Monday, November 2, 2015

Concealed Carry: The Art Of De-escalation

It was close to midnight when a vehicle pulled into the 24 hour convenience store/gas station to get gas. The driver was careful as he drove into the pump area and noticed another vehicle parked off to the side of the building not actually in a parking spot. With caution the driver got out of his truck, looking around in all directions as he began to pump fuel. He finished his fueling and was walking up to the building to pay for his gas when from behind a large ice freezer walked a young man who asked directions to a pet store in town. The driver put up his hand and said stop before the young man got within 20 feet of him. The driver then asked what he wanted? The young guy started talking again as he inched closer to the driver. The driver was closer to the door than the young guy so he said for the young man to wait a second while he paid for his gas. While in the store the driver told the clerk to watch and if anything went down to call the police. The driver then dialed 911 on his cell phone but didn’t hit the send button but kept the phone in his left hand. He walked quickly out the door and got half way across the parking lot before the young guy, who was milling to the side of the door realized he was out of the building. He yelled “Hey” to the driver and then moved purposefully toward him. The driver turned and put up his hand and said “Stop” again but the young guy kept closing. The driver was about to close within arms-reach when the clerk shouted out the door catching the attention of the young guy and when he turned the driver had his pistol pointed at his head. The driver calmly said “Don’t come closer. Don’t make me shoot you.” The young man turned pale, put up his hands and said “I don’t want no trouble, man” and turned and ran.
In this story the driver could have shot his attacker but didn’t. In talking to the driver (he told me the story) I asked if he hesitated? He said “It wasn’t hesitation. It was a calculated decision not to shoot. But my finger was on the trigger and I got some tunnel vision.” He was going to shoot. But he did not. I know of many more stories like this and even have my own story. Defending yourself with a gun is not a easy thing for the average person. Most of us don’t want to ever draw our weapon, leave alone actually shoot someone. The driver tried to defuse or de-escalate the situation but the would be attacker persisted. Once the driver was sure he was going to be attacked he acted. In the story the driver thought he was in imminent danger.
If you felt the need to draw your gun but then you didn’t need to fire, get on the phone to 911. After any use of your firearm, even if you just draw and watch the bad guy run away, you need to call 911. Being the first on the phone with police makes you the complainant and means the police arrive with the intent to help you.
Consider this: you could draw your gun and chase away your attacker, only to have him call police and describe you as pulling a gun on him! Think about it.
When someone presents themselves as a clear threat to your life, that of your family members, or your property – you have an obligation to defend yourself. But reality is different. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a conflict is imminent or if it can be averted. The only time de-escalation is a great idea is if deadly force is not an obvious response. For instance, if you are carrying and an altercation is verbal and seems to be escalating, it’s certainly in both parties’ interest to calm the situation. That’s where it takes a mature, responsible adult to know the limit. If you calm down it may calm the other guy.
Fear can make a person act impulsively. If you’re able to talk someone back from a violent action, do so. If you’re able to establish a dialogue, you’re one step closer to walking everyone out of a potentially dangerous situation. Remember, you have a weapon, hopefully, the other guy does not. You have the greater responsibility.
If you have the power to leave a potential conflict before it starts, you’re in control of the situation. And if you’re in control of the situation and it escalates to deadly force, that’s on you. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” Like I said above, if you aren’t in control of your anger, if you’re not mature, don’t carry a gun!
You’re an adult. And part of being an adult is keeping the peace. Who cares if somebody has dumb ideas or is calling you names? You can be, and should be, the bigger man and leave.
If it’s someone you know who’s in the verbal altercation and things could get out of hand, if you’re able to get him or her out, that’s great. Sometimes we all can get a little carried away but being brought back to reality and out of a potential conflict can be a life-saving measure.
If someone is acting erratic or disruptive but may not constitute a direct threat to anyone (yet), call the police. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who may seem erratic or violent but constitute very little threat to bystanders. It’s definitely hard to know if you’re unfamiliar with the person. Police often times know people in the community who suffer from mental illness and can attempt to get them help. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to maintain observation. You are attempting to keep yourself and bystanders safe without prompting confrontation.
Trying to de-escalate a potential conflict is a tricky situation. People can act extremely erratic and unpredictable. One moment you may think things are moving smoothly and the next they just fall apart. Keep yourself and your family a safe distance to where if you need to react you can.
If a person swings, kicks, pulls a knife or a gun or an improvised weapon, tosses an object, or advances upon you or your family in a threatening manner, that could constitute a clear and present threat to your life and if it does, you’re free to act accordingly.
Don’t take chances. Be open to consider more peaceful options. If they present themselves prior to deadly force being necessary, take the high road.
I’ve said it before, carrying a gun is a big responsibility.
Stay away from people that tend to get into altercations a lot. They can only do you harm. Stay away from places or areas that are known for crime, bikers, criminals, drugs, or stupid people. That would include places that serve alcohol. Alcohol changes everything. Weapons do not, and never will, mix with it. Bars and clubs are not the place to be if you don’t want conflict. As a Mormon I don’t drink so this is easy for me. If you drink moderately on occasion, leave your gun at home, and take your chances. Wouldn’t you hate to wake up in jail and not even remember the person you killed? Stay away from high risk places.
Being responsible and carrying a gun go hand in hand. Being a little diplomatic and learning to defuse and de-escalate are social skills that can save a lot of problems later on. Do not compromise your family or personal security. But be sure you know how to handle situations if you decide to carry a lethal weapon.

Semper Paratus
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