Congratulations on your shiny new CCW permit. Let's work on making sure it doesn't malfunction. First of all, let's start out with a little language adjustment. From now on, that "K" word, which has to do with death, is exorcised from your vocabulary. No one should hear you talk in terms of "killing". Your new grail is "defense". Keep it holy.
"Guns." Now there's a word you are only going to use around your shooting friends. ANYWHERE else, they are to be referred to as "defensive tools". From now on, there are some places you will NEVER utter certain words. You will NOT talk about anything that goes "boom" or "bang" in a bank, school, airport, or any public building. That "B" word that has to do with things going boom is "outta here". If it is necessary to check a gun at an airport, you will say to the ticket agent, something to the effect of, "I have an UNLOADED firearm in hard sided, locked case for checked luggage". This tells them that you know the rules.
You will NOT, under any circumstances, "just so happen" to let your gun show in public. It is thrilling to experience the awesome responsibility of self protection for the first time. Enjoy it. You have just graduated from subject to citizen. But don't rub anybody's nose in it. Not everybody is as happy about your new freedom as you are. Let's not make them uncomfortable. It's not that you want to tiptoe around people. It's that you want to gently bring them around to your point of view .
Your defensive tool is for protection of your life or your person from great bodily harm, or that of another innocent person. You can only use it when the threat against you is immediate and unlawful, and the assailant has the ability, proximity, and intent to use deadly force against you.
The next thing you're going to do is become well versed in the laws on the use of force in self protection. Get Alan Corwin's excellent book, "Gun Owner's Guide" for whatever state you live in. Subscribe to a couple of firearm publications. Start out by going to a used bookstore and figure out which ones you like best. "Guns And Ammo" is one of the oldest and most respected. Masad Ayoob is another excellent writer. Get his book, "The Truth About Self Defense". If you're a woman, get Paxton Quigley's wonderful work, "Armed And Female".
Now find a friend and go to the range. Do it once a month. Shoot with both hands, one hand, and your offside (support) hand. Save your best target and record on it the defense implement used, and how you fired (standing, sitting, supported, etc.) Keep them in a file so that, God forbid you ever use it for real, you have some evidence as to your competency. Make it a bulls eye target, (not a silhouette), so it doesn't look like you're practicing an assassination, O.K.?
When you're confident with that, go get more training. The best school in the country is Gunsite up near Prescott Arizona. It ain't cheap, but it's worth more than you could ever pay for it. Thunder Ranch in Texas is another great one. So is Lethal Force Institute in New
Hampshire. Do some research. Go to gun shows and look around. Stay in the learning mode.
Face reality. Understand that if you ever draw your gun in public, the likely result is that you will be arrested. Even if your use of force, or threat of it, is justified, the cops can't tell the good guy from the bad guy when they first arrive on a crime scene. If your assailant doesn't have a weapon, you will go to jail. If the person who attacks you was armed, and your story matches the facts, you have a better chance of spending that night in your own bed. If your use of force is within your home against an intruder, you will likely not be arrested on the spot. In Arizona, recklessly displaying
or discharging a firearm is a felony.
Keep your eyes and ears open on the street. Alertness is a developed skill. Know in advance what you will do if trouble occurs. You will do in real life whatever you have practiced in training. If you've practiced nothing, you'll likely do nothing if trouble finds you. Have a plan, and know what you'll say if you are approached by a police officer or any person in authority.
Last of all, get to know a criminal defense attorney. Not the guy who does your real estate stuff or your taxes. Find a serious trial attorney who knows which end of the gun the round comes out of, and go see him once a year with $250 or so in your hand. If he won't take a 2:00 AM collect call at home, ask him for a referral to an insomniac attorney who understands self defense. It is a whole lot more powerful on the street if a police officer starts to ask you questions and you know
your lawyer's home phone or cellular number.
Charles Heller is a concealed weapons instructor and radio talkshow host, & public speaker.
firstname.lastname@example.org or (520) 419-2500
Permission granted to reprint whole, with attribution