by Emanuel Kapelsohn, Esq.

This month’s Attorney Question of the Month column starts by asking us to assume the reader has done “everything possible” to avoid becoming engulfed by the rioting, I’ll let other attorneys answer from there going forward, and will deal with the “Left of Bang” issues. From my experience as security director in charge of the 11-man protective team for a wealthy principal, if someone attacks the principal, putting aside whatever we then do in direct response to the attack, we must understand (later on, of course) that the fact that the attack is taking place means we have failed in our primary and most important job, which is to plan, manage, and conduct the operation in such a way that no attack occurs.

Too many bodyguards, security officers, and even some private individuals with CCW’s “think through their guns” meaning their thought process might be something like, “This is a dangerous route to take, but it will be okay because I have my gun.” A 3,000 pound car is just a larger deadly weapon than one’s gun. A big crowd, let alone a rioting mob, can quickly make it impossible to drive out of it to safety, even with flashers, horn, and willingness to hit one or two people who get in the way. And if you’ve hit someone while trying to drive to safety and you don’t succeed in getting away, you can be sure the mob will literally try to TEAR YOU APART, and that you may not have enough rounds in your gun to keep you safe. I’ve seen this happen.

So, I think this inquiry most productively needs to start “Left of Bang,” with questions like, “Do I really need to go out shopping tonight? Can my errand wait until tomorrow morning, when it’s daylight, after I check out the TV news and call the local police station to ask if things are safe for a trip through that neighborhood? Is there an alternative route I can take that is safer, even if it takes me 5 miles out of my way and means I have to leave home 20 minutes earlier? Can I call and reschedule that dentist appointment? Can I call in sick, or simply tell my supervisor I don’t feel safe driving to work today, given what has been going on in the area?” We really need to spend more time thinking about those things, and less time thinking about how many rounds the extended magazine for our new 9mm Phenortner 2000 holds.

If you haven’t read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker, you need to do that. Its main message is, when the hairs stand up on the back of your neck or you get that feeling that something is amiss, you’re probably right! Don’t delay, but follow your instincts to safety immediately, without delaying to try to analyze or identify the thing that is making you afraid. Because by the time you identify it, it may be too late to keep yourself safe. Once you get surrounded by rioters, or even by “protesters” or “demonstrators,” it may be too late to extricate yourself, regardless of how many horsepower your vehicle has and how many people you are willing to drive over. The time to take action is when you see the demonstration four blocks ahead of you, or see the traffic piling up as it approaches the demonstration. IMMEDIATELY make a U-turn (or do whatever else you need to do) and GET THE HELL OUT OF THAT AREA IMMEDIATELY. Let the person who was not able to make such a good, quick decision worry about how best to utilize his flashers, gas pedal, and gun, about whether he will survive, about how many years thereafter he will spend in prison, and about whether or not he and his family will have any money left when he gets done paying for attorneys and experts for trials and appeals. Be sure now that however much mental energy you spend learning good “caught in the riot” vehicle tactics, you spend at least TEN TIMES as much time and energy planning how to avoid ever having to find out whether or not those tactics will work for you, in the unknown situation you are contemplating. This is the best advice I can possibly give.
Attorney and Network Advisory Board member Emanuel Kapelsohn practices trial law in addition to his work as a firearms consultant/expert and author. He holds degrees from Yale University (with honors) and Harvard Law School, and has, since 1980, instructed thousands of police and security officers, federal agents, military personnel and private citizens throughout the U.S. and abroad. He consults and provides expert testimony in both civil and criminal cases involving firearms and use of force and has testified in state and federal courts, and by invitation before both houses of Congress. Learn more about him at and


To read more of this month's journal, please click here.