I was having a discussion with some folks on a defensive shooting scenario which rabbit-trailed into a discussion of the responsibility that being an armed citizen carries with it. I’m not talking about safe gunhandling (although that’s important) rather I’m thinking of whether or not someone with a CCW has a duty or obligation to come to the aid of another person whose life/person is in danger.
There seem to be a couple of schools of thought on this issue, which I’ll divide into three major camps. Camp A would say “Absolutely, being armed gives you the obligation to assist if at all possible”, Camp B would say “Absolutely not, your only obligation is to defend your life and the lives of your family”, and finally Camp C seems to say that “You should do what’s appropriate to the situation at hand.” Of course, that seems kind of wishy-washy, but at the same time I’m more comfortable with that than I would be the absolutism in Camp A or Camp B.
Obviously, I think that a balance between Camp A and Camp B is necessary. Since I am no longer involved in the military or law enforcement, my “obligation” to defend others ends at my family. Were I to witness someone being violently assaulted, while I would desire to aid this person, it would seem reasonable to only do so if it were possible to not compromise my ability to defend my family. No matter what, the safety of my family always takes priority over that of a stranger.
It is however much easier for me to say that while sitting behind my comfy computer, not hearing someone cry out for assistance with my being in possession of a means to their aid. I have the luxury of thinking about what my response would be in a hypothetical situation, if it actually occurs that won’t be a luxury I can afford.
Bottom line – my family comes first. No matter what it takes, if that’s violence, retreat, or doing nothing, I’ve made the choice that my family must always be the first priority. Sure, every situation is dynamic, and I don’t know what could happen. That’s why I have to make this decision now, before something happens, because if it does the time for decision making has passed. Then it’s time for action.
Edited: Upon re-reading my post, it seems that I do in fact support the absolutism of Camp B when it comes to my obligation. I realize I’ll probably take some flak for that, however I cannot escape the conviction I have that it is my moral obligation to put the life of my family ahead of that of a stranger.