When examining the Snowflake Test a while ago, I answered this question thus:
You’re in Starbucks with two friends. Someone runs in and says someone is coming in with a gun in 15 seconds to shoot patrons. They offer you a gun. Do you take it? What do you do next?
— I don’t need someone else’s gun because I always carry my own. Next, I’d tell everyone to get on the floor (so I get a clear field of fire), then find some cover from which to shoot behind, and finally slip the safety catch off the 1911. It’s an unlikely situation per se because I never go to Starbucks, but I understand the general issue you’re addressing.
…whereupon Longtime Reader Felix Estrella made this comment:
“I’d be concerned about your “Starbucks and gun” answer. How do you know that, for example, the guy running into the Starbucks didn’t just steal a cop’s gun and the ‘assailant’ about to come in isn’t the cop chasing after the stealer? Why would you want to get into a fight on the say-so of a complete stranger? Wouldn’t you want to assess the situation before opening fire? Why are you trying to be the hero? Do you thrive on hero-worship?”
Leaving aside the two snarky comments at the very end because they’re not worth answering yet, it’s an interesting comment which I’ve had to think about for a while. “Interesting” because it’s one of those intellectual discussions which works well when one has a great deal of time to analyze it but which, when one has literally only a couple seconds to make life-and-death decisions, is far more likely to cause indecision and ultimately, tragedy.
In the first instance, a guy who has just stolen a cop’s gun isn’t going to run into a Starbucks hoping some hero is going to waste the pursuing cop — a gun store, maybe, but Starbucks? No. And why would the guy with the gun be looking for protection from the guy without the gun? Even if this were the case, the pursuer is going to be holding his cop’s badge in his hand (or should be), whereupon Hero Kim will hold fire, you betcha, and start looking for the first guy. Unless I see a gun in the second guy’s hand, I’m not going to fire. Rule #1 in COINOPS, Felix, and you should know that.
In the second instance, “assessing the situation” is one of those actions which sounds nice when it’s asked in a courtroom, miles away from the Starbucks and light-years away from the situation itself, but in the few seconds available, it just isn’t a sensible option. Hesitation, in this case, means that the guy running into the store with a gun is going to shoot a couple of folks while I’m standing there, pondering (like Teddy Kennedy at Chappaquiddick) the implications of what’s happening in front of me.
Sorry, that ain’t gonna happen. I stand by my original answer, because I think it’s the correct one.
Now for Felix’s snarky closing comments. I don’t have a hero complex — in fact, given the choice, I’d prefer to be at home and far away from this situation. But I do take my civic duties seriously, and this would be one of those times when obligation takes precedence over druthers.
And Felix, you committed the first cardinal sin on this website: gratuitously insulting the host. Here’s my comment: go fuck yourself. Longtime readership earns you no favors against rudeness.
This topic is now closed.