Like many, I’m sure, I have been watching certain legal current events in the news and it makes me ponder about my own decision making ability during a “live or die” moment. In particular, I am wondering about the possibility of taking action to protect the life of another when carrying concealed. These musings don’t match the overexposed case exactly, but I’ll get to that in another post.
Regarding that fateful decision to defend a life with lethal force, one question that comes to mind is: At what point does “doing the right thing” get you into trouble? Another question to consider is under what conditions would you shoot to defend a 3rd party? The “what if” scenario possibilities are endless, but it is my personal belief that you should consider those conditions ahead of time, and not wait for the occurrence to decide what you will and will not do with a concealed firearm.
I imagine many folks carry concealed firearms because they see a need. They recognize the dangers in the world and concealed carrying a firearm grants the carrier a tool that can be used to respond to a bad situation gone worse. But, identifying our course of action ahead of time can be an extraordinary challenge. Let’s drill down on that decision making process.
Self-examination may be the first step when considering your possible actions in a life-saving concealed carry use. In my opinion, one must critically consider their core beliefs and default responses to stress beforehand. What kind of person are you? Are you a fighter? Is your first inclination to wait and see how a crisis develops before jumping in? Some people may jump right into a conflict with their guns drawn without hesitation. Doing what is right is immediately clear to them. But, I would imagine that even for those clear-headed immediate responders some instances may not be quite so cut and dry. The obvious takeaway is that a quick reaction may be warranted, and we may only have a split second to make that call, but doing what we see as “right” must also be seen as “reasonable,” so rash decision making may not be defensible in the long run. The quick decision you make to apply lethal force in defense of the life of another may be scrutinized at length, most likely in a public forum. We need only look as far as the current debate surrounding the Trayvon Martin/ George Zimmerman case to see a prime example of a concealed carrier who has come under scrutiny with regard to whether or not their CCW use was justified.
Some may see that a decision to use their CCW is a simple one (to save the life of another). But, I see it as a complex problem. I realize that every situation is different, and sometimes a small nuance can completely alter a point of view on the subject. Consider the recent video released (embedded above) featuring a mocked scenario where an elevator opens up and the unsuspecting riders witness a man on top of another man, choking the life out of him. My first instinct would be to immediately subdue the man who is choking the other man. Upon further review though, that action may have unintended results. I may not have considered that perhaps the man being choked was the original aggressor and my involvement could swing the advantage pendulum back to the aggressor. Going with my natural instinct, I would have just helped the “bad guy,” and possibly put myself and the original victim in danger. Perhaps a more prudent reaction would be to separate the two in hopes of ending or avoiding a fatal encounter.
When we carry concealed self defense tools, we take on a significant responsibility. We, as concealed carry holders, take on the role of protectors… of our own lives, and of those around us. But, given the legal implications, we have to consider our actions ahead of time and keep our concealed carry status in perspective: The Second Amendment protects our rights to defend ourselves, but does not grant us a badge.