Just mere life is not victory, just mere death is not defeat.

Search The Knowledge

Get in the fight.

Carrying a firearm has many implications.  Just the possession of the firearm in some places may restrict your travel and possibly put you in a difficult legal situation, as Shaneen Allen found out when she brought her legally owned and legally carried (in PA) firearm over the state line into NJ  instantly making her a criminal.  She, like many who will read this, carry a firearm for self defense, their employment or fear of zombies.  Though the right to carry a firearm is still alive and well, we have to look deeper and understand the concepts behind carrying a firearm, specifically that which is seldom talked about.  Should you take action? Should you get in the fight?

Law enforcement officers (LEOs) do not have a duty to protect the general public, as ruled by the highest court in the US.  While this may be true, if you ask any LEO on the street they will tell you that they will try to do everything in their ability to stop any crime, especially violent crime and protect those who cannot protect themselves.  LEOs have to put themselves into the line of fire, while there is no duty to protect there is a duty to act or rather a consequence for failing to take police action, when LEOs who are on duty in uniform.  But what happens to LEOs who are off-duty and for all intents and purposes are just like the average concealed carrying citizen on the street.  Do they have the ability to say "I am carrying for my protection only," or do they have a duty to act?  Does this stem from a moral or ethical implication or rather their position in civil service?

We have all heard news stories regarding off-duty LEOs taking action, and getting into the fight, rarely do we see video of this occurrence.  An off-duty Sergeant takes on three robbers at a gas station, the robbers targeted the Sergeant, so his actions are not surprising as he was in fear for his safety.  An off-duty deputy in San Antonio stops a gunman attempting to shoot at a crowd of people, possibly preventing a mass shooting.  Some say she was working a security detail, either way she got in the fight.  We have also heard about responsible citizens, who carry concealed getting in the fight.  Nick Meli, a shopper at a mall in Portland confronted, but did not fire at, a gunman inside of a mall.  The gunman committed suicide shortly after being confronted.  An unnamed man from Reno shot and killed a man who shot and killed two brothers inside of a bar, the unnamed man did not have any stake in the confrontation, but got in the fight.  The NRA has an up to date list of armed citizens getting in the fight.  A bulletin from the FBI, Active Shooter Events from 2000 to 2012 posts several graphs and statistics which show that an armed citizen can help stop a mass shooting before more people die and before LEOs arrive.  You can Google Search and see there are no lack of responsible concealed carrying citizens getting in the fight.  One of the chart's from the FBI below:

All of this is however based on the concept that the person carrying concealed gets in the fight and successfully overcomes the threat.  While some weak people (do not read the comments if you have a blood pressure problem) believe Joseph Wilcox was a fool for doing what he did, it is my belief that he acted in a very heroic manner, one which provides a very clear and vivid lesson to all those who want to get in the fight.  There are very real consequences for actions taken with a firearm.  Training is a very important aspect of carrying a firearm, I touched on this in a previous article Carry Ammo - Training, not Equipment.

( Joseph Wilcox )

What makes a person carry a firearm? Go through the process of getting a permit/license which is extremely difficult in some left leaning, anti-2A, states.  Then go through the whole process of firearm and holster selection.  Is it a sense of moral and ethical responsibility for themselves and others?  Is it a selfish need to protect themselves in any and every situation?  Does the average concealed carrying citizen think about the possible repercussions of their actions?  All of these are questions that need to be answered before a person considers taking up a firearm to carry.  Mindset is something that needs to be squared away, way before the decision to carry a firearm is made.  I have posted this video before, Kyle Defoor explains it quickly, hitting all the points very well.  Mindset, training, feeder and receiver, the readiness triangle, all important multi-tiered facets of getting in the fight, nearly all of this, in its current form, is attributed to Sayoc Tactical Group and Tom Kier.

