Read the linked article and watch the video embedded below.
The news article and video show a man armed with a knife entering a playground and stabbing random children and two of the kids’ parents/guardians. If you were on the playground, how would you react?
Interestingly, a couple of guys showed some timid levels of resistance (hitting the attacker with a backpack) and even that bit of resistance at least made him temporarily discontinue his attack.
I want you to think hard about this one.
I’ve generally advocated not getting involved in any crime that doesn’t involve you or your loved ones. The rules have changed. In today’s political environment you stand a very good chance of being arrested and/or sued if you intervene in a violent attack, even if your actions are objectively reasonable.
With that said, I don’t think I could stand by and watch this man stab a bunch of toddlers on the playground. If I was there, I would likely shoot the guy.
What if you didn’t have your gun? I’d definitely try pepper spray if I had it, recognizing that it may not work. What about other options? War game these questions:
How would you insure your own kids’ safety as you intervene?
How would you intervene if you were unarmed? Are there any environmental weapons you could use?
Most of you carry folding knives. If that’s the only weapon you had, how would you use it to neutralize the attacker?
This scenario also presents another dilemma. In most criminal attacks, if the criminal breaks contact and runs, I would advise my students not to give chase or attempt to hold the criminal for police. The criminal running away is usually a “win.” But is it a win in this case?
What if he runs to another park and kills more kids? What if he jumped on a bus and stabbed all the passengers? What if he randomly started stabbing people on the sidewalk?
The man has clearly displayed homicidal intent by stabbing at least six people. Do you think he’s suddenly going to stop his stabbing spree when you pull a gun and run him out of the playground?
More things to think about:
If you witnessed multiple stabbings, the man is still armed with the knife, and he runs away from you, are you legally justified in shooting him? If so, would you shoot him?
If you choose not to shoot, would you give chase?
Would you try any other interventions against the fleeing attacker?
I think I could make a very good argument that the fleeing armed attacker still presented a substantial risk of serious injury or death to other people. That may legally give me the right to shoot him. Not shooting him clearly saves me a big hassle, but may endanger others.
Would you be content to stop the immediate attack without shooting and take the risk of him continuing his attack elsewhere? Or would you shoot him, taking the chance that you will be criminally charged for shooting an “Un-housed, disadvantaged immigrant who was having a mental health crisis and couldn’t understand your commands telling him to stop?” because you know that’s how your shooting will be played out in the media.
Tough questions, huh?
One more tough question. Do you have the skills and gear to stop severe bleeding on at least four young children? Have you thought about how you would improvise such medical gear if you were not carrying enough for all the victims?
There’s a lot to unpack in this 35-second video. I’d urge you to take a few minutes to seriously consider your answers to the questions I posed.