Stopping a shoplifter with gunfire?


A concealed carry license does not a hero make.

The state issues a photo ID card to concealed carry licensees, not a cape.

Carrying a firearm for self defense is a heady responsibility. Using one to defend your life can be a nightmare.

There are many factors to consider before using deadly force. Most are grey rather than black or white.  Every situation is different. There are few absolutes, except for one that occurred last week about an hour north of Tampa, when a young concealed-carry licensee used his pistol to try to stop a shoplifter. Using deadly force to seize a non-violent misdemeanant who’s merely trying to flee is never a good idea.

I’m a big fan of the state’s  concealed carry program, although like any set of 25-year-old laws, I think it could use some fine-tuning.

The only problem I have with the program is the lack of any training requirement.  Specifically, there’s no rule requiring instructors to teach students when deadly force is authorized.

If you go to a reputable instructor, there’s bound to be some discussion about when deadly force can be used. But, as silly as this sounds, there’s nothing that requires the state’s instructor cadre to teach students about the use of deadly force.

Occasionally, this causes some rather questionable and extremely newsworthy armed encounters.

Last week, Jose Martinez apparently fired five rounds at an alleged shoplifter who was fleeing security in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Orange City, Florida.

Jose Martinez

The accused shoplifter, Eddie McKee, allegedly stole a sack of groceries from the mega-store.

In an interview he gave local media just minutes after the shooting – pure genius that – Martinez said McKee “bumped” him with his car in the parking lot while trying to flee the area. He also said he wanted to “mark” McGee’s car  – with bullets – for police.

Police, however, said Martinez was actually running after the would-be shoplifter, trying to open the car door to thwart the shoplifting, before he let loose a volley of gunfire.

Two of Martinez’s rounds struck McGee’s car. One shattered the rear window. One went through the truck. Police said two other cars in the lot were also struck hit by his gunfire.

Martinez, who has a concealed carry license, is now facing two charges: aggravated assault and shooting into an occupied vehicle – both felonies. If convicted, his days of legally owning firearms could come to an end.

There are about a thousand what-ifs here that could have easily added murder to his list of charges: What if McGee had a passenger in the back seat? What if an uninvolved shopper was struck by one of his rounds? What if an occupant in another vehicle or a passerby was hit by a round? What if he killed McGee – for a misdemeanor – turning his car into a 4,000-pound unguided missile? What if this unguided missile then struck a busload of kids?

We need some type of standardized lesson plan for concealed carry classes – something that specifically addresses the use of deadly force.

I’m about the last person who would ever advocate for more rules or regulation – especially for anything pertaining to the Second Amendment – but everyone who carries or owns a firearm is  under intense scrutiny nowadays. A burst of gunfire over a purloined bag of groceries in a busy parking lot doesn’t look good.

Considering the legislation being proposed in Colorado, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, we should make this minor tweak to the concealed carry program, before someone someday makes major changes without our consent.



About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

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