Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Responding to a post on Concealed Carry

Recently an e-mail appeal went out to read and respond to a local newspaper sponsored blog with an article on Concealed Carry. Find below my response.

Simply having a concealed carry license isn't any guarantee that one is carrying at a given moment.

Example: Tacoma Mall posts a restriction on concealed carry (most local malls in Western Washington include this in their policies).

Given that posted private restriction, as a CPL holder I can either take my business else where, leave my firearm in a car where it can be stolen as Seattle Police Chief Kerlikowske's was, or risk a trespass violation and hope that my preferred form of concealed is up to the task.

To continue with our example, let us assume I have violated the private restriction and successfully carried a pistol that has remained properly concealed and suddenly a very bad person pops up out of the mall decor and starts shooting the place up.

I don't have magical powers or a magic wand, so there is no guarantee I'll even be at the same end of the mall. I'm not a superhero or a cop, so my first responsibility is to get me and mine out of a newly dangerous place with a minimum of fuss and bother - not to abandon them and rush off to play superman.

But to push the example yet further, let us assume our "very bad person" is 25 feet in front of me and dressed in dayglo orange for easy target acquisition, and yet farther, that there is no reasonable means of escape that does not expose me or those around me to incoming fire.

I still don't have some kind of magic paper descending from the heavens telling me "do as you will, for your cause is just and noble, and your strength and accuracy are as ten for your heart is pure."

At this point (aka, "it's all gone bad, very bad") I still need to at least attempt to maintain cover (for I am not bulletproof), extract my pistol from wherever it might be tucked away, identify our dayglo-orange clad very bad person, verify that there are not innocent bystanders in my line of fire or beyond our very bad person (who might then soak up over-penetrating projectiles) and then finally, if all the elements align, try and stop the very bad person from doing very bad things without myself or others getting unnecessarily injured.

Throw in that the pistol I might be carrying on a given day may be chosen more for discretion and deep concealment than long range accuracy and I may still decline participation unless I come under direct fire (see: "oh crud, nothing to lose") or the very bad person is unusually cooperative.

In other words, having a CPL doesn't turn one into a cop or grant one permission to hold some kind of showdown. It doesn't burden you with some kind of cursed responsibility to do those things either.

Finally, let us assume that all the elements align - our very bad dayglo orange clad person has clearly identified themselves as very bad indeed, wounded or killed several, seems to be continuing their antisocial plan, and steps in front of the potted plant I'm hiding behind - and I neutralize him.

What do I get to look forward to? A minimum of a night in jail , even if I have a writ from God himself saying "He did the right thing, leave him alone", a chance to spend a big bunch of money on an attorney to deal with the immediate matter at hand. Then, assuming local prosecutor accepts this mythical writ from the divine, I get to deal with the very bad persons friends and family - all moaning and crying that VBP was just misunderstood and that it was evil and cruel to shoot him, and there must of been some kinder/gentler way.

At which point my life gets really interesting, as the opportunity arises (depending on inclination) for VBP's family to sue for wrongful death (the attorneys bills are nearly as ruinous for the innocent as the guilty), and/or VBP's best buddies feeling he was dreadfully misunderstood - decide that it's time to correct my viewpoint by rather direct means.

In short, a prudent CPL holder does not go "woohoo! Chance to play hero!" when faced with a violent nutcase of one sort or another and a lack of other options - the initial response is more likely "aw, #$^%^, no other way out of this, is there?"

I made my decisions some time ago - aside from a brief stint in CA, I've held a CPL for about 20 years now, view resorting to force as a last desperate effort (not unlike fighting a house fire with a fire extinguisher - better than nothing, but a bad situation no matter what), and will be quite happy should I go to my grave not having perforated anything more controversial than innocent pieces of paper.

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