The level of violence increased dramatically this weekend as riots and demonstrations were held in a least a half dozen major U.S. cities last night.
In Aurora, Colo., at least two people were injured by gunfire when a protester fired a weapon at a jeep driving on the freeway through the crowd. The shooter is said to have claimed he was trying to shoot the tires out of the jeep but hit two fellow protesters instead.
In the raw footage below, the scene with the Jeep driving on the freeway starts at about 1:31:30. The Jeep does not strike anyone and does not appear to be deliberately targeting any protesters. EMS appears on the scene to treat and transport the shooting victims at about 1:43:55.
In Austin, Texas, an armed demonstrator was shot and killed last night. According to witnesses quoted by the Austin Statesman, as a group of protesters surrounded a vehicle, a man with a rifle approached a car and was subsequently shot by the driver. The story notes that the "man with the rifle dropped to the ground" after the driver shot him and sped away. The armed protester subsequently died of his wounds and the driver is reportedly cooperating with police.
Update: Fox New is reporting witnesses claim the driver opened fire first with at least three armed protesters returning fire:
Multiple armed protesters approached the car, at which point the driver fired several shots before speeding away, witnesses said. They added that several of the protesters returned fire as the driver made his escape, with police confirming at least three people opened fire. Garrett Foster, 28, was shot and killed.
The video below purports to be made during the incident. At about :20 of the clip, you can hear five loud shots in row followed by perhaps three shots at :27 with another report from a different caliber right after the string of three.
In Louisville, Ken., three members of a militia group were shot by an apparent negligent discharge from another of their own group.
Multiple gunshot injuries were reported in downtown Louisville after a member of an armed black military group accidentally discharged a firearm while marching to a demonstration. Earlier reports suggested that the shots were fired during an argument between the Atlanta-based ‘Not F*****g Around Coalition' (NFAC) and a far-right militia 'Three Percenters' that had gathered nearby. However, it later emerged that a member of NFAC had accidentally fired on his comrades while the group was assembling in Baxter Park.
The group has been getting substantial publicity with marches and gatherings to protest Confederate monuments at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia and to protest shootings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
What's concerning for us is the increasing willingness for demonstrators to carry and use firearms.
In two of the three incidents noted in this post, the injured were from the negligence and probable inexperience of people not used to handling firearms. This is no joke. People who have little realistic experience in what kind of damage firearms can do can often fall into the trap of believing the tool (the firearm) is like a magic talisman which can both protect them from evil while giving them the power to make others comply to their demands.
While some more experienced users might belittle these inexperienced users, firearms are great equalizers in terms of physical defense. Power really does come from the end of a gun. An inexperienced, poorly-trained person with a firearm can kill you just as well as a trained gunfighter. Respect the threat.
Now, for the other side of the coin. You might be a person who has little potential for physical strength, speed, and endurance for defending yourself. Or you might already be a firearms owner, but you have minimal experience or training with your self-defense tool. Firearms give you a distinct self-defense advantage against younger, stronger, and heavier adversaries. Get training. Practice. Practice some more. Get more training. Practice some more. You have little control over when and where you are going to be attacked.
With the weight of societal and cultural fracturing happening for the next 5 to 10 years, it makes sense to arm yourself to protect your loved ones. You will need information on the right firearm for you and your needs as well as training and deliberate practice to become proficient.
Look now at what you need to do. If we focus on the areas which we can control, then we can make real strides in our self-defense and personal protection efforts.
There is no denying we have entered a phase of increased conflict and violence as our current culture fractures. Here's what we can do to protect ourselves during the increase of riots in America:
Accept. Realize and accept that crime and violence can overtake you without any culpability on your part. You cannot be prepared to defend yourself if you are in a state of denial. Accept that bad things can, in fact, happen to you even when you are doing nothing wrong. Accept your own responsibility for your safety. Accept that the police are probably not in the position to save you. Accept that you will have to act.
Avoid. This should be obvious. Stay away from crowds. Stay informed through the local news and your social media feeds.
Observe. Scan your environment to look for people who are out of place or acting unnaturally. Being a good observer is also connected to the 'accept' advice in point #1. You can miss a lot of information if you are living in a state of denial. There is more information here on the sorts of pre-indicators of violence you should be looking for in the L.A. riots post.
Evade. Leave at the first sign of trouble or go out of your way to avoid the reported disturbances. Don't let your habits of convenience or denial put you a bad situation.
Escape. But what if you are trying to evade and you still get trapped or surrounded by violence? You have to respond definitively and escape!
Accept the threat.
Respect the threat.
Train like your life depends on it.