The responsibility of choosing to carry a gun as a citizen, some thoughts
“Concealed Carry = Huge Responsibility”
In today’s world, the perceived need to carry a concealed firearm is growing. More and more private citizens are willing to take on the risk of protecting themselves and their loved ones with a concealed firearm. Gun sales and sales of associated accessories are on the rise again. So are the applications for Concealed Pistol Licenses. Many state that the current President’s final executive orders that they perceive to be a threat to their second amendment rights to have motivated them to buy firearms, ammunition, holsters, spare magazines and other concealed carry necessities. They then take the next step by applying for a license to carry them concealed. Others state the rise of terrorism and active shooter incidents have been their motivation. Still more state that the dwindling number of law enforcement officers and the rise of violent crime as yet another reason. Whatever the motivation, it is not hard to justify doing so with all of these things in the headlines. Along with accepting the risk of making the choice to carry a firearm come great responsibilities. Making the choice to purchase all of the weapons and gear and then obtain the legal permission to carry it around is only a small portion of the big picture.
It’s relatively easy in the state of Washington to get a Concealed Pistol License. If you pay the small fee and properly fill out the application, unless there is a compelling reason based on state law not to, the Sherriff must issue a license. In many states there is a requirement to attend training and take a test to demonstrate an understanding of the law and proficiency with the shooter’s chosen weapon. Washington has no such requirement. That should not keep you from accomplishing this on your own. It is essential that you train regularly and often and acquire a high level of tactical and technical proficiency with your firearm and associated gear. In addition, it is essential that you understand the laws regarding carrying a weapon and the use of force. Possibly the most important consideration is that you must commit a lot of effort to thought and soul searching regarding your ability to make the split second decisions that you may face. Are you willing to take a life if necessary? Are you willing to live with the choice you have made to use deadly force knowing that even if you are right, you will likely be faced with staggering legal costs to defend yourself in court? Are you willing to commit the time and energy it takes to train to the level of being truly proficient, aware and constantly conscious of the law and the experience that is essential to good decision making and judgment? If you cannot commit to a willingness to do all of these things then you are not ready to carry a weapon for protection.
Many people who own firearms shoot them occasionally. Many become good marksmen in a controlled and low stress environment. But few do so with the organized and deliberate intention of acquiring the practice and muscle memory required to act in the appropriate manner to win a real world gunfight. Exercising good judgement and performing proper body mechanics, under extreme pressure, to produce the desired outcome in a real, life or death gunfight, is just not likely without a lot of training and practice. Particular attention should be given to performing body mechanics that enhance the chances of success when the body starts to panic. Practice and drill stance, grip, draw, sight alignment, site picture, breathing and trigger press using body mechanics that mimic panic and the loss of fine motor skills. Do what your body would do naturally when fight or flight urges take over. Do them many times in repetition to develop perfect mechanical and kinetic loops, so your body just reacts and it is second nature. Train for the most undesirable of circumstances like:
- Failure to stop drills
- Tactical and speed reloading
- Correction of malfunctions
- One handed and weak handed firing and reloading
- Shooting from various unconventional or awkward positions
- 360 degrees shooting environment
- Several panic stricken bystanders running around
These are conditions that the standard ranges are not equipped to handle and some should be done with safer replica firearms like paintball or airsoft pistols, simunitions (both of which require special gear and protective equipment) or SIRT pistols that emit laser light and are very safe if done in a controlled environment free of any actual or live weapons.
Finally, developing a good “Combat Mindset” is essential. One must identify a threat to react to it. Situational awareness is very important. If you are walking around blissfully unaware of your surroundings you are much more likely to be a target of crime or aggression than if you are aware, confident and competent in your appearance and actions. There is no need to be paranoid or on high alert all of the time but you should always be aware of your surroundings and potential threats that may present themselves. Walking the streets with your face buried in the screen of your personal device or focused on the few feet in front of you will not allow you to perceive a threat until it’s too late. Walk with your head on a swivel. Your focus should be on the horizon, taking in as much as you can and allowing your peripheral vision to detect movement. Then you can focus on it, assess it, and choose to either address it or focus out again to collect more data. Look behind you occasionally. Stop occasionally to do a 360 degree check. Just Be Aware!
Carrying a firearm for protection is not a decision that should be made without all of the above considerations being made and exercised in advance. If you are not prepared to commit to all of these things you will likely be more of a liability than an asset. Do your research, pick the right gear, study and understand the law and train to a high level of proficiency and you will be more likely to successfully defend yourself or others in the real world.
Written by Keith Shores. Keith@olytac.com Keith is our Lead Investigator and part of our incredible instructor cadre.