Guns can be dangerous, so it is important to recognize when you may not be in a mental or emotional state that is unsafe for you to handle firearms. Your limits may vary, but I have five circumstances under which I may not choose to carry.
The first is while under the influence of alcohol. Personally, I make the decision of whether I’m going to carry or I’m going to consume alcohol before I head out with my friends. If I want to hang out and put back a couple cold ones, I leave my pistol at home. But, if I feel I want to have the option of concealed carrying while I’m out, I make the decision to abstain from consuming alcohol. But, what if you’re out at a party and you’re already carrying and you decide you want to have a couple drinks. What do you do? It’s important to consider beforehand because not only does alcohol impair your judgement, it is a depressant. When you’re feeling drunk and depressed is an exceptionally bad time to be handling a gun.
Depression and firearms is another bad combination. I’m not a psychologist, but some of the warning signs I’ve been taught at school are wanting to sleep all day, not enjoying things you used to love, withdrawing from social connections, and a general lack of motivation to do anything and a sense of feeling hopeless or overwhelmed. If you are suffering from depression, I hope you have a safety net of someone to whom you can reach out. No one wants the combination of depression and firearms to become a tragedy. If someone you know is severely depressed and owns firearms, reach out to them. They may need you to be their lifeline.
Depression and guns don’t mix, but another emotion that can make for unsafe firearms handling is anger. I’m not referring to being irritated because someone cut you off in traffic – I mean when you’re experiencing full blown rage, it makes sense to me that it’s not a good time to be handling firearms. I like to be in control of my emotions, so if I ever find myself getting really upset, I remove myself from the situation so that I can cool down. But, what if you’re already carrying and you find yourself getting mad? Before you boil over, what is your exit strategy?
Emotions can be controlled, but there are some circumstances outside one’s control that may impair one’s ability to operate firearms safely, for example, falling ill. I’ve been sick for the past couple of weeks with some nasty headcold that has left me feeling spacey and unable to concentrate. When I’m in that state of mind, I don’t want to head out to the range. Related to that, I may choose not to handle firearms when on certain medications. If I’ve been prescribed something with a side effect of making me drowsy, or the label on the bottle warns not to operate heavy machinery, it makes sense to me that I probably shouldn’t be handling guns, either.
Another situation where I may choose not to handle guns is when I’m in a state of extreme exhaustion. I’m generally always busy. Between work, school, YouTube, and writing, there are times when I go multiple nights with little to no sleep. After a couple of all-nighters, I feel like a zombie. When I’m in that state where I feel mentally “checked out,” I prefer not to head out to the range. I want to have total self assurance in my mental acuity so that I know I have the focus I need to be safe with my firearms.
I want to wrap up by asking a few questions:
Have you been drinking?
Are you angry?
Do you feel depressed?
Are you ill or on heavy medication?
Are you extremely tired?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, should you be carrying a gun?