Written by: Greg Ellifritz
As the weather warms up, we are going to see a resurgence in protests, riots, and violent crowds in America’s cities. Our police are beaten down. They see that they don’t have support from their citizens, their politicians, and their supervisors. They know if they do something that looks even the slightest bit controversial, they will be thrown under the bus. I predict the riots this summer will be even worse than last summer . With Covid-19 fears easing and cops unwilling to act to enforce the law, things might get fairly ugly.
A lot of my readers want to be prepared in case they encounter said ugliness. I have lots of friends carrying long guns of various configurations in their vehicle in the event they are confronted by a violent mob.
I received this question from a student last week. I edited it for security and brevity reasons.
“Greg, I saw a troubling video last week, and I want to ask you about it. A guy in a truck at an intersection in Portland OR was surrounded by a swarm of thugs brandishing AR-15s. They blocked his truck from escape, knocked out his windows, and pointed the guns at him.
He foolishly (I think) got out of his truck and drew a pistol, and tried to hold the crowd at bay. If it turned into a gunfight, which fortunately it did not, he would have been badly outgunned. Someone soon got behind him, hit him on the head, he went down, and the crowd beat the crap out of him, took his gun, and sent him to the ICU.
I asked myself, what would I have done in this situation? Of course, first I would try to avoid being pinned down, and second I would get the hell out of there if I was, even if it meant driving on the sidewalk, over the median, or in the wrong traffic direction. With the police defunded, handcuffed, and demonized, I dont expect a cop to come to my rescue (none did in that case).
The guy looked pretty stupid waving his mouse gun at a crowd of black clad, heavily armed marxist Antifa and BLM animals. My answer? MOSSBERG SHOCKWAVE. Within 15 yards or so, nothing beats a shotgun loaded with 1500 fps double ought buck. I have trained significantly in shotgun use for home defense, and I were trapped and my life were in danger, that would be my go-to weapon. The Shockwave has a bird head grip, strapped foregrip, and a 14″ barrel, and seems the perfect weapon to bring to the fight in the confined quarters of an immobilized car.
With proper technique, the recoil is manageable even without a stock, and is ideal to shoot from a seated position. Of course, I would only pull the trigger if there were demonstrated Ability, Opportunity, and Jeopardy to end my life — fight or die. What do you think of the Shockwave as a back seat car gun if you couldn’t avoid a close-in gunfight from inside a car? If this is a dumb question, forgive me, but it is bothering the hell out of me.”
The incident he’s discussing is Portland man recovering from beating after armed standoff amid protest. Apparently, the video has since been removed from social media.
I know lots of people who are carrying ARs, shotguns, and lots of bullets in their cars anticipating an extended confrontation with ANTIFA. I don’t think it’s the right answer.
Let’s review the political/legal environment in which these riots occur.
-Cops aren’t preventing property damage or most violent crimes during the riots. They are not arresting significant numbers of the rioters. The cops aren’t coming to help you if you are beaten or shot by the rioters.
– On the slim chance that a rioter gets arrested, he/she are immediately bonded out of jail by large private entities, celebrities, and legal aid groups
– Those same interest` groups will then pressure prosecutors to drop all charges
-As prosecutors drop charges against the looters, they are simultaneously encouraged to prosecute any armed citizen who defends himself, regardless of the threat the citizen was facing at the time.
-Charging anyone who fights against the rioters raises the prosecutor and police chief’s political status among the “woke” voter population
My friend Michael Bane makes a very cogent case for understanding the fact that the rules have indeed changed. Actions that once would be considered a clear case of self defense will now be judged very differently.
As Michael clearly explains, this is nothing less than politically sanctioned violence. Read the article before continuing.
The Very Real Danger of Politically Sanctioned Violence
Let’s summarize. You are outnumbered. The entire system is rigged against you should you engage these people. Being present in the riot brings a high likelihood of you being injured or killed. If you are not killed, you will go to jail. The mob will target your spouse, kids and property while you are sitting in the slammer waiting for a bond hearing.
