Lets use the same scenario and pretend the gunman got a bag full of money but he suddenly wasn’t satisfied with his haul. Maybe he turns around and demands everyone empty their pockets and give up their phones, wallets and jewelry. Do you draw now? I don’t think I would in this case, but again I’d be watching his every move to make sure I could draw if needed. Valuables can be replaced, and I’m not 100% certain that drawing on this hypothetical criminal would paint me as a hero in the local newspaper. It’s very easy to find a bleeding heart journalist that would take pity on the man who was just trying to feed his family by means of a felony act of robbery with a deadly weapon. That’s not good for you or anybody.
Let’s pretend the situation took a turn for the worse. The Police have been notified that there is a gunman in the area and they have arrived on scene. The gunman sees the arrival of the squad car and immediately begins to barricade the door and maybe takes one of the innocent bystanders as a human shield. Now do you intervene? I could definitely see a case for drawing, but you also must take into account what is beyond your target, what would happen if you missed? What could you potentially hit if you don’t hit your target. All very important things to consider. And if you do intervene and stop the threat, all of these things WILL be considered, perhaps even in court.
The above situation only takes into account one shooter. What if there were more than one? What if there were three or four armed men in the situation above? Now if you choose to intercede, round count in the magazine becomes a factor. Shot placement and reloading time enter into the equation. Are you really equipped to handle a threat of four armed men?
I know I struggle with the when/where/how/why if I was ever forced to draw and stop a threat. The most common denominator in every situation is if loss of life is imminent, it’s probably a justifiable reason to draw. Sometimes, as above, that reason may not be justified and you put yourself at risk to be charged with a crime if you intercede or worse, you could be fired upon by the felon. There really are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the right time to draw a firearm. Situations and circumstances always vary. The best practice is to gain as much knowledge as possible about what to do if you are forced to draw, and what to do immediately following a situation where you are forced to use your firearm. There are many classes, books and online material that discuss this topic. Massad Ayoob has written many books around this topic and is considered the foremost expert in the field.
Using hypothetical situations is a good place to begin the conversation on when the right time to intercede is, if at all. I think too many times we can get too caught up in what we carry, how we carry it and what cartridge offers the best performance and perhaps don’t spend enough time thinking about what we would do in a potentially life threatening situation. The world we live in today is unpredictable and the only thing we can do is be vigilant, be prepared and hope that we never need to defend our lives.