I was reading a post on one of the gun forums that asked the question, “What is ‘enough’ gun?” The OP explained that he was referring to civilian self-defense. People tossed around their personal preferences, opinions and aired their prejudices. Then one fellow said he wouldn’t carry less than a high-capacity handgun with several reloads. What if he was faced with an armed gang? What if he was attacked by multiple men with rifles wearing armor and all he had was a J-Frame?

Seriously, you are more likely to be struck by a meteor than find yourself in a situation like that as an average citizen going about your business. His argument for this scenario was that you have to plan for the absolute worst-case. The thing is that we do not live in a Hollywood action movie. If you find yourself in that situation and try to fight with any handgun you are going to die if your attackers are not complete idiots.

As it happens I agree with him- you need to have a plan for even unlikely scenarios. But that plan should be based on reality, and in reality it’s not always smart to fight. Not to mention something that most people seem to forget- it’s not your job. You carry a gun for self-defense. Job one is to survive. Job two is to help as many other innocents as is feasible to survive. You are not obliged to single-handedly take on and defeat the baddies- your purpose is to live through the situation, and a gun might or might not help you do that.

You do possess a weapon far more important than your gun- your brain. Use it effectively and it will make the rest easier.

If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have enough gun to fight your way to victory then focus your efforts on fighting your way clear. Or better yet getting clear without fighting. I’ve commented on mass shootings before. These typically happen in crowded venues, and if you engage the shooter any bullet that doesn’t hit them will hit something. If there are a lot of people running around in a panic it’s reasonably likely to hit one of them.

You are not a cop. you are not a super-hero, and I hope that you are not a vigilante. In a mass shooting situation it is your job to extract yourself and ideally any other innocents that you can. If you are armed your gun is literally for self-defense while you extract yourself from the situation. The same can generally be said of bank robberies, drive-by shootings and other such incidents. It is not your job to take down the bad guys and trying to is likely to get you shot, either by the baddies or responding police.

This is not to say you should never intervene; situations can arise where where it is sensible and legitimately within the realm of ‘use of deadly force’ guidelines to do so. The classic convenience store robbery could be an example if you are reasonably sure that the perpetrator is going to harm you or another. That’s the bottom line, really; generally speaking you are allowed to use deadly force if you or another innocent are in imminent danger of loss of life or grave bodily injury.

Real life is not a movie or TV show, and things are often not as simple as they appear. You need to make sure that you understand the situation. Is the woman menacing that guy with a gun a victim fighting back or a deranged ‘ex’ looking for revenge? Is that person with a gun in their hand chasing someone a baddie, or an undercover cop?

Another thing to consider is what to do when the police arrive. You are most likely to survive if you do exactly what they tell you to do when they tell youth do it. An officer just arriving on scene doesn’t know who you are or what you are doing, and they are likely to treat you as a suspect first and sort things out later. Don’t argue and for the love of God don’t resist. Just do as you’re told. Not getting shot by the good guys is also part of self-defense!

A lot of this comes down to basic firearms safety- make sure of your backstop, never point your firearm at anything you are not willing to shoot, keep your finger off the trigger until you intend to fire etc.

The most important thing is to think. Your mind is your first, best and most effective weapon- use it!

Michael Tinker Pearce, 14June17


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