Defensive gun use: Pharmacist bottles up prevention; attacker opts for rough medicine instead
Pennsylvania pharmacist and small business owner Kenneth Lee is being lauded by his neighbors and district attorney for taking decisive action when trouble came his way. News coverage of the incident may focus on the shooting, but it also shows that Lee’s compounding skills aren’t limited to what’s behind the counter—he did all he could to avoid a shooting.
The story leaves us gun carriers with a number of lessons on avoiding a targeted attack, as well as the importance of taking control in the face of a determined criminal.
Take a look at the video, then we’ll analyze Mr. Lee’s response.
Lee said he knew his business was a likely crime target thanks to our nation’s opioid addiction epidemic. Indeed, robberies of pharmacies have become commonplace regardless of the neighborhood. Rather than just wish for luck, Lee took action. For starters, he made sure to…
Harden the target
Lee installed good-quality security cameras outside and inside the store. Though cameras may be more affordable than ever, it’s rather easy to create reasonable doubt in court when images are grainy and unclear. Though his business is small, he opted for sophisticated tech.
Cameras can be a deterrent to the less determined crook. They have a place, but are overrated in their effectiveness. No technology is a substitute for the other homework of being prepared.
A pharmacy, even a small one, is always a busy place during business hours. Though we’re not told if anyone other than Mr. Lee and his employee were present at the time, it’s clear that Lee wasn’t excessively absorbed in the business at hand. Monitoring the outdoor camera, he noticed the approach of a person wearing a Halloween mask and attempting to shield a shotgun under an umbrella. This much he knew before the assailant ever got to the entrance.
Lee surely used the valuable time between noticing the obviously ill-intended person and their ingress into the shop to arm himself. Perhaps he also warned the employee to hide or flee. Perhaps he shielded his own body behind something that would at least partially obscure him from the assailant’s view, and better yet, stop incoming fire. Being a smart guy, he’d probably figured out in advance what parts of the store could serve as cover.
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS is the most important of the lessons here. It’s a critical skill for gun carriers; a status we all should maintain as much as possible. That goes for anyone who wants to avoid crime, armed or not.
Lee gave the attacker a clear choice: leave or be shot. Is a verbal warning legally required? No. But it certainly helps his defense in terms of showing the attacker was intent on killing to get access to the store’s goods. Perhaps the attacker didn’t speak English or understand the command, but the tone of Lee’s warning was likely universally understandable.
Verbal warnings are great, but don’t exercise them at the expense of getting behind cover or taking aim to make an accurate, life-saving shot.
The attack stopped when Lee fired upon the armed attacker, who was now in close range, having ignored repeated levels of warning. Reportedly, Lee fired 12 times and several rounds struck the attacker.
Those whose defensive studies are limited to TV and movies may not understand that a handgun caliber bullet, of any size, is a relatively weak defense against a creature the size of an adult human. One shot very rarely stops a determined attacker, nor does one in a situation such as this have time to fire once, stop and observe, then fire again if indicated. Lee’s rate of fire was likely three or four rounds per second, based on what we know from the better-researched arena of police officers defending themselves.
The shooting part of this encounter probably lasted three to four seconds. Thankfully, the good guy was victorious. However, that success was the result of years or months of planning, combined with awareness and willingness to act.
Do you think it sounds like the pharmacist was justified in the use of deadly force? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure you like Gun Carrier’s Facebook page!