In my last post I spoke briefly about what I view as a gun owner's responsibilities. In this post I'd like to throw out some of my views on the responsibilities of a concealed carrier. Just as gun owners have the responsibility to know the safety rules, store their guns properly, and know the legal and technical aspects of operating their gun, we as concealed carriers have additional responsibilities that we should be mindful of.
1. We have the responsibility to be life-long learners. Just as it is important for the average gun owner to be competent with their firearm, it is far more important for a concealed carrier to train. In general, the concealed carrier is going to find themselves in far more confusing and dynamic scenarios than someone who hunts or target shoots. There is a plethora of training available from individuals and schools throughout the country, and there is always something to be learned. Just as a carpenter, plumber, metalworker, or other tradesman needs to stay on top of their trade, so does a concealed carrier. In between classes, read. Read scenarios, news reports, and trade magazines, anything you can find and assimilate those tools and lessons learned into your toolbox.
2. We have the responsibility to ensure our mindset is correct. I've seen way to many people on gun boards posturing as if carrying a concealed firearm suddenly makes them a hero or makes them invincible. A firearm is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. It endows no special powers, and is a last line of defense against death or serious bodily injury. It does not allow you to suddenly travel in areas you would normally avoid, nor does it supersede the need to use good personal safety or home security practices. It is a tool for a specific need - defense of life - whether yours or someone else’s.
3. We have a responsibility to be the most courteous people around. I cannot emphasize this enough. This applies to everyone around us, whether our fellow citizens or the authorities. If you've spent any time on YouTube, you've seen videos of concealed carriers deciding to be royal jerks to law enforcement. Laws governing notification of law enforcement vary from state to state, but giving a cop a heads up is usually a good idea. Most (not all, but most) street level police officers in my area are supportive of concealed carriers, but just as you expect them to treat you with courtesy, they deserve courtesy as well. Just because you don't have to notify them, doesn't mean it's not a good idea to give them a heads up. When it comes to our fellow citizens, we also have a responsibility to be courteous and avoid provoking a confrontation. Sometimes there is a guy who's going to start a fight no matter what, but usually, we have a chance to avoid a fight through one technique or another. Driving, sports events, even a visit to the mall has the possibility that there will be a confrontation, but many times simply apologizing or walking away is a valid tactic. Even if you are in the right, it doesn't mean you have to win every argument when the cost of winning the argument is possible escalation. In Virginia, whether or not you were at least partially at fault in "provoking the difficulty" changes the requirements for when you can and cannot use deadly force in self-defense. If you are not at fault, you have no duty to retreat, for example. If you were at least partially at fault in the provocation, you are required to retreat as far as safely possible.
I've found that by and large, concealed carriers are a good bunch of people to be around. But we are all human. We have our good days and our bad days, and sometimes we get a little cranky or complacent. This is intended primarily for the new concealed carriers, but hopefully it rings true for those who have been carrying for a while as well.
X Echo 1 is a 10 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US.