Gun World - - Everyday Carry -

When bad things hap­pen, they some­times hap­pen very quickly. Car­ry­ing a con­cealed weapon man­dates that you be able to make sound, of­ten split-sec­ond, de­ci­sions un­der very stress­ful cir­cum­stances. It’s not al­ways easy to keep your emo­tions in check.

At those times, you’re not go­ing to have time to an­a­lyze the sit­u­a­tion. But if you are faced with a con­fronta­tion, you have to ask your­self one ques­tion: “Is my life in dan­ger?” If the an­swer is “No,” and you’re not de­fend­ing the life of an­other, you should prob­a­bly keep your gun hol­stered.

Laws vary from state to state, and I’m not qual­i­fied to give le­gal ad­vice. Learn­ing the specifics in your area is your home­work as­sign­ment be­fore you carry. But gen­er­ally speak­ing, you’re usu­ally jus­ti­fied to use deadly phys­i­cal force when some­one is us­ing it against you or an­other. (Okay, you knew that al­ready.)

The trou­ble is that most con­flicts don’t es­ca­late to that level, and if your only self-de­fense strat­egy is a con­cealed-carry hand­gun, you might re­sort to that when you shouldn’t.

There’s noth­ing wrong with de­fend­ing your­self if nec­es­sary, but you don’t want to get ar­rested or lose the right to carry as a re­sult. And with­out other self-de­fense skills and strate­gies, you risk

hav­ing your gun grabbed and used against you if a shov­ing match gets out of con­trol.

Here’s an ex­am­ple: You pull out into traf­fic but don’t see the other car com­ing. The driver of the car you ac­ci­den­tally cut off pulls up next to you and is wav­ing and scream­ing ob­scen­i­ties. You put up your hand and mouth an apol­ogy, but he won’t let it go. He rides your bumper, and you think he’s go­ing to ram your car. You pull over and stop. Both of you get out of your cars. You try to rea­son with him, but an ar­gu­ment en­sues. He pushes you.

The law usu­ally doesn’t care who threw the first punch. Be­cause you both stopped and got out of your cars, most likely, you’ll both be deemed will­ing par­tic­i­pants in a fight. That’s the re­al­ity. And if you draw your gun dur­ing a fist fight, you will be seen as the one es­ca­lat­ing the level of vi­o­lence, even if your in­tent was to merely scare the ag­gres­sor away.


Some states have stand-your-ground statutes that don’t re­quire you to re­treat be­fore us­ing force. Oth­ers fol­low the Cas­tle Doc­trine, which gives you cer­tain al­lowances if you are con­fronted in your own home. Nat­u­rally, you will do what you have to do to pro­tect your­self and your fam­ily. Just un­der­stand that you will prob­a­bly have to ar­tic­u­late in court why you be­lieved deadly force was nec­es­sary. And if your ac­tions some­how con­trib­uted to a sit­u­a­tion you could have avoided, it might not go easy for you.


There are a num­ber of things you can do to en­sure con­flicts are re­solved in your fa­vor. Here are just a few:

Learn to main­tain aware­ness, and prac­tice avoid­ance. Get your eyes off your cell phone and pay at­ten­tion to what’s go­ing on around you. Fol­low your gut in­stincts when things don’t seem right. Af­ter all, you don’t step on a snake that’s in your path. You give it a wide berth and walk around it. The same ap­plies here. Aware­ness and avoid­ance are your top stay-alive tac­tics.

Ex­er­cise the dis­ci­pline needed to walk away. There’s noth­ing shame­ful about a tac­ti­cal re­treat. For­get your pride. Don’t be suck­ered into a fight by harsh words or ag­gres­sive ac­tions that could eas­ily es­ca­late into deadly vi­o­lence.

Train in a martial arts dis­ci­pline. Th­ese skills can come in handy to thwart an at­tack be­fore it be­comes deadly. Even if your ca­pa­bil­i­ties are lim­ited by phys­i­cal in­fir­mity, there are tech­niques you can learn to dis­tract, dis­cour­age or tem­po­rar­ily im­pair a com­bat­ant. Th­ese will give you time to get away or space to ac­cess your weapon if the sit­u­a­tion turns deadly.


Keep your weapon out of reach. Adren­a­line of­ten trumps rea­son. Dur­ing a strug­gle, if your at­tacker sees your gun, he’s likely to try to grab it. If you’re car­ry­ing a gun on your hip, keep it con­cealed and turn that side away from your at­tacker.

Keep a round cham­bered. It’s sur­pris­ing how many peo­ple think they’re safer car­ry­ing a hand­gun with the cham­ber empty. They’re not. If you are afraid of your gun and your gun-han­dling skills, you’re not suf­fi­ciently trained and aren’t ready to be car­ry­ing a weapon. The ma­jor­ity of self-de­fense sit­u­a­tions oc­cur sud­denly at con­tact dis­tances. Chances are good you’ll have to block an at­tack with one arm while you reach for your weapon with the other.

Re­act to the threat. If you’re fac­ing a sit­u­a­tion in which avoid­ance and re­treat are im­pos­si­ble, you have to be able to rec­og­nize when things have turned deadly; then, you have to act with­out hes­i­ta­tion. (That gets into the topic of “war­rior mind­set,” which we’ll save for an­other time.) GW


Some­times, the threat level doesn’t jus­tify deadly phys­i­cal force. When it does, you have to be able to ac­cess your weapon with­out hes­i­ta­tion. (Photo: Kostyantin Pankin/ Dream­stime)

Keep a round cham­bered. You might not have time or the abil­ity to rack the ac­tion once you’re un­der at­tack. (Photo: Steven Paul Bar­low)

Re­ceiv­ing per­sonal de­fense train­ing from a pro­fes­sional adds to your abil­ity to han­dle a wide range of con­fronta­tions. (Photo: Gu­ruxox/Dream­stime)

If you must draw your hand­gun, you have to un­der­stand that you will likely have to ar­tic­u­late your jus­ti­fi­ca­tion in court. (Photo: Ron Bai­ley/Getty Images)

You can’t al­ways avoid a con­fronta­tion. When you’re faced with a bad sit­u­a­tion, you have to watch with height­ened aware­ness for signs of im­pend­ing vi­o­lence. (Photo: Vuk Vuk­mirovic/Dream­stime photo)

Off-body carry, such as in a purse, isn’t the best way to carry a firearm, be­cause it’s likely to be the first thing an at­tacker will grab. (Photo: Rich Legg/Getty Images)

Self-de­fense aids such as pep­per spray can be use­ful when draw­ing your hand­gun isn’t the best op­tion. Pep­per spray can be a good method to dis­tract or slow down an at­tacker, giv­ing you a chance to es­cape—or, if nec­es­sary, to draw your weapon. (Photo: Zo­ran Kol­undz­ija/Getty Images)

Things hap­pen quickly. You might have to fend off a knife at­tack be­fore you even have time to draw your hand­gun. (Photo: Jophil/Getty Images) Steven Paul Bar­low is a re­tired sergeant/sta­tion com­man­der and for­mer firearms in­struc­tor with the New York State Po­lice. He has been writ­ing on out­door top­ics for more than 30 years and has served as the edi­tor for a num­ber of En­gaged Me­dia spe­cial pub­li­ca­tions, in­clud­ing Gun­slingers.

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