A good guy with a gun

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 27, 2014

Proponents of less restrictive gun laws often make the argument that it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun.
That appears to be the case in the Tuesday night shooting at the China Buffet in Salisbury.
A would-be robber with a shotgun entered the restaurant about 9 p.m., about an hour before closing time, according to authorities. What the robber didn’t realize was the late-evening diners enjoying their egg rolls and noodles included an off-duty Rowan County deputy. In the ensuing confrontation, according to investigators, the deputy fatally shot the suspect.
The episode probably unfolded in less time that it’s taken you to read this far. It involved lightning-fast assessments of the situation, a split-second decision on a course of action and a steady hand under extreme duress. That it ended as it did wasn’t just the result of a “good guy” having a gun but a professional putting to good use the training that equipped him to deal with exactly this kind of dire situation. While state investigators will perform a standard review, the initial accounts indicate the officer responded appropriately and may well have prevented further bloodshed among innocent civilians.
As county commissioners take up the recommendation to expand concealed-carry permit access, in line with revised state laws, this case inevitably becomes part of the discussion. Instances of mass shootings in public venues are often cited as evidence that we’d all be safer if more people were legally allowed to carry weapons. On the other side, however, are cases like the Florida theater shooting in which a concealed-carry holder shot an unarmed moviegoer during an argument over texting.
Whatever your stance on relaxed concealed-carry, you can find cases to support it. What practically all of these episodes illustrate, however — in both good and bad ways — is that judgment and weapons training are an essential part of the public-safety argument. While relaxing concealed-carry rules, state legislators debated — and ultimately rejected — a bad idea that would have repealed the long-standing law requiring a background check and permit for handgun purchases. Concealed-carry permit holders have to meet additional education and training standards — as they should. Second Amendment rights, like others, come with weighty responsibilities.
Gun activists sometimes cite the phrase that guns don’t kill people — people kill people. If that’s true, so is the corollary: Guns don’t save people — unless they’re in the hands of those with the level-headed judgment and expertise to use deadly force as a last resort, with minimal risk to bystanders. Fortunately, the off-duty deputy who had stopped by the China Buffet Tuesday night more than met that description.