Mark Choppa is using his social media platform to educate others on weapons and self-defense.
In 2019, Mark was involved in an incident that changed two lives forever.
“I was involved in a justified homicide where there were four gunmen wearing ski masks and they drew their guns on me and a few others,” he explained. “I defended myself and other people and one of the suspects ended up dying.”
Mark said after the incident, he faced criminal and civil charges. However, the homicide was deemed justifiable.
“After everything was over, I started pushing for gun rights and advocating for self-defense,” he said.
According to the FBI, in 2019, law enforcement reported 726 justifiable homicides and of those, “private citizens justifiably killed 386 offenders during the commission of crimes.”
For Mark, being one of a few people involved in incidents like this, it was important to educate others and help them learn from the incident. That's when he devoted his social media platform to his mission.
“I went through a phase where it was traumatizing, went through depression and I started creating videos,” he said. “I used that as an outlet on Instagram. And after that, I wanted to start putting messages in the videos, talk about the greater good, talk about issues in the community. Put a message of love out into the world. That’s where I am now.”
A part of that message is educating people on their options for self-defense including less-lethal weapons.
“Every situation isn’t meant to kill somebody,” Mark said.
He believes senseless killings can be stopped with non-lethal weapons, because “a gun is a last resort”.
“You don’t want to shoot an unarmed man with a gun,” he said. “To have something that will stop somebody in their tracks, without killing them, to me that is the special thing about Byrna. And that is why it is imperative that people start to get their non-lethal weapons.”
After trying the Byrna launcher out himself, he trusts that it will help in self-defense situations. The Byrna Kinetic Projectiles pierced his skin, leaving a wound days after being hit with it.
"Turns out it was very effective. I just imagine if you were hit multiple times. It would definitely stop someone in their tracks," he said.
Mark is passionate about educating others after his incident because of what he went through. He said he was detained for a week and spent over $30,000 in legal fees. Today, he has his own company, gun range to educate others, and a growing social following.
“It was a fight for my life a fight for my freedom,” he said. “I don’t want to see anyone go through what I went through.”
He said he is thankful to introduce others to the Byrna platform.
“With my experience and everything that I went through and the trauma of taking a man’s life, if I was in a situation where I could use a non-lethal, I would use a non-lethal,” he said. “I would use a non-lethal because the trauma alone and the depression, just overthinking what if I would have done this, everything you have to go through mentally, you know it is nice to have the option where you don’t have to take someone’s life.”
He strongly stresses the importance of options for every self-defense scenario.
“People talk on the internet and say these things because they haven’t been put into a position where they had to use their gun. When you have to use that gun, it changes your whole outlook on life. It changes your whole outlook on humankind,” he said. “Just being alive because you realize that life is precious, time is precious and if you can save a life, then you’ll feel and sleep a lot better.”