I’m not an expert, but this seems commonsense to me in these increasingly fraught times:
1. If you own a firearm, be a responsible gun owner; learn how to handle it properly to minimise the risks of accidents.
2. You have the right to self-defense, but realise it’s not absolute and unqualified. As one summary has it, “[a] person is privileged to use such force as reasonably appears necessary to defend him or herself against an apparent threat of unlawful and immediate violence from another.” You can’t shoot and ask questions later.
3. Whether or not you own a firearm, definitely have some non-lethal mean of self-defense handy, for example pepper spray.
4. Stick to yourself, your loved ones, and your property. Remember that the law looks more favourably at protecting a person than property, much less somebody else’s property. Don’t try to be a hero, unless someone else’s life in your immediate vicinity is in danger, and even then be careful.
5. Most people will avoid a direct confrontation with you when faced with an firearm. This is because most people deep down are not that stupid or suicidal. There are always exceptions. Pray it’s not the case in your situation.
6. Don’t aim your gun at others. A threat of violence is better than violence. A warning shot is better (for you and for the other person) than a head shot.
7. Be aware that you might not be the only armed person in any given situation. Apart from the fact that anything can be used as a weapon (by you but also against you), rioters increasingly carry too. Always take that possibility into consideration. Firearm does not make you invincible, especially if you are outnumbered,
8. Don’t be a vigilante. Leave it to the authorities. Local, state or federal will generally – though not always – come through. If not, it’s up to the directly affected residents/owners. They don’t need your assistance. Protect yourself and what’s yours, by all means, but don’t try to be the law enforcement in general. You’re not qualified and not trained. You’re likely to make the situation worse, both in the immediate situation and by giving oxygen to the bad guys and their aiders and abettors.
9. Certainly don’t travel to another suburb, city or state to “help”. As per the point above, you won’t be helping anyone.
10. Unless it’s happening on your doorstep (see point 3 above) or you’ve been caught in transit, there is no good reason for you to be in the area where a riot is taking place. Don’t go there looking for glory (or anything else); if you’re there already, make your way out as speedily as you can.
11. Property is replaceable, health and lives are not.
12. Don’t attack people, don’t destroy property.
13. Don’t resist arrest. It’s easier and better end up at the station and sue to the authorities afterwards than end up in hospital or at a morgue.
14. Learn first aid and have the gear handy at home and in your vehicle. Minutes and seconds can mean a difference between life and death – yours or others – particularly in crazy situations like riots. If the police aren’t around, an ambulance is unlikely to get there either.
Keep your head down and stay safe everyone.