Lately, we here at the USCCA have been hearing the old axiom, “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by six.” These words have been tossed around during interactions with our customer service teams during calls, emails and online chats often enough that the topic has been brought up at impromptu meetings.

So, here’s the thing: I don’t want you to have to deal with either of those two options. But if you do, I want you to prevail (not just survive) in every element of an encounter that could lead you toward one of those two outcomes.

This ability for you to prevail begins with something we not only teach but also preach here at the USCCA: situational awareness and conflict avoidance. Those five words may seem like two different things. But they are linked. Those words represent two sides of the same coin. Situational awareness is, of course, your willingness and ability to not just see what is going on around you but also notice it and take action based on what you see.

Willing to Be Prepared

I specifically use the word “willingness” to point out that some people are willfully oblivious to what is going on around them. People will put in earbuds and stare at their phones while on public transportation. They will sit on a park bench reading a book. People will take a shortcut through an alley instead of walking around the block on a busy and well-lit street. All of these actions give criminal predators an opportunity to attack.

Then there are the people who, for whatever reason, don’t listen to the little voices in their heads that say, “I’m in danger.” For some reason, people will often see something that raises a red flag and NOT immediately move away from it. People will keep walking through a parking structure even though they see someone just standing around near a support pillar. They won’t cross the street when they see something out of the ordinary up ahead.

I can’t claim to know why, but people do it all the time. Maybe most people think, “It will never happen to me.”

Those are the kinds of people who are more likely to end up in a situation where they would “rather be judged by 12 than carried by six.” Truthfully, 99 times out of 100, such a situation could have been avoided. Make a promise to yourself, right now, that you will actively avoid these types of situations no matter how inconvenienced doing so makes you feel.

Unavoidable Circumstances

Now let’s talk about that one time in 100 when you actually can’t avoid a dangerous situation. In that situation, it is education and training that will get you through it. And again, I don’t want you to “just survive.” I want you to prevail. You must win the fight. The knowledge and skills you gain from effective training will give you the confidence to react quickly and properly to a threat you could not avoid. You will need that entire package to get you through the worst 10 seconds of your life.

Using the information you gathered by being situationally aware and the knowledge and skills you have developed through effective training should help you avoid sitting in the defendant’s chair during a criminal or civil trial in the wake of your actions. I say “should” because sometimes there is no telling what an overzealous district attorney will say or do in order to bring a case against an armed citizen. Good legal representation will help with that. But all of those other elements I mentioned can help you avoid the need for an attorney or an undertaker.

So instead of voicing the false bravado, please acknowledge the fact that, as a responsibly armed American, you should work hard to ensure you are neither judged by 12 nor carried by six. It all starts with good training. Get some.