As fate would have it, we got a pretty good idea of some of the implications of the widespread conservative call for crime-fighting to be transferred from the police–you know, those government bureaucrats–to a heavily armed citizenry today in Michigan. Mike Martindale of the Detroit News has the story:

Police responding to a “shots fired” call at a Home Depot store said a customer apparently tried to stop a shoplifter by firing at a fleeing vehicle.

The incident occurred at 2 p.m. at the store on Joslyn, according to a police press release.

A 47- year-old Clarkston woman in the parking lot witnessed one of the store’s loss prevention officers trying to stop a shoplifting suspect getting into a dark colored SUV. The customer — identified as a concealed pistol license holder — reportedly fired shots at the dark-colored SUV as it sped out of the lot.

It’s unknown how many rounds were fired from her 9mm handgun, but police believe she hit and flattened one of the vehicle’s rear tires as it sped off in the direction of Brown Road.

Now let’s say you’re another Home Depot customer with a concealed carry license and you didn’t notice the shoplifter but you did notice the other vigilante’s bullets whizzing by your head. Would you pull down on your fellow armed citizen? And if a widespread gun fight broke out in that parking lot, how would the police–you know, sort of auxiliaries to the real crime-fighters in their Fords and their Subarus–sort it all out?

Clearly, Ben Carson’s right: when violence breaks out, you should have the courage to shoot first and think later.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.