Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Sobering Story

Miguel over at Gun Free Zone posts the sobering story of an Arizona man who was dragged through the legal system after being involved in a "disparity of force" situation (two women and a man punching him) where he drew his weapon and fired. 

I'll echo Miguel and say that if you've been involved in self defense training, you've probably heard of James Yeager who operates a training company out of Tennessee.  I know I've watched some of his many YouTube videos demonstrating his tactics and he is known for doing things many consider unsafe, or just plain over the top.  For example, he will crouch between targets on his shooting range taking photographs of the students while they're shooting.  I'm sure he'd argue that if he's in any real danger, they don't deserve to be carrying, but the fact remains that they're students and not trained operators. His latest antic is to issue a challenge to pay for airfare to his training center to duel or fight anyone that says negative things about him. 

Miguel's point is that there is much more to learn about carrying a firearm than "just the bang bang part", and that your choice of instructor may have a major impact on the aftermath of a defensive shooting incident.  The bang bang part is relatively easy to teach; the parts about just when you're justified are definitely more subtle and less well-defined.  The vast majority of us will never face a bunch of AK-wielding Jihadis shouting "Allahu Akbar", but far more of us will face the prospect of being robbed at gunpoint or even carjacked.  It's not always completely clear what you do in the face of the robber.  Sure they're pointing a gun at you, but assume if you're out in public, it quickly turns into a one-way trip deep into the legal system. 

To quote from the pdf that Miguel posts, Hickey is the defendant, and Nicolini is the prosecutor who tried to convict him based on taking classes from and teaching for Yeager :
Initially, Nicolini grilled Hickey about the concepts and principles Yeager taught him, using notes and handouts from classes, and later he went over the same material with the instructor himself, discussing avoidance, de-escalation, gunfight tactics and many of Yeager’s similes, acronyms and catchy phrases – tools that the instructor used to help students remember important principles.

Alarmingly, out of context advice from instructors to “always cheat; always win,” and the axiom that one should treat every one else in a polite manner while simultaneously having a plan to kill them painted an inaccurate picture about Hickey’s outlook on life. Nicolini harvested these quotes from the training notes and handouts, and made much hay with them, especially during his closing arguments in which he described Hickey in highly inflammatory terms.
Almost all of us have used those sayings, either seriously or as a joke. The prosecutor used them to try to construct an image of Hickey as a lunatic who just wanted to kill someone.  He even tried to sell the jury that anyone who would carry a gun in anticipation of needing it was "out of whack with society".  Hickey wasn't on trial: you and I and anyone else who carries was on trial. 

Go read. 
(Oleg, of course)


  1. I'm very much aware that when involved in a self defense situation, whether or not the intended victim has employed a firearm in any manner, or even possesses one, including not even removing it from the holster, and especially when possession of a firearm is intimated by the intended victim, with or without any form of use of that firearm, prudence dictates that 911 be notified immediately, the presence of a police officer requested, and a written police report be filed. The common philosophy is that "he who calls 911 first is the victim" and the law abiding citizen always, and without fail needs - legally - to place himself in the position of victim to ensure minimal vindictiveness from the legal system.

    All that said, do prosecutors such as Nicolini have any understanding at all that actions such as his are driving the populace toward a "shoot, shovel and shut up" position? There will come a time, and I think it's not that far away, in which there will be no possibility for anything resembling fair treatment from the machinations of the state, and when that occurs anything associated with the state will be among the last things citizens need, or want.

    1. Well said. The advice about 911 doesn't apply to the Hickey case, but only because his neighbors already had called them.

      Your second point, though is already going on in some of the failed states. Victor Davis Hanson writes about it at length in his columns. The further you get from the urban areas, the less the laws are followed.

    2. Amen. The three S's are popular out here, along with the knowledge that talking to the police will get you in trouble, ninety-nine times out of a hundred. Have a lawyer already lined up and shut your mouth is what many of us feel is more appropriate these days, especially after all of the stories where the victim - or the folks who called the cops - ends up in jail or getting shot by the cops themselves.

      I'm not a cop-hater, having been a peace officer myself, but many of today's LEOs are more interested in demonstrating their authority than in keeping the peace. None of us shaved our heads and wore "cool" black leather gloves when I worked the streets.

    3. @RegT - Very much aware of that as well; if a LEO asked me what time my watch said I think I'd want my attorney present before answering. I've considered learning ASL as a potential defense against verbal answers.

      @SG - Been following VDH's experiences in the Golden Sate for some time. Horrific and getting worse; what worries me is how many trends start in California.

  2. "None of us shaved our heads and wore "cool" black leather gloves when I worked the streets."

    FWIW, those gloves aren't usually worn to be cool, not in these days of all kinds of exotic blood-borne pathogens.

    Since you worked the streets, surely you realize that there's not necessarily any time to say "Hang on, let me put on my gloves" before going hands-on with the Hep-B infected ED homeless dude who was trying to bite passersby.

  3. "There will come a time, and I think it's not that far away, in which there will be no possibility for anything resembling fair treatment from the machinations of the state..."

    I think we are already there. Depending on one's situation, it may be at the stage where if a cop shows up, it makes no sense even to allow him to arrest you. The older you are, the more true this is. Police currently feel no deterrence for their depredations. That has to change, and it will change soon, when people realize they don't have to put up with crap any more.