Maryland Store Owner Opens Fire on Armed Thieves

A pair of thieves in Cambridge, Maryland, almost paid the ultimate price when they tried to rob a store owner, who also happened to be a gun owner.

According to reports, last Tuesday night Roger Webster, the owner of the aptly-named Webster’s Store, was outside of his business talking with a customer until their conversation was rudely interrupted by the arrival of a pair of thieves. One of the two suspects “displayed a handgun and pointed it at Mr. Webster and the customer,” Cambridge Police Lt. Mark K. Lewis said. And then they forced Webster and the woman into the store.

From here, well, you know how it goes. The criminals demanded money and Webster complied, but evidently emptying out the cash register wasn’t good enough. They demanded more. Their greed, however, was the perfect distraction. Webster grabbed the gun that he kept near the register and opened fire at the armed suspect. Both suspects quickly fled the scene when bullets started zipping by, however, Webster and the authorities are unsure if any of the shots fired hit their mark.

From an outsiders perspective, it looks like these thieves put Webster in a tough situation. Getting robbed is bad enough, but possibly having one of your customers get caught in the crossfire could make it so much worse.

Certainly pulling the gun on the criminals could have escalated the situation, but who knows just how much farther the pair of thieves would have taken things? However, once it was clear that the thieves weren’t satisfied with a fistful of cash, Webster had to act.

It’s always interesting to see how the gun community reacts to stories like these. Most of us already have a good idea of how we would react if our lives were threatened, but what if drawing your gun endangered the life of stranger, or perhaps a loyal customer? Would you view drawing your gun as doing the stranger a favor, so to speak, by going out of your way to protect the stranger’s life? Or would the fact that your actions could result in the death of a stranger make you more cautious about using your firearm? Or is it irrelevant to you whether or not there are innocent bystanders around?

We can compare the debate to law enforcement. Police generally follow strict rules of engagement, while civilians are a bit different because they have a more informal policy. In cases like these, do the cops have it right? Would it be better to just hand over your hard-earned cash to criminals just because there is a civilian nearby, even though you’re fully prepared to use your gun to defend yourself?