As the long, violent summer of 2020 drags on, the hopes that protests would die down, coronavirus restrictions would ease and life would begin to get back to normal appear to be fading. Things are not going back to normal. As a nation we have passed a point of no return. It is impossible to say exactly what our new social arrangement will be, but life will be different.

For months, violence has persisted in Portland. Multnomah County’s new District Attorney announced recently he will not prosecute numerous crimes committed by rioters, repeatedly referring to them as peaceful protesters, but describing criminal violence and destruction. Such is the doublespeak of leftists.

General criminal violence, and now protesting, is out of control in Chicago. The iconic Magnificent Mile was the scene of rioting and looting this week. The city was forced to raise drawbridges to inhibit rioters’ movements. Despite the intense surge in crime and violence, prosecutor Kim Foxx is dismissing nearly 30% of felony charges in Chicago, a rate dramatically higher than her predecessor.

Indianapolis had a brutal murder on its picturesque downtown canal walkway when a young woman was killed for saying “all lives matter.” Indianapolis had BLM/Antifa riots earlier in the summer, but they have largely vanished as a combination of coronavirus shutdowns and riot damage has mostly left Indy’s once beautiful downtown a boarded-up shell of its former self, the once-bustling sidewalks now mostly populated by vagrants.

As Democratic mayors refuse to keep basic order and allow rioters to control the streets, an escalation of violence is inevitable. As the chaos escalates and police are unwilling or unable to keep citizens safe, more Americans than ever are buying guns, getting trained and applying for gun permits. BLM and Antifa appear to be increasingly arming their protesters, as well. Last week BLM rioters blocked a busy road in Indianapolis, with some of the protesters pointing a gun at a stopped motorist. In Austin, an off-duty U.S. Army sergeant stationed at Fort Hood was working a night job for a car service and shot a BLM protester who was blocking the road and approached his car with an AK-47 rifle. As he sped away to call police, another protester fired several shots at the fleeing car.

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In the Indianapolis protest, video shows a man attempting to drive his vehicle on the street and a protester facing his vehicle and raising a gun at the driver. The driver reportedly had a concealed carry permit and unholstered his own weapon. In the news accounts, the protester stated he “feared for his safety” and claimed he was merely defending himself from a vehicle that he feared was going to try to run him over. Although he used the right words, his situation leaves out other important parts required for self-defense.

This is not to be taken as legal advice, but merely as a general discussion of law as it may apply to a particular incident. Your state or local area may have very different rules, and you should consult a licensed attorney regarding your specific circumstances. That being said, one is generally permitted to act in self-defense in the case of an unlawful attack. Very broadly speaking, there is a two-part test regarding whether an action claimed to be in self-defense is appropriate. First, the person claiming self-defense must be in a place he is lawfully entitled to be. So, fighting with security as they try to escort you out of a bar is a tough self-defense scenario because you remained in a place you had no lawful right to be. Second, he must be engaging in an activity he is lawfully entitled to be engaging in. This is why bank robbers generally do not have a self-defense claim for shooting a bank security guard who draws his weapon during their robbery.

There are other factors to consider, such as the reasonableness of one’s belief he or she is about to be harmed, and the Indianapolis protester with a gun had apparently read up on that part of the analysis. But another part of the self-defense equation in many places is the culpability of the one claiming self-defense for initiating or escalating the confrontation. Put simply, if you go looking for a fight, or escalate a confrontation, the chances of successfully claiming you were merely defending yourself diminishes.

The shootout in Austin and the standoff in Indianapolis are forerunners of where protests are headed if those randomly blocking highways and terrorizing motorists are not brought under control. But more than letting chaotic groups of criminals own the streets, the situation in St. Louis with the McCloskeys, the calls for charges against motorists in Indianapolis and Austin, and the arrest of several drivers around the U.S. who refused to stop when ordered by rioters, lead to a breakdown in confidence that citizens can rely on police or trust prosecuting authorities.

The real estate business in cities impacted by violent protests is suffering. While coronavirus is partially blamed for the sudden glut of real estate in places like New York, Portland and Minneapolis, it makes sense that people want to leave cities where their families are not safe.

The owner of the Indianapolis Colts recently tweeted encouragement for people to return to downtown Indy, touting its walking spaces, restaurants and other attractions. He lamented it is “relatively empty.” Many replied that it is not safe, and gave specific examples.

There is a disconnect between American leaders and ordinary people. The terror people feel, and is driving gun sales to record highs, is why these cities’ streets are empty. Things have changed in America. Our leaders are unwilling to restore order, and we are only seeing the beginning of the societal changes that will come out of this chaos.

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