Ethics and Concealed Carry

by William D. Slater, Jr., 8/98

Several weeks ago I called a local radio station (KTSA 550 AM, San Antonio) to respond to comments made by a caller who seemed to think that everyone should be over-cautious, paranoid, and spend thousands of dollars to ensure their safety when dealing with the 'public.' The caller came across with the philosophy and attitude that business and its employees should shield themselves from unnecessary contact with their customers or prospective clients in order to feel safe.

The truth of the matter is that on any given day business, its employees and the general public will, unknowingly, come in contact with the criminal element more often than they suspect or realize. Although it is true that you have to be suspicious anytime an unknown person interacts with you verbally or physically, it is also important to note that the entire situation has to be taken into account when it comes to a response to the situation. It is with this thought in mind that many people prepare themselves by taking concealed handgun courses, personal protection courses and/or martial arts training. Unfortunately, the majority that do take some of the above mentioned training often stop right there. They never investigate additional training options and will also assume that the training they have taken will benefit them in every life-and-death situation. This is simply not the case.

For those of us who have chosen to teach the CHL course or receive our CHL permit we now have an awesome responsibility to exercise sound judgement in at least two important areas;

Another point to remember is that most people are going to assume that an armed person is going to be less likely to back down from a confrontation. This will be the furthest thing from the truth. An armed person not only has a moral obligation but a legal responsibility to avoid confrontations. Instigating a fight, argument or any other confrontation is going to spell trouble for the permit holder.

We must always remember that as concealed handgun license holders we are going to be held to a higher standard in a potentially dangerous situation and should not forget that we will be held accountable for our actions. It is important to realize that often times the best way to survive a confrontation is for the confrontation never to take place. In those cases where that is not possible, we must be able to recall an enormous amount of information from our training in order to make that split-second, life-or-death decision.

When the time comes for reflection, you will ask yourself many questions; Was I completely aware of what was going on around me? Did I do everything in my power to avoid this confrontation? Did I communicate (verbally or non-verbally) that I did not want to become involved? Did I remember to respond to words and react to actions? Did the "Force" I used fall within the definition of "reasonable and necessary?" These are but a few of the questions that will race through your mind as you recall the confrontation. How you truthfully answer them will determine whether or not your course of action was ethical as well as legal. Anyone can tell you what you should have done or not done but only you know that what you did was necessary to survive.

Remember that the major pitfall of a concealed carry permit is that many will not seek out the additional training that is so very important. Many feel they possess enough information and training already and do not need to waste more time and money. It is those people who choose to pursue additional training that will ultimately be better prepared both physically and mentally for whatever challenges they face. In a society where self-defense is a controversial issue, training and preparation should be a never-ending necessity.