Defensive Gun Use: Road Rage, Edition

defensive gun use: road rage

The events
An early-morning encounter between strangers at a convenience store in Harker Heights, Texas, ended in the wounding of one by a gun carrier. The shooting is being called a road rage incident. Though details shared by news sources are sketchy, the story is full of worthy reminders about lawful carry.
According to statements by Stephanie Jones, the mother-in-law of the 24-year old Mr. Gun Carrier (whose real name hasn’t been released), Mr. Carrier, his wife, baby, and Ms. Jones were at a Cefco store on August 5th when the confrontation started at around 2:05 AM. The Carrier family was reportedly headed home from a lake outing, and had mud on their tires and trailer. Some of that mud was reportedly transferred to the squeaky-clean surface of a vehicle owned by 31-year old Mr. Cleancar—need we say his name is also undisclosed so far?
Anyway, Mr. Cleancar reportedly took offense at the mudding, and made his displeasure known when he began to chase the offenders. Ms. Jones says the Carrier party repeatedly yelled to Cleancar that there was a baby in the car, but according to Ms. Jones, that didn’t stop Cleancar from pursuing the Carrier family as they left the scene.
The Gun Carriers say the pursuit became violent when Cleancar rammed into them with his no longer clean car. Mr. Carrier pulled out a gun and shot at Mr. Cleancar, striking him in the arm. At some point, a police report was made, though it isn't clear at this point who initiated it. Cleancar fled the scene after the shooting, but was arrested later that morning when he showed up at a local emergency room for treatment of the gunshot wound.

Mr. Carrier was arrested, called a “suspect” in the local news, and taken into custody for an interview. He was released a few hours later, and given a court date to stand in front of a grand jury—standard procedure, from what I can tell, for people accused of misdemeanor crimes in the State of Texas. Readers who are versed in the Texas criminal justice system are welcome to comment with information on those procedures.
Ms. Jones says her daughter caught the events on her phone's camera. When you’re done chuckling at the mother-in-law being the one to squawk to the press, I’ll add that the video hasn’t been made available to the public as of this writing.
The armchair analysis
Mr. Gun Carrier was reportedly in fear for his life when he fired upon the aggressor. Maybe so, but are there any flags here that signal to you that Carrier might have made a better decision? Let’s look at what’s known:
  • The shooting is a violation of Safety Rule #4: Be aware of your target and what’s around it.

Though nothing’s impossible, it’s hard to imagine a situation with two moving vehicles that includes Carrier being able to positively identify that no innocent party was riding with Cleancar. Nor is it at all likely that he could’ve been sure of making an accurate shot from a moving vehicle—actually it’s rather (impressive? Fortunate? Miraculous?) that he hit the driver.

It’s not clear if Carrier was a passenger or driver when he shot, but need we mention that doing so would also be “distracted driving” on steroids, and also an endangerment to his family?
  • The hour was 2:05 AM. Who am I, writing this article after midnight, to judge the hour at which the Carriers decide to do a little vacation travel? I have no problem questioning the wisdom of being in or around convenience stores late at night, though. Convenience stores—with their cash registers close to the entrance, and open late at night—are natural targets for armed robberies and other activities of ne’er-do-wells.

The lessons

  • Defensive options: A car makes a fine deadly force weapon and escape route in its own right. Perhaps Carrier could’ve controlled the situation better had he sought a pedal-to-the-metal escape. I don’t know.
  • The wee hours and the company you keep: Regarding the hour when it all started–you want to carry and run with the wolves? Fine. If you’ve obtained a concealment permit, you’ve managed to keep yourself out of serious trouble for an adult lifetime thus far. But—adding a baby should give pause for thought about exposing the little one, and yourself as a provider, to risk. Of course, I may be making unfair assumptions about what the Carriers were doing that night—we’re armchair analyzing based on the facts as reported. My money is on Mr. Cleancar having been under the influence, or desperate for a fix of his drug of choice. Getting violently upset over a clean car isn’t normal.

You may argue that there are just as many addicted people running around in the daylight hours. You’d probably be right. At least most of the day trippers have figured out how to stay out of trouble.

    • Places to be extra alert: Be especially aware of potential threats at convenience stores, gas pumps, and anywhere that cash and wallets are being exposed in an easily escapable environment. Don’t go through life paranoid, of course. It’s not news that the desperate, sometimes nothing-to-lose criminals target these places. Don’t tarry there.

  • Managing your emotions is not the job of other motorists: Road rage is something to avoid if you want to keep your ability to carry a gun. Mr. Carrier reportedly didn’t initiate this confrontation, and it appears he did attempt to leave the scene promptly—good! This advice is less about him than it is an admonition to be aware of unwanted driving events and your typical response. Things like being cut off, people going too fast or too slow, being caught in traffic, having the fender of your nice new car dented by someone else’s terrible driving, and so on can really raise most people’s blood pressure. As a lawful carrier, you can’t afford to be anything but patient and courteous unless you or someone you wish to defend is facing an imminent and grievous threat. Losing your cool and pushing someone, thumping a fist on their vehicle, or brandishing your handgun is a losing proposition for your future gun freedoms. Take a deep breath and handle it some other way if at all possible.

There are no crime scene photos or video of this incident to show you, so I’ll close with some of the best advice for lawful carriers that also happens to be a favorite movie line. Be nice. Be nice, until it’s time to not be nice. 
Sound Off Gun Carriers! Is there anything you'd have done differently if you were the gun carrier in this instance? Of course, there are a lot of variables, but based on what we know–what would you have done? Let us know in the comments below. Make sure you like our Facebook Page.

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