Paris…San Bernardino…Orlando…Istanbul. The list of terrorist attacks is getting longer, and will likely grow longer in the future. Terrorist attacks are the terrible new reality, and they are harsh reminders that you alone are responsible for the safety of yourself and your family.
In The Terrorist Attack Action Plan, we talked about the importance of developing tangible and practical situational awareness skills so you know how to avoid becoming the victim of a terrorist attack. Here, we’ll look at whether carrying a gun is right for you, and if so, how you should go about acquiring and building the knowledge and skills you need to carry.
Remember, though, that carrying a gun—regardless of your level of skill with it—is no guarantee that you’ll prevail should you suffer the misfortune of getting caught up in a terrorist attack. The harsh truth is that by definition, the deck is already stacked against you. A terrorist intent on carrying out an attack is going to seek targets where the density of people is high, immediate escape is difficult, and there is little likelihood of immediate armed resistance. In other words, they’ll pick a target where most advantages are in their favor. They know that the only thing that will stop them is an armed response, so they’ll favor a target where that response will take time – at least enough time to allow them to complete their attack successfully.
I paint this picture to stress the point that carrying a concealed handgun is not going to be a magic solution. Highly trained law enforcement and defense professionals would never want to be caught in a situation where they face so many disadvantages going in. Regular folks like us need to understand that carrying a gun might help, or it might not, hence the emphasis in Part One about the importance of developing your active awareness skills.
To make matters worse, you can expect your natural mental and physical reactions to work against you as well. This three-part series on Shooting in Self-Defense, by law enforcement veteran and former SWAT Supervisor Sara Ahrens, provides a lot of perspective on the surprising ways in which people react in such situations.
With all that said, many who choose to carry would rather have a fighting chance over resignation and hopeful submission. If you choose to carry a gun, and supplement your decision with practice and professional training, you might be fortunate enough to use it to aid your escape or put a stop to a terrorist event altogether. Or you might die trying. Given that the end goal of a terrorist attack is for everyone present to end up dead, many would prefer to at least try.
That’s where mindset comes into play. You’ll only realize the maximum potential benefit to carrying a gun if you’ve already made the decision not be become a helpless victim, no matter what that means. As firearms trainer and active competitor Michelle Cerino explains, “Carrying a gun has everything to do with mindset. There is nothing I will not do to protect myself and those I love, even if it means taking someone life. Many people I know have their concealed carry permit but aren’t ready to carry. Usually, they are uncomfortable with their ability to shoot and want more practice first. Carrying a gun means having the ability to end a conflict where your life, or the life of someone you love, is in mortal danger. It does not mean sending off a warning shot at the ceiling, like in a movie.”
The Pros and Cons of Concealed Carry
The advantages to concealed carry are clear. While there is no guarantee of success, having a gun when things go south can dramatically increase your odds or survival. Put another way, if it rains, I’m definitely going to get wet if I don’t have an umbrella. If I do have an umbrella available, I may still get wet, but my odds of staying dry have improved.
On the con side to concealed carry, there are several things to consider.