Defensive Gun Use: What is it with pizza that makes people stupid?
Though the mainstream media fails to mention rates, every week there are ten or more defensive gun use incidents in the news, and almost every week, GunCarrier reports on one of them.
Believe it or not, crimes involving pizza are a common occurrence. So far, we’ve reported on gun use by a pizza store clerk and a pizza delivery man. This week, the star of our pizza show is a customer, who was in the right place at the right time to deliver some life-saving ballistics while picking up dinner.
The incident took place last week near Philadelphia. A gun-toting customer, called Mr. Romano for purposes of this story, was really on top of things. Romano entered Porfirio’s II Pizza and Pasta at 10:00 PM to pick up his order. He and two employees were inside when a pair of masked men, apparently wielding pistols, entered the store in what Middletown Township police Lieutenant Stephen Forean later described as a “rapid, aggressive, violent manner.”
The two robbers split up once inside. One, Shawn Rose, 24, began pistol-whipping Romano on the forehead, knocking him to his knees. Rose looked away for a moment, and Romano seized that opportunity to draw his own .45 ACP Glock from his jacket. He landed a single shot to Rose’s torso. Romano then trained his aim on the second robber, Justin Rose, Shawn’s 22-year old brother.
Justin was threatening the man behind the counter with a gun, screaming “give me all your shit.” In a news interview the next day, the clerk described his seemingly lost cause, honestly telling the robber he didn’t have access to the cash without the manager present. The younger Rose persisted with the threat, yelling and gesturing with the gun. Romano shot him also, striking him in the throat and shoulder. With the attack apparently over, Romano stood guard, gun drawn and eyes on the two criminals, until police arrived.
Families can turn out sweet and sour. The robbers, Shawn and Justin Rose, were brothers. Romano’s attacker, Shawn, died on the scene. Younger brother Justin is in what reporters described as “grave condition” the day after the crime. The guns the crooks carried were airsoft replicas with the orange muzzle tips removed to make them appear real. They didn’t bank on meeting a citizen with a real gun of his own.
The manager of this business, a brother-in-law of the clerk, arrived seconds after shots were fired. He says Romano became part of the family that night. The business posted a written notice of appreciation for all their customers and closed for one day following the incident.
“Everything happened so fast,” said the clerk, the father of a two-month old infant. A reporter covering the incident said the pizza family has been in business with this and other locations for years, and “has never had to think about security before.”
Mama mia! What lessons the Porfirio family learned, and so can we as readers.
First, the young father behind the counter may have experienced a common phenomenon for critical incidents—time distortion. He described the incident as if it happened in fast-forward motion. That’s the less likely of two options, the other being that the incident seemed to happen in slow motion. Time distortion is a head trick of sorts that most people experience by early adulthood. It most commonly shows up in auto accidents.
As a defensive living practitioner, one way to make time distortion more likely to work in your favor is to adopt the habit of watching people’s hands. Don’t be a nosy jerk about it, of course. As you travel through public places, casually observe where people’s hands are and what they’re doing with them. It’s a habit that will serve you in life-or-death situations. It’s nearly always the hands that initiate an attack, whether by a direct strike or drawing a weapon. Watching hands as a habit will buy you reaction time when time is otherwise not on your side.
Mr. Romano wisely kept his guard up until law enforcement showed up. Criminals are experts at faking a lot of things; injury may be one. If Romano has taken some gun carry training, he wasn’t surprised when his gun was taken into police possession as evidence—an assumption I’m making based on the photo of the sub-compact Glock shown in the newscast.
If you’re serious about personal protection, this should also be motivation to have a second carry gun at home. Assuming Romano has no warrants or other past legal issues that would preclude legal carry, his firearm hopefully will be returned in the near future. Until then, he should have a backup.
Another aspect of this analysis is a familiar theme to regular readers of these defensive gun use recaps. Any store owner who’s “never had to think about security before” is making some incorrect assumptions about running a business. If there’s a cash register around, eventually that location will be the target of a robbery. Plan accordingly—denial is not your friend. This isn’t a recommendation of paranoia. It’s a recommendation that staff should be trained on what to do in the event of a robbery–beyond handing over the moolah.
Like the diplomat his job calls him to be, the area police chief rode the fence in statements to the press, at least as those comments were relayed to the public. A reluctant admission was made that Romano is a hero to the Porfirio family. The chief used the event to admonish the public to have a permit if they are going to carry a gun—not necessarily a bad suggestion, but it makes one wonder if charges are being considered for Romero, who perhaps was carrying without a permit.
The chief also issued a vague statement about not taking the law into one’s hands. With due respect to every community’s finest, the adage “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away” applies here. We do not have the right to pursue and punish those who hurt us. We do have the right to defend ourselves and others against real and immediate threats. Thankfully, Mr. Romano was present and prepared for more than pizza.