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Toppenish School District, concealed carry
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Tom Shillue

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Urquhart: Giving inexperienced people a gun is a ‘huge mistake’

(File, Associated Press)

It’s a common question brought up in the wake of a mass shooting: what if someone else was armed with a gun?

It’s that question that KTTH’s Todd Herman and posed to King County Sheriff John Urquhart. The answer is not as straightforward as someone might assume.

“What about your friends and neighbors who have a pistol on their hip, and they’ve hopefully been trained and have a concealed carry permit, what role would they play in a circumstance like that?” Herman asked.

Related: Sheriff Urquhart encourages off-duty deputies to carry sidearms

Urquhart’s answer is the same he has often said in the past. There are three things anyone should do (in order):

• Run
• Hide
• Fight

“If you can’t run, you need to hide — a bathroom, a store room, barricade the door if you can and wait for police,” Urquhart said. “If you can’t run or hide, you have to fight. Pick up a chair, a fire extinguisher, you tackle the guy and do whatever you have to do – the alternative is being shot.”

Armed when attacked

Urquhart’s answer mostly remains the same when a concealed weapon is added to the scenario, but things are a bit different.

“If you are there with a gun, and are fortunate enough to be armed, you have a better chance at fighting,” he said. “But fighting is not for everybody … a lot of people trot down to city hall or to a courthouse and get a concealed carry permit and they’ve never shot a gun, they never are going to shoot a gun, they have no training and have never thought through what they would do in a situation like that.”

Mental preparation and proper training is the most important part of having a concealed carry permit, Urquhart said. Getting the permit is a simple step, but the process shouldn’t stop there.

“Worst thing somebody can do is get a concealed weapons permit, and carry without being familiar with a gun or have experience shooting that gun,” he said. “You don’t give somebody a drivers license without teaching them how to drive a car. Yet we do that with guns and I think it’s a huge mistake.”

Another angle on the issue is what someone carrying a gun can do in other situations, such as robberies. Herman wondered if a person is legally required to give a perpetrator a warning before shooting.

“You can take him out and don’t have to give him any warning at all,” Urquhart said. “When people use self-defense as a defense (in a shooting situation), the amount of force you use has to be reasonable.”

“If you have a burglar in your house that is stealing your TV or computer and is running out the door, you cannot shoot them,” he said. “If they are breaking into your house, they are in your house, and they are threatening you, chances are, yes, you can do that. But it has to be reasonable. The force a citizen can use, the standard, is much lower than for a police officer. What we are allowed to do is quite different. A citizen, they can take out a shooter in an active shooter situation.”

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