My Experience at the USCCA Concealed Carry Expo

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What a 2019 USCCA Concealed Carry Expo! I don’t need to tell those of you who made it, but it was a great time. As usual, I showed up with a mostly empty suitcase and left with one stuffed to the gills. The USCCA Expo floor was overflowing with amazing vendors, plus two stages hosting knowledgeable presenters. This Concealed Carry Expo just gets bigger and better each year.

Real Life, Real Self-Defense Knowledge

In my presentation this year, I walked folks through real-life scenarios of lethal-force encounters, breaking down the court cases that followed. A lot of the cases that we visited looked great … at first. But an inevitable twist was introduced — often from the individual involved. The problem was usually that the victim gave a statement to law enforcement without an attorney present. Predictably, he or she said something that he or she probably immediately regretted.

Often there were also some important extra facts left out from the case. No matter how minute the detail seems to you, it is important to explain how everyone got to the point of the self-defense incident. In other words, maybe the shoot looked OK … until we looked into how everyone was involved. There were some wonderful questions, and the room was pretty full.

Here are the key takeaways guests gained from my “Should I Shoot?” session:

1) Only use deadly force when there are absolutely no other options.

2) The facts are important … but the context is just as important.

3) Know the laws! It can make a difference between a life behind bars versus going home to your family.

Proving Ground Scenario-Based Training Live at the USCCA Concealed Carry Expo

By far the biggest highlight was Proving Ground Live the night of May 17. For those not familiar with Live Training Broadcasts and Proving Ground, these are scenario-based trainings. We put folks into stressful, live-like self-defense encounters. These are meant to encapsulate the feelings of a real-life deadly force encounter. Much like a football game, the scenarios are taped and then broken down live by a panel, including Tim Schmidt, Kevin Michalowski, Beth Alcazar, me and the trainees. We talk through what happened, the decision-making and tactics of the participants, and the legal consequences. We also take questions live from those who are watching!

These are always popular and a lot of fun to watch. So someone (not me) came up with the great idea of doing one totally live in front of an audience. (My lawyer side is forcing me to add that live ammunition is never used. These are all simulated laser shots with stress vests and are conducted by a team of professionals taking the appropriate safety precautions. AKA: Don’t try this at home.)

In the brand-new live scenario that night, a room of hundreds of folks from the convention watched two friends — a role player and our trainee — have a normal conversation at a park. But soon, chaos ensued, a gun was drawn, and someone got shot. Afterward, the trainee joined the panel on stage to discuss what was going through her mind during the scenario and to take live questions from the audience.

Interacting With the Concealed Carry Community

When it was all over, I had the opportunity to chat with members from the audience. From what I heard, everyone had a great time, and people were buzzing with thoughts, questions and feedback. Our next Live Training Broadcast for the web is coming up in July. Please think about joining us and taking advantage of all of the great free information.

In the end, it was great to meet folks and put faces to the names I often see only online. I also learned a lot myself from the other speakers I was able to see and from people I chatted with. I hope to see you all again next year at the USCCA Concealed Carry Expo in Kansas City!

About Tom Grieve

Tom Grieve is a highly awarded former state prosecutor who started Grieve Law, LLC, which is now one of the largest criminal-defense firms in Wisconsin. He is respected as one of the top criminal-defense lawyers in the state and has developed a nuanced understanding of Wisconsin firearms laws throughout his years of experience. He has also started a family law firm, Divergent Family Law, to better serve those who live in Wisconsin. Although Tom’s legal background speaks for itself, he has gone above and beyond the call of duty, receiving his certification as a firearms instructor, participating as a regular speaker and panelist with the USCCA for live broadcasts, training videos and national expos, and even serving as a speaker and analyst on numerous radio stations, television stations, and both college and law school campuses.

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