I firmly believe that law abiding individuals have a right to carry concealed firearms for self-defense. The passage of constitutional carry in Arizona, an effort of the Arizona Citizens Defense League, was hailed by many as a step forward in this regard, but I found it objectionable for two reasons. One was practical, in that it, at least for a time, limited the number of states which recognized my Arizona concealed handgun permit, thus actually reducing my ability to legally defend myself. The other was theoretical, in that people without an understanding of laws regarding use of force might carry and potentially use firearms inappropriately, as I found the use of force discussions to be the most valuable portion of my CCW permit class.
Arizona was already a shall issue permit state, so the constitutional carry provision simply eliminated this short educational period and the laughably brief range qualification. It was hailed by many as a step forward for freedom because one no longer had to “seek written permission from the government” to carry, but as I said before, the efforts of the AZCDL actually limited my ability to legally carry a firearm in neighboring states. Some would put forth the notion that the solution to this problem should be that all states adopt constitutional carry, which will never happen, at least not in my lifetime.
As Arizona still has now-optional concealed weapons permits, you might think the training provisions would remain so that other states would not rescind reciprocity agreements; no, AZCDL saw fit to reduce training requirements for permits as well, even touting this as an accomplishment, thus prompting states like Nevada to end Arizona concealed weapons permit reciprocity (Nevada has since chosen to recognize Arizona permits once again, but for quite some time this was not the case). Many of the other things AZCDL has done have been extremely beneficial to Arizonans and others traveling through this great state. In my opinion, this was not one of them.
Shooting Death of Martin Padilla
My theoretical concerns were borne out a week ago when a 26 year old man – who due to his age could not have received a concealed carry permit prior to the constitutional carry law being enacted, and thus is unlikely to have ever attended the longer, once-required 16 hour class which discussed in detail legal issues regarding the use of lethal force – shot and killed a 40 year old man in front of his four children after a road rage incident and subsequent physical altercation, both of which were apparently prompted by the 26 year old man.
Here’s the interim complaint:
According to the above complaint and an interview with Hamza Padilla, the facts are as follows. As I may have transcribed things incorrectly, I encourage you to read and/or watch the primary sources above.
Marcus Dixon, 26, honked at a vehicle after it failed to go through a green arrow or at least move fast enough when a red turn arrow went green. This vehicle was driven by the 15-year-old son, Hamza, of 40-year-old Martin Padilla, who occupied the front passenger seat, while his three younger siblings sat in the backseat. Hamza stated that Marcus Dickson had been tailgating him.
After moving through the intersection at a pace apparently unacceptable to Marcus Dickson, Hamza pulled into a Walmart parking lot and attempted to move out of the way so the other vehicle could pass. Instead, Marcus Dickson pulled in front of the vehicle so as to block it in, at which point both adults emerged from their vehicles and a physical altercation apparently started by Marcus Dickson ensued.
As Martin Padilla was 6 ft 5 in tall and 300 pounds and Marcus Dickson is 5 feet 11 inches tall and 215 pounds, along with the fact that Marcus Dickson’s ground game apparently sucks, Padilla ended up on top and may have struck Dickson a number of times, although his injuries described in the complaint are relatively minor and not particularly visible in his booking photo.
Edit: Well, this is embarrassing. I mixed up the sizes of the individuals involved. Somehow, despite being taller and weighing almost 100lbs more, Dickson ended up at the losing end of the physical fight. I reiterate my comment that Dickson’s ground game sucked – with extra emphasis this time.
Dickson stated that he drew his firearm with his right hand and shot Padilla in the torso once, was able to get out from under him as Padilla made a strange sound, then shot him again in order to keep him from standing up, which Padilla was apparently making no attempt to do.
Dickson has been charged with manslaughter. I fully expect and hope that he will face a fair trial. While the facts of the case may be different than those stated in the interim, in which case I would be open to changing my opinion and interpretation of the situation, for now I will take the facts of the complaint at face value.
This does not look good for Marcus Dickson. He was apparently the aggressor in a situation in which the victim’s vehicle, possibly at the direction of the victim, attempted to deescalate before trapping the victim and emerging from his vehicle to challenge a man with his four minor children, a man who quite understandably sought to defend his children, especially the 15 year old driver of the vehicle who apparently raised Dickson’s ire. Dickson then apparently chose to engage in a physical altercation. When the fight started to go bad for him, he used lethal force twice, at least one example of which was not justified by the victim’s actions as described in the complaint.
Viewed within the context of the road rage incident and the initiation of the physical altercation as well as the second, apparently totally unnecessary shot, however – as I said, this does not look good for Marcus Dickson.
Curiously, this exact type of situation was discussed when I went to my concealed weapon permit class about 10 years ago. The question was posed by a student as to whether or not one could draw and fire a gun at someone in a fight one was losing. As I recall, the instructor said you could absolutely do so if you feared for your life as a result of the size or number of the people you were fighting, but that the authorities would likely take a very dim view if you were the one who initiated the fight.
Certainly, Marcus Dickson could have, and indeed may have, sought this information on his own instead of being forced to attend a class which discussed the use of force. I understand that the idea of the government forcing one to learn about the laws and moral issues surrounding the use of lethal force, even from a private instructor, is anathema to some. Furthermore, if the facts as alleged in the complaint are true, it may be the case that Dickson was a hothead who would not have benefited from any input regarding how to use a concealed weapon, instead choosing to follow his own moral compass. It could also be possible that Martin Padilla was in fact the aggressor, or maybe some would say Padilla should not have gotten out of his vehicle, even if he felt a strong desire to put himself between his children and someone who was allegedly attempting to trap them in a confined area. It should be noted that Padilla was an Army veteran who served in Iraq as an interpreter.
I can’t help but wonder if Martin Padilla would be alive today if Marcus Dickson had been sitting in a class taught by the same instructor who told me that you would be on thin legal ice if you used lethal force in a fistfight you started.
As a side note, I had been in that parking lot – turning left at that same green arrow – just a few hours before the shooting, in a vehicle with a friend who is under the age of 18. Had Mr. Dickson been following me, I too would have attempted to deescalate and drive away or pull aside to allow him to pass. The fact that I had firearms in the vehicle at the time would have been a reminder that I had no need to prove my superiority as a result of a misunderstanding in traffic. Speaking in general terms, carrying a firearm has encouraged me to avoid confrontations whenever possible. It saddens me that a man is dead and four children are without a father after the same choices were not made in real life.