Common Sense Is Cheap Insurance

In everyday life, common sense is a good idea, but when carrying a deadly weapon for self-defense, it is absolutely essential. Thankfully, the vast majority of those who do carry do an admirable job of avoiding trouble. However, I have seen too many cases in which common sense was either nonexistent or simply ignored.

One example was originally brought to my attention by a police officer friend of mine. Apparently, a young man was arrested after an altercation with another young man in a dispute over a cellphone. The details were sparse, but it seemed clear the event was a case of bad judgment.

Ironically, in my carry class the following week, the roommate of the defendant was one of my first-time students. When I briefly mentioned the incident, he raised his hand, told me who he was and offered to fill me in on the whole story.

It all started when the defendant and his roommate hosted a party at their vintage home in Minneapolis on Friday night the previous week. Approximately 60 people attended, many of whom knew each other. There were no problems, and the party ended around 2:00 a.m.

The next morning, the defendant could not find his recently purchased smartphone. After searching the entire house, he used his landline to call several friends who had been at the party. He remembered last seeing his phone on the coffee table and tried to see if anyone had accidentally picked the phone up. No luck.

However, just after lunch, one of the people he had called that morning called back. The caller, who had been given a clear description of the phone, said that while at breakfast that morning, he overheard a certain young man who had also been at the party. That young man was in the next booth showing off his new phone. “I don’t know, but it sure looked exactly like yours,” said the man on the phone. He added that he knew where the guy lived and gave the defendant the address.

The defendant hung up and furiously announced that he was going over to the house at the address to get his phone back. His roommate tried to calm him down, saying, “That doesn’t sound like a good idea. Just make out a police report and file an insurance claim.” He wouldn’t listen. So, reluctantly, the roommate went with him. When they arrived at the house, several young men answered the door, including the man accused of stealing the phone. Of course, he denied any wrongdoing. When the defendant persisted, the homeowner demanded that they leave. The three young men then came out onto the porch, yelling, “Leave, or we’re callin’ the cops!” But as he backed down the steps, the defendant placed his hand on his gun, warning them, “Stop right there!”

Police were called, and when they arrived, they arrested the defendant. He was initially charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon (ADW). But, partly because of the work of an excellent attorney, the charges were reduced to simple misdemeanor assault with probation and no prison time. However, since even misdemeanor assault convictions are disqualifiers in most states, he did lose his right to carry.

What is most frustrating to instructors such as myself is that this entire incident could have been avoided if the defendant had simply listened to his roommate, who clearly had more common sense than he did. Emotion, especially anger, can easily override good judgment. Be smart; think before you act.