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Shooting for Self-Defense?

Written By: Karen De Coster  |  Posted: Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

First, a couple of news items that are actually something to cheer about concerning our rights to defend our liberties: Arizona is allowing concealed carry without a permit, and the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the University of Colorado has no authority to bar students or visitors from lawfully carrying guns on campus. This has got to make the megalomaniacs in the Obama administration livid. Both are big wins in times where gun ownership is being vilified.
Mainly, I wanted to comment on this shooting incident that happened near my home just recently. It's being called the Farmington Hills road rage incident. A brief description from the story:
Mintz was reportedly braking several times on northbound Orchard Lake near 13 Mile around 4:30 p.m. Monday when a 20-year-old Commerce Township man behind him apparently became irritated, exited his car and approached Mintz at his car window. Mintz then reportedly pulled out a 38 Revolver and shot the Commerce man once in the arm, according to police. The victim's injuries were not life threatening.
It's hard to really know how things occurred, but one thing is known for certain: when a person leaves his vehicle in the middle of a crowded road to angrily approach another individual, who is sitting peacefully in his car, the intent is to do harm, or, to make the other person think he means to do him harm. That's wrong. And yes, sometimes that can be a dead wrong decision. Someone giving you the finger, screaming at you, etc., is not a reason to leave your car and go nuts. A middle finger or shouting is not the same as an intent to do harm.
First off, on a daily basis I face aggression on the road, time and time again. People who cannot contain their anger or miserable state certainly take it out on others on the road. I learned, long ago, while in my 20s, that it was not worth it to mix it up with these people. They are not worth your attention, and certainly, why put yourself at risk over some nutjob that you'll never come in contact with again? When people aggressively tailgate me - and this happens a lot where I live - I don't tap my brakes (like I used to when I was younger). I slow down until they go raging by me. Sometimes they'll swerve over back in front of me and slam on the brakes, but again, I'll slow or stop and let them realize that there's going to be no conflict here. Eventually, they lose interest and move on.
That Mintz was tapping his brakes was not the smartest thing to do, but evidently, he was sending a message his way: stop the unprovoked aggression. The other driver, who appears to have been the aggressor from the start, decided to take the conflict to a different level. A person who will get out of his car, in the middle of rush hour, and approach a vehicle to rage on, is a dangerous (and unpredictable) person. People are carrying guns and other weapons nowadays, and such an action really shows the aggressor's ignorance and carelessness.
As to Mintz, here's my beef - he was completely untrained in the use of his concealed pistol (as are most concealed carry folks). When you carry a loaded weapon you have to think far bigger than the other guy. You have to train to prepare. You have to train to react under pressure and in varied scenarios. Mintz should have been watching the guy from the moment he stepped out of that car behind him, and he would have been able to determine if the guy was armed, either with a gun or some other makeshift weapon. He should have watched his every step, his hand and arm movements, and his approach to his vehicle. If he did, he would have known a lot more about the road rager's intent. He would have seen if the guy was drawing a weapon. When the rager approached his car, he should have been looking for a way out; if he had nowhere to go due to a red light and no way to go around others, then, as the guy continued to approach his window, he should have drawn and chambered the firearm. After all, a person who has got to the point where he is inches away from your car window can do major damage very quickly. Seeing a firearm would typically end the approach and the conflict. Yes, I know that brandishing a firearm can be tricky, and interpreted by law in various ways. But I'd rather end a road conflict peacefully than carry it out to the extreme.
If the sight of a firearm does not end the conflict, and if no weapon is presented by the rager, Mintz would have certainly bought enough time for the light to turn green and traffic to start moving. Thus, he could have escaped the conflict. After all, this was not a robbery attempt, where the intentions are clear from the start. This is a case of a person momentarily going nuts, and that should be handled knowing that it can likely be diffused without shots being fired. If the aggressor started punching his way through the window, that's when it is time to take the ultimate defensive stance.
Mintz had no training, no awareness, and no ability to understand how he would react to various events. It's a shame that most people never take a bit of training beyond the very lame CPL course they take to get their carry permit. Granted, they have a basic right to carry a weapon, period, but common sense and self-responsibility should lead people to understand more about the weapon they carry and become proficient enough to determine how and when they should use it. That will likely serve to alleviate a time and place where you are sitting your butt in front of an unpredictable jury. You don't just go off and shoot people because you are angry.
If I were on the jury in such a case, knowing only what I know now, what would I do? I would say, without a doubt, that Mintz was scared and acted in self-defense, in spite of not being well-trained and prepared. The ultimate mistake, in my mind, was committed by the individual who got out of his car and aggressively approached another person, showing intent to do harm. In today's world, that's a really, really bad thing to do.
Karen De Coster is a CPA and freelance writer and writes regularily for

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