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It is a strange and dangerous time in the history of our constitutional—for now—republic. The most deranged of Democrat politicians are openly encouraging their followers to terrorize political opponents, and there are more than enough willing to do just that.  Few relative sane Democrats have denounced the barbarity of people like Maxine Waters, Hillary Clinton, and Eric Holder:

Former Attorney General Eric Holder said he disagrees with Michelle Obama’s high-minded slogan: ‘When they go low, we go high.’

‘When they go low, we kick ‘em,’ the 67-year-old former Obama Administration AG declared during a campaign swing in McDonough Ga., on Sunday. ‘That’s what the new Democratic Party is about… We’re going to fight for the ideals of the Democratic Party.

Holder later noted he wasn’t being literal about the whole kicking thing, but that’s the page 200, one sentence correction that is inexplicably omitted, not the 500-point, cover the front page, headline.

Circa October, 2018, non-lunatic leftists—normal Americans–including Senators, Congressmen and their friends and family, can expect to be terrorized, even attacked, in restaurants, at gas stations, in their homes, anywhere they might be.  It was only the presence of several good guys with guns that prevented the mass murder of congressional republicans at a baseball practice in June of 2017. The Good Lord forbid anyone be caught in public wearing a MAGA hat.  

I’ve often written on self-defense issues, but it seems time, once again, to provide a brief primer for normal Americans facing the threat of assault for the crime of being normal Americans.  Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV.  I haven’t even slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night.  I offer only general and practical information to aid in consideration of these issues.  While there are more or less universal principles, every state has its own laws, to say nothing of federal law.  Everyone is solely responsible for knowing and observing the relevant laws wherever they live or travel.

The best source for self-defense law is Andrew Branca, whose definitive book, The Law Of Self Defense, is must reading for anyone concerned about these issues.

We will assume everyone recognizes self-defense as a natural, unalienable right, something not to be taken for granted at a time when many politicians are anxious to disarm the law-abiding.  If one does not have the right to defend one’s life, what other right matters?

Keep this firmly in mind: one must always do everything reasonably possible to avoid confrontation.

When Can One Use Force?

When a reasonable person would believe force is about to be used against them, or is being used against them.  It sounds simple, but it’s much more involved than most suspect.  Keep in mind that in the language of most statutes, “assault” is the demonstrated intention to strike another–an attempt to harm them–and often, no actual physical contact is required.  “Battery” is actual physical contact/harm.  Think of assault as the unambiguous threat, and battery as the threat carried out.  But again, much depends on the specific language of the applicable laws.  “Aggravated battery” is generally a felony, and requires the use of a potentially deadly weapon, and/or severe harm.

Principles Of The Use Of Force: these principles apply to the use of any force, non-deadly or deadly.

Innocence: the defender must not be the initial or unlawful aggressor. People engaging in mutual combat can’t claim innocence. Because they’re actively trying to harm each other with no way to tell how far the conflict will go, they’re not engaging in self-defense.  It is necessary to be able to demonstrate one had no intention of using force against another, and was, instead, forced to act defensively.  When the attack is ended and no further force is necessary, one must stop.  If they do not, they can become an unlawful aggressor even though they did not initiate the encounter.

Imminence: one can’t use force against a vaguely defined possible attack, or against an attack that might happen at some time in the future. The danger must be real, clearly about to occur, or already occurring, the attack must be imminent.  The law doesn’t require anyone to absorb blows before protecting them self.  One need not wait for an attacker to land a first blow that might render them unconscious—or dead.

Proportionality: any response to a threat must be reasonable.  A thrown piece of wadded up paper can’t trigger a gunshot.  This does not mean that a response can’t escalate if the degree of force used by an attacker escalates, but does require judgment. A knife thrust is generally not a proportional response to a shove.

Avoidance:  Some states require retreat, if it is reasonably possible, before using force.  Even if clearly attacked, the victim is required to demonstrate they could not safely run away–avoid the conflict–before using force.  Others do not require retreat, or have a “stand your ground” law. SYG laws are grossly misrepresented for political purposes.  They mean only that as long as one is lawfully present when and where attacked, they have no duty to retreat before responding to an attack.  An attacker is presumed to have ill intent.  Some also do not allow attackers—or their survivors–to sue their victims, which is entirely rational.  In any case, the smart thing to do, always, is to avoid any fight.