Before we move on, we have to consider another factor. The rioters will not succumb to de-escalation tactics. One can’t de-escalate a mob whose sole purpose for existence is ESCALATION (especially on social media channels). You aren’t going to talk your way out of this. The rioters have aerial overwatch. They have block cars and chaser cars. If you don’t drive away many blocks before the stopped traffic, you will have no opportunity to escape. When you try to back out of the area or drive over the sidewalks, you’ll find your path blocked by protestor vehicles being directed from an elevated observation post.
The elevated overwatch is also in radio/phone contact with large numbers of “bicycle scouts.” These bike and moped scouts target particular vehicles by profiling the vehicles’ occupants to determine who gets through and who gets stopped. They ID the vehicles that would make the best targets. Remember, these folks want short term publicity for the cause. Video evidence of a mob attacking children or old people doesn’t play well in the media. They are trying to find someone to fight back. They want the video of the “fascists” losing their cool and going to guns.
If you belonged to such a protest group, which drivers would you pick? They are likely looking for white males between the age of 20 and 50. Rural residents would be good targets. They would likely love to find a car festooned with bumper stickers showing the person’s conservative political leanings or gun ownership. The bike scouts find these vehicles. They radio the info to the overwatch commanders. Those folks direct the crowd and blocking vehicles in an attempt to isolate the vehicle and eliminate escape routes.
You aren’t driving out of this.
Michael Bane is doing the most cogent reporting on these types of incidents. Read his short Facebook post about how these riots work. Then listen to his most recent podcast covering the reality of this situation.
If you get out of the car, you will be seriously injured or killed. If you flee, you will be chased down and physically assaulted. I’m pretty good with a shotgun. Give me a Shockwave and turn me loose on the mob. Would I have any chance against multiple folks with AR-15s and countless unseen snipers working from overwatch positions? What about all the other enraged crowd members who are carrying concealed pistols?
If I had a Shockwave, I’d probably get a couple of the rioters, but I’d soon be killed. The issue isn’t the fact that my 9mm pistol isn’t as powerful as a shotgun. The issue is my opponents’ massive numerical superiority. I could have the best gun in the world, but I wouldn’t stand a chance against 20 people with homemade ARs and HiPoint pistols. Are you sure you want to engage this mob?
Here’s something else you should consider. How many citizens are getting shot in these riots? There are lots of armed rioters open carrying every possible type of firearm. Why aren’t the heavily armed protestors shooting, even when confronted by other people with guns?
The rioters’ purpose isn’t killing people. The objective is political awareness and a mild form of terrorism. Gunfights aren’t necessary for that to happen. The rioters know that if a bunch of uninvolved citizens start getting shot down in the street, the protests will lose all public support. Cops and National Guard soldiers will be forced to respond. The riots will end. They don’t want that.
If the rioters wanted to kill people, they’ve had plenty of opportunities. They haven’t taken many shots. These armed actions are almost always testing and probing operations. The rioters are trying to find out exactly how far they can push the envelope until the police start using force and making arrests. When the rioters have superior numbers and more hardware, they have no need to shoot. They can give anyone who resists an “educational beatdown” with little chance of personal consequences. That’s what is happening here.
Can you see how this isn’t a “bigger gun” kind of issue? If it’s gone to guns and you are fighting a mob of 100 armed and angry protestors, you’ve already lost. At best you’ll be bankrupted by legal fees. At worst you will be killed, permanently disabled, or in prison. You cannot win this situation with guns. In fact, I think if you start firing on a crowd of rioters, the rioters will all open up on you. They are wearing masks. No one knows who they are. Twenty people will be shooting you before you have a chance to pump your shotgun for a second shot.
The only way to win in this situation is to avoid being there. Most protests are not spontaneous. The rioters want media coverage, so they announce their protest sites in advance. Pay attention to your local scene and avoid those areas, especially after dark. Doing that will be better protection than having a belt fed machine gun in your back seat. Stay away from this mess.
With that said, it’s time to address the original question. What do I think about a long gun (specifically a Mossberg Shockwave 12 gauge “pistol”) for such events? I think they are a horrible choice for this particular situation.
If you get caught up in one of these things, you absolutely MUST stay in your car unless the rioters attempt to burn you alive inside. The vehicle provides at least a little bit of cover from the rioter’s gunshots. Staying inside proves that you didn’t “go looking for a fight.” You may also have more legal protection in your vehicle than on the street in states with some form of “Castle Doctrine.”
