The single greatest act of courage I personally know of happened when I was a college student in Greenville, North Carolina.
A man arguing with a college student over a cab pulled a gun and shot the student to death in a crowded downtown street. A young police officer who happened to be standing right there drew his gun and had a clear shot at the killer, but he refused to fire. He saw students behind the man on the busy street, and knew that it wasn’t clear downrange.
Instead of firing, the officer allowed the killer to finish expending the rest of the magazine from his .45 ACP pistol into the officer’s chest. It was a split second decision, but the officer was willing to absorb the rounds and risk his own life being taken, rather than risk shooting and run the risk of hitting innocent students across the street. Other officers immediately tackled the murderer when his gun ran dry. Though he suffered blunt force trauma from the heavy .45 slugs slamming into his vest, this young officer survived. As I recall, he was awarded for bravery for his decision that night.
51-year-old Tim Hanekamp showed similar courage in Idaho Falls Iowa earlier this week:
A 17-year-old girl who saw the incident on Holbrook Drive in Idaho Falls around 3:15 p.m. called 911. She said she was concerned for the safety of the children who play on the street.
Tim Hanekamp, who was hit in the leg, said it began when he was inside his home and his wife told him there was someone outside the house a gun.
“I got my gun … put it in my back pocket,” he said. “I walked outside. As soon as I walked outside, I got shot in the leg. So I pulled (out) my gun, pointed it at her and she took off running.”
Hanekamp’s gun was not a BB gun — it was a 9 mm.
He said he didn’t fire because of the many children in the neighborhood.
“I didn’t want to have a projectile hit somebody,” said Hanekamp, 51. He said the police thanked him for not shooting.
Yes, it’s true that the angry woman who shot Hanecamp, Dominica Maddux, was “only” armed with a BB gun, but Hanecamp didn’t know that at the time. The moment he stepped outside, Maddux spun around and shot him in the leg. He felt the hit, drew his pistol and had every legal, justifiable reason to put Maddux in the ground.
Instead, he held his fire out of concern for children in the neighborhood. I don’t care if you’re a fresh faced cop with body armor and backup or a middle-aged man wearing suspenders; sometimes true bravery is shown best by exercising restraint, instead of your marksmanship.
Like we see every single day somewhere in this country, usually thousands of times a day, Mr. Hanecamp was a “good guy with a gun” disrupted a crime by merely displaying a firearm. This is the most common kind of defensive gun use in this nation.
The BB gun shooter, Maddux, was arrested and is charged with two felony counts of aggravated battery. She’d just shot another man in the face seconds before Hanecamp stepped outside.