I have written before about how important it is for us to control our emotions when we are carrying firearms. The reasons should be obvious. Allowing anger to dictate our behavior is a quick way to wind up in prison — or dead. Look at the road-rage incidents that seem to pop up in news stories with disturbing regularity.
A good example of someone losing control can be seen in the case last month from Clearwater, Florida, where one man began angrily berating a woman who was sitting in a car parked in a handicapped spot. That was bad enough, but then, the woman’s boyfriend came out of the store where they were parked and saw the man yelling at his girlfriend. He too let his temper get the best of him.
Instead of simply asking something like, “Hey, buddy, what’s the problem here?” he immediately rushed toward the man and shoved him violently to the ground. The man who was attacked then pulled a handgun and shot the other man, who died shortly thereafter.
Of particular interest to those of us in the carry community was the initial flurry of press reports claiming that Florida’s “stand your ground” law somehow prevented law enforcement officers from arresting the shooter. This is misleading at best. The fact is that police can pretty much arrest you for just about any reason under the sun. “Stand your ground” laws generally come into play only after you are formally charged, at which point your attorney will claim (usually in a pre-trial hearing) that since you followed all common-law requirements in legally defending yourself, you had no obligation to retreat and therefore should not be bound over for trial.
However, while he was not immediately arrested, after further investigation and pressure from the victim’s family, the shooter Michael Drejka, age 47, has since been arrested and charged with manslaughter.
In this case, since the event unfolded in mere seconds, retreat is unlikely to be an issue. Regardless of whether Drejka is convicted or acquitted, the case will likely be used as a basis for more attacks on “stand your ground” laws in general, particularly here in Florida. Stay tuned.
It is also important to watch for anger in others. Last week in Jacksonville, Florida, a 24-year-old man apparently opened fire on participants at a video game tournament, killing two and wounding nine others. Police would not confirm a motive at the time, but since the man had been eliminated from the tournament shortly before the shooting, anger was likely a factor. As always, those of us who carry guns should learn what we can from incidents like these.
I am confident that our regular readers would not allow their emotions to overrule their common sense in such situations. The record bears this out. Legally armed individuals are among the least violent in society.
These latest events are a stark reminder of why we need to be acutely aware of our surroundings all the time, not just when going to our cars in a dark parking garage or jogging alone in a forest preserve.
It is also clear that in today’s world, there are a lot of angry people out there, some who could turn violent with little or no warning. Paying attention to the warning signs of escalating anger in others is now more important than ever.