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When bystanders open fire: gun experts give advice to gun owners who encounter violent situations

A bystander with a permitted gun opened fire as part of the Park City Center shooting. That bystander hasn't been charged at this point.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Many people have heard the saying a "good guy" with a gun can stop a "bad guy" with a gun. But, proper training can help all gun owners when they face the split second decision over if they will step into a violent situation.

"The first thing we always tell our students is to keep your finger off the trigger unless you plan on using the weapon," said Ryan Morris of Tripwire Operations Group, who helps train everyone from military to police. '

Tripwire also holds classes for civilians who want to learn how to properly secure and shoot a weapon. Morris said when teaching students how to determine if they should shoot or not shoot, he recognized it could come down to a split second decision. 

How to decide when to open fire: I had the opportunity to talk to gun experts at Tripwire who train civilians who decide to carry weapons. How do they train people to decide when to step into situations? What kind of training do they believe is needed? If you remember, this Sunday police say a bystander with a legally possessed firearm stepped in at Park City Center as a 16-year-old opened fire. Listen and watch more here WPMT FOX43 https://www.fox43.com/article/news/local/gun-park-city-center-fight-shooting-law-firearm-training/521-71d68f04-4dc5-4170-9c6f-e51eae569c57

Posted by Jamie Bittner on Wednesday, October 20, 2021

"Bottom line is if you are in fear of bodily injury or death or you fear someone else's safety, then you can employ lethal force if it arises to that level," he said.

A bystander in Lancaster recently faced this decision on Sunday at Park City Mall when that bystander decided to step in following an altercation. Police reported a 16-year-old with a concealed firearm opened fire inside the mall after an altercation, striking one person. Investigators said the bystander, who was armed with their own legally possessed firearm, then engaged the people fighting over the gun and fired shots. They said the bystander waited at the scene until officers arrived and was released. In total, three men and one woman were injured by the gunfire. Police have yet to release details on 

Police said, "the District Attorney will be responsible for determining if the actions of the bystander were lawful and justified, upon the completion of the investigation."

"If you're drawing a weapon the intent is there to use it," said Morris. "When we train students in a stress environment we get their heart rate up because a lot of time it's muscle memory that takes over."

Without proper training, Morris noted gun owners can miss targets which can become a liability. 

Tripwire provides gun training at all levels, including special classes for women, beginners, and even those at more advanced levels. 

FOX43 asked Morris if civilians who open fire can also cause issues for police arriving at dangerous scenes as officers may not know at the time whom is the suspect.

He noted, "if you're involved in an altercation like this you want law enforcement to know you're clearly not a threat whether you put your hands up or lay on the ground so they know you're not the aggressor."

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