Shoppers at a Michigan Home Depot must have felt they’d stepped into the Wild West when a woman carrying a concealed pistol began to shoot at escaping shoplifters. It’s the type of scenario that many Americans are terrified of as the gun control debate rages on.
At a Home Depot in Auburn Hills, Michigan on Tuesday, a pair of shoplifters carried out a scheme to nab nearly $1,000 worth of equipment. According to the Detroit Free Press, an unidentified man wearing a hunting cap and black shirt was calmly pushing a shopping cart full of goods. Suddenly, the man made a break for the exit. The store’s security gave chase, but the shoplifter was able to get the goods into a waiting getaway car before he could be apprehended.
At this point, things get crazy.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) October 8, 2015
A 46-year-old Michigan woman witnessed the shoplifter making his escape and decided to shoot. The unnamed woman, who reportedly holds a concealed gun permit, removed her weapon and began to fire at the departing SUV. Police believe she managed to hit one of the tires. There’s no evidence that the shoplifters were harmed. Authorities were able to confirm that no bystanders were injured during the shooting incident, which took place at around 2 p.m. local time.
Not too surprisingly, the woman who decided to shoot at a fleeing shoplifter was the bigger story than the actual shoplifting incident itself. It’s what Doreen Hankins, owner of Detroit Arms and CPL instructor considers her “worst nightmare”.
“You have to know the entire situation before you pull that handgun out. And I don’t see that a shoplifter at Home Depot fills any of those criteria.”
Other CPL instructors, such as Dawn Martin, agreed. Martin told the Free Press, “In that situation personally, there’s no way I would be shooting my gun.”
— The Straits Times (@STcom) October 7, 2015
The problem with the Michigan woman’s behavior toward the shoplifter is it represents poor judgment and an extreme reaction to non-extreme circumstances. Hankins said told the Detroit paper the decision to shoot would make sense if the individual were facing sexual assault, a severe injury, or potentially death. But to open fire in public at someone over stolen property isn’t even justifiable as a police officer.
As a private citizen, such behavior is highly questionable — and possibly illegal.
Michigan police have not said whether they intend to charge the unknown woman for shooting her weapon in public. It remains a distinct possibility. Angry commenters who responded to the local police’s official Facebook account about the matter have demanded that law enforcement take action. Not against the shoplifter, but against the woman who decided to shoot at the escaping shoplifter.
Said one commenter, “Why in hell is she not arrested for opening fire in a public place that could have mistakenly hit a bystander?” It’s a good question. Imagine if the woman had accidentally shot and killed an innocent bystander. It would be hard, and quite likely impossible to justify the potential loss of life over shooting at shoplifters.
Though no one died in this situation, it’s just another example of poor decision-making that is driving the gun debate. Mass shootings have caused some individuals to call for greater access to guns and concealed carry permits. Despite this, it’s noted that horrific tragedies such as the Sandy Hook and the Umpqua College shootings could be traced to legal gun owners.
It needs to be understood that the ability to access or correctly use a gun is not enough to protect Americans from dangerous persons… or themselves. Incidents like the one in Michigan no doubt make law-abiding gun owners look bad in the eyes of anti-gun advocates. More importantly, it also demonstrates that sometimes individuals misunderstand what it means to be a responsible gun owner. That’s a misunderstanding a that could cost lives.
Do you think the Michigan woman who shot her gun at a fleeing shoplifter should be charged? Share your thoughts below!
[Image Credit: Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]