Have you ever shot a long gun inside a car? Even a short, stockless shotgun like the shockwave is significantly harder to maneuver in the confines of a car than a pistol. Firing a rifle or shotgun inside an enclosed car cabin without hearing protection is guaranteed to cause instant permanent hearing damage. Pistol shots aren’t as loud in close quarter confines.
Have you ever fired your Shockwave from a seated position? Recoil control is more difficult with that weapon when it is fired without being able to put some body weight behind the gun. Not having a stock makes it easier to maneuver, but seriously diminishes recoil control when the weapon is fired from an unsupported seated position.
The pump shotgun requires two hands to operate. That’s another sub optimal characteristic for fighting a mob from a vehicle. You may need your other hand to drive, cover your head as bricks smash your side windows, or to call 911. Those acts are hard to perform when you need both hands on the gun.
The problems with that gun are more exacerbated if you have to suddenly need to leave the vehicle. I hate running a long gun in a crowd. Longer barreled weapons are easier to take away from someone. With both your hands on the gun, how are you going to protect your skull from the myriad of blows you will start receiving as soon as you exit the car? How are you going to protect your holstered pistol from a crowd gun grab? The Shockwave sounds less and less like a great tool for this mission the more I think about it.
My biggest concern in a crowded riot situation is that not all of my shotgun pellets actually hit the bad guys. Having a couple stray pellets zooming through a crowd is a recipe for disaster. There’s a great possibility of a miss with at least a few pellets of every load you fire. Those “misses” are actually “hits” to an undesirable target. One of the hallmark of the BLM rallies in particular is that there are thousands of non-violent protesters present hoping to affect positive societal change. It’s only a small percentage of the mob that are hell bent to hurt you. When you fire at the bad guy and actually put a couple stray pellets in innocent grandma’s skull, how would you feel?
If I’m in a car or in a crowd, I think the handgun (and in some situations, the blade) is a far better solution. The handgun gives me the ability to quickly get on target in a car, move through a crowd without garnering attention, and allows me to use my support side hand to protect myself, carry a kid to safety, or perform any other number alternate of critical tasks. I can’t do that very easily with a long gun.
I don’t think the Shockwave or AR-15 is the answer to the current problem. If BLM/ANTIFA tactics change (like conducting longer range sniping operations), I might consider rolling with a rifle or shotgun in my car. Right now, it seems to be more of a detriment than a benefit to carry anything other than a pistol if you are anticipating crowd violence.
What am I doing to prepare for the possibility of being stopped by rioting protestors?
I’ve doubled down on my commitment to avoid the problem areas. I’m not a “riot tourist.” I stay as far away as possible from any planned protests or violence. I don’t go into areas where previous demonstrations occurred after dark.
I’ve started carrying more ammunition on my person when going any place with large gatherings of humans. Where previously I’ve never felt “undergunned” for just carrying my Glock 19 loaded with 16 total rounds. That’s enough for a typical crack head street robbery. It may not be enough when fighting off hordes of protestors armed with rifles. Now you’ll rarely see me without one or two spare mags attached to my belt.
I’ve placed a large can of pepper spray where it is in easy reach of the driver’s seat of my car. Opening the window and unleashing a a cloud of hate might create some distance between me and my pursuers.
I’ve also put a couple of small fire extinguishers in the driver’s and passenger’s side door map pockets in my car. If I get hit by a Molotov cocktail, I want to be able to stop the burning quickly. I use the Tundra small fire extinguishers in my car. I’ve written about my experiences with this model in a previous article.
That’s it. No helicoptering ninjas protective details on retainer. No belt-fed machine guns mounted to my car’s sunroof. I don’t carry long guns in my car unless I’m traveling out of state
I think our problem as a species is that our monkey minds tell us to “do something” in the face of a perceived future threat. Until we “do something” we have mental unease. The “doing” we actually need involves staying away from riots and protests. It involves quiet discussions with folks in and outside your social circle who want to make the world a better place. The answer isn’t showing up at the protest with a pistol-gripped shotgun
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