September is National Preparedness Month so in that spirit…here are some tips to help you prepare for every day carry of your firearm. Responsibly armed citizens have the proper mindset, skills, and gear to face a violent encounter. And although they avoid it all cost, they make a plan for dealing with the aftermath of a shooting as well.
If you are considering carrying a gun for everyday personal defense then development of the proper mindset should be a high priority. Three important areas of a proper mindset are situation awareness, conflict avoidance, and lethal force issues.
Situation awareness isn’t difficult to start practicing so try to become more attune to what is happening around you as you go about your day (Read our previous article here). Each place you visit, such as a gas station, bank, or grocery store has a unique environment. How many people are in the store? Where are the exits? What could be used for cover and/or concealment? What are those people arguing about? You can collect a lot of information quickly with a bit of practice.
Conflict avoidance is knowing when to walk away and/or how to deescalate. Even if you are paying more attention, sometimes a conflict jumps in your lap. How will you react when someone rudely cuts in front of you in traffic? Are you able to effectively calm and deescalate a tense argument with an irate neighbor? Carrying a gun gives you more reason to avoid conflict whenever possible because if you are viewed to have started or escalated the situation, your claim of self-defense may not matter.
Lethal force issues are extremely important to consider if you are going to carry a gun every day. If a violent conflict is unavoidable, will you be able to pull the trigger? You know that your use of justified lethal force will be extremely expensive emotionally and financially, right? Please take some time to read about these issues and your right to self-defense in Deadly Force by Massad Ayoob. You might be surprised at how the legal system (and media) may destroy you even if you are truly innocent.
Skill Development is an obvious point of preparation for anyone considering everyday carry. It takes a lot of practice to develop good muscle memory and in a fight for your life your reactions will need to be quick and correct. Remember this 3/3/3 estimation: most defensive encounters are approximately 3 shots at 3 feet in 3 seconds, so make sure to practice some short range point shooting. Another overlooked area of practice is clearing malfunctions. Ask your favorite firearms instructor (you do have an instructor right?) to show you how to practice this critical skill.
Proper gear includes things like your firearm, ammunition, magazines, holsters, flashlights, and pepper spray that will be reliable, durable and comfortable enough for everyday usage. Luckily, there are plenty of quality holsters for every body type and situation so you should be able to find one that meets your needs. Do you carry pepper spray or any other means of less-lethal defensive option? Sometimes a situation, such as a stray dog running you down or a mouthy vagrant that will not stop bothering you, only requires that sort of deterrent.
Aftermath considerations are often overlooked because people tend to think “it won’t happen to me”. Do you know what to say to the police? Do you know who your one phone call will be? Have you spoken with an attorney about how to get in touch with him or her after hours if needed in an emergency? An organization like the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network can help you get organized with all of these issues and provide timely financial support in the event you must defend yourself with your firearm. Another item to consider: do you have basic first aid skills so that you can attend to your own or your attackers injuries if needed?
As you can see there are plenty of areas in which you can begin or continue to prepare for everyday carry of your firearm. Everyday carry is a journey not a destination, so just pick something and start to work it out. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or contact us if you need more guidance. Once you establish a steady practice routine you will find yourself more confident and prepared to handle any situation.