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 are some common distracting questions criminals use, and how should one respond?

A: Aggressive panhandling is still many violent predators’ preferred method of “bump-biting” potential targets. This term comes from the world of ichthyology, specifically the study of sharks: A shark will half-nose-bump, half-bite something it comes across in the water to see if it’s worth trying to eat. Human predators will do the same: A demand for a cigarette or 5 dollars is usually a sizing-up technique as much as it is an attempt to get what they ask for.

If you say “sure” and reach for your pocket, the predator will scan your person like the T-800 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day scanned everyone in that biker bar. He’ll take in your general size, your muscular definition, your age, how well-balanced you seem to be on your feet — the works. With a little experience, this takes him less than a second. Even worse, many predators will immediately reach out for a handshake, which, if you reciprocate, will not only tie up your (likely) dominant hand, but allow the potential attacker to get an even better gauge of whether you feel like “food.”

You can click through to a conglomeration of a few pieces of mine that our web team put together here. It is a combination of several features I’ve written and will give you a lot of information on exactly how street criminals distract, disorient and otherwise “soften you up” for whatever it is they plan on doing next.

I’ve also explored your options for dealing with aggressors who are looking to instigate a confrontation on camera, and the same techniques can be used for addressing general criminal contacts.

Q: Why don’t you have a video series on training dogs to protect you?

A: Oh boy.

First, I do not offer legal advice here (or anywhere.) Second, I love dogs. I do not believe that there is an animal that is closer to Man than Dog is. But as far as self-defense is concerned, dogs are just too unreliable.

The modern use-of-force environment is tricky enough already without introducing another factor that is not entirely under your control. And quit kidding yourself; you’re not 100 percent controlling what ANY dog does. Were that the case, the judges wouldn’t be able to pick a winner in any of the “ring sports,” or protection-dog-specific contests in which some Western Europeans still compete. If you are employing force against an attacker, you need to be able to stop applying that force the moment the threat he or she presents is no longer active. And that’s a tall order for a canine.

“But Ed,” you say, “American law enforcement agencies use dogs all the time.”

They sure do … to affect arrest … and they are constantly sued for doing so. Those lawsuits almost always get thrown out of civil court. But remember: they’re the cops. Like it or not, they get more of the benefit of the doubt than you or I do because they’re being tried within a system of which they are an integral part. You would likely not get as fair a shake as your local sheriff’s office were your dog to attack someone at your command. Moreover, millions of Americans have a very negative attitude toward “siccing attack dogs” on people.

In short, though I am certain most dogs would happily die in a fight to protect their masters, show me a guy who competes in “Schutzhund,” and I’ll show you a guy who would be collecting and carrying guns if he lived here in the States. Dogs are unmatched in the realm of alerting you to a problem. After that, it’s going to have to be up to you.

Q: Do you respond if someone gives you a look when they notice your gun?

A: I do not. More than half of (for lack of a better term) getting away with something is acting like there’s nothing out of the ordinary about doing it. If someone notices your gun, bear in mind that unless you’re well into your golden years, they will have no idea whether you are a police officer, sheriff’s deputy, state trooper, constable, federal agent or any other of the dozens of armed governmental entities in this country. (The United States Postal Service has its own armed branch, for goodness’ sake.) I am accustomed to people staring agog at my sidearm, but that’s from back when I was a uniformed deputy.

I am not aware of any circumstance under which someone has “busted” me carrying concealed. To be honest though, that may have more to do with the fact that I walk around looking like the world’s easiest-to-spot undercover cop anyway, and anyone who would sneak a peek at my pistol would just assume I was out trying to set up undercover buys.

If someone manages to spot your pistol or revolver as you reach for something at the grocery store, so be it. The fact that you’re carrying a gun is none of his or her business. If they ask you about it (and that’s a big if), walk away and go about your business. If he or she is just foolishly nosy, they’ll likely take the hint that you are someone who can’t talk to them about your gun. If he or she is the kind of person who will demand to know who you are and why you’re carrying a firearm, they’re either borderline or completely insane, and you need to get away from him or her as soon as safely possible. Either way, the response is identical: continue on about your business and be the first to contact law enforcement if the situation escalates beyond a single ask.

More Concealed Carry FAQs

June 2021
January 2021