On September 4, 2015, a fact-finding public review was held into the deaths of the murderers of the above three, who were shot by LVMPD officers at the end of their rampage. Among the epidemic of police murders, the anti-police Black Lives Matter movement, unjustified police hate (separate from legitimate concerns) the tragic events of June 8, 2014 bear discussion for several reasons. First, what is and isn't an appropriate cause for revolution, something the gun community is always being accused of ready to start, and secondly, to examine the heroic actions of Joseph Wilcox.
Jerad and Amanda Miller were the disturbed couple who decided to wage their own private ‘revolution’ on Las Vegas police, killing Metro Officers Alan Beck and Igor Soldo, along with citizen carrier Joseph Wilcox.
Jared was a disaffected young man. His personal videos on social media show him very emotional and in tears. His actions (prior to the killings) painted a portrait of an immature person, ready to blame his personal problems on anyone but himself. The government became his scapegoat. Jared became a felon after pleading guilty to felony drug charges. This made him a prohibited person and unable to own or purchase firearms. Jared's bizarre and reckless behavior continued. He threatened to kill law enforcement officers after the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles suspended his driver license if Miller was interfered with while driving.
Miller was also obsessed with police accountability groups and police brutality. It is one thing to want the best law enforcement that tax dollars can buy, but a lot of these groups attract those who simply hate police. Like Miller, they have been the subject of adverse police interaction (usually arrested or ticketed) and instead of rectifying their own behavior and accepting personal responsibility for their transgression. Because they focus on every report of police misbehavior (justified or not), they internal bias turns them further and further towards hatred. Most reasonable and rational adults, even those who vehemently hate police, stop before they turn to violence or criminal acts.
Individually and within reason, almost none of Miller's 'anti-government' beliefs and actions are normal. A lot of people hate President Obama, even those who voted for him. Some people wear camouflage. Where things diverge from the norm is where all of Miller's 'interests' converge. Someone who hates the police believes conspiracy theories (wacky stuff that is in no way plausible and serves only to tickle the ears), along with spouting off sentiments against the federal government tend to add up to something suspicious.
America is a nation built and founded on distrust of government, enshrined in our peculiar constitutional checks-and-balances form of government and Bill of Rights. Our Declaration of Independence is the seminal treatise on government abuse and the right of people to choose their government. Yet what Miller and some of the fringe anti-government supporters fail to notice is this particular clause of the Declaration of Independence stating when and under what circumstances revolution is appropriate.
"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism [...]"
What Jefferson is saying is that government should not be changed (i.e. start a revolution) over petty differences or disagreements. In fact, it is better than men patiently suffer and try, try, and try, even though they fail, to peacefully change the circumstances of their governance than revolt and risk their lives and by war tear their country apart.
True patriots, men today like those of the 1770s, know that a revolution is to be avoided at all costs. Political change must be attempted and totally exhausted as an option first. Indeed, in 1776 when the resolution to draft a declaration of independence to King George III was before Congress, many wanted to petition him peacefully one more time to address the colonists’ grievances. Even after independence was declared, hope was held out for a peaceful resolution that would have resulted in a commonwealth type arrangement with Great Britain. Only when it became totally insufferable to live under British oppression any longer did Congress finally act to start the revolution.
Miller was not a patriot. Instead, his videos, acts, and words show him to be an angry loser placing blame on anyone but himself. He complains about his lack of employment, his poverty, his lack of insurance, even his dental condition, on the government. He failed to acknowledge the role his behavior and his drug problems and his irrational behavior had on his life. Miller failed himself and latched on to a cause—in Southern Nevada in 2014 that cause was Cliven Bundy.
Bundy, the rancher who defied the Bureau of Land Management and a federal court order to stop grazing his cattle on public land, called for ‘militia types’ to come guard his land and help actively prevent the roundup of his cattle off public land. The debate about Bundy’s actions and the events outside of Bunkerville are not a topic for this blog. What is important about the event, regardless of Bundy’s or the Federal government’s responsibility for the standoff is that it crystallized
Both sides, law enforcement and the gathered citizens, showed remarkable restraint in not turning the standoff into a battle or massacre. It is quite apparent that many law enforcement officers were placed in a situation larger than simply guarding a roundup and enforcing a court order that they didn’t like being in. In fact, local law enforcement tried to stay out until then-Sheriff Gillespie had his department step in to act as mediating presence between federal law enforcement and the gathered citizens. Again, this is a fine example of Jefferson’s reasoning for when revolution is acceptable. The Bundy ranch standoff ended peacefully, albeit with both sides pointing guns at each other.
