Article: Dealers claim need for self-defense

By Chad D. Baus

As a fourth-generation car dealer working in my family business, I took special interest in a story recently published in the industry trade publication Used Car News, highlighting stories proving the dangers of being a car dealer, and interviewing several dealers who have taken steps to be prepared to defend themselves.

Click on 'Read More' for the entire story.

From the story:

    Last November, Powell, Tenn., dealer Greg “Lumpy” Lambert...had a close encounter with an armed man.

    Lambert describes himself as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment's right to bear arms. He is also a county commissioner in Knox County, Tenn. His first campaign fund-raiser involved supporters shooting objects to bits with a machine gun. Last November, a man, Kane Stackhouse, walked onto Lambert's lot looking for a car. Lambert said he thought it was strange that someone was walking onto the lot, especially since it was raining slightly at the time. No one drove him there, and he didn't bring a car himself.

    The suspect also told Lambert that he had been saving money and had $12,000 in cash and was looking to buy a car. Lambert thought, at first, maybe the guy was a drug dealer. The suspect asked to test drive a couple of vehicles.

    When the request was made, Lambert decided it might be smart to get his gun, which was in his car. He told the suspect that he had to take the keys out of his car and get a temporary dealer plate. When he got in the vehicle, he slipped his gun in his right front pocket.

    They went out on a short test drive and when they got back the suspect said he liked the car they drove and would like to buy it.

    ...The next step was collecting the money,” Lambert said. “He started patting his pockets as if to indicate he forgot where he put the $10,000 in cash needed to buy the 2005 Ford Focus he wanted.”

    Lambert said it's been his experience that when someone is carrying that much cash, they know exactly which pocket it's kept in, and it's like a small brick, which makes it even harder to misplace. So he put his hand in his right front pocket where he had placed his .380 caliber automatic handgun.

    Lambert said Stackhouse then reached into right-hand coat pocket and pulled out a .25 caliber handgun. The draw was “jerky,” Lambert said. Stackhouse pulled the gun and held it up in the air for a second.

    This gave Lambert the time to pull his gun out of his pocket. In addition to being a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, he is also a strong supporter of gun training. He's taken several gun training courses, and even before opening his lot had been licensed to carry a handgun.

    By the time Stackhouse had finally begun to point his gun at Lambert, Lambert was drawing dead aim at Stackhouse.

    “When he saw my gun, his face showed a kind of deer in the headlights look,” Lambert said. “I told him that I knew how to use my gun and it was obvious that he didn't want to die.”

    Stackhouse then squatted down and placed his gun on the floor. He then asked Lambert if he could get his (driver's) license back. Lambert told him no and that Stackhouse should leave before he got shot.

    Stackhouse fled and Lambert called the local sheriff's department and officers were at the dealership within a couple of minutes.

    It was then that Lambert learned there had been a murder in the neighborhood the night before. He said his lot is in a pretty safe area, so a murder was a very big deal. Police tracked down Stackhouse at a friend's place. He has been charged with that murder.

    “I believe there was a good chance he may have killed me if he got what he wanted,” Lambert said.

The story goes on to give other examples of armed criminals attempting to rob dealerships. Noticeable in reading the article is the difference in outcomes from examples where the dealer was armed to ones where the dealer was defenseless.

In two cases in Ohio and Florida respectively, defenseless dealers were shot by armed criminals. In the Cleveland example, the dealer's injuries proved fatal.

The article is not without its problems, however, thanks to Joe Lescota, chairman of the automotive marketing department at the Northwood University campus in Midland, Mich. Lescota told UCN that any dealer considering carrying a gun must be very careful, for legal and moral reasons.

Again, from the story:

    There are also accidents, Lescota said. He heard of an incident that took place in Florida in the 1970s in which a dealer got shot. Apparently someone was cleaning a gun about a half mile away and accidentally discharged the weapon. The bullet traveled that half mile and hit the dealer.
    If a dealer discharges his weapon, it's very possible he'll miss what he was shooting at and hit someone 10 blocks down the street. In that case, the dealer could find himself in a great deal of legal trouble.

    Lescota said that dealers considering arming themselves must be aware of what their rights are and what the local laws allow. Different states have different regulations. In some states, it's illegal to fire a gun to protect yourself if someone has the option and ability to flee the scene.

    If a dealer is located in a rough neighborhood, learning people skills might be a better solution. He said there are police officers who have gone their entire careers without pulling their weapons. He considers them the best kind of cops because they learn how to handle people without resorting to violence.

Lescota seems to forget that these police officers have the luxury of deterrence - every potential attacker is well aware that they are armed and prepared to resist. Business people have no such luxury, and no amount of people skills would have stopped a murderer like Kane Stackhouse that day in Tennessee.

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