Reasonableness: A reasonable person of the same knowledge, abilities and in the same circumstances would be compelled to use force.

And if all of this were not enough to digest, remember one needs to consider these—and more—factors, and make 100% correct decisions potentially while under imminent attack.  Do you, gentle readers, see why it’s best to avoid any physical confrontation?

Additional Factors:

Age, gender, disparity of numbers, personal history, and many other factors may play a considerable role in the aftermath of any physical confrontation, regardless of whether it resulted only in scrapes and bruises, or death.

A slight woman attacked by an average sized man may be given more latitude in responding with a weapon that would be considered disproportionate for a male victim.  The same consideration may be given an elderly, or physically impaired man attacked by someone younger.  The same consideration may be extended a fit younger man attacked by multiple thugs. A victim of long standing threats and abuse by an aggressor may also be given more latitude when the aggressor finally makes good on his threats.  However, even this sort of consideration is not a certainty.  Police and prosecutors have a great deal of discretion, and sometimes make bad, even politically motivated, decisions.

Even if one is the clear victim of an unlawful assault, arrest is always a possibility.  One will probably eventually be cleared, but it’s a draining, stressful, and very expensive process, and one could end up being sued, which is also no fun, even if the eventual result is victory—of a sort.

Let’s consider several common scenarios.

Scenario 1: While eating with your wife in a restaurant, you’re surrounded by several strangers, male and female.  They think they know your politics and began to loudly berate you and chant what they think terribly clever slogans.  You’re in a bad position, tactically and otherwise, and they know it, which is why they’re after you in a restaurant.

The smart thing to do is call the police and ask for immediate help. If that isn’t viable, or working–police response time is, in many places, terrible–One should simply get up and leave, but without running, if possible.  Running will almost certainly provoke a chase response in the mob that is there to provoke a confrontation.  This will work best if one has planned an escape route, and an alternate, in the early moments of their visit.  Flee out a back door, or through the kitchen.  It is disturbing that one might have to make such plans, but better to avoid a fight than to give a leftist mob the viral video spectacle they’re trying to provoke.  Presume they’re recording events; presume someone is.

But if I don’t fight back, the bad guys will win!  Momentarily, but there are other places to eat, and what’s better: going home unharmed and not facing years of litigation, or letting one’s ego give leftist thugs what they want? Throughout any encounter, speak calmly, but loudly enough for others to hear.  Make it clear you don’t want any confrontation, be polite even.  Don’t engage in argument, make brief, clear commands, such as: “stand back, please,” or “don’t come any closer.”

Use physical force only if you’re in imminent danger, and only if there is no other way out.  But if you do use force, use extreme speed and violence of action.  Particularly if you’re facing more than one assailant, it is no time for rules and fair play.  Put them down and get out, fast.

Notice in this scenario you’ve done everything you could to avoid a confrontation.  You’re made a verbal and hopefully, visual record documenting your innocence, avoidance and reasonableness, and the malign intentions of your attackers.

When you get out and are safe, wait for the police, make a complete report, and demand they make arrests.

Scenario 2:  You’re driving down a street you’ve traveled daily for many years.  A block ahead, you see 20 or 30 black-masked “protestors” blocking traffic and harassing motorists and passersby.  If you’re smart, you’ll immediately stop, turn around, and go as far out of your way as necessary to avoid any possible confrontation.  This is not about your ego; this is about going on with your life on your own terms.  But let’s assume you weren’t able to avoid the leftist thugs, as recently happened in Portland, where the police stood by-at the order of the city’s leftist mayor–and did nothing.

Your vehicle is surrounded, and the mob is screaming obscenities and savagely beating on it, obviously causing thousands in damage.  You reasonably fear they’re going to break in your windows–you’ve certainly locked your doors–and badly injure or kill you.

NOTE:  People in mobs are particularly dangerous.  Egged on by others of a single mind, they will do things they would not think of doing alone, and often lose any sense of proportion or restraint.  Compelled to add their kick to a downed victim, they may kill them without actually intending it.