Mainstream media points out that both Millers tried to join the Bundy movement. Both of them were asked to leave for their unequivocally extremist views. In a camp filled with self-professed militia types, the Millers’ anti-government rants and advocacy for violence got them kicked out. The Millers were troublemakers who wanted to kill those who they viewed responsible for their station in life—the government. Sadly, they viewed ordinary patrol officers as the foot soldiers of oppression; a ridiculous notion.
Joseph Wilcox, Citizen Carrier
Video from the incident was shown at the fact finding review, including. A citizen carrier, Joseph Wilcox, was killed along with Officers Soldo and Beck. Wilcox willingly put himself in danger to end the violence, though as a private citizen he was under no obligation to do so, at the cost of his life. In spite of his murder before he could shoot either suspect, Wilcox showed uncommon bravery and likely derailed the killers’ plans, saving unknown lives.
Disclaimer: Editor was not present at the fact finding review nor have seen the original footage or have a copy of the original report (if anyone does have access to that, copies would be greatly appreciated). These comments are from video seen on the evening news and re-posted online. The footage is grainy, short, and shown in fragments. It has been heavily edited by the news stations and possibly by the county. I may be missing or wrong about some details here.
Video from outside the store appears to show them carrying backpacks and long-gun cases. Jerad enters Walmart and begins firing warning shots. He is followed by Amanda. Both appear to be pushing shopping carts. Joseph Wilcox, near the front of the store, heard the commotion and moved towards danger smartly and immediately upon the start of the incident. His unhesitant response to engage the threat is incredibly admirable.
Once Wilcox realizes what is happening, he turns and draws his concealed handgun from its position near the small of his back. Wilcox pursues. He does so smartly, bounding from cover to cover (or concealment, depending on how you view store displays and shelving). Given a god’s eye view, Wilcox’s action certainly standout and would draw attention as he is moving towards the threat, not running away from it.
Jerad seems oblivious to anything behind him, including Wilcox. Jerad rushes forward, pushing his cart forward to the sporting goods section to raid the ammunition counter. He’s later seen using a baseball bat to smash the glass. However, Amanda is trailing behind her husband. The footage is too grainy to tell exactly what happened, but Wilcox aims at Jerad. He appears to be aiming from behind a shelf or display, using that as cover/concealment. Amanda is acting as a rear guard and sees Wilcox taking aim at her husband. Amanda appears to kneel and shoot Wilcox, killing him.
Wilcox did fail to account for Amanda. It is unknown if he was aware she was part of the plot. The video does not have enough detail to see exactly what happened and make an educated guess. Unfortunately, the separation between husband and wife caused Wilcox to assume their were not associated. Likely, she may not have been as overtly hostile as her husband (who is clearly seen with a pistol in his hand in the video) and Wilcox could have perceived her as just another shopper. He also may not have seen her at all. Failing to see Amanda and/or also engage her was Wilcox’s only apparent ‘failure’.
In Wilcox’s defense, most of these high-profile events are undertaken by a single madman. He probably would not be expecting that the murder’s wife would be with him. Again, Wilcox likely perceived Amanda as another shopper—an easy mistake if she was not brandishing a weapon and was well separated from her psychotic husband. This teaches us a lesson to continually scan our environment for threats and everyone should be considered a threat.
A Note About Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry
Many point to this kind of high-profile shooting and use it criticize those who carry openly, saying they would rapidly become a target because they are visibly armed. If you watch the video, this probably wouldn’t have been the case in this situation. The Millers were not scanning the crowd and did not employ and sort of stealth reconnaissance of the kind concealed carry supremacists always argue mass shooters will employ.
Both Millers breeze past the crowds and did not appear to even notice Wilcox in his initial position. They seemed rather focused on their mission. Their movements were fast and intentional. It’s unlikely that they would notice a holstered handgun openly carried. They didn’t seem to notice Wilcox at first, not until he takes aim at Jerad.
Open or concealed carry; firearms don’t belong in a holster once the shit hits the fan, which negates the whole idea of concealed carry. A firearm in the hand is a threat, which is probably why Amanda noticed and killed Wilcox.
Using the murders of the two officers to state that open carry is a bad idea is fallacious. Police officers are targeted for murder and weapon snatchings because they are police officers, not so much because they are armed. In this situation, the officers were ambushed at lunch with the murderers attacking from behind and drawing from concealment. The whole event took 4 seconds, a length of time that would tax the abilities of even the most well-trained and hyper-observant officer. Very few (essentially zero) incidents of citizens openly carrying and being deprived of their gun have occurred. It is non-issue.
Open carry and concealed carry have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. Neither is inherently superior to the other. All that matters is that one carries, trains, and is ready to act in a brave and decisive manner like Joseph Wilcox.