Yesterday a concealed carry holder in Utah intervened during a car jacking and was forced to shoot and kill the suspect. It is so far proving to be the perfect example of why many carry a concealed firearm. Most carry for the protection of themselves or loved ones. Some feel compelled to help others. The former is generally pretty simple, the latter can prove far more problematic. It remains fertile social media fodder for every expert, guru, and Facebook god out there. Much advice is senseless chest thumping, social media bravado, and the usual swinging male genitalia contest. Unfortunately, lost in all that social and main stream media sewage is some valuable lessons. Nothing new here, officers have been considering this since they have carried guns, but times have changed. As more people choose to carry a firearm for protection and intervention revisiting them is important.
Intervention is different!
The choice to intervene with a firearm carries consequences. Used for self protection against an attack although consequential is pretty simple. Deciding to interject yourself into a situation is different. Unfortunately much of the public advice given is complete bullshit. Experts, gurus, and Facebook Gods abound professing the desire to be “carried by six, rather than judged by 12” along with hundreds of cute quips, memes, and sayings. It drives a substantial portion of the firearms training market and feeds the social media machine. Sounds good, at least until it becomes real. Killing someone is a life changing event, even in the most clear cut circumstances and should never be taken lightly. Here are a couple things to consider as you carry your pistol and determine when and where you are willing to use it outside your own protection.
If you want to scare people where a big ugly mask!
Heard first during a Clint Smith class some 15 years ago it stuck. Long before the explosion in concealed carry it struck home as an officer. Having pointed a pistol and shotgun at suspects that told me to “stick it” made it reality. Not everyone complies just because you are pointing a gun at them. Expecting them to act like they do on television can be a deadly mistake. There may be several reasons why ranging from pure arrogance to complete ignorance. It means you must be willing to use that firearm when pulled. Expecting that everyone will immediately comply is pure fantasy, so what exactly are you willing to do?
The time to consider your willingness, and the consequences that follow is before, not after an event. Without regard to the justification stuff is going to happen. You WILL need an attorney AND you must be careful what you say. In an “us and them” scenario it can be simple, when you decide to intervene it may be more complicated. Not less critical, as it is important to me that conscientious people help those in need, but it can be more complicated. Here are a couple critical things to consider if you are going to intervene outside self or home protection.
Laws and those who prosecute them vary!
Know the laws in your city, county, and state. What may be lawful in one state is not in others. In Utah deadly force can be used to prevent the immediate commission of certain violent felonies, that is not true everywhere. In some states your decision to intervene is taken into account with regard to the result, in others not so much. States that see guns and those carrying them as evil may not be nearly as understanding of your intervention. Others will see you as doing the right thing. Just because your state provides for lawful concealed carry does not mean it is conducive to its actual application. Know your laws, study them now, don’t just hope it will be a “him or me” scenario.
Even in Utah counties differ when it comes to attitudes towards intervention by concealed carry holders. District attorney’s are elected. Some are gun friendly, others see them as evil, and any civilian using them may be a target. Police Chiefs and departments are the same. Many Chief’s are supportive, others are pure politicians looking for headlines, not justice. Take the time to know which may be the case. In some states you are immediately seen as a homicide suspect until you prove your innocence. Others look at the actual facts leaving the politics out of it. For some prosecutors and chiefs you doing their job is seen as them failing to do theres making you an enemy, not a friend. It is critical to remember that prosecution void of politics is a myth. Take the time to know what they are where you are, and do so outside the social media where opinion prevails and facts seldom exist.
Training is critical!
While I do NOT believe in mandatory training for concealed carry, that does not mean it is not critical. It is just your responsibility, not the states. Seek out quality training not only in how to carry, but when, what is legal, and the use of force in your state. Do you need to be trained for the next zombie apocalypse, foreign invasion, or the impending government collapse, ABSOLUTELY NOT!. That does nothing but sell classes, increase paranoia, and fertilize the social media machine. But you do need to know how to properly carry, deploy, and defend yourself if a pistol is used. Seek out realistic training based on whats going on in this galaxy, not one far far away. Most instances where a concealed carry pistol is used do not involve tactical “ninjas” trained by the latest guru, but real people; most with moderate training at best. Keep it real, and keep it reasonable.
Mind Games, the winners mantra!
All winners play mind games, or “what if” scenarios. Make sure you are mentally then physically and psychologically prepared for your plan to fail and how to turn it into a winner. Never assume what you expect will occur, and train for the unexpected. Always look for a way to win, plan it in your mind. Work through scenarios both simple and more complex. Attending force on force training is great, but you still must work through these things in your mind. If “A” happens, then I will do “B”, if that does not work then “C, D, etc”. Look at each, then do your homework and see what the laws in your area support. Never “assume” anything as it will get you nothing but trouble. Remember that what you do is not afforded the same protections as an officer in the performance of their duty. It is different, plane and simple, anyone that tells you otherwise is ignorant at best, a moron at worse.
Playing these mind games is NOT paranoia, it is PREPARATION, and it works. It works for world class athletes and competitors. Officers, and anyone going into harms way have been using this effectively for decades, it is proven and valuable.
Its a serious business, not a game.
The bottom line is pretty simple, carrying a firearm for self protection is never a game. Too often the video game and social media mentality makes it less than serious. Killing someone in a video game or scenario is not the same. Taking a life can carry with it life changing consequences, even when justified. It takes thought, preperation and dedication. Training is critical, but keep it real. Dressing up and training like your favorite video game tactical team or movie hero is fun, just not real – learn the difference and keep them separate.
I have long believed that a properly armed and trained citizenry is the key to long term peace and tranquility. The woman this latest man saved may have been my wife, the more out there like him the better to me. Its exactly why Utah remains my home as that opinion prevails here. That is NOT the case everywhere with no change in sight for some places, in spite of propaganda from various right wing sources. Know you gun, know your area, and above all know yourself and be prepared!