BELLEVUE, WA – In the wake of last week’s tragic mistaken identity fatal shooting of an armed citizen in an Alabama shopping mall, the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms are calling for a national dialogue on how police respond to “active shooter” reports in public venues, such as malls, restaurants or movie theaters.

Officers responding to a shooting at the Riverchase Balleria Mall in suburban Hoover apparently mistook Emantic F. Bradford, Jr., 21, as the suspected shooter. Mr. Bradford had a carry permit according to his family but investigators have declined to confirm that. He had drawn his pistol and was fatally shot.

“There are more than 17 million gun owners in the United States who are licensed to carry concealed,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “In addition, there are untold numbers of legally-armed citizens in states where permits or licenses are not required for either concealed or open carry. In an active shooter incident, these citizens are well within their rights to act in self-defense or in defense of others, even when it means they draw a defensive sidearm but don’t immediately open fire.

“Armed citizens have interrupted would-be mass shooters,” he continued, “sometimes fatally shooting the perpetrator before police arrive. This happened at an Oklahoma City restaurant, a Walmart in Washington State, and at a McDonald’s restaurant in Birmingham in October.

“The likelihood that police may encounter a good guy citizen acting to defend himself or others has increased exponentially in recent years with the expansion of concealed carry,” Gottlieb observed. “We need to address the potential for mistaken identity fatalities so that good guys don’t shoot one another while the bad guys get away. This dialogue should include law enforcement and commercial firearms instructors, open and concealed carry advocates and experts on the use of lethal force. We are working with Gun Talk Media on this effort.”

“Callers to my radio show over the last 20 years want to do this right,” said Tom Gresham, host and creator of Gun Talk Media. “Both citizens who carry and conscientious police officers know this is a situation fraught with peril and all parties need to work together for solutions. The police we work with know this is a very real problem.”

“We have an opportunity to learn from the Hoover incident,” Gottlieb said. “Something good can come out of this terrible incident that will help police and millions of legally-armed private citizens reduce the likelihood of such a tragedy ever happening again.”