Lot’s of things for the armed citizen to think about in this story.
Overview: a man was walking with his girlfriend at 4:45am when someone started catcalling her. The man told the offender to knock it off and was stabbed nine times for it. He survived and is now calling for catcalling to be made illegal.
He’s mad that some are questioning why he was out walking at that time of night/morning. If it was a bad neighborhood that’s certainly a valid question. But they were walking home from a friend’s house which is a good reason so I give him that one. Though his argument that he shouldn’t be afraid because he lives in the area isn’t a good one to make.
You can also question the wisdom of being out unarmed, though the majority of people are. We can look at the options from both angles.
Many guys would find it difficult to remain silent if their significant other was being verbally harassed. We don’t know what words were exchanged but the fact is an unarmed person tried to correct the behavior of an armed and dangerous person. Whether there were threats or not, obviously the situation escalated.
Whether you are armed or unarmed, there are two common responses to such harassment: ignore it or respond to it.
Ignore it while unarmed
It is highly likely that the catcaller was out to have a good time and was looking for trouble. Had our hero and heroine ignored him he may have pressed the issue but oftentimes it is the fish that take the bait that get reeled in. You may scoff at someone who just “let’s it happen” and may feel it was worth it to end up in the hospital with 60+ stitches. However his woulds were nearly fatal and being dead leaves our fair lady alone as a witness to a killer. Better to ignore and see if the situation escalates.
Respond while unarmed
Well, we see the results of responding while unarmed. Pain, suffering, and nearly killed. Our hero may have thought he could verbally intimidate the bad guy. He may have escalated the confrontation by the manner of response by being so verbally aggressive he forced the villain to attack to save face. In other circumstances a verbal response may have stopped the catcalling but that is a big chance to take when you have nothing to back up your words. This time ended in a trip to the hospital. It could easily have ended in a trip to the morgue.
Ignore it while armed
The possible outcomes of ignoring the behavior while armed are very similar to ignoring it while unarmed but there is the added benefit of being able to defend if the bad guy then follows to escalate while unprovoked. Ignoring is still the best option with a possible armed response an additional benefit.
Respond while armed
There are some who will claim this is the best response. In the fantasy, the hero shuts down the harassment and knows he has the firepower to deal with any response. Or does he? This guy was armed with a knife. He could just as easily have had a gun. Or could have friends with guns. Maybe you get the desired approach, the villain is admonished, and the hero goes home with the girl. In this particular example, let’s say it played out exactly as it did only our hero is armed. Maybe the bad guy stops his attack at the sight of the gun. Or maybe the attack continues and the defender is forced to fire. We end up with a dead or wounded bad guy only the scenario isn’t over.
Bear in mind that indictments in shootings are far more common for regular citizens than police officers. Odds are very high you’re going to court over this and will probably spend at least a little time in jail during the process. You’ll get your day in court and then have to explain to the jury why a man deserved to be shot for making vulgar comments, which is the argument the prosecution is going to make. And remember that your jury isn’t a group of self-defense experts, chivalrous former marines, and gun forum junkies. It’s going to be soccer moms, barristas, waiters, department store clerks, and plumbers. Just regular ordinary folks who might not agree that you had to pull a gun one someone over mere words (and if the bad guy lived, he may sing a different tune as to what those words were).
It may be a hard pill to swallow, but whether armed or unarmed, ignoring idiotic comments is your best bet. The alternatives just aren’t worth death, imprisonment, or the loss of thousands of dollars in legal fees.