I have no idea why, but and old memory found me this morning. Back in the early 90’s when I was living in certain South American country now under the firm grasp of a Socialist, massive riots and looting occurred. It was long four days of absolute collapse of the government basic services and control which I lived awake in coffee, cigarettes with a single shot shotgun and a Walther PPK on my waist. Thankfully our property was not affected by rioters since I already had a reputation for being somewhat crazy in Sheepland I was seen in more than one occasion experimenting with home made napalm) and an assiduous patrol kept miscreants pretty much away.
On the second day I was witness to a mob attacking a two story bodega about a two blocks away from my house. As typical of many bodegas in the country, it was owned and operated by one owner and his family and they had their living quarters on the upper floor. It had no side or rear doors, just the front store gated entrance and side stairs connecting the second floor to the ground level. I have no idea why the bodega was attacked but looters usually do not need one. When I noticed the attack it was already in progress and I fielded a pair of binoculars from the roof of my house to get a clearer picture. I was upset I what I saw since the looters were people that lived in the area, people that bought from that store and even got credit to purchase items from the owner when they did not have ways to pay for them, yet they thought it was OK to destroy his means of living.
The looters breached the store’s gates and proceeded inside. Seconds later they came out holding on the liquor and cigarettes while whooping their victory. After the booze and smokes were depleted, looters came back pretty much for the rest but this time I heard a firearm discharged sending everybody out running while dropping whatever items they had in their hand. The Bodega owner appeared with a big frame revolver in one hand, surveyed the damage and alongside his family recovered what little they could and proceeded for the next hour or so to secure the store entrance with whatever means they had available. Once they finished, they went inside and I returned to my patrol.
I’d say that about an hour later I checked the bodega again and I saw a large crowd in front. Their demeanor appeared angry and they were looking up at a window on the second story facing the front of the store. Through the barred window I saw a hand come out making go-away gestures but the crowd did not heed. Some in the mob once more attacked the store entrance, but I am guessing the reinforcement was much sturdier because they could not breach it this time. I kept watching the impasse silently congratulating the store owner for his stand when I saw something that chilled me: some idiot looter appeared suddenly with a Molotov cocktail and launched it towards the second story window. Thankfully it missed and hit the wall creating a fireball of little damage against a cement block structure.
It dawned on me that this was now not a bunch of idiots trying to score some freebies from the neighborhood merchant but a full fledged lynching mob intent on murder and nothing could be done to stop them. Police was nowhere to be seen and those not in the mob were like me trying to protect their households or cowering inside them praying to be spared from the wolves roaming the streets. I saw another looter with yet another Molotov cocktail but this time carefully preparing himself for a perfect pitch. He never did. The hand came through the barred second story window but this time holding the revolver and shooting it. One looter down and a Molotov cocktail rolled off his hand harmlessly.
Another looter, incensed by the shooting of his colleague picked up the firebomb and tried to toss it. The revolver went off again and another looter fell to the ground. This one I could see was dead on the spot. My binoculars allowed me to see the head exploding with perfect detail and the body just switching off to a mass of uncoordinated muscles and bones. I lost track of the Molotov cocktail but I guess it did not go off again because I did not see a fireball, but a couple more appeared in the hands of other looters. More detonations came out the second story window sending two more looters scurrying and at least one of them leaving blood behind him.
This sequence kept repeating itself for another couple of hours. Mob attacking the gate, failing, mob trying to firebomb the upstairs apartment and getting shot for their efforts. I counted at least four dead on the ground and some 8 wounded taken away when the mob finally decided that it was getting to steep a price to pay for their obstinacy and withdrew to seek easier targets. Some 45 minutes later, the store owner and his family came out, loaded their old pick up truck (amazingly left untouched by the mob) with whatever belongings they could pack and abandoned the store. That night the looters came back and set the whole place on fire destroying the only grocery shop in a mile radius forcing the neighborhood to go farther away for their supplies from now on.
I heard later that the Store owner and his family moved to another city. The store was sold for a pittance but the new owner transformed it into a bike repair shop that went bankrupt soon afterward. Last I heard was that the building was abandoned and became a den of druggies and cheap hookers. Nobody was prosecuted for the attacks to the store and thankfully neither was the store owner for defending himself and his family.
So what can one armed man do? When the Shit Hit The Fan, a store owner saved himself and his family against a crowd and bought himself enough time to escape to safety. This was the leasson I learned that day and I hope you may save this little story in your brain’s memory bank for whenever somebody tries to convince you guns are not the solution.