First of all, why the hell am I in this situation, which could easily be avoided with some better pre-planning? One should always make a concious effort to keep the strong hand free when going about armed. Of course, I understand this is not always possible. We're all human and become complacent. (Just watch "Cops" and other similar shows and see how many officers have their flashlight in their gun hand when conducting a search or field interview). What I am advising is critiquing yourself. Give yourself a slap upside the head when your using your gun hand to carry something and your weak hand is free.
In the situation presented, there is no need to burden yourself with so much merchandise that you put yourself in a compromising position. Buy only what you need, make several trips to the car, take a friend, your wife, your girlfriend, (or both wife and girlfriend) with you to help carry, or wheel the bags to your car in a shopping cart. This last option gives you immediate use of your hands and provides an obstacle to place between yourself and a potential assailant.
Many well known instructors preach that often times avoidance is the key to survival. One local instructor (whose opinions I highly regard) sums it up by saying "If you use your mind you may never have to use your gun..." I'm by no means claiming to be perfect in all this. I've lost track of the times I've been taken by suprise on duty. It's human nature to get lazy and complacent, and living in "Condition Yellow" is probablly boarderline paranoia.
As for approaching this person; what about cover and creating a reactionary gap? There is recent case law where a patrol officer left hard cover, approached and fatally shot an emotionally disturbed person wielding a knife. The officer was found guilty of unjustifiable use of deadly force, because-according to the court- he provoked and initiated a deadly force situation by leaving the safety of hard cover! I don't have the actual case info handy, but if I find it in my mess of files I will post it.
This case is being used in bean-bag and pepperball instructor courses to emphasize how these less lethal options could have changed the outcome. And remember, in many states a civilain must show he attempted to retreat before resorting to deadly force.
Sorry for getting so long winded here, guys! Anyway, if in the proposed situation
I would at least back off and attempt to place myself on the opposite side of a car as this person, keeping the car between us as an obstacle. Many police academies are currently teaching recruits to approach on the passenger side on vehicle stops; this being one of the advantages.
<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Mark Garrity on 2001-04-24 11:17 ]</font>