The scene played out like a terrible Tarantino flick. Two lunatics decided to kill some cops. They randomly picked a couple officers enjoying their lunch and executed them at close range in Las Vegas. They then stole their guns and ammo, and casually went next door to Walmart.
They must have known there would be CCW holders, hell they were in Vegas. Everyone in Nevada carries a gun. And the husband shooter encountered Joe Wilcox, a trained, law abiding CCW holder. It is not known at this point if Mr. Wilcox got a round off at the bad guy, because the bad guy's psychopath wife snuck in behind Mr. Wilcox, as she posed as a shopper, and got close enough to execute him from behind with a shot to the head.
I will not disparage Mr. Wilcox. He is a hero in my book. He died so that others in that store may make it out of there intact. And who knows, maybe these lunatics would have killed him even if he hadn't engaged one of them. Maybe their plan was one of mass carnage. Either way, as a CCW holder, we are faced with decisions that may or may not end our lives, end our financial freedom, or potentially get someonw else hurt. So, the most important part of the responsibility of carrying a gun is to be able to quickly assess a situation and make decisions that don't get others hurt or killed.
Of course, our own safety is paramount as well. And we certainly don't want our firearms falling into the wrong hands, so a lot goes into "situational awareness", which is something taught in every CCW/CCL class, and every self defense class the world over.
First, and foremost, what or who is behind your target? Are you in range where you can hit your target, without dropping granny who is walking by in the background? Second, is your target the only potential target? If this isn't your first or second thought, you are going to get killed fast, as Mr. Wilcox did. Sadly, he was unaware there was a second shooter. In an instant he made a choice to engage the guy with the gun, and evidently wasn't thinking about the others in the store who could be on the other team.
The moral of the story is situational awareness. If you discharge your weapon in a Walmart, there's a high probability you are going to shoot someone other than your target. There are kids running around, and in an event like the one in Vegas, all the patrons were probably freaking out and running for the exits. Its a bad time to draw down on anyone. So, the situation didn't dictate Wilcox's actions, and that is why he was killed. He made a self-sacrificing decision in the moment. This is admirable in a huge way, but is ultimately what cost him his young life.
Our training at RDA centers around just this type of situation, whether in the home, a crowded store, or in a park, you must know how many potential targets there are, and having one behind you is the greatest nightmare you can face. The decision to engage is never entered lightly, and I can only imagine what Wilcox was thinking. He probably knew there were a bunch of women and children in the store, and he didn't want anything to happen to them. For that, we salute him. We mourn for his family, and we pray for them all.
For you, the CCW/CCL holder, think before you draw. Once the bad guys know you are packing, the gunfight is on. And as you can see with this story, it wasn't a gunfight, it was a shooting, execution-style. Sadly, this could have been avoided. Don't be a hero at the cost of your own life. Know your surroundings, count how many people are around so you know how many potential targets, and victims there are, and only in a dire emergency do you ever engage a bad guy. If you live, and the bad guys die, their families are going to sue you into the stone age. Help get people out of the store if you must, but don't draw on the bad guys-unless it is self defense, or you are totally sure there is only one. The life you save will most definitely be your own!
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