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Should You Get Involved When a Stranger is Attacked?

Should You Get Involved When a Stranger is Attacked?

Sadly, a common fantasy of folks who have just gotten their concealed-carry license is that they will happen onto a crime in progress, intervene and become the new hero in their town. Well, I suppose you can daydream all you want, but please give some serious thought to what could happen when you decide to get involved in suppressing crime. The fact is quite a number of things can happen, and most of them are bad.

We each have our own idea of what constitutes a particularly heinous crime. It may be attacks against women, or the elderly, or children, or even police oficers. How can you be sure that what you think you are seeing is what is actually happening? Even attacks on officers? Yep. You ever heard of crooks putting on police uniforms to commit crimes? Look it up.

Of course, one of the most common assaults to be encountered is a male-on-female assault. Think it seems logical to go to the aid of the woman? Ask just about any veteran police officer about making those domestic disturbance calls. It is not at all uncommon to be subduing the male (clearly the bad guy, right?) and have the female start combing your hair with a skillet.

And then you have to overcome dangerous stereotypes. Male on female attack, so the guy is automatically the criminal? Maybe. Maybe not. Recent events show how quickly stereotypes and lack of complete information can get potential rescuers in serious trouble.

We seldom know what started an attack we might observe. We seldom get the chance to ask people what is going on. And, even if we get a chance to ask, we rarely ever get the chance to check what we've been told for the truth. And, to top it all off, the police won't be able to tell you from the bad guys. When they arrive, you are just another part of the problem–and you are holding a gun.

I suppose each of us can imagine witnessing an attack so heinous, we just can't stand by and watch someone be killed or seriously injured. Despite the moral necessity of acting in such a case, you must understand the chances you're taking and the consequences you may face for intervening. A parade in your honor? I wouldn't plan on it.

It makes far better sense to spend the time until help arrives by being the best witness you can possibly be. Since a cell phone is a critical part of your defensive gear, be the one who called 911. But you can also take photos and videos of the incident. Take the time to get license plate numbers, good descriptions of the bad guys and any other pertinent details. Don't trust your memory; write all of this down, or record it.

In the end, whether or not you choose to get involved in trying to stop a crime-in-progress is up to you. Be alert, be informed, and make the best decisions that your training and experience will allow. But, win, lose or draw, you can forget about the “hero” part.

If you enjoyed this article, you'll love "The Sheriff's Take," the author's blog on www.Shootinglllustrated.com.

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