparently were not arrested for False-imprisonment.  Neither is there information about the disposition of the firearm. 

The armed Citizen is named in the newspaper report of the incident.  He is reported to be 62 years of age.  Mr. Foster is reported to be 43 years old. 

Looking at the video it appears there was a brief period when the armed Citizen could have taken a different course of action that probably would have resulted in the shooting or death of Mr. Foster.  In spite of the disparity of force between the two men, Mr. Foster being much younger, bigger and apparently stronger, the armed Citizen chose to respond with like force which resulted in him being pinned and disarmed. 

His brief opportunity to respond with deadly force or to at least draw his gun to the unprovoked attack was to remain on his back and spin his torso away from his attacker while drawing his firearm.  Using his legs to either kick the attacker or try to create space between them.

This would be an unconventional shooting position and one that commercial shooting ranges do not allow you to practice for liability reasons. 

The points I want to make about this incident are these:

  • People who shop at Wal-Mart are crazy (just kidding, lighten up, take a joke)
  • Florida has decriminalized the brief non-threating exposure of a concealed gun by valid permit holders. Prior to last year the Armed Citizen in this story might have also been charged with displaying a firearm. Transferring a firearm from a place in your car to your person is problematic anywhere outside your closed garage. But this process has to be dealt with because you may be traveling between places where it is OK to carry and places where it is not (like a Post Office). Having a discreet plan of action for the transfer is essential to avoiding conflicts with the uninformed or paranoid members of the general public.
  • As a Citizen you need to understand that if you think you have “made” a person carrying a gun your first response should not be to tackle them yourself. If you are that disturbed by guns, call 911 and leave the area. As a Citizen you have no duty to confront anyone.
  • We’ve heard horrendous stories of by-standers not getting involved when atrocious acts of violence are being perpetrated on fellow Citizens. There are also stories of Citizens getting involved and stopping violence. It’s tough when you didn’t witness the whole event. In this case the by-standers who became participants may have been instrumental in preventing a shooting. But to disarm someone who is telling you they have a permit seems fraught with danger and liability. The two by-standers who came to the aid of Mr. Foster cannot be seen as “Good Samaritans” after the facts are known.
  • If you carry concealed, keep it in such a manner that it is not observable if you should have a wardrobe malfunction. Know that there are people who are so deeply ignorant of the possibility of a Citizen using a gun for protection, they may not be able to recognize that it is a defensive posture and not an indicator of criminal intent.
  • Practice unconventional shooting positions. You may not be able to do this in a live fire situation but you certainly can add it to your dry fire exercises. Also practice the draw from concealment and presentation while dry firing. Drawing from concealment is another one of those practice areas that are usually not allowed at commercial ranges.
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