As I type this, as best I can determine, there are three states (Alaska, Arizona and Vermont) that don’t have any restrictions on concealed carry of a firearm, 39 states that have a “shall issue” system (although Maryland is still up in the air at the moment), seven states that have a “may issue” status and one state that, at present, has no permitting system outside of political favoritism: Illinois. Leaving out the “may issue” and Illinois, there are 42 states in this country where a citizen can lawfully exercise his (or her) right to carry a firearm.
Admittedly, just because the state recognizes the right and distributes Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) permits with reasonableness, that doesn’t actually permit a citizen to carry a gun with them everywhere. For instance, federal buildings, state buildings, many educational institutions and any posted business are off limits. I don’t understand why the federal and state buildings are off limits except that it’s easier to prohibit everyone entering the building from carrying a gun as compared to ascertaining the intentions and business of everyone entering the building carrying a gun. I think the restriction on carry in educational institutions has been proven, long ago, to be ineffective and nothing more than posturing on the part of school administrators or Boards of Education. The restriction on carrying in privately owned businesses is entirely at the discretion of the business owner and agree with it or not, I would never deny a business owner the ability to determine how his business is run including deciding whether or not he wanted people carrying guns within his business premises.
All of that is said simply to get to this point: As was demonstrated at Virginia Tech; as was demonstrated in Aurora, Colorado; as has been demonstrated in churches, malls, post offices and other business buildings: law enforcement professionals simply can’t be everywhere all the time and when a homicidal maniac decides it’s time to start killing, said maniac can kill a lot of people before the police officers or deputies can get there and neutralize him.
Ultimately, your safety and defense is YOUR responsibility. You can’t effect a good defense; you can’t enact a good safety plan unless you 1) have a plan, 2) pay attention and 3) think ahead.
Have A Plan
I know adults who leave their house every day with no more thought to the day than having checked the weather report. In their pockets they have identification, house keys, money, a cell phone… sometimes they have a lighter; more rarely a knife; even more rarely a flashlight. Even if they have all those items, how many carry a gun and how many carry ANY kind of first aid kit?
Now the “Every Day Carry” list has been beaten into the ground. “Expert” pundits around the world have made their recommendations based on decades of knowledge and experience. Special forces veterans from every continent have published reams of articles about what you should carry and why and, since September 11th, 2001, many of them have focused around being prepared for a terrorist attack. Let’s get real: If I have any inkling that a terrorist attack is coming, I’m not depending on my handgun for defense; I’d be loading up my rifle or shotgun and wearing my vest with extra ammo and body armor (if available).
What I’m talking about in this article is having a working plan of action that you abide by virtually everywhere you go, 24/7, work or play. Before you leave your residence each day you should absolutely check the weather; dress accordingly. You should absolutely have some items in your pockets or on your person. Those items (provided you can do so legally) would include:
- Identification / wallet
- Cell phone
- Spare magazine/speedloader(s)
- Blow out kit
Think about it: why would you carry a gun? Because there’s a chance someone might present a threat to your life and you’d need the gun to defend yourself. If there’s a chance you might experience a threat to your life, why would you go out with a weapon of defense but not a means of treating your (potential) wound(s)? If you carry a purse, briefcase or backpack regularly, there is absolutely no reason for you not to have a tourniquet, two pressure bandages and a roll of QuikClot gauze (or similar) with you. If you carry a gun and not a blow out kit I think you need to re-examine your planning. If you don’t carry a gun, for whatever reason, perhaps you need to carry the blow out kit even more! But I digress…
You’ve checked the weather. You’ve dressed accordingly. You’ve equipped yourself as you can. What is the rest of your plan?
As you walk the streets… as you drive your car… as you move about in public places, are you one of those people who sees everything and notices nothing? Being prepared for emergencies means paying attention enough to notice one BEFORE it happens. In other words, you observe the developing situation and recognize the potential before the imminent threat exists (if at all possible). This requires you not to just look around as you go about your day but to be observant and pay attention to how circumstances around you might develop.
Pay attention to your surroundings. Pay attention to the people and their behavior. Pay attention to where exits are and what your easiest path of egress is. If you’re in a fast food restaurant inside a mall and a fire breaks out are you going out of the restaurant into the mall to the exit? Or are you going out the back door of the fast food joint to the service hallway to a closer exit? You won’t know if you don’t pay attention. Do you look into businesses before you enter them? I’ll never forget the story about the police officer who was walking to work and stepped into his local coffee shop just as he did every morning. The shop had windows that ran the full front length of the establishment and yet he didn’t notice everyone had their hands up until he was at the counter to order. Um, DUH!
If you DO find yourself in an emergency situation, properly equipped and fully aware of your surroundings, what is your intent? Predetermine your preferred course of action. For instance, as a retired police officer I plan to be the best witness the responding officers could ask for and not intervene in a criminal action UNLESS or UNTIL people start getting hurt. THEN I will take action to involve myself in the situation to prevent further injury or loss of life. My outlook may well be unique to my situation, being a retired officer, carrying legally, known to most of my local law enforcement professionals.
What is your intent? How flexible is it? Can you identify yourself readily, in the heat of an emergency, to responding law enforcement officers? Have you properly trained to take the necessary shots if that’s your plan? Do you have the equipment to render first aid after the threat has passed or been neutralized? Do you have the training to render such aid?
Thinking ahead means identifying the short-comings in your knowledge and skill sets NOW and remedying those short-comings as time and finances permit. Thinking ahead means mental rehearsal and emotional commitment to your intended plan of action. Thinking ahead means being alert to the circumstances as they develop, positioning yourself to your best advantage, having an escape route open if needed, and then acting, as much as possible, in your predetermined fashion, adjusting as necessary as circumstances develop.
Or you could just be one of those people who fills his pockets, puts on his gun and goes about his day oblivious to the world around him but comforted by the weight of the self-defense tool on your hip. Understand this though: your gun is nothing more than an expensive paperweight unless you train with it, plan how and when you’ll use it, and carry the necessary equipment to support your use of it. Don’t ever JUST be prepared to shoot. Be prepared to evade, escape, assist, describe, etc.
Open your mind. It’s your first and best weapon.
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