Tag

Thunder Roads Tennessee

Browsing

Here in Middle Tennessee we have YUGE amounts of veterans and active duty soldiers. Your ever-lovable Grey Beard Biker lives very close to Fort Campbell, which is home to the famous 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles), 5th Group Special Forces and 160 Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). Needless to say there are always lots of veteran motorcycle club (MC) rides, benefit rides and other charitable biker events for veterans and active duty soldiers alike. And it is very likely, if you were to attend one of these, you’d see the Grey Ghost blasting by with Grey Beard sitting behind the bars with a shit-eating grin on his face.

These rides and benefit functions are all great, but my favorite ride/event of the year, is Smoky Mountain Thunder. And it’s not because it’s in some of the most beautiful God’s Country in the United States, but because it’s all about our veterans.

Smoky Mountain Thunder – History

In an effort to provide full disclosure, Smoky Mountain Thunder was founded, and is managed by, friends of mine, Ron and Sandy Giddis. I met them several years ago through another awesome couple who I am also quite close to, Scott and Denise High, owners of Thunder Roads Tennessee Kentucky. And once again, to provide total clarity, your ever lovable Grey Beard Biker writes the monthly column, Bullet Points, for Thunder Roads Magazine. But I receive no personal financial gain from supporting Ron and Sandy.

Ron is a veteran, having served in the Vietnam War. After retiring, he moved to the mountains of East Tennessee and got involved working with large animals. But he and Sandy have another passion – riding their Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Their love of riding was a perfect fit for them as they live in the Smoky Mountains and have miles and miles of beautiful roads in their proverbial backyard.

Their love of motorcycles and veteran causes took them to Rolling Thunder in 1998, and again in 2000. For those of you who do not know about Rolling Thunder, it was established to raise awareness of our POWs/MIAs who are unaccounted for overseas. While every event has inauspicious beginnings, Rolling Thunder grew to host over 200,000 bikers in our nation’s capitol – Washington D.C. Arriving home after Rolling Thunder, in 2000, Ron and Sandy decided it was time to raise awareness of the meaning of Memorial Day in East Tennessee and the surrounding states. Their first Smoky Mountain Thunder was in 2001 and keeps going strong today. No one is a better ambassador for the event than Ron:


Ron at the opening ceremony – 2014 Smoky Mountain Thunder

We have ridden Smoky Mountain Thunder the past several years and always look forward to the next Memorial Day Weekend! The crowd starts forming at the Sevier Country Courthouse, in downtown Sevierville, by 8:00 AM for the opening ceremony. Bikers ride from all over the country to listen to Ron open things up at 10:00 AM. There are guest speakers, music and the special guest Mr. Lincoln, the bald eagle. Ron and Sandy lead the bikers for the ride to Clinch Mountain promptly at 11:00 AM. He and Sandy are followed by riders flying the colors of each of our Armed Service branches. The 65-mile ride to Clinch Mountain, in Grainger County, is police escorted and offers riders scenic views of the Great Smoky Mountains. The closing ceremony at Veteran’s Overlook wraps up the day’s events as the bikes ride under a U.S. Flag, held up by fire trucks from the local fire department. The entire event pulls at your heartstrings, but the closing ceremony is the most moving.

Here is some GoPro video I took a couple years back as we leave Sevierville:

Smoky Mountain Thunder – 2018
Lead bikes with each of military branches’ flags
Mr. Lincoln, the bald eagle, during the opening ceremony
Ron & Sandy leading thousands of bikes to Clinch Mountain
Bikers ride under the suspended Stars and Stripes when they arrive at Clinch Mountain
Thousands of bikers gather at Clinch Mountain for the closing ceremony
Veteran’s Memorial with the Smoky Mountains in the background
Thousands of bikes in the parking long and along the highway at Clinch Mountain
Ron & Sandy Giddis – your hosts for Smoky Mountain Thunder

Attending Smoky Mountain Thunder – 2020

2020 marks the 20th anniversary of Smoky Mountain Thunder. The event has grown from 75 bikes in 2001 to several thousand bikes now. In 2015 a record 4,015 bikes rode to Clinch Mountain and 2020 promises to set a new record! Don’t miss your opportunity to ride with us in the Smoky Mountains, visit the sponsors and bid on the auction items.

It’s time to start planning your trip to the Gatlinburg area for this event. There is plenty of lodging available in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley and Sevierville. There is also great camping if you enjoy roughing it a bit. We usually stay as a group in a rental cabin and there are always plenty of those available through Airbnb and VRBO. But getting reservations early is important. I would highly recommend that you go early and wait to leave until after Memorial Day Monday. There is definitely less traffic, and by staying a week you can ride some of the best motorcycle roads in the United States.

