The California Attorney General charged the husband of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey with a misdemeanor because he answered a 5 a.m. knock on the door of their home with a gun. News reports portray the incident as a political problem for incumbent Lacey in her hotly contested District Attorney race against progressive challenger, George Gascón. 

But considering the context of what happened, the incident might reflect a deeper concern in the general public about  fear and self-defense in these troubled times. 

Jackie Lacey’s husband David was not wise in brandishing a gun at early morning protestors at his front door. He would have been better off telling the intruders to leave and call the police if they continued to trespass. One wonders if that issue of trespassing should also be in play in the current brouhaha made large by the turbulent DA election fight.

Since objections to Jackie Lacey’s handling of police related cases brought the protestors to her doorstep in the dark at 5 a.m.; and given that DA Lacey had received death threats, her husband’s reaction could well be recognized by the public as a human one—he was protecting his wife and family.

Whether he violated a law, the courts will decide, but his reaction reflects frayed nerves in these uncertain times created by pandemic, economic upheaval and unending protests that at times turn violent.

If we need proof that an attitude of fear and self defense is shared more broadly, with the public across California, witness the surge in gun purchases over the last four months. 

According to FBI statistics, background checks for gun purchases nationally set records every month since the pandemic and protests began. California is in the top five states requesting background checks for new gun purchases. People who never thought they would own a gun are buying one.

Civil discourse has become a victim in these polarized days. And the disturbances brought to officials’ homes spreads. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s home was vandalized by protestors who insist that their demands be met. In Seattle, Police Chief Carmen Best’s home was targeted at night by what she called “aggressive protestors” because of her stand to protect a police station from protestors who shut it down.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Best asked the Seattle City Council to stand up to the behavior witnessed at her home before, “…this dissolves into the new way of doing business by mob rule.”

Don’t think the general public hasn’t noticed. Don’t think members of the public wonder if defunding police will mean there will be fewer guardians to call on if needed.

The feeling that it might be necessary to self-protect spurred gun sales. And it may bring empathy and understanding to David Lacey’s situation whatever the results of the misdemeanor case.