The number one rule for winning a gunfight is to have a gun. But even if you do, you may be doing things wrong that put you at risk both physically and legally.
If you carry concealed, here are five mistakes you definitely want to avoid.
Warning Shots and Brandishing
We’ve warned you about this before. But it’s worth repeating, because this is more common than you think. And the idea probably comes from bad habits learned from TV.
Legal self defense is based on the idea that you face imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm. If you fire a warning shot to “scare off” someone, it is proof that you do not believe your life is actually being threatened. If you really think you’re about to die, you wouldn’t take the time to fire into the ground or into the air.
Same can be said about brandishing. If you unholster your gun BEFORE you believe you are facing imminent death or serious bodily harm, you are demonstrating that you have the time and presence of mind to “scare off” someone.
While it’s possible to make an argument for the use of either warning shots or brandishing, remember that in the eyes of the law, either can get you into deep trouble.
Pants Tuck and Naked Pocket Carry
Here are two more examples of things people do on TV that you should not do in real life.
How many times have you seen a character in your favorite cop show stick a gun into his waistband or drop a gun into a pocket? It looks cool. But it’s just stupid.
The only proper way to carry a handgun is to encase it in a holster that covers the trigger and trigger guard fully and prevents the gun from falling out when you walk or run. Failure to use a holster is a great way to shoot yourself. And if your gun “goes off” when you don’t expect it to, it’s an excellent way to initiate charges and law suits for any injury or property damage.
Naked pocket carry is just as bad. It may seem inconvenient to carry a gun in your pocket with a holster, but an uncovered trigger presents a serious risk while you’re carrying and when you extract the gun from your pocket.
There are holsters made exclusively for pocket carry, and you should use one if this is how you intend to carry your CCW pistol.
Rolling Your Eyes at Safety Rules
If you’ve owned and used guns your whole life, there’s a tendency to get a little too comfortable with them. And this is when accidents are likely to happen.
If you find yourself rolling your eyes right now, or if you’re muttering “Yeah, yeah, I know,” then YOU are the one who needs to slow down and refresh your memory on the basics of gun safety.
There are dozens of rules, but there are three that reign supreme:
Assume that every gun is loaded even if you “know” they are not.
Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
Never point your gun at anything you do not want to destroy.
Playing the Hero
You’re a good person. You don’t like to turn away when you see something bad happening to someone. You probably ARE a hero in real life. But … be very, very careful about inserting yourself into a conflict.
You may want to stop an assault, prevent a robbery, break up a fight, or otherwise play the hero. And in some cases, it may be the right thing to do. However, it’s far too easy to misinterpret a situation or escalate the violence without good cause.
If you’re walking down the street and see one man beating savagely on another man, your instinct is to protect the man getting beaten. But what is actually going on? Did the attacker initiate the violence or is he responding to an attack and defending himself? Is the “attacker” an undercover cop? Is this a drug deal gone bad and will both parties attack you if you get involved?
There are too many unknowns. Maybe the best move is to call 911 and let the professionals sort it out.
In other situations, is it really worth it to insert a gun into the situation? If a store gets robbed, so what? Introducing lethal force to prevent a scumbag from stealing a few boxes of cigarettes is probably a bad idea.
Your number one reason to carry a gun is to protect yourself and your loved ones. Going beyond that, in many cases, is a serious and perhaps unnecessary risk.
Underestimating Your Attacker
Most people who carry concealed are responsible, level-headed folks. And examples of those who think they’re Rambo are pretty rare. But most people overestimate their self defense abilities and underestimate the abilities of an attacker.
Most people who are likely to attack you are pretty tough characters who have probably been in many fights in their lives. Even if they don’t have great fighting technique, they are likely to be far more comfortable with physical conflict that you are. And they have the advantage of surprise and aggression.
You should always plan for the worst case scenario, get practical self defense training, and be ready for absolutely everything to go wrong.