I suppose most people are at least generally aware of the recent confrontation instigated by Alex Jones with Hot Air blogger and sometime Fox News reporter/commentator Michele Malkin yesterday in Denver, CO; see here for a written report by Charles Martin of events from one participants perspective and here for a largely unedited video recording of the incident by Stephen Greene (aka VodkaPundit) who happened to be on-scene working as a Pajamas Media reporter as events unfolded.
While I am certain that Alex Jones chose the tactic he did because Michele Malkin is a 5' nuthin' Filipina and the living incarnation of the definition "petite", and that Alex Jones would never, for any reason, even consider attempting something similar involving myself (being that I am the diametric opposite of said definition) as the object of his invective-laden assault, I still feel it incumbent upon me to note that, were he ever to do so here in Texas - the state we both reside in, I absolutely would shoot him DRT.
And, I fully understand that a Lone Star version of Denver's Smirky Mc DoNut, as described briefly in Mr. Martin's report, would no doubt be the first to insist I accept his offer of accommodation as a guest of the Governor immediately thereafter.
We who go to all the trouble to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm do so for nearly as many reasons as there are number of us, but one of the most common is to generally accept a greater share of responsibility for our own security and safety. I submit to all and sundry that the behavior exhibited by Alex Jones in the PJM video is a classic example of "threatened and in fear for my life" as anyone might hope not to ever personally experience.
I believe that about the second time he directed his assaultive behavior in such a close, in-your-face fashion, and had he done so to me in a similarly aroused mob atmosphere, I'd have killed him without a moments hesitation.
Which causes me to re-raise a question I briefly skirted about with Kevin Baker some months ago; to what extent does our recreational shooting training influence our behavior in an actual defensive gunfight situation?
Using the PJM video as a reference, at what point in the course of events would you consider the self-defense requirement to have been met (if at all) and thereby feel justified in shooting the attacker? No fair cheating and using Michele Malkin's unarmed action as a guide; this question is for concealed carry license holders, presumed to be subject to a near-identical assault, in a state that recognises their license and thus can be presumed to be armed at the time.
I bring this topic up because I believe that we all run an under-appreciated risk of unnecessary legal jeopardy by not periodically including some form of specifically "defensive shooting"-oriented training and/or regular practice session as a part of our normal shooting experience. My problem is, I'm not fully confident what such a regimen ought to realistically (as well as legalistically) consist of.
I am certain that reliance upon the tactics and techniques inherent to Steel Challenge, IDPA and the like probably would offer as much opportunity for a potential prosecutor as it would my defender.
Here in Texas (and I'm willing to bet this is common in other states, too) a private citizen is entitled to defend his life and (with certain stipulations) his property from direct attack. But only to the point of safeguarding said life and property, wherein lies the rub.
A defensive shooting training exercise would have to explicitly include a mechanism for breaking direct contact with an attacker (never mind the old "best defense ..." chestnut) in order for such a gunfight to be consistent with a defensive action. I submit that the shooting disciplines I previously cited teach the diametric opposite of such a principle. Please understand, there's nothing wrong with that in it's own context, until an attorney is using it to demonstrate your willful disregard for the life of the decedent and why the jury should award the plaintiff 110% of everything you will ever earn in perpetuity. In that circumstance, maybe a defense attorney could make a telling counter-argument to a jury out of a training regimen that specifically includes dis-engaging from attack if safely possible for you to attempt. Being able to question witnesses as to your training in and practice of such a defensive discipline might usefully improve your image with a jury as well.
The possibility of being able to actually train not to shoot idiots like Alex Jones as part of an effective "combined arms" philosophy to personal concealed carry seems useful to me also. The superior strategist is one who defeats an enemy's attack at the least cost to himself.
Any thoughts ... ?
Update (9/01): Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs site has a post up by "Zombie" regarding yet another recent near-riot in Denver last week. In addition to the apparent propaganda effort made by the Rocky Mountain News to spin this minor side-show to an equally minor arrest, there's the question of how the police handled the threatening crowd scenario as opposed to what occurred in the separate incident involving Michele Malkin.
For better or worse, I believe that this sort of organised, structured and well-practiced behavior is more than likely going to be the standard of conduct to which all individuals forced into a similar circumstance will be compared. The stunning disparity between a department of trained professionals degree of resources and training to that of virtually any individual not withstanding, I expect the presence of firearms and a state license to carry same will be the over-riding factors in most people's minds when it comes to assessing the degree of civil guilt and/or responsibility for a given outcome.
We shooters with concealed carry licenses need to better prepare ourselves for the full range of responsibility that accompanies the personal protection we seek to secure for ourselves. Specifically, to include surviving intact the legal fight that will almost inevitably follow any gun fight.
A pyrrhic victory isn't. Don't build a strategy around such an obvious point of failure.