This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, September 17, 2018: 

Massad Ayoob wrote the book that put him in the forefront of authors dedicated to teaching others the enormous responsibility that comes with carrying a sidearm for personal protection, In The Gravest Extreme. In it, he wrote:

The man who wears a gun carries with it the power of life and death, and therefore the responsibility to deport himself with greater calm and wisdom than his unarmed counterpart, whose panic or misjudgment in crisis situations will have less serious consequences.


The power of the gun is never ignored, no matter how accustomed one becomes to the weight on his hip. A man carrying a gun for the first time is acutely, even uncomfortably, aware of its presence.


After a time, he ceases to notice both the weight and the responsibility, not because he has forgotten them, but because they have both been assimilated into his bearing and demeanor.

A shootout in a Chicago suburb Thursday evening began during a “routine” traffic stop (experienced police officers will say that there is no such thing as a “routine” traffic stop) when the suspect, rather than complying with orders to pull over, accelerated up an on-ramp leading onto heavily-trafficked southbound Interstate 55. The officers successfully boxed him in and he sprinted away while firing back at the officers. The suspect hit Cicero police Officer Luis Duarte four times.

His partner took off after the suspect on foot.

That was the moment when a nearby motorist, stuck in traffic, saw the incident develop, and intervened. As the Chicago Sun-Times reported, “that’s when someone sitting in traffic on Cicero Avenue got out of his car and began shooting at the suspect as well.”

The suspect was hit by a bullet fired either from the officer’s firearm or the citizen’s. He was taken to a nearby hospital where his condition initially was reported as “serious.” Later he was identified as a criminal violating his parole and he is being held without bail.

Curiously, the citizen’s identity and whereabouts remain unknown. There is no record of an interview of the man or of any questioning of him. There is no record of him being charged with any crime.

Instead local police called him a hero. Following the incident, Cicero Police Superintendent Jerry Chlada told reporters: “We were lucky enough to have a citizen on the street there who’s a concealed-carry holder, and he also engaged in gunfire.” Cicero Town President Larry Dominick added: “He got out and started helping the police, which is something I’ve got to be proud of.”

But was he really a hero? Or just lucky?

If he is an Illinois resident, just how did he get his CCW in a virulent anti-gun state such as Illinois? He must first apply for and receive a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card, which by itself is difficult enough. The card is issued by the Illinois State Police only after the applicant passes the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the electronic database maintained by the FBI. The police also check with the Illinois Department of Human Services to see if he has been adjudicated a “mental defective” or been a patient of a mental institution within the last five years.

Once the FOID card is in hand, only then may the applicant apply for his CCW permit, which, in Illinois, “shall” be issued, but only if he is 21 years of age or older, has taken a 16-hour training course (at his own expense), has proof that he has lived in the state for at least 10 years, has provided a photograph taken in the last 30 days along with his fingerprints, and has paid a fee to the state of $150. He is likely to have to wait a month or more for his license and then it is only good for five years.

The unnamed “hero” could be a retired or off-duty law enforcement officer to whom these requirements do not apply.

Or he could be a resident of another state where he has obtained his CCW permit. But only if he resides in Hawaii, New Mexico, South Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, or Texas.

There is no public record of the unnamed CCW holder being handcuffed and detained for questioning, which is SOP in such cases. There is no record of him even being questioned. It may be that he was well known to the local police officers and was consequently given professional courtesy.

When the Chicago Tribune took a second look at the incident late Friday evening, it posted comments from David Lombardo, a instructor who has helped more than 7,000 people obtain their permits. After reviewing accounts of the incident, Lombardo concluded, “technically, he should not have engaged [intervened].”  Lombardo then added:

But, speaking as a former part-time deputy and an ex-military guy, the (citizen) was an angel. He knew what he was doing, he got involved when he didn’t have to, and he [likely] saved a cop’s life. The bad guy could have hit somebody else … so who knows how many lives [the citizen] saved?

The Times then asked attorney Michael Johnson, who often represents individuals in concealed carry cases, for his take on the matter. Said Johnson:

It’s great that he’s [the citizen] a hero, but here’s the legal part. You can defend yourself, or another. So … was he defending himself or another person?


If all he sees is a guy fleeing, he has no right to shoot him. The question is, at the time the Good Samaritan is shooting him, is he (the offender) a threat to somebody, or was he making a getaway?

The Times then explained the problem faced by any CCW permit holder observing such an incident unfold: does the concealed carry citizen “reasonably believe [he] or another person [is] in of great bodily harm or death?”

It’s a split-second decision he must make while a jury (if it comes to that) has all day to second-guess that decision.

A similar incident occurred in Detroit, Michigan in September 2015. An armed citizen with a CCW permit saw shoplifters fleeing a local Home Depot store, pulled out her sidearm and started shooting at them as they fled. In that case she did not hit anyone although she flattened a tire on the fleeing vehicle. As Dave Dolbee, writing at The Shooter’s Log, noted, “she pleaded no contest to a charge of reckless discharge of a firearm and may be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail.”

Or take the case in Warren, Ohio last March where a woman merely displayed her firearm to stop an assault. Upon looking at the details attorney Thad Wexler told reporters:

In that particular case in Warren, it sounds like there was an assault going on where someone was getting hurt at the time. An assault can lead to for the other person, so the use of a gun is probably not unreasonable.

CCW instructor Christopher Moffit said “There has to be a real and honest belief of danger.” Instructor Bob Joly defined the terms even more clearly: “The only time a CCW holder can legally pull a gun is when his life, or the life of another person, is in of great bodily injury or death. In the Chicago case, was it reasonable for the citizen to intervene to save the cop’s life? Was the cop’s life in danger, or not?”

These are questions every CCW holder must ask, and answer, in a split second. Ayoob is right. The weight of the sidearm is nothing compared to the weight of the responsibility to use it properly and judiciously.


Massad Ayoob’s In the Gravest Extreme: The Role of the Firearm in Personal Protection

The Chicago Tribune: Concealed carry licensee called hero for intervening when man fires on police, but ‘it could have gone the other way’

The Chicago Sun-Times: Licensed gun owner praised for joining cops in shootout with suspect near I-55 Should CCW permit holders intervene? You are Carrying Concealed, Should You Intervene?

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