This is a bad situation, and they know it.  These people plan and practice assaults like this; their organizers manipulate others into doing their dirty work.  You can’t speak with them; you can’t reason with them. What do you do?

The first option is, as always, to call the police.  Police 911 lines are recorded; at least get your call on the record, even if the police will do nothing.  It may help win a later civil suit–if you survive to file it.  If you can record what’s going on, do it.  As long as you reasonably believe you’re not in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death, sit tight, wait it out.  Maybe they’ll get tired of damaging your car or find a better target.  But they’re trashing my car!  That’s why you have insurance; better the car than you. Leave as soon as you can without causing any damage, because you’re driving a deadly weapon, a 3000 pound+ bullet, and you can’t use it without justification.

If they’re not stopping, but escalating, if they’re trying to break into your vehicle to get to you, drive forward, slowly and steadily, giving them time to get out of the way, but if you are forced to take this tactic do not stop for any reason until you’re able to leave the area and get to safety. Even if someone gets run over, don’t stop.  If you do, they’ll surely kill you; that’s the mob mentality.  You’re not on their side, you’re a Nazi, a fascist, and they’ll recognize no restraint about beating you to death if one of the politically righteous has their foot run over.  When you’re safe, call the police–perhaps again–even drive directly to the nearest police station, making it hard for them to ignore you, and make a complete report.  While you’re waiting for the police, take photos, many photos, of the damage to your vehicle.

But what if some of them get run over?  You waited until any reasonable person would conclude they were in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.  You didn’t panic or wildly accelerate, but gave the thugs ample opportunity to get out of your way.  You weren’t trying to hurt anyone; you were just trying to protect yourself, and anyone in your vehicle.  You were doing your best to avoid a fight.  You demonstrated innocence, avoidance, reasonableness and proportionality.

If you acted reasonably, as one might in these two examples, you’re home free, right?  Don’t expect that to be true.  Police officers make mistakes, or in some left-ruled cities, may even take the side of your attackers.  Expect every word out of the mouths of your attackers to be a lie, including “the” and “a.” You could find yourself under arrest for defending yourself.  If you’ve acted reasonably, and in response to an imminent threat, if you’ve built a good record of evidence, you will probably be exonerated–eventually.  Probably. But you have to expect to be charged criminally, and sued civilly.  You have to expect to spend years, and more money than you ever imagined possible–do you know what lawyers are charging these days?–defending yourself.  Oh, and do you know which lawyer to call when you need them in a situation like this?  Are they in your “contacts”?

Do you see why you should always, always, always do everything you can to avoid confrontations, gentle readers?  For leftist mobs, particularly in cities where they know the police will, at the least, let them get away with pretty much anything short of murder (and probably even that), there is no downside to provoking confrontations.  They’re going to get massive media airplay and viral videos, and their leftist pals will proclaim them heroes.  They might even get on a George Soros payroll, like the Soros funded thug that ambushed Senator Jeff Flake in a Senate elevator.  She makes a six-figure salary with five-figure bonuses.  Not bad for breaking the law and seeking to provoke violent confrontations.

But for you, normal American who only wants to live and let live, there is no upside.

UPDATE, 10-17-18 1945 CST:

Nevada:  The female campaign manager for the Republican gubernatorial candidate was attacked by a Democrat operative for “American Bridge 21stCentury,” a George Soros funded leftist organization.  The attacker has a history of political violence, and, according to media accounts, has been fired.  One suspects his firing was far more about his exposure of the Left than any concern for the welfare and safety of Republicans.

Minnesota: A female Republican state representative was attacked when she found a man destroying her yard signs.  A male Republican candidate for the state House was “sucker punched,” and suffered a concussion while speaking to voters in a restaurant.

The two assaults occurred just days after a Minnesota Democratic operative took to social media to declare war on Republican candidates, jokingly suggesting that fellow leftists ‘bring [Republicans] to the guillotine’ in a post on Facebook. Rather than firing the staffer, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party suspended the staffer for a week.

“Be careful what you ask for,” the aphorism goes, “you just might get it.”  Democrats are asking for assaults on Republicans, and their followers are giving what they’ve asked for.