I am an avid believer in the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, actually I’m an avid believer of all the Amendments. I have a legally issued Concealed Carry License and pretty much everywhere I go, that allows legal carry, I am armed and I am vigilant. Vigilance, not to be confused with paranoia, is a state of mind, a constant awareness of your surroundings and looking for those things out of place or those actions that might shed light on a potential lethal threat. I take this right, and the responsibility it represents, very seriously.
The right to carry a concealed weapon is accompanied by a significant expectation of responsibility and associated risks, and by that I am not talking about just the risk associated with someone looking to put a bullet in your nostril. I’m talking about your actions just prior to, during, and after a lethal force encounter. Let’s look at four risks, one at a time; keeping in mind each of these risks would need a 100 page book to adequately explain.
1 – Shots on Target: If you are not extremely proficient with your weapon of choice you may open the door to not only serious litigation but also present more of a threat than the initial reason which precipitated you drawing your weapon. If you draw your weapon and expend 5 rounds at the threat and miss, you have endangered the lives of anyone in the vicinity not to mention you have just openly, and with great flare, identified yourself as a prime target to the initial threat. Even if you hit the aggressor 1 out of 5 times and eliminated the threat you have still greatly endangered the lives of innocents; and the courts will make you pay dearly for your lapse in proficiency. If your skills are not sufficient enough to end the threat with expeditious efficiency then you have become a 2nd and equally dangerous threat to innocents within 200 yards of your mussel. That 3″ shot-group on the range at 30 feet becomes a 6″ shot group during a gun fight; and that increase only jumps 100% if you are really good and have nerves of steel.
2 – Ammo on Hand: If, after the encounter and after the local Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) has confiscate your weapon (and they will) they find ball ammo in your magazine you could find yourself in serious trouble. Especially if an “innocent” behind the aggressor is hit with your round after it passed through the active shooter. Be mindful of local laws pertaining to the type of ammo that is required, or even suggested. A suggestion on a quiet and uneventful day becomes a requirement during stormy litigation.
3 – The 3 Second Event: Let’s explain this in a hypothetical scenario. You’re at the mall, minding your own business, you hear shots and screams. Being a conscientious minded person who has a legal carry permit and armed, you run toward the commotion, with weapon drawn, to protect innocents. A police office, or armed security guard, hears the same shot and they too run, with gun drawn, toward the sounds of hostility to protect innocents. Senses are heightened, adrenaline is pumping, and tunnel vision has set in. The LEO sees you running with gun drawn and shouts for you to stop, but the adrenaline in your system, the hysterical screams and shouts, and the plethora of activity associated with an active shooter encounter overload your senses and you do not hear the warning to stop. If you are lucky you only feel the pain of the bullet entering your body after the LEO has stopped what is perceived as the threat. If you are unlucky, meaning the LEO is very proficient, you won’t feel a thing but rather drop to the floor and are dead before you do. Keep this in mind—if you are perceived as someone worth shooting, you are worth shooting twice, or probably three times. The truth is, there’s nothing hypothetical about this; this real life scenario played itself out at a mall in Hoover, Alabama over the Thanksgiving weekend of 2018.
4 – The Aftermath: If you survive the initial encounter there are significant chances you will be taken into custody. During the investigation, if anything is found to be “questionable” or a statement you make contradicts what others say, the chance of being arrested are high. Let’s say everything was textbook. You saw, you acted, you ended a legitimate threat, and the District Attorney shook your hand as you walked out of the courtroom; all is good with the world. Not really. There will, more often than not, be a civil suit against you from the family members of the person you shot, or the person you shot if your shot was not as precise as you would have liked. Even if found innocent the legal fees along can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The prospect of being found guilty are too pricey to even contemplate.
Like I say, each of these four aspects would require a book to fully explain so don’t hound me with, “Well, what about this, and that, and that and this…” Also like to say these are only 4 of probably 227 other risky aspects of lethal force encounters, maybe 228.
1 – Train, train, practice, practice, and practice some more, and when you have done all of that and feel good about your level of proficiency, train and practice some more… and train with a professional, not that old retired Vet at the VFW down the block and around the corner. Do not think a 3” shot group at 30 feet at the range is a measure of your proficiency under high stress.
2 – Know the law, it can help you or it can bury you. Don’t assume, just because you are in the right, that you are right. Say nothing to nobody until you have a lawyer at your side.
3 – If you feel a need to run toward danger, be smart, be aware, and take nothing for granted. You might be the good guy but you might look like a bad guy with a gun.
4 – Get liability insurance. Costs roughly a dollar a day and many of you spend three times that much each day at Starbucks so don’t not do it because you think it cost too much. The alternative will cost you the price of a Starbucks franchise and then some. You may very well work the rest of your life to support the family of the person who just tried to kill you, and they may possibly laugh all the way to the bank while living in your house. Also, after the encounter, do not say a word (to ANYONE) until you have a good lawyer at your side. I know, I said this before, but it’s worth saying again. Your only initial comment to any LEO on scene should be something along the lines of, “Officer, I fully intend to comply with your instructions and answer all your questions, but I want to call my lawyer first.” Saying ANYTHING other than that to ANYONE may not end well. The dynamics of a lethal force encounter plays tricks on your memory. Give yourself time to calm down and talk to a lawyer first. Plus, keep in mind anyone you talk to about the encounter, other than your lawyer, can become a subpoenaed witness against you and what you think you told them may not be what they heard but whatever they think they heard you say is more than enough to be twisted and misquoted ending in you giving your house to a bad guy (or bad guy’s family) and you will live in a cardboard box.