As the classic American holiday looms, so does danger. Today I was speaking at the annual training conference of ITOA, the Illinois Tactical Officers Association. The authorities are acutely aware of serious threats from ISIS of mass murder attacks on American soil. Large gatherings of presumably helpless people…a uniquely American holiday to defile…ISIS sympathizers already inside the United States…and the blatant threat of attack by ISIS itself…the ingredients are all there.
Travel safe. Travel alert. If at all possible, travel armed. It would not be the best time to be attending large public gatherings. Don’t let a rural setting make you complacent; these people want Americans to believe they are not safe anywhere.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, protesters are marching in chilly streets after the announcement that a city police officer has been charged with first degree murder in the controversial cross-racial shooting thirteen months ago of a teenage knife-wielder. Marches in the streets were how the Baltimore riots started. With all the cops tied up in a civil disturbance, terrorists would find the Windy City a particularly inviting target.
Defy the terrorists and have a great Thanksgiving.
No one in the world of counter-terrorism was surprised at what happened in Paris. Terrorists have been performing such atrocities for a very long time.
And counter-terrorism experts have been predicting that it will happen here, too. ISIS has threatened as much. Remember Fort Hood, for example.
Around the country, police are being advised to be especially cautious even off duty, and some departments are telling their armed personnel to carry their service pistols and a couple of spare magazines on their own time, not just a little .380 in the pocket and no more ammo than what’s in the gun. My old friend Dave Workman gives an example here.
And as Dave points out, armed citizens are facing this reality too.
In recent weeks, we saw an armed citizen on the street shoot and kill a rampaging jihadi who had just stabbed a rabbi to death. That righteous gunfire ended the rampage without further loss of innocent life.
Inevitably you will hear, “Aw, that’s not going to happen here.”
I’m sure that’s what each of the Parisian victims would have said in the moments before the gunfire and explosives erupted there last week.
The six-day Legal Eagles seminar continued on Sunday with a powerful all-day presentation by attorney Mitch Vilos, author of “Self-Defense Laws of All Fifty States.” Mitch specializes in firearms law and has done a hundred or more such cases himself as trial lawyer, and has studied hundreds more such cases for research. He has discovered the epiphany almost every attorney experiences in the courtroom: law school teaches you the law, not trial tactics. The latter is something that is learned on the job, or in specialized in-service training known as CLE (continuing legal education).
Mitch is smart, he’s funny (in a good way), and he’s a voice of experience. He pointed out that the defenses-with-firearms which seem to cause the least trouble to the good person with the gun are those involving home defense, interdiction of mass murder, and fighting off armed robbers. The least defensible are those in which the defendant might be seen as “the initial aggressor,” or those in which the defendant was doing something illegal at the time of the incident.
Some of those epiphanies are counter-intuitive. Mitch, like veteran defense lawyer Jim Fleming who spoke the day before him, has found that cops make wonderfully favorable jurors in self-defense shooting cases. And that’s just the tiniest sample of the experiential wisdom for which the dozens of attendees are paying a well-spent $3,000 over the course of this six-day seminar. It wouldn’t be right for me to give it all away here.
Let me share another bit of Mitch Vilos’ wisdom. I am not exactly the world’s biggest fan of pastel pistolas. However, Mitch revealed that his current concealed carry pistol in his stomping grounds of Salt Lake City is a purple-color SIG-Sauer. Mitch, like others of us in this business, has seen more than one case where someone has claimed the defendant pulled a gun on him when he didn’t. Mitch likes the idea of being able to say to the investigating officer, “Ask the complainant what color the gun was that he says I pulled on him.” If the liar doesn’t say “purple,” Mitch has a strong reinforcement of the truth that the guy never saw a gun at all and is making up a story.
Damn…live and learn. That’s the first good reason I’ve come across for carrying a handgun of a non-traditional color. And learning, of course, is what I came for.
On a sad Saturday when the latest Democrat debates saw the Presidential hopefuls trying to outdo each other to see who could be the most anti-gun (and in which Bernie Sanders seemed to blame terrorism on climate change), dozens of serious gun owners and firearms instructors were facing reality as the Legal Eagles firearms law seminar continued in Washington.
Much of that reality is counter-intuitive. For instance, criminal defense lawyers are taught all the way back to law school to never allow a past or present cop to be on the jury that judges one of their clients. After all, wouldn’t a guy or gal who has spent a career making drug busts and arresting drunk drivers be predisposed to convict a defendant facing such charges?
Jim Fleming, a cop for the first ten years of his career in the criminal justice system and a defense attorney for the last three decades plus, explained why he loves to have cops on juries in self-defense trials. Of all the people in the jury pool, who will better understand the defendant’s perspective better than someone who straps on a gun when going to work every day, because they may face the very same murderous dirtbag the defendant was forced to shoot in self-defense?
I’ve taught CLE (continuing legal education) courses with Jim on managing the self-defense case, under the auspices of ACLDN, the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network. To sample Jim’s experience and wisdom, read the book about one of his most famous cases (“The Bison King,” available from Amazon) and particularly his book on handling self-defense situations, “Aftermath.”. If Jim Fleming’s “Aftermath” wasn’t a damn good book, I damn sure wouldn’t have written the foreword.
While terrorists slaughtered helpless unarmed citizens unable to fight back in Paris, armed Americans on the West Coast listened to trainer of instructors Marty Hayes, completing his lecture program begun the day before. Then, they heard from a series of survivors.
There was Bob, the jeweler who when a masked thug from Compton burst into his store screaming profane commands and waving a Glock .40 responded by drawing his own Kimber .45 and putting a 230 grain jacketed hollow point into the thug’s chest, fatally ending the encounter. Bob’s description of this incident, along with links to the security camera recording of the shootout, can be found at proarmspodcast.com. There was John, who used his skills in combatives to keep a fellow vet with PTSD from snatching John’s gun to commit suicide and end his despair. There was Sherry, who when she was 18 and unarmed endured along with a friend a nightmare ordeal at the hands of an armed rapist. Miraculously and courageously surviving that, she now walks the path of the armed citizen.
And, capping the day, there was George Zimmerman.
He went through his notorious incident in detail, clarifying many of the points that became confused in the media propaganda blitz that followed. I learned something I hadn’t been aware of until now.
If you read my take on Zimmerman’s trial (here in the blog archives beginning on the day of his acquittal, July 13, 2013 and running for a total of twenty segments), you saw how Benjamin Crump – the attorney for the family of the deceased Trayvon Martin – manipulated the media. I did not know at that time that when Crump won an earlier multi-million dollar lawsuit in the state of Florida, he had received assistance from then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama. In return, Zimmerman said, Crump had sent a very substantial donation to Obama’s campaign for President.
Hmm. And then came from President Obama: “If I had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon.”
Gosh, Mr. President…if Trayvon had wanted to date one of your daughters, and you had Secret Service check him out first, would you have allowed that date to take place?
The Legal Eagles conference on firearms law, hosted by JB and Glenda Herren, continues for four more days.