It’s an unfortunate reality that civil unrest and mob violence are now just a part of everyday life in America. “Peaceful protests” have dominated the news cycle daily for the past two years and show no signs of losing steam. In fact, professional protestors look for new things to be outraged by daily, so they can gin up yet another riot. But how do you defend yourself and your family against mob violence safely and legally?
Defend Yourself and Your Family Against Mob Violence
To start, we have to understand what defines a mob. According to Dictionary.com, a mob is “a disorderly or riotous crowd of people, or a crowd bent on or engaged in lawless violence.” Likewise, Black’s Law Dictionary defines mob as “an assemblage of many people, acting in a violent and disorderly manner, defying the law, and committing, or threatening to commit, depredations upon property or violence to persons.”
Historically, every member of a mob was equally responsible for the actions of the mob as a whole. Thus, they were all justifiable targets if they were attacking an innocent party. This is due to the fact that the mob typically engendered fear through their collective malevolence. As an example, in the 1920s, lawyer Clarence Darrow successfully argued that citizens have the right to shoot when a mob with shared intent attempted to harm them unlawfully.
However, in today’s protest culture, criminal elements of the mob are infiltrating legitimate protests and using them as shields and camouflage. As a result, violent malcontents intermingle with decent people who are legitimately protesting a perceived injustice. This profoundly changes the rules of engagement.
An officer who writes under the name Spencer Blue explained, “Protesters are the ocean in which the sharks (rioters) swim.”
Distinguishing Between Protester and Rioter
Perception is everything in life. Where one person may see things one way, another may see them very differently. For example, during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, truck driver Reginald Denny was pulled from his vehicle and severely beaten. As a result, he is crippled for life. Many remember the attack and only see an unruly, violent black mob that attacked and stomped him. However, Reginald sees it differently.
When speaking of the attack, Reginald recalls, “People seem to forget it was Black folks that saved my life.”
When surrounded by a group of people unknown to you and some are hostile, we can no longer take for granted that every member of that mob is a legitimate target for defensive deadly force. Some may be attempting to stop the violent agitators.
To distinguish between a protester and a violent rioter, look to what the court calls the “totality of the circumstance.” In other words, you need to judge each person by their actions. If a person is waving a sign and raising their fist, calling for solidarity, they are not a threat. Regardless of whether you agree with them. However, if a member of the mob attacks you, they become a legitimate target of opportunity.
For this reason, you must be selective of your target. This is the time to apply rule number 4 of gun safety. Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it. Even if you have a legitimate reason to use deadly force, the crowd behind your attacker may be innocent.
With this in mind, your ammo selection becomes crucial. You do not want ammo that is going to pass through the target. You are better off with low grain hollow point ammo that will stop in the target. Thus, mitigating collateral damage.
As with any self-defense situation, avoidance is the best plan. As Sun Tsu once said, “A battle avoided cannot be lost.”
If you do not already have it, get the Waze app on your phone. It will tell you of any traffic jams or obstructions of any kind, giving you time to avoid it. However, you should also always practice situational awareness. In this case, always leave room in front of your vehicle, so you can turn around and leave the area. Also, keep an eye out about 100 yards ahead so you can see a situation developing before you reach it.
If you do find yourself surrounded, don’t start waving your gun around. Remember, you don’t know who is innocent and who intends to do you harm. Even if they pound on the car while moving through, your insurance will cover it. However, if they start breaking through the windows, that escalates the situation.
Check your state laws and see if your vehicle is an extension of your home. If it is, the Castle Doctrine will cover you if someone is trying to violently enter your vehicle.
As mentioned, avoidance is key. Staying clear of any kind of protest or riot removes your chances of involvement in a defensive shooting there. If you stay clear of mob violence, you will not have to defend yourself against it.
Keep it real and stay safe.
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