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Stop Talking the Talk … Just Walk the Walk

I don’t know how many times I have to say it. Maybe I’m just not reaching enough people. Perhaps you could help me get the word out. Share this column far and wide with every gun owner you know.

If you carry a gun for self-defense, stop posting on social media that you are looking for a fight. Just stop it. If you see your friends doing it, tell them to stop it. Not only does it make all gun owners look bad, but such posts can also be used against you if you are ever involved in a defensive incident in which you use a gun.

This comes up again because I saw a post in a Facebook group representing a statewide firearms advocacy group alerting readers to a potentially dangerous ambush. Here’s the background: A driver in Michigan reported that he stopped along the freeway to help a woman who appeared to have a flat tire. As he approached the scene, flashlight in hand, he saw a few red flags. The trunk of the woman’s car was not open. There was no license plate on the car. He did not see a jack or other tools, but the woman had a tire iron. When he shined his light on the woman, a man jumped out of the nearby ditch. Both the woman and her accomplice quickly got in the car and drove off.

Seems like a pretty simple and common setup for a robbery: the old “damsel in distress.” You get distracted helping the woman, and the man knocks you on the head. You may survive, but the crooks will certainly relieve you of your wallet, valuables and very likely your car. The person who posted the warning suggested that people not stop to render such aid on the side of the road.

I am all in favor of people posting these warnings. They are great reminders to maintain situational awareness at all times. They are great opportunities to discuss the options surrounding such events.

Invariably, some keyboard commando will respond with the standard tough-guy rhetoric. In this case, two responses stood out. The first guy said, “I would rather have them try this on me vs. someone else. I’ll still be stopping.”

Nice sentiment, but only thinly veiled. Any anti-gun prosecutor would take this statement to mean the guy is just looking for a chance to fight. But I have to ask the question: Is he? Is he really looking for a chance to get into a gunfight? You see, looking for a fight — hoping for a fight — is just plain stupid. The reason it is stupid is that in any fight, you could lose. You could get hurt. You could get killed. Any such fight will be life-altering. You might be tough. You might be trained. You might be a great shooter. But despite all that, do you really want to see the inside of the legal system just so you can say you were there? Do you really want to risk the injury, possible mental trauma, legal entanglements and everything else that goes along with being involved in a deadly force incident? Think about what you will do when the prosecutor reads that statement in open court and then says, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I leave you to draw your own conclusions from the words of this Facebook post, but it appears to me the defendant did not act in self-defense but rather has been actively looking for a chance to use his gun.”

You know what you will do? You will do nothing. You will have to let the jury determine what you meant by that because if you take the stand to explain yourself, well, you just opened yourself up to wicked examination and cross-examination. What do you think they will think as you sit there quietly, unable to explain that statement?

The next comment came from a guy who liked to brag about his big gun. While most people were talking about the importance of carrying and using a flashlight, our hero took the time to say, “Hard to hide from full house 10mm also…”

Really? Are we back in fourth grade? This guy could have just gone on to add, “My gun is bigger than your gun, and when I’m bending over to help a lady change a tire and get attacked from behind, my hugely powerful pistol will rip through the night, delivering lifesaving power and accuracy not because I’m responsible, but because I carry a 10mm.”

Who cares what gun you carry? A hit with a 9mm, a .380 or a .32 is much better than a miss with a 10mm. Don’t brag about your gun. Get good enough that you are confident implementing your personal protection plan instantly if the time should arise. The first phase of that plan should be situational awareness, followed by conflict avoidance.

Don’t go looking for a fight. Actively avoid situations in which you might have to fight. And certainly don’t go on social media bragging and boasting about how ready for action you think you are. If you are really ready for action, you don’t need to talk about it.

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