Last July, an independent videographer attended a Black Lives Matter and ‘Don’t Shoot PDX’ protest held in downtown Portland. During the protest, he alleges he was accosted by anarchists and antifa hidden amongst the other protestors. Fearing for his life, his defense attorney contends that Michael Aaron Strickland, 37, drew his legally owned and concealed handgun to defend himself from an aggressive crowd.
That’s not how the judge saw it, though. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Thomas Ryan ruled that Strickland would not be able to legally possess firearms nor take video of protests any longer, according to the verdict passed down and reported on by Oregon Live.
“This was not self-defense,” Multnomah County Circuit Judge Thomas Ryan said. “… Simply put, you cannot respond in the way the defendant did in this situation. Brandishing the weapon was not the defendant’s only option. He was not about to be pummeled.”
We covered the initial ruling here. He had already been found guilty but the judge in this last decision decided his sentence. He would mostly get a lengthy probation and fines but the added restrictions on Strickland’s activities will adversely affect him as independent journalism is his chosen profession.
This is the hard, cold light of public perception versus a concealed carrier’s own subjective viewpoint. Likely, in his mind, he truly believed he was being threatened. However, in light of where he was, the judge ruling on the case, and the type of event he was in — those factors all added up to him losing his right to carry a gun ever again.
Now, if you’re defending your life, the first and only thing you should think about is preserving it.
Strickland never put his finger on the trigger but he arguably did brandish it and that was probably intimidating for those people in the crowd.
As concealed carriers, we have to be overly aware of how our actions may be interpreted by others… But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t defend yourself.
The right to stand your ground against a perceived threat is a natural one. It may not be vindicated by the courts and the courts are who can ultimately remove the capacity for many of us to legally carry a gun once convicted of a felony.
There was likely a lot of things that Mr. Strickland would have rather done if given the chance to do it all again. After the lengthy court appearances, expensive legal assistance, and restrictions hindering his career, he likely would have acted in a different way in hindsight.
But that’s another reality of carrying a gun — there’s no take-backs.
Once that gun comes out, you have to be positive that it’s for all the right reasons. If there’s people around, you can bet your bottom dollar the cameras on their phones are on you. That’s just a reality to modern situations during broad daylight and in a crowd of diverse people operating under different motivations.
It’s very likely that there were protesters in those circles that were intimidating, that made motions to threaten or move in on Strickland. There’s always more than a few bad apples swarming in those sorts of barrels. That’s why we need to be cognizant and situationally aware. Even though some of us may believe we have every right to stand up to a crowd if the crowd begins to act violently, if the opportunity to retreat reduces the likelihood of the need for force, it’s an option best exercised early and often.
You make your own call. Carry everyday. Protect yourself and those around you.