Chicago concealed permit holder kills would-be robber: Heroic or reckless?

Such acts of vigilantism raises questions about when bystanders are justified in using firearms to stop crimes in progress.

Jeffrey D. Allred/The Deseret News/AP/File
Clark Aposhian speaks to teachers during a concealed firearm permit class named 'Safe to Learn, Safe to Teach' in South Jordan, Utah, Oct. 16. A customer with a permit to carry a concealed weapon shot and killed a man attempting to rob Agencia Mexicana in Chicago on Saturday night.

A customer with a concealed carry license shot and killed a man who appeared to be armed while trying to rob a Chicago store, police said Sunday. Though the robber’s weapon turned out to be a paint gun, "... charges do not appear likely" against the citizen, the Chicago police department said, reports the Chicago Tribune.

This news comes less than a month after a Michigan woman with a concealed carry license shot at shoplifters fleeing a Home Depot store in the Detroit area. Though no one was hurt and the suspected shoplifters were arrested several days later, the woman faced up to 90 days in jail.

Two other shootings in which citizens stepped in to punish lawbreakers also occurred in September in Michigan.

Such acts of vigilantism, where bystanders feel compelled to use their guns to stop crimes in progress, raises the question: Are people justified in taking justice into their own hands when their personal lives are not threatened? It's a particularly prescient question as several states consider lifting the requirement for gun owners to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

"It's a slippery slope" when it comes to the question of whether citizens who are licensed to carry guns should intervene in dangerous situations, if at all, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, told the Associated Press.

"You have situations like this," he said, referring to the Chicago robbery, "and you have situations that end tragically. The department is not going to advocate for what people should or shouldn't do."

At  7 p.m. Saturday on Chicago’s southwest side a masked Reginald Gildersleeve walked into Agencia Mexicana, a store and currency exchange, and flashed what appeared to be handgun in an attempt to rob the store.

In response, an unidentified customer who was in the process of making a financial transaction with a worker at the store, pulled a gun and fired several times, reports the Tribune, fatally shooting Mr. Gildersleeve. No one else was hurt.

Law enforcement officials told the Tribune that Gildersleeve had been holding a toy gun. Gildersleeve’s stepson expressed concern over the incident, saying the family is devastated by what happened.

"Some people don't actually know how to use guns," Igbinosa Oronsaye, whose mother was married to Gildersleeve, told the Tribune. "They go to firing ranges, but it's not the same as a bullet going into someone's body, it's not the same as a bullet going into flesh.”

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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