Regular readers know how often we at the USCCA stress the age-old truth that avoiding a bad situation is always preferable to dealing with the consequences of one. I spend a generous amount of time in my carry classes underscoring how important it is to adopt a prevention mindset.
More Than Awareness
Most of you probably already practice basic situational awareness — paying attention to your surroundings. You take note of anyone who looks out of place or just “gives you the creeps” in some way.
It should also go without saying that you don’t let your smartphone or other electronic devices distract you. If you are walking through a dark parking facility, texting away like a manic robot, you will not notice otherwise clear warning signs. Pay attention.
Obviously, you want to avoid engaging in any behavior that is provocative or, worse, aggressive. But you should also avoid letting minor transgressions by other people bait you into a reaction that could lead to a confrontation. Road rage is a good example; ignoring that aggressive, even hostile driver may just keep a situation from escalating into something deadly.
Don’t Go There
Prevention takes many forms, including where you go or, sometimes more importantly, where you don’t go. I recently asked some carry students to imagine that a friend suggested they meet at a bar after work, but when they arrived, there was a “no guns allowed” sign clearly visible. There was also a security guard and a metal detector at the door. What would they do?
About half said that they would put their guns in their cars. But a number of students said, “I’d tell my friends we need to go somewhere else.” When I asked one woman why, she observed that “if they have that kind of security, it means they’ve probably had trouble before. Why would I want to put myself into a situation like that?”
I complimented the young woman on her wisdom. Hers is the kind of smart thinking that we should all embrace: not merely avoiding conflict but staying away from some place that might easily lead to a conflict.
Another example would be political protests. If you know in advance from news or social media reports about one happening in your area, do your best to avoid it altogether. If you encounter one by chance, either on foot or in your vehicle, look for a way to extract yourself before you end up surrounded by a mob.
Now, I’m not saying you have to give up your right to free speech. I’m just suggesting that you think long and hard before you intentionally insert yourself into a situation that some eager prosecutor will tell the jury was one that “any reasonable and prudent person would know had a high potential for violence.”
Social Media Savvy
Finally, we’ve all seen the many pro athletes, entertainers and politicians who have found themselves in serious legal peril over careless postings on social media. Given that, you’d think that anyone who carries a gun would be extremely cautious about anything he or she says on social media (or even in personal text messages).
You should behave as if everything you text, email or post will become public. Because in today’s world, it probably will. And if you should one day be forced to defend yourself, you don’t want to hand the prosecutor a gift.
An ounce of prevention…