I'm about to go on a rant, sit down and hang on!
In the State of South Carolina, a Concealed Carry Permit does not prove you know how to shoot, nor does it prove you know how to handle yourself in any given situation. The shooting portion of the test can be accomplished by a blind monkey; no offense to those of you out there who may have failed that portion of the test.
The country is inundated with gun owners who feel that a brand new gun and a box of bullets from your local sporting goods store is all you need to be sufficiently prepared to defend yourself. A CWP course is a great starting point; don't get me wrong. The course teaches one very particular portion of life you cant get out of a box of .45 hollow point. You learn the legal side of self-defense. Or at least you should.
Many of you may be familiar with the following ideas: Rules of Engagement and Rules of Use of Force. Rules of Engagement exist on a battlefield, with a structured mission; it serves no purpose in our world here at home. I once had a fellow police officer tell me that ROE and Use of Force are one in the same. He couldn't have been more wrong.
I cant tell you how many people I come in contact with that openly state they will "blow everything away". "I have a CWP, if he tries anything he's dead". That’s a great way to start another Trayvon Martin controversy.
The Rules of Use of Force follow a model that all gun owners need to understand. Some of you familiar with the concept may recognize the triangle/pyramid diagram of levels of force, or the force continuum circle. Neither of those apply anymore in my opinion. Use of Force is a fluid concept; it’s like a tide. The tide comes in, goes out, given certain times or circumstances, the water level rises or lowers.
I think of it like a constantly changing situation based on variables that are coming and going, just like the tide. What’s the size of the threat? How big am I? What's in his hand? Is it sharp? It is long? How is he holding it? What's his demeanor? What has he said? What are his eyes doing? How do his shoulders look? What are his hands doing? Where is my pistol located? How far away is he? What level of training do I have? What is my confidence level?
Every altercation begins with a conversation, whether it’s just a shouting match or cordial. Throughout the conversation, you are asking yourself these various questions. And as time goes on, your answers to each question may change. That is the tide; it’s going up and down. You may decide that the moment has de-escalated enough that you no longer need your weapon. You begin to relax. The tide has dropped. This should be your goal. You were able to de-escalate the situation while maintaining your situational awareness. I’m not preaching sheep-like tendencies-- Verbal Jujitsu, look it up.
Now lets look at the last two questions. Have you trained? Have you really? Pointing the gun at the ground in the gun shop is not training, and shooting a box of ammo once, or once a month, isn't training. How are you at managing stress? You think you can handle these situations until one actually presents itself. I've seen some of the biggest talkers in the world crumble when SHTF.
Once you can say yes to your training level, the confidence will come next. It’s a natural process of life. Once things become natural, second nature, the body’s decision making becomes much less difficult. It becomes instinctive. You become confident. This comes after training; don't confuse it with stupidity.
There's a lot more brain then brawn sometimes when it comes to self-defense. We live in a world where people sue for everything, don't think self defense is going to be cut and dry. Understanding your rights as well as having the right mindset and skill to build confidence is the only way you should look at a CWP or Stand Your Ground laws.
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