Sunday, March 19, 2017

More important than WHAT to conceal carry..... WHEN to use it.  I was faced with this decision over the weekend, and felt compelled to relate my experience and thought process to everyone here.  Note that the particulars vary by state, as state law dictates a lot of the legal justifications for civilians to use deadly force.  This is the most important decision to make for a concealed carrier, not holsters, not firearms, not what ammo.

WHEN do I draw and employ my weapon?

First of all I am a big believer in the idea that you do not draw your weapon (hence let it be known you have one) until such time as you need to make that shot.  To that end, as has been espoused by many people in the LE and firearms community, when a person is less than 21 feet from you with either a blunt or a sharp weapon, your firearm had better be drawn.  An average person can charge 21 feet in the amount of time it takes for you to react to that threat.  So, 21 feet/7 yards is a minimum safe distance.  Adjust your decision to draw accordingly.

Some will state that if your gun comes out, it is automatically getting used and I tend to agree with a major caveat.  If the gun comes out of the holster, you should be in a position where you are legally justified to use deadly force BUT you are not automatically going to use said firearm.  The implementation of the firearm is meant to stop the threat, not neutralize or injure a person.  If your attacker sees a firearm and immediately disengages, you have ended the threat without firing a shot.  Make sure you are safe, holster your firearm, contact local law enforcement to relate to them what happened because simply by drawing your firearm (in many states) you have committed assault with a deadly weapon and you want YOUR STORY told rather than only the other person's.

That all tends to be easy enough to figure out if you are dealing with a person attacking you, but what about someone else?  Are you legally justified to use deadly force on someone else's behalf, and even IF you are should you?  Your livliehood, your legal defense costs, your freedom are all on the line if you make the wrong choice.  Are you willing to involve yourself for a stranger?  There was the question I was presented with.

Yesterday my wife and I went out for our anniversary, starting with a little chips and salsa at a local spot while we figured plans out.  While there, we observed a woman and man (probably in their 20's) arguing very loudly, cursing, with the man trying to get the woman to come with him in the car and the woman telling him to leave her alone.  My wife and I were naturally concerned, and she asked what we should do.  I calmly replied that if I got up from the table, she needed to call 911 and then I sat and waited.

In my state, I am legally justified to use deadly force to prevent the serious injury or death of myself or someone else.  I have no legal duty to retreat, nor does anyone else.  What I was specifically waiting for was to see if the man would either physically assault the woman, or attempt to force her into the car.  At either point, I had every intention of walking over, drawing my gun, and stopping whatever situation had developed because I can reasonably deduce that I am witnessing either assault (obviously) or attempted kidnapping (and subsequent injury).  Had I been faced with either situation, I would have reacted simply because I have made that decision that I am unwilling to stand by and watch harm be done to someone else.  If you are unwilling to involve yourself in such a situation on a stranger's behalf you are within your rights to do so, I'm just not wired that way.  The situation ended with the man leaving without any physical altercation.

The thing I want to point out is, I already knew what standard of behavior was required to legally enable me to draw my firearm.  Until I reached that point, I was unwilling to even walk over and verbally challenge the man because IF that had turned violent and I used my firearm I would be legally liable because I had initiated the confrontation.  In other words, this was an all or nothing situation where either I jump in head first, or not at all.  I knew what I was looking for, and I waited.

I would advise anyone that has taken it upon themselves to carry a firearm for defense to ask a similar set of questions of yourself.  What do your laws dictate, what do your morals dictate, what is your red line to protect yourself or someone else?  The answers to these questions are important because they answer the question more important than any question about what or how to carry.  These questions all shape a potentially life altering encounter in which you will or will not use your firearm and suffer the consequences of that action. 

The question is not what, or how.  The question is when and why? - Phil Rabalais

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