Many people think that owning and carrying a gun is a thrill ride, and in many cases they are right, but not always. Stan Lee said it well when he said “With great power comes great responsibility.” Owning a firearm is a lot of work off the range after the fun is done. In fact there are some very important secrets to owning and carrying a firearm that very few people realize up front and a few learn the hard way. Most of this article covers concealed firearms but the logic can be applied to other firearms and protective devices (knives, tasers, etc)
- I will never threaten to use my firearm
This is a very involved rule that has far reaching consequences. You see on television people who draw their firearm and run around like they’re on a swat team at the first sign of danger or they draw it and threaten people with it who aggravate them or refuse to do what they say. You will go to jail if you do this! There is no other way to say it. In most jurisdictions you are not allowed to reveal your firearm unless you are in the act of defending yourself. So the big question here is:
What is threatening?
- Drawing your firearm without a valid legal/moral reason to use it.
Drawing a firearm in public is usually called ‘menacing’ by the police and ‘attempted massacre’ by the media. As a firearm owner you do not want the attention of the law when it comes to irresponsible behavior. As owners we are asking the public to believe that we are people who are only interested in our own defense and are no danger to the public. In order for people to trust us they need to believe that we are calm and rational people who can’t be easily provoked. A man waving a firearm around in public is not going to convince anyone he is calm, rational or harmless. Therefore keep your firearm concealed if you are carrying unless you know you have a good enough reason to break this rule.
- Telling someone you are armed as a way of scaring them.
This is never a good idea. If you are not in danger you are making threats that you can be held legally responsible for. If you ARE armed you are escalating a situation, and in most cases this shifts the blame for the incident from the other person (if they started it) to you because of that.
Think of it this way: If you are armed and you make the statement “I have a gun.” You have first lost the element of surprise. This gives away important tactical information and a wise tactician will attack! Why? Because he knows you have a gun and he knows that if he does not press the attack now you may gain the upper hand when you draw. The other option is retreat, true, but if your opponent is determined enough to make you feel you need to threaten them, they are determined enough to attack if they feel it is the best way to get what they want.
Now think of this: If you aren’t armed an you make a threat you are not only at a tactical disadvantage mentally but you now cannot back up your statement meaning you have no hope of winning against a determined opponent. And if you think you could best the person even without a gun then why do you feel threatened enough to tell them you have a gun?
- Revealing your firearm even if you don’t draw it as a way of scaring someone.
This is an even worse idea than the one before it. In addition to the knowledge you have a gun with all the bad things I just wrote, you now have told them where it is and if you revealed it without drawing you are probably now standing in some awkward position giving the the perfect opportunity to grab it! Giving away your firearm like that is a good way to get a free toe-tag. If you must reveal your firearm in some way, draw it! If you don’t have a good enough reason to draw it then you shouldn’t be revealing it either.
- Making statements like “I’m going to hurt you” or “I’m going to shoot you” whether or not your armed.
First, does anyone really need to resort to threats of any kind? When you threaten someone (aside from it probably being illegal) you are provoking a fight or altercation of some kind. This means that if the incident escalates to the point where you need to use your firearm you are at fault for starting it. Even at a later time in a completely unrelated incident where you are totally justified in using force these threats may come back to bite you. The argument would be put forth that you premeditated the incident on the basis of those previous threats. Not a very good start to your defense in court.
The bottom line here is that you should NEVER THREATEN anyone for any reason. You should only draw your firearm when you feel you will need to USE it. And NEVER EVER tell someone you are carrying a firearm as a deterrent. It is one thing to draw your firearm and not use it because drawing it resolved the situation, it’s another thing to draw it hoping it will resolve the situation. If you don’t draw your firearm with the INTENT to use it then you WONT use it. Standing there with a $500.00 brick is not going to solve anything.