There are four possible outcomes of any gun fight:
So, the Second Rule of a Gun Fight is 'Don't get shot!' because winning a gun fight isn't strictly a matter of shooting the bad guy, it's surviving the encounter intact. It seems obvious, but a quick perusal through the 'Lessons Learned' archives of this site alone shows that most gun fights are lost because the good guys fail to faithfully follow the Second Rule.
No one gets shot (showing a gun gets compliance).
Now, this may be a 'win' and it may not be. If you point a gun at a bad guy and he goes face down on the ground until the police arrive to haul him away, score it a win. If the bad guy makes you comply, e.g., steals your wallet, rapes you, ties you up and throws you in the trunk of his car, you lose... and the scenario dictates how much you lose.
You shoot the bad guy.
He loses. You may or may not win, depending on whether shooting him was the correct thing to do.
The bad guy shoots you.
You both get shot.
You still lose, even if the bad guy loses worse.
Let's look at the Miami Burger King shootout that happened today. The bad guy walks in complete with ski mask (thanks for the target identifier, buddy!) and holds up the place. A good guy, complete with concealed carry license, pulls his gun and confronts the bad guy. The bullets start flying, and when it's over the bad guy is dead and the good guy is seriously wounded. Ask yourself, did the good guy really win?
Let's see... he won a trip to the emergency room, several hours of emergency surgery, months of painful convalescence, and perhaps some permanent disability... if he survives. Doesn't sound like much of a win to me.
I'm not saying good guys should never fight back. Quite the contrary. What I want to emphasize here is to keep the goal in mind. The goal is not to protect Burger King's till. It is to protect your life, the lives of your loved ones, and the lives of innocents... in that order. Don't place one day's sales of a small business above your life and the well-being of a family that depends upon you.
Before getting involved in a gun fight, ask yourself is this necessary? As Clint Smith is fond of saying, life will give you plenty of chances to show your heroism, so don't volunteer unnecessarily. Sometimes, however, there are no good choices. Sometimes you will have to get involved, because the cost of not engaging is too high. If you find yourself in such a situation, then remember the Second Rule of a Gun Fight: Don't Get Shot!
Remember also that weapons are merely tools that we use to accomplish a task. Strategy and tactics are really what ensures success with the tool at hand. Have a plan, and develop the skills necessary to carry your plan out to a successful conclusion. In the case of the Miami Burger King shootout, the good guy had the initiative, and he had a gun. But did he have a sound strategy, a plan that would ensure success? No.
From reading the news reports, it appears that the good guy pulled his gun and confronted the armed robber. At this point, the good guy has thrown away every advantage he has, and given the advantage to the bad guy! The lesson here: don't confront armed bad guys, shoot them... or don't get involved! If I was in a similar life-threatening situation where deadly force was warranted and felt I had to intervene in order to save my life or the life of others, rather than confront the bad guy I'd get behind cover if at all possible... something that would have a good chance to stop a bullet, like a counter or a booth partition. However, once I made the decision to shoot, I'd pull my gun out and aim it at the bad guy, and then I'd shoot him until I was absolutely positively sure he no longer posed a valid threat. No challenge, no "Drop your weapon!" or "Freeze!" I am not going to give any bad guy a chance to shoot me if I can help it.
I understand that sometimes you can't seek cover, because there isn't time. Sometimes all the choices stink. Sometimes you have to resign yourself to the very real possibility that you will get shot, but the alternative of doing nothing and getting shot, raped, or killed is much worse. Your strategy doesn't change. Once you've made the decision that deadly force is warranted, then don't hesitate. Draw and shoot, and keep shooting until there is no longer a threat. Putting the bad guy down, now, is your best chance of minimizing harm to yourself and other innocents. It may be your only chance for survival. At the Burger King today, the first shot from the good guy could have ended it all. Make that first shot on your time, with all deliberate speed ("take your time, fast" as Bill Jordan wrote), and make it count because it may be the only shot you get.
He who hesitates is lost. Don't hesitate. Make your decision, and then carry out your plan vigorously.