Don’t Mess with Security

“We arm security guards to protect our money in armored cars!  We should arm teachers to protect our children!”

No… and yes.

I have heard this refrain over and over again in the ongoing debate regarding arming teachers, and it makes me cringe each and every time.

Yes… I fully support allowing teachers to exercise their inalienable right to exist, and employ the most logical tool that will allow them to protect that right.  I do not, however, support the conflation of security guards into this mix.

Let me explain:

A teacher, or anyone for that matter, has the right to exist.  If a tyrant threatens that right (you can read tyrant in the most expansive context possible), and there is an imminent likelihood of death or great bodily injury to the teacher, or to another innocent person, then that teacher has the God-given right to defend herself.

If a security guard transporting money is suddenly confronted with someone who seeks to rob him of his bailment, then deadly force is NOT a viable option.

Over the holidays, a security guard at Walgreens in Hollywood shot and killed a homeless man he suspected of shoplifting.  There was a confrontation and in the end, the security guard ended up shooting the fleeing suspect in the back, ultimately killing him.  The Los Angeles District Attorney has filed a criminal charge against the security guard.

My favorite quote from the AOL online story about this ( came from the family of the deceased’s attorney who is filing a wrongful death action against Walgreens:

“Jonathan Hart was profiled because he was homeless. He was harassed because he was gay, and he was shot because he was black.” – Carl Douglas

(He left out that he was also Jewish, enjoyed Chinese food, and played with puppies… but I digress.)

(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)

Yeah… we need to talk about this.

As I have mentioned many, many times before, especially in our CCW training program, we carry guns for one exclusive reason:  the preservation of human life.  We NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use deadly force for the protection of property.

Without getting into the facts of the above case, frankly, I have no idea what actually happened, and I loathe to assess any value on the story from AOL, or the musings of the family’s attorney.  What we can agree on is that the deceased was shot by the security guard.  The fact that he was shot in the back, in and of itself, is not dispositive.  We have seen multiple instances where righteous shootings included entry wounds in the decedent’s back.  Force Science has done some extremely interesting forensic work showing the speed of a deadly force event and the twisting of a decedent’s body.

For the purposes of academic discussion, however, let’s operate on the assumption that the decedent was, in fact, shot while trying to exit the store.  Essentially, the security guard was trying to “punish” the victim.

While many of you would quickly realize that this is illegal, variants of this pop up from time to time in conversations with clients.  

“So I was finalizing a deal with one of my construction workers and he started getting angry… He yelled at me and started coming at me.  I backed up and put my hand on my gun.  He blurted out, ‘Oh! you have a gun,’ and turned and walked away.”

“Were you in fear for your life at that moment?”

“From him?  No. But I wanted to be ready!”

“Yeah… you broke the law.”

“What? How?”

“Your actions clearly showed that you had a weapon, which he acknowledged, and as a result of his knowledge, he changed his behavior.”  The California Penal Code (§417) states that you cannot display a weapon in a rude or threatening manner.”

“But, I didn’t display it!”

“Actually, you did; the fact that it never broke leather is not particularly relevant.”

Deadly force, or the threatened use of deadly force, is only allowed at the exact moment the victim is in fear for his life.  If the threat has ended… (the bad guy is running away)… or there was no threat to the victim’s life to begin with, then deadly force makes you the bad guy!

…. And we NEVER use deadly force to protect property!  Now, if someone is trying to kill you to get at your property…. well, that is an entirely different story.

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