Author’s note: In any of my forays into fitness, martial arts and survival, please bear in mind that I consider myself a student, not an expert. If your knowledge, experience and training lead you to conclusions that differ from mine, by all means, say your piece. (Hell, that goes for the history, too…) Dialogue is one of the better features of this internet thing…
I’ve conducted an internal debate for a long time: Whether to seek a concealed carry permit. My main purpose would be to stay legal if I come out of the woods with a pistol under my coat.
I am primarily a rifleman, next a shotgunner. A sportsman. I’m actually more interested in knives and tomahawks than I am in handguns. Like Matthew Quigley, I never had much use for a handgun — but I’m not saying I don’t know how to use one.
My shooting is 99.9 percent recreational. Not that I don’t take it seriously; I send more rounds downrange than anybody I know and I work constantly to improve my skills. But no matter how rigorous my training, it’s not training for a lethal confrontation. (There’s an important difference between training in an art or skill and training for a deadly eventuality).
I absolutely support the right to bear arms through concealed carry — I’m just not sure it’s the best approach for most folks to personal security and self-defense.
A few months ago, I had a conversation that stuck in my head. I train in Nick Cerio’s Kenpo at a gym — which means there are occasional gawkers. One day, an older gentleman expressed some amusement at our training. My instructor, a good-humored chap if there ever was one, called out in his Yankee bray, “Come on and join us!”
The gentleman chuckled and shook his head. “No way,” he said. “That’s why I have a Concealed Carry Permit.
Now, this was just banter, all in good spirit. But it keeps bugging me. Say my instructor and I were predatory bad guys: We could have been all over that man before he even moved for a concealed handgun. I’m afraid that his flippant comment reveals complacency about personal security that is all too common in concealed carry permit holders. You have a gun; that puts you on an equal footing with just about any bad guy, right? Wrong.
Sgt. Rory Miller, author of “Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence,” has thought deeply and written well on such things. He’s got the depth of experience to speak with the authority and the chops to articulate it well. In any field, that’s a beautiful thing. This, from his Chiron Training Blog, cuts through fantasies about using a concealed handgun for defense:
“Range training, tactical ops, surviving a gunfight are all important pieces, but they are skipping the one piece that civilians most need for self-defense: How to turn it into a gunfight.
“Who practices and has techniques for drawing when you are being battered, slammed into walls or lifted and tossed into a van? Who has practiced shooting someone who is lying on top of you, punching or choking or stabbing without the bad guy recognizing the action? And without shooting yourself? Remember penetration, bone fragments, concussion wave and burns from your own muzzle blast…”
Seriously. How many concealed carry permit holders train with anything approaching realism? Another important point from Sgt. Miller:
“If you can’t put a bullet on target on a moving target while you, yourself are moving, for all tactical purposes you can’t shoot.”
And that’s to say nothing of functioning with stress hormones raging like a drunken berserker through your system…
There are also important legal issues at play with the use of deadly force. It’s easy to say, “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by six.” Well, duh. But if you want to have a life after you’ve saved your life, you’d better be able to clearly articulate what happened and why and you’d better be right.
So… lot’s to think about. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. I’m pretty sure I’m going to go ahead with the permit this winter, but that’s only the beginning…