Talk to any veteran law enforcement officer and he or she will tell you that from domestic disturbances to road rage, anger is the primary catalyst that escalates a simple disagreement into a violent encounter. And unfortunately, the results can be deadly.

This is dangerous not just physically but also legally. A jury may see you as justified for using deadly force against some individuals who were trying to assault you. But people are notoriously unsympathetic to those who have clearly acted out of anger, no matter who initiated the event.

Like most instructors, whenever I conduct a concealed carry class, I always spend a considerable amount of time cautioning students to avoid confrontations. Most of you who carry a gun understand how important this is and behave accordingly.

In fact, the record clearly shows we are dramatically less likely to become involved in altercations than the general public. But what about all those people who do not practice the same restraint that you and I do?

There Are Angry People Out There

Friends have told me that it does seem like the world has way too many individuals — men and women — who seem to go through life looking for a reason to be angry. It’s not your imagination. In my own day-to-day travels, I am amazed at the number of times I observe someone getting genuinely angry over downright trivial things.

But dealing with such people doesn’t need to be that complicated. In most cases, simply taking a deep breath and walking away from them can be the best choice. A good example is what happened to me just the other day when I was in the “10 items or less” line at a grocery store.

An elderly woman who was checking out just in front of me had difficulty getting her credit card to work in the card reader. Nobody in line seemed to care, except for the man who was directly behind me.

No sooner had the woman tried a second time to use her card than this guy started huffing and puffing, muttering half under his breath, “Oh, for Pete’s sake…” and “Oh, come on, already!”

The clerk ignored him and helped the woman finish her transaction, which took less than a minute or two. But the man behind me, his face now bright red, continued to express his annoyance, saying to no one in particular, “Jeez, this is ridiculous!”

It’s Just Not Worth It

Now, I’ll be honest. At this point, what I really wanted to do was turn to him and tell him to lighten up and get a life. But I had my gun on my right hip. So instead of giving in to my emotions, I simply took a breath, paid for my items and left. No harm. No foul.

This particularly applies to road rage. If someone is driving so recklessly as to be a threat to public safety, call 911 and give the license number and description of the offending driver’s vehicle. But never, ever engage — or, worse, retaliate.

Remember, the only behavior you can control is your own. No matter how rude, obnoxious or angry someone is, unless he or she presents a clear and immediate threat to you or another person, just let it go.

It’s just not worth it.

About John Caile

NRA Certified Instructor John Caile has more than 35 years of experience in the firearms industry, including training others in concealed carry and practical handgun shooting skills. As the communications director of the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee, he was instrumental in passing Minnesota’s landmark concealed carry permit law. John has appeared on national talk radio and network and public television and is a contributing writer for Concealed Carry Magazine. He continues his lifelong activism for gun owners and their rights in Palm Coast, Florida.