I always ask my concealed carry students what threats they might encounter. Almost invariably, men and women alike will describe typical crimes — armed robbery, rape, gang violence, etc. A few will mention a specific, known threat, such as a violent former spouse.
But none of them mention the possibility of finding themselves in a seemingly harmless confrontation that, due to uncontrolled emotion, suddenly spirals out of control. Yet without a doubt, the most common factor leading to such violence is, indeed, sudden anger.
Talk to any veteran law enforcement officer and he or she will agree. From a domestic disturbance to a road rage incident, when a simple conflict escalates into a physical confrontation, anger is the primary catalyst. Unfortunately, the results can be deadly.
And too often, both parties turn out to have been culpable. If one of the parties had just “dialed things back” a bit, he or she might have been able to defuse the situation before things got out of control.
You Have a Gun, So YOU Have to Be the Adult
Like it or not, since you likely have a gun, it’s up to YOU to take on that responsibility. You have no control over how someone else behaves, but you can certainly take charge of your own emotions.
For starters, if you haven’t done it already, conduct a quick but honest self-analysis: Do you tend to react emotionally, or are you more likely to “take a breath” and consider your response before acting? If you can truly say with absolute confidence that you seldom allow your emotions to get away from you, you’re probably in good shape.
But since we’re all prone to having a bit of a blind side where our own faults are concerned, it’s always a good idea to ask family members and really close friends how they would describe us. True, this might elicit some comments that you may not want to hear, but that’s the point, isn’t it?
Be Honest With Yourself About Your Emotions
If you have a “hair trigger” reaction to minor slights, be careful. If you lean on your car’s horn a dozen times a day or find yourself cursing or, worse, flipping off other drivers, that should serve as a warning. You may want to do a little self-help therapy in the anger-management department.
This is no joke. If you really do tend to react instantly with anger, you are dramatically increasing your odds of finding yourself in an encounter that could easily turn into a deadly force situation.
Probably the most glaring example of incredibly stupid anger overruling common sense is a Michigan case which occurred in 2015. Two legally armed motorists got into a road-rage confrontation, which ended with BOTH of them dead! There’s even a forensic video recreation of the event, complete with sarcastic commentary by the narrator.
By the way, arguing who is “at fault” in such incidents is utterly beside the point. The lesson is that when you carry a gun, you owe it to yourself (and everyone else) to control your emotions.
‘Defuse, Detach and Only Then Defend’
The above three Ds of threat management come from a high-level martial artist and former Army Ranger. Many years ago, I actually witnessed him follow his own advice. By remaining calm and not losing control, he was able to end a potentially ugly incident without violence.
It’s good advice, especially for those of us who carry a gun.
About John Caile
John Caile, contributing writer for USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine, has more than 35 years of experience in concealed carry training and practical handgun shooting skills. As Communications Director for the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee, John was instrumental in passing Minnesota’s landmark concealed carry permit law. Certified through the NRA as an instructor of Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, Home Firearm Safety and Personal Protection in the Home, John continues his lifelong activism for gun owners and their rights in Palm Coast, Florida. He has appeared on national talk radio and network and public television and is frequently published in the press.