Tough Decision

posted on October 14, 2014
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They were closing up at 2:30 a.m. when two men came into the bar with guns and told everyone to get on the floor. Two other thugs stood guard at the door during the heist.

The bad guys didn’t count on one of the patrons drawing. The culprits managed to get off three shots, according to the Houston Chronicle, but when the smoke cleared, two of them were dead and the “hero” had vanished into the night.

It has all the makings of a new Punisher movie; unfortunately, fleeing the scene of a crime is against the law—even if you’re a witness, and particularly if you pull a trigger. More than likely authorities will grill the victims and catch the person the bar owner is calling a hero, whom I hope has sought legal counsel.

Why would the person leave? There’s a long list of possibilities, most of them concerning the lawfulness of this person’s carry at the time. However, there’s also our overly litigious society. More than likely the thugs’ families would think they’ve just hit the lottery, sue, lose and the resulting legal fees will drain the hero’s bank account.

In my opinion, that’s one of the underlying reasons the heroes our kids have today are more celebrity than substance (with the exception of military, since the Taliban doesn’t have the legal standing to sue). I’ve never done anything as gallant as this, but even back when I was doing search and rescue work 20 years ago lawsuits were a concern. We had insurance that covered us on an official operation, but if you stopped at a car accident en route, our instructions from law enforcement were very simple and droned into us.

If you happen across an accident, render aid until relieved by someone with more training. If you saw the accident, you must stay and give a full report. If you did not, declare that fact to the responding officer, explain you gave first aid, and ask for permission to leave without volunteering your name. Park your vehicle far forward of the incident to minimize the chances of getting rear-ended or someone catching a good glimpse of your license plate.

I know it sounds sinister, but I’ve obeyed those rules for more than 30 years and they have served me well. Only one person has caught up to me in that time, and it was to tell me thanks and invite me to her church. I didn’t go. Rules are rules.

The law is the law, too. Any citizen involved in an incident like Houston’s is required to stay until law enforcement arrives. Whether you make a full statement then or wait until legal consultation is up to you.

It’s not as cool as slipping off into the night, but it beats the lawsuits and jail time you’ll endure otherwise.


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