Every time I start to talk about hand to hand self defense, there’s always someone that blows it off with some variation of the following mentality: “I’ll just shoot’em.” But there is a hidden danger in only having a gun for self defense.
The danger is that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When all you have is a gun, everything looks like a shooting problem.
Here’s an example of how this way of thinking can go wrong.
Recently there was a volcanic eruption in Hawaii.
As of this writing, the lava flow has destroyed 117 homes. Hundreds have evacuated. Fortunately, no one has been killed.
In 2005, hurricane Katrina taught us is that criminals love natural disasters.
People evacuate and take only their most precious possessions. Many valuables that are just too difficult to transport are left behind. So the looters break in and steal anything they can.
With the threat of homes being destroyed or property being looted, tensions are understandably high.
In response to this, many citizens who don’t evacuate take up arms to protect their own as well as their neighbors’ property. Using the threat of lethal force to protect property as an ordinary citizen can quickly become a slippery slope.
I don’t know how this situation devolved to the point at which the video started recording. The situation seems to be that the man in the Tye-dye shirt (Ethan Edwards) is checking to see if his home has been damaged by the lava flow. The man with the gun (John Hubbard) seems to thing that Edwards and his friends are looters.
So let’s break this down.
- Edwards is not presenting any kind of lethal threat. No weapons in hand. There is zero justification for Hubbard to present a lethal force solution to this problem.
- Edwards is being verbally aggressive and not really respecting that Hubbard has a gun. Best thing he could do is walk away and call the police.
- Hubbard isn’t a police officer. He has no legal obligation to protect someone else’s property. He can’t legally make an arrest. The best thing he could do if he truly believed that Edwards was a looter is to call the police.
- Hubbard pulls the gun with no justification of use. He points it at Edwards with no intention of shooting him. He even fires into the air a couple of times. He’s not using the gun as a tool of self defense, but as a tool of intimidation. That is called “brandishing.” It’s illegal.
Firing indiscriminately into the air is beyond negligence. It’s reckless endangerment.
You are responsible for anything that bullet eventually hits. Could result in property damage. Could result in someone’s death.
This man drew his gun because he has no other skill sets. Read that sentence again and let it sink in.
He has a poor understanding of the law. He has poor communication and de-escalation skills. The only solution in his mind is his gun. And he didn’t even get that right. He clearly hasn’t received any formal defensive firearms training.
This is where the “I’ll just shoot’em” mentality can potentially lead.
Other Possible Outcomes
If Hubbard were smart he would have called the police right away if he thought this was a legit case of looting. Take pictures of Edwards and his friends, his car and license plate, and the house and address. Be a good witness for the police.
Let’s say for argument’s sake that Hubbard phone isn’t working. He could ask Edwards his name, what he’s doing, and have a conversation.
Maybe Edwards is in an agitated state of mind and responds by yelling at Hubbard to mind his own fucking business. In that case, the best thing to do is for him to disengage, write down whatever he can, and report it to police.
Let’s say that Edwards encroaches Hubbard aggressively. Edwards has no visible weapons and is smaller than Hubbard. If Hubbard were forced to defend himself physically, he could do so if he had some hand to hand skills. Having those skills as an option could keep him from spending time behind bars as well as prevent him from needlessly taking a life over mere property.
What Should You Protect?
Unless you are a cop, you are not a fucking cop!
It’s not your job to chase after shoplifters at Home Depot. It’s not Hubbard’s responsibility to arrest or threaten someone he suspects is breaking into an empty house. Be a good witness. Observe and report. Call the police.
Most States legally allow you to use lethal force to defend yourself or another against death or grievous bodily harm, but not necessarily property.
You need to do the research of what is actually legal in your city, county, and State. You must be able to understand when a threat meets the justification of force (a.k.a. intent, means, opportunity, and preclusion). You must also be able to articulate why you had no other choice but to use force.
Even with Stand Your Ground laws and Castle Doctrine, my recommendation is always escape if possible. If you can leave, you will most likely stay alive and out of jail. If you don’t leave, you could end up in the morgue, the hospital, or prison.
Only fight when there’s no other acceptable alternative.
NOTE: Nothing I write on this website should be taken as legal counsel. Just points to think about.
By the way, John Hubbard was arrested. Here’s the list of charges according to a Honolulu news channel.
- 2 counts of first-degree reckless endangering
- 5 counts of first-degree terroristic threatening
- 1 count of first-degree robbery (he took a woman’s cell phone at gunpoint and threw it into the brush)
- prohibited ownership of a firearm
- failure to register a firearm
- failure to obtain a gun permit
- use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony
- bail was set at $222,000
The Main Takeaway
Have more than one option to deal with conflict. Again, when all you have is a gun, everything looks like a shooting problem.
Get off the couch and commit to doing the work to acquire critical skill sets: Firearms training. Hand to hand training. Emergency medical training. Basics of self defense law. Assessment and communication skills.
One last thing…a less known but potentially disastrous problem with having the “gun-as-only-solution” attitude is that it can gradually develop an erroneous thought that if you don’t have a gun, there is nothing you can do in a situation. That you are powerless. That you will most definitely be a victim. That’s simply not true.
What next two skill sets are you going to work on?
Let us know in the comments.