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The Perils of Hands-On Intervention

This author has repeatedly urged the reader to proceed with extreme caution when intervening in conflict between other parties not related to you. In fact, the advice is to not intervene unless you are absolutely sure of what is happening. Stay out of anything that appears to be a domestic dispute. Be exceedingly cautious of coming to the apparent rescue of others. The obvious exceptions would be violence against children or active killer scenarios. Otherwise, if it is not your people, it is not your problem.

Recent trends show that such caution is in order if intervening even with less-lethal force. Laying hands on someone to protect a third party is inherently dangerous physically and certainly dangerous legally. The age of chivalry is dead, and woke prosecutors want to make sure that the age of the Good Samaritan is also dead. Look at the prosecution of the ex-military veteran in New York City who restrained an aggressive thug on the subway; the violent actor died as a result of the restraint due to a frail physical state per excessive narcotics abuse. The prosecution of the Good Samaritan was met with public outrage, but such sentiment does little to dissuade politically motivated prosecutors who seek to protect thugs and limit the ability of good people to protect themselves at all costs.  

The possible danger involved in intervening in third-party conflicts, specifically involving just hands, is two-fold: first, you can get injured or killed any time you enter the realm of violence. Second, you are highly likely to get maliciously prosecuted, even if you act in good faith and a reasonable manner.  

The Perils of Hands-On Intervention

It is said in self-defense circles that your hands and feet are your first and last lines of defense. This is true, as violence with weapons also often involves physical contact, and such skills are important. However, many fail to realize just how potentially dangerous making physical contact with an aggressor is. In the eyes of the judicial system, hand-to-hand fighting is typically considered “simple assault” rather than aggravated assault, which involves assault with a weapon. Most confrontations involving only hands are considered non-deadly in nature, whereas the use of weaponry elevates such interaction to deadly force. Still, many hand-to-hand confrontations do, in fact, end up as deadly encounters where people die or get badly maimed. Hand-to-hand fighting is exceedingly dangerous.  

Beyond only the dangers of being crippled, knocked unconscious, or even killed, consider the very real possibility of exposing yourself to pathogens. When blood and other bodily fluids are exchanged in a fight, you run a high risk of getting any number of diseases, including HIV, Hepatitis, and many other dangerous illnesses. Going to hands with a thug is to embrace a host of bad outcomes, either immediate or long-term.  

Such sobering considerations should lead the self-defender to proceed with extreme caution when it comes to interdicting violence between third parties.  

The Legal Danger

Beyond the obvious physical dangers involved in fighting comes the woeful legal peril as well. As numerous recent incidents illustrate, prosecutors who turn violent repeat felons loose are quick to prosecute citizens who defend others, or even themselves, with open hands. Clearly, if you are left with no choice but to defend yourself or a loved one, then the legal aftermath is a second phase of concern rather than the immediate. However, if you are contemplating whether to intercede on behalf of another or not, be mindful of the sort of people who run the justice system in your vicinity or of that in which you are in.

Beyond only the danger of malicious prosecution comes the danger of legitimate prosecution for excessive force during what may be deemed mutual combat after the fact. As a law-abiding self-defender, you should always take every opportunity to de-escalate and escape a situation. It is easy for a well-meaning self-defender to fall into the legal trap of mutual combat, which is a conflict in which both parties agree to the violence. If interceding into the affairs of others, a fistfight that erupts may be deemed mutual combat, as the self-appointed Good Samaritan may be seen as a mutual combatant who willfully entered a fight.

Less-Lethal Tools

Carrying less lethal tools is more essential than ever before in our current social and legal climate. To all of the tough guys out there who laugh at pepper spray, sober up. If you are a black belt in Ju Jitsu, that is excellent, but you are always better off being able to break contact with an aggressor after spraying them with OC spray than you are if you must go to hands. No matter how skilled you might be, you always run the risk of injury, death, or exposure to pathogens. OC spray is not magic, and it can fail, but it works to shut down most aggressive behavior from would-be assaulters. If the spray ends the confrontation without it going further, that is a good outcome. Further, OC spray is a lesser level of force than even your open hands, thus making it a legally sound choice when dealing with simple assault.  

Think long and hard about your own line in the sand and what you are willing to get involved in. Your freedom is not something to risk for other perfect strangers.  

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