Robert VanConett of St. Petersburg owns a 9mm semiautomatic handgun and has a concealed weapons permit.
"I've had it for about four years now. I got it after the first time I got robbed," VanConett told FOX 13 News, adding there was a second robbery about this time last year at the 7-Eleven where he worked the past six years.
Then came a third armed robbery October 12. That was the one that cost him his job.
"I figured as soon as I pulled it, I was going to get fired -- violation of their policy," VanConett admitted.
Surveillance video shows a man entering the store, then throwing a cup of hot coffee on another clerk after the clerk opened the cash register. He waved a knife at VanConett and his co-worker.
"I thought he might come over across the counter so I figured I'd just pull the gun and scare him out," the soon-to-be-terminated clerk said. "After the third robbery, I guess it was time to start looking for something different anyways."
St. Petersburg police have no problems with his actions.
"The man did produce a weapon and was threatening them both with it and using a firearm to protect themselves certainly was legal," spokesman Michael Puetz explained.
The police department helped develop convenience store safety ordinances several years ago, but, "we never addressed weapons and I doubt if we ever would simply because I think that's a choice that each individual clerk or store owner needs to make," Puetz said.
A spokesperson for the company told FOX 13 News that 7-Eleven has had a proactive anti-robbery strategy since 1976. The policies prohibit employees from carrying firearms because of other risks: Weapons being turned against employees, robbers anticipating armed resistance and initiating violence, and the danger to customers who might be caught in crossfire.
VanConett signed a document agreeing to abide by corporate policy, and now has no regrets.
"I'm going to get another job," VanConett said. "A different job. No night time, no overnight, no 7-Eleven."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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