I’m thankful that stories of legally armed citizens making incredibly bad choices are relatively rare occurrences. But when I do come across them, I like to use them as “teachable moments.” Anytime the mistakes of others can help us avoid trouble in our own lives, we should take advantage of it.
You may recall the case I referenced a few months ago where a legally armed Florida man approached a vehicle that was parked in a handicapped spot, leading to a violent confrontation.
Deciding to designate ourselves as the “parking police” is a quick way to instigate a nasty situation (which is exactly what happened; the armed citizen involved is now charged with manslaughter, and his next pre-trial hearing is set for December).
Worse, in the aftermath, anti-gun activists have used the case as an excuse to attack Florida’s “stand your ground” law (even though SYG was not claimed). This is another lesson for everyone who carries: When just one of “us” behaves badly, it often ends up hurting the rest of us.
So I was particularly interested in another case in Minnesota that occurred just this past week. A police sergeant I know up there sent me some info on an incident that occurred in Eden Prairie, a suburb of Minneapolis. According to WCCO News-4:
“There are concerns surrounding how a situation was handled this week after a group of Somali teens alleged that a man pulled a gun on them inside an Eden Prairie McDonald’s restaurant. Police arrested 55-year-old Lloyd Edward Johnson Wednesday afternoon on probable cause of second-degree assault.”
According to witnesses, workers at the McDonald’s restaurant had trouble processing payment for the teens’ orders. Annoyed at waiting, Johnson allegedly asked them if they were using EBT cards (i.e., the electronic version of food stamps).
The teens, apparently insulted by the remark, surrounded Johnson, yelling at him, at which point he backed out of the restaurant, telling the teens to “stay back.” A video shows the tail-end of the altercation, with the manager of the McDonald’s telling the teens to “get the [bleep] out of my store” several times.
According to my police officer friend, the chaos in this incident is going to make it very difficult to untangle exactly what happened. But regardless of how this case ends up in court, there are several things the rest of us can take away from it.
First, nowadays, anything we do, especially if it involves a gun, will more than likely be preserved on video, not to mention blasted all over the internet. And, unfortunately, even video does not always tell the whole story.
Second, because this case involved Somali teenagers, both the media and local political activists jumped at the chance to focus on the racial aspect. The New York Times headline is a perfect example:
“White Man Accused of Brandishing Gun at Black Teenagers in a McDonald’s Is Arrested”
I urge you to read the entire article.
Third, and perhaps most important, this incident need never have happened. If Mr. Johnson had simply refrained from commenting, he could have avoided this entire situation.
Finally, both of the above cases underscore a basic self-defense rule: Unless you or another person is clearly in imminent physical danger, you should just mind your own business!
We should be doing our best to avoid trouble, not looking for it.