Last week, we sent an email discussing a crazy self defense shooting.

This week we are going to watch a man with extraordinary composure in the face of an armed threat successfully evade an attack, and then make a huge mistake.

The following video is from Milwaukee Wisconsin and shows a 66 year old Vietnam veteran face down an armed carjacker.

Our defender is getting out of his car when he is confronted by a man with a gun. The good guy’s reaction is to simply walk away. This reaction was clearly not what the carjacker was expecting as we can see the confusion on his face and a moment of indecision before he and his 2 accomplices take off running.

This is a win and our good guy could have ended this interaction here. Instead, he jumped into his car to chase down his attackers. This resulted in him getting shot at multiple times, with his car being hit a total of 4 times. Obviously this is not a good way to end your day. But is this something our good guy should have done?

In our Free Concealed Carry Classes, we often discuss the idea of “Could versus Should”. Just because something is possible, or even legal, does not always mean it’s something you should do. The reverse is also true, just because the legal aftermath is unpredictable and high risk doesn’t mean you should do what is necessary to save your life or the lives of others.

In order to answer the could versus should question, a person must have a good understanding of the laws, the nature of violent attacks, the stakes involved and a clear understanding of what is most important to them. We often bring up the idea of protecting property with deadly force. A lot of people value a thief’s life much less than say their vehicle. But the life of the bad guy is not the only part of the equation. There’s also the physical risk for yourself, as well as the potential for legal fallout that could land you in jail. Most people who look at the whole equation will rethink the idea of charging out to take on a car thief in their driveway.

But we have to also consider another motivation when it comes to self defense. Humans are territorial. We haven’t socialized that out of our society yet. It is possible that this 66 year old veteran felt like it was in his best interest to chase away violent people who were threatening not just him, but his neighborhood as well. The instinct to protect is noble and it is innate in some people. While it may seem crazy to some people that this man would risk his life to pursue his attackers, to him it may seem worth the risk of getting shot or even killed.

I used to have a neighbor who was 80 years old. His wife of many decades had passed away. He lived alone, and didn’t go out much at all. We had several problems with thefts in the cul de sac and the police were unable to prevent the problems we were having. This neighbor would spend many hours after dark sitting in a lawn chair in his driveway, sometimes bundled up against the cold. He held a flashlight in one hand and pistol in the other. We would run off any suspicious vehicles that happened to venture into his neighborhood. First he’d shine the flashlight. If that wasn’t enough, then he’d show the gun.

While I’d never advocate that anyone take this approach for dealing with this type of crime, clearly my neighbor had decided that he’d rather spend his remaining years after a long life doing something that he felt was necessary, no matter the risks. And I doubt anyone would have been able to talk him out of that.

The point I am trying to make with this story is that we will all have to evaluate what is most important to us and decide how to act based on that evaluation. But in order to properly understand it we must educate ourselves about what the true risks are to our lives, our freedom, our resources and so on. To live with conviction, we must be certain of our convictions in the first place.