More information about the 2020 Smoky Mountain Thunder Memorial Ride can be found in their official brochure:

Official 2020 Smoky Mountain Thunder brochure

The Grey Beard Biker hopes to see you in Sevierville on Sunday, May 24, 2020. Now go get some riding in and keep the shiny side up.

Grey Beard Biker
gbb@TheGreyBeardBiker.com
@GreyBeard_Biker on the Twitter

This is the last post in the five-part series, Principles of a Self-Defense Claim and deals with Reasonableness. In review, the five critical components to a successful self-defense claim are:

  1. Innocence
  2. Imminence
  3. Proportionality
  4. Avoidance
  5. Reasonableness

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position where you have to defend yourself with lethal force, your continued freedom will depend on whether the police, prosecutors and courts believe all five of these components were properly met. If there is any doubt in their minds, that each one was met, your legal team will have to convince a jury that you did in fact meet them.

Principles of a Self Defense Claim – Reasonableness

Reasonableness

Reasonableness of your actions is judged both objectively and subjectively. In the event that the police turn your case over to the prosecuting attorney, objective reasonableness will primarily be determined by interviews with witnesses, physical evidence – and if the case goes to court – testimony by expert witnesses. Subjective reasonableness is primarily going to be determined by your actions and any statements you make (Hint: a subject of an upcoming article). Let’s examine both of these.

Objective Reasonableness

Objective reasonableness is an imaginary litmus test. Essentially, it implores someone to consider if a reasonable person would make the same decisions and take the same actions you did if in exactly the same situation.

This imaginary person is a law-abiding citizen, does not have anger issues, does not do drugs and never drinks to excess. He/she would be cautious by nature. Average in every way, he/she would not have above average intelligence or super human strength.

When considering objective reasonableness, the police and district attorney may well transfer your physical characteristics to the imaginary person. If you are old, frail, small or handicapped you would likely fear for your life more quickly than a healthy man in his mid-20s. As such, a lower threshold would have to be exceeded before you began to become fearful and the fight-or-flight instinct kicked in – that point in time when you believed the threat was imminent.

In a self-defense case the court may also allow Mr. Reasonable to have specialized knowledge which you possess. A good example would be if you knew the person was extremely violent, unstable or had a reputation as a vicious fighter. If you were to find yourself in a position where he was coming quickly at you with clenched fists, and in an obvious rage, you may believe the threat to be imminent more quickly than if you did not have this specialized knowledge. Having this knowledge transferred to Mr. Reasonable is only fair because a reasonable person with such knowledge would be more likely to react quickly.

Other specialized knowledge, such as your previous understanding of the Tueller Drill (for more information see the article on Imminence) can be passed to Mr. Reasonable – and he, like you – will know that a knife wielding man is an imminent threat at 21 feet – which may not seem reasonable to everyone. But if you were to find yourself in court, you will most likely need to prove that you knew this before you used lethal force. Owning a book which cites the Tueller Drill, with a receipt, would be proof. Attending a self-defense class, prior to the incident, which provided information on the Tueller Drill may well suffice as proof.

If Mr. Reasonable would have taken the same actions you did, you have passed the litmus test for objective reasonableness. But that does not mean you are out of the “proverbial woods” yet.

Subjective Reasonableness

Subjective reasonableness takes into consideration all of the things you did and said. Just because Mr. Reasonable would have acted like you did, from an objective standpoint, if you did not believe you were innocent, there was not an imminent threat or your actions were not proportional, you are at risk of not passing the subjective reasonableness test. You may be wondering, “How would the police or prosecutor know I did not believe this if I did not tell them?” This is where your statement to the police may come into play. If you were to say, “I was not afraid for my life,” or “I could have taken him with my fists,” you are in jeopardy of losing your self-defense claim because there was not an imminent threat and your actions were not proportional to your perception of the threat.

Other things which can cause police and prosecutors to fail your self-defense claim, due to subjective reasonableness, would be running from the scene, hiding from police or tampering with evidence. These actions will immediately cause them to believe you were not the innocent party.

In Closing

In closing, remember that you must be able to prove the following to claim self-defense: you are INNOCENT, you believed there was an IMMINENT threat of death or serious injury, your use of force was PROPORTIONAL, there was no reasonable avenue of AVOIDANCE and a REASONABLE person would have taken the same actions.

Grey Beard Biker

Note: Neither the Grey Beard Biker or Michael are an attorney. While he has been involved in self-defense for many years, this article is provided for informational purposes only. Check with an attorney to understand your state’s laws.

This article was originally published in Thunder Roads Tennessee/Kentucky magazine and is used with permission. It was written by Michael Noirot – a/k/a the Grey Beard Biker.

