NOTE: USCCA Customer Engagement team members get a lot of questions, and they pass a good number of them along to Concealed Carry Magazine Senior Editor Ed Combs. If you have a question, you can either ask it below or email it to [email protected]. We, of course, cannot guarantee answers to all questions — Ed’s a pretty busy guy — but we’d love to help you out with whatever’s stumping you.

Jared Blohm
Managing Editor
Concealed Carry Magazine

Q: What if I am attacked in my vehicle and cannot flee?

A: Like every other situation that may escalate to a use of deadly force, you will need to be able to articulate in a court of law exactly how your attacker or attackers had the ability, opportunity and intent to visit great bodily harm or death upon you. You will also have to articulate how a “reasonable person” — that force of nature that none of us have ever met but who puts in appearances at so many trials and lawsuits every year — would agree with you.

The important part here is that even though you and I are reasonable people, it doesn’t mean that all reasonable persons think like we do. Though you and I would agree that if we’re stuck in a riot-induced traffic jam and we see persons being dragged from their vehicles and crowd-stomped, that mob showing up to our vehicle and attempting to breach entry would constitute an unavoidable, imminent threat of death or great bodily harm. But that doesn’t mean everyone would. Right or wrong, this is the reality in which you and I have to live.

As I said last month, the fact that there’s even a large-scale “protest” (and I use that term loosely) happening in your area means that your local legal system will likely be biased against you, the defender. You absolutely, positively must do everything you can to avoid any crowds or mobs wherever you go.

So if you are facing an imminent, unavoidable threat of death or great bodily harm while you are in your vehicle and cannot flee, you will have to do what you have to do to stop that threat. As for vehicle-specific situational awareness and fighting from behind the wheel, please peruse my post about safety while banking at the drive-up. If you have to draw, bring that firearm over the steering wheel rather than under it. Make sure you never point its muzzle at anything that you can’t afford to shoot or anyone who doesn’t need a gun pointed at him or her. Nail that gas as soon as you can to get out of the area and well away from anyone who might have tried to follow you.

As soon as you are safe, you need to call 911 and then get on the horn to the USCCA so we can get the process of your legal defense underway. The next few weeks will likely be almost as bad as pulling the trigger was. And if you weren’t already a USCCA Member when you were forced to defend yourself, well … you’ll be facing everything you’re in for alone.

Q: What should I do when it comes to protecting my property in a riot situation?

A: I am not an attorney and I neither can nor will offer legal advice. I will, however, run down some basics of use-of-force for you. In this context, I am considering “property” to mean “structures” rather than vehicles, watercraft, mailboxes, dogs or anything else.

The public generally has two attitudes toward using force to defend property. If the property in question is a business, there’s only so much sympathy for the man or woman who shoots an invader. Right or wrong, there’s an attitude that “it’s just property” and people hate to see other people get shot over money.

If, however, a violent mob is laying siege to your residence and they attempt to enter it, most peoples’ attitudes change. That is not just defending your property; that is defending your home. And this nation has a long tradition of granting leeway to legal occupants who defend themselves against violent attack.

This is complicated by the fact that most of us understand that it is better to stop and disperse a mob before it’s breaching your residence. If you can be visibly atop your residence with a visible firearm but not pointing it at anyone like some of the shop owners during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots were — that can be a decent plan.

A different tactic is what that couple in St. Louis got into hot water for: exiting the residence and pointing guns at people. I wasn’t there, and chances are you weren’t either, so I’m not going to speak authoritatively on what happened and neither should you. But the average American will have a lot more sympathy for the homeowner who remains in or on his or her residence than the one who exits it to confront a mob. The average American will have a lot more sympathy for the homeowner who lets it be known he or she is armed but does not point a firearm at someone he or she does not intend to shoot. All good reasons to practice strict muzzle and trigger-finger discipline regardless of the situation and to contact an attorney now to get the complete rundown on your state’s specific brandishing laws. And as always, call 911 immediately after any use-of-force incident, even if you only draw or display a firearm.

Q: What are the particulars of carrying a firearm on a boat?

A: This varies widely from state to state. Laws regarding concealed and open carry of firearms in vehicles often change as you cross borders. Carrying in watercraft is complicated by the fact that you’re no longer just dealing with the state in question’s Department of Transportation and conventional law enforcement agencies. As soon as you bring water into the equation, now you’re also probably dealing with that state’s Department of Natural Resources or its equivalent and its officers … and maybe even maritime laws.

States get particular about carrying guns on the water since that is so closely tied to hunting regulations, and there’s far from agreement across the board as to what’s allowed where. So, as usual, you’re going to want to get letters from your state and county law enforcement agencies declaring exactly what the law is (since not all officers know, exactly, what all the laws are about everything). And be certain that you follow them.

As for the ins and outs of carrying while on the water, your main concern is going to be holster security. That holster is going to have to not only do everything it usually does on land but also do so a lot more thoroughly than you might normally demand. Your pistol getting jarred out of its holster in your living room is embarrassing. Such a thing happening on the water can lead to you being one of the only guys who’s actually telling the truth when you say that you “lost a gun in a boating accident.” If you’re going to be carrying aboard a vessel of any kind, a holster with active retention is a must. I love the Safariland ALS, but to each his or her own. All I ask is that you get a system that locks that pistol onto your belt and that you train with it.

Oh, and stock up on solvents and oils. The life of a gun aboard ship is a difficult one, and there’s a reason our nation’s sailors are constantly oiling and re-oiling everything they can’t paint and re-paint.