Other articles in this series can be read by clicking on the following links:

Grey Beard Biker’s last blog post on Principles of Self-Defense dealt with Imminence. This post will deal specifically with Proportionality – the third component of a successful self-defense claim if you use deadly force. In review, here are the five components which must all be answered affirmatively for you to prove you acted in self-defense:

  1. Innocence
  2. Imminence
  3. Proportionality
  4. Avoidance
  5. Reasonableness

From a law enforcement and legal perspective, pulling a gun during a fist fight would not be considered a proportional response. Doing so would fail the third component and would certainly put you at risk of being charged and spending time in prison. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s take a look at weapons that are always considered deadly:

  • Guns and other firearms
  • Bows
  • Crossbows

That is the entire list. So, would it be correct to assume only these projectile weapons are considered deadly? NO! Common items can be used as a contact weapon and be deadly: baseball bats, hammers, clubs, walking canes, bowling balls, bricks, tire irons, etc. Even one’s fists can be used to deadly effect if the attacker is much larger, he’s choking you or you are no longer able to defend yourself. But the use of any of these other weapons would have to clear the AOJ Triad hurdle in order to be considered deadly-force:

  1. Ability – The attacker has the ability to cause death or grave bodily harm
  2. Opportunity – The attacker can get to you with the force to cause death or grave bodily harm
  3. Jeopardy – The attacker intends to do grave harm to you

As an example, if you were having an argument at a softball game with the batter and he poked you in the chest with his bat, he would have ability and opportunity. But unless he intended to attack you violently with it (jeopardy), you could not immediately resort to using deadly force. Your self-defense claim would fail the third leg of the triad.

Now, if you were approached in an alley by a thug carrying the same bat, and he gets in your face, saying he’s going to kill you, the shit-bag has ability, opportunity and there is most certainly jeopardy. In this scenario, your use of deadly force should be considered justified. But only if you are innocent. You cannot be the person who started the altercation, you have to be in a place you are legally allowed to be and the threat to your life has to be imminent.

The last thing which must be considered is escalation of force. If you are arguing with someone and they throw the first punch, you have the right to defend yourself with non-lethal force. Your fists would be the most logical response. But if you are overpowered and the attacker is on top of you, pounding you in the face, this could represent a deadly threat or an attack which could cause grave bodily harm – the amount of force has escalated and you have the should have the right to protect yourself with escalated force. But again, you must be the innocent party.

My son-in-law is a sheriff’s deputy in Florida. He carries roughly 25 pounds of gear on his belt when he is working. His defensive tools include pepper spray, a TASER and his service pistol. Law enforcement officers are trained to use what’s called the “continuum of force.” This would involve going up-and-down the ladder of lethality of their available tools. Their first tool is yelling, “Stop!” This is obviously everyone’s first tool. Next would be pepper spray, then their TASER and lastly their service pistol. Obviously, if they are experiencing an imminent threat from a gun wielding robber, they are not going to start by pulling out their pepper spray or yelling, “Stop!” But if, during a routine traffic stop, the person becomes belligerent, they may well go to the pepper spray and escalate force as necessary. This is a useful illustration because many civilians often carry only their fists and their firearm. And while some of you may carry a knife, as your lovable Grey Beard Biker always does, don’t fall into the potential legal trap of thinking it is considered less lethal than your pistol. If you are in close combat with a thug, pulling your knife is the same a pulling a gun and can certainly be considered an escalation of force. Remember, from a legal perspective, it is just a deadly as your gun.

Darrel Ralph Designs
Keychain Kubotan

So, what other non-lethal weapons should you consider carrying? Pepper spray is the most obvious. It is quite effective and will give you time to separate yourself from the bad guy and call 911. But pulling pepper spray may also be considered an escalation of force if the threat is not imminent. Case law in many states has shown that juries will convict a criminal of aggravated assault if they use pepper spray in the commission of a crime. So, remember, you must always be the innocent party before you do so. Another tool which you might consider is a key chain mounted kubotan. A kubotan is essentially a mini-club and is quite effective at taking the fight out of an attacker if used correctly. But training and speed are essential with such a tool. And again, you will still need to be the innocent party in order to justify your use of a kubotan – and it must be used only when an escalation of force is required.

In summary, you cannot use force that is not proportional to the force an attacker is using against you. During a fight, your attacker may escalate their force against you, and you may escalate proportionally to their force.

Watch for the next Grey Beard Biker blog post on Avoidance!

The Grey Beard Biker

Note: Neither the Grey Beard Biker or Michael are an attorney. While he has been involved in self-defense for many years, this article is provided for informational purposes only. Check with an attorney to understand your state’s laws.

This article was originally published in Thunder Roads Tennessee/Kentucky magazine and is used with permission. It was written by Michael Noirot – a/k/a the Grey Beard Biker.

Other articles in this series can be read by clicking on the following links:

From Grey Beard Biker’s Friends at USA Carry! Like their website!