The moral and ethical implications are, in my opinion, the most important factors  of getting in the fight. Remember, we are talking about the streets of the US, not a war in the middle of some desert wasteland, there is no expectation for the average concealed carrying citizen to get in the fight. Kyle Defoor is correct in his assertion that to die well is something we should all strive for. To not be willing to get in the fight and being able to die well are mutually exclusive in my opinion. Are you someone who can see a violent crime about to occur or occurring, which may lead to death or serious bodily injury of another citizen, and leave the area knowing that you had a firearm and could have affected that event in a positive way. Of course it means you may die or be injured in the process, that is part of getting in the fight.

An unnamed man in Phoenix sees a bank robbery in progress and gets in the fight.  While we can argue about his tactics and Monday morning quarterback his actions all day (I am sure lawyers will), he disregarded his own safety to stop a violent felony in progress, killing one criminal and assisting in the apprehension of another criminal.  This does, of course, bring up legal considerations.  Does the criminal's family have a civil case against him now?  Does he have to hire a lawyer and go through a very difficult civil process because of his actions?  Depending on what state you reside in you may have immunity from civil liability  because of the Castle Doctrine (wikipedia link, please confirm with your local DA's office and/or police department).  This does not cover you, however, if you accidentally miss and hit someone who is not part of the incident or damage property.

Most concealed carry citizens only carry a pistol.  Which is a fine way of protecting yourself and others in the statistically generated distance that most deadly force confrontations occur.  LEOs find themselves in these situations far more often than the average citizen and the statistics reflect that.  Are they a direct representation of what the average concealed carrying citizen is going to experience?  It is really dependent on many factors, I would say not entirely, but should we dismiss this information? No, it is factually based on reports generated by investigators, crime scene technicians and other scientifically accurate means.  This information shows that training and mindset are extremely important when getting in the fight.    Recognizing the threat and reacting (or acting proactively) will greatly increase the chance of survival in a deadly force confrontation.

You may be wondering why I keep using the term citizen when referring to someone who is carrying a firearm concealed.  It is my opinion that those who take  up a weapon legally should make it their goal to use it in the service of their fellow citizens.  By definition a concealed pistol is a self-defense tool, but it has the ability to be much more.  Vigilance in mindset and training will breed confidence allowing that citizen to get in the fight.

If you are not willing to take action in the defense of your fellow citizens with the firearm you carry, you should reevaluate your motives for carrying a firearm.  Many of the situations stated above involve defenseless and often times innocent persons, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  These are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters.  They depend on those who would put themselves in danger for their well being disregarding the consequences in order to do what is ethically and morally required of them.  Since the early days of the "Colonies," average citizens were called upon to take action in securing the safety of its streets and respective areas.  It progressed into a volunteer only basis, but the fundamental aspect of citizens doing what is expected of them is part of this country's DNA.  There are many lessons learned and documented stories about the average citizen, taking up arms in order to fight for their fellow citizens.  The times have changed, but the responsibility has not.

Are there circumstances that may require you to not get in the fight?  Absolutely.  If you are out with your family at the mall and you hear gunshots, no one is going to expect you to leave your family defenseless and run towards the gun fire.  Our first responsibility is to our family and to ourselves.  We cannot leave our family exposed and unprotected, there is no argument or blame to be made against the citizen who gets their family out of harms way.  We may plan for this scenario with truck/trunk guns, go-bags and a "get home" setup.  There are also considerations of operations that you may not know of.  Police-on-police shootings are not frequent, but they are also a fact of circumstance.  Should the concealed carrying citizen understand that the person that they may be drawing on may be an undercover LEO and that they may need to issue commands?  Does this all play into the mindset and training of those who carrying firearms?  Is it something that you, as a responsible concealed carrying citizen, should take the time to find out from your local police department what, if any, challenge commands exist?  Are there a myriad of other circumstances that may occur that should either make you get out of the fight or just be a good witness?  Of course, no one expects an LEO to run into a situation facing certain death, likewise the concealed carrying citizen may be ill equipped to get in the fight and the best course of action may be to run or watch.

There are, however, many circumstances like the one in a Salt Lake City mall which called for an off-duty LEO with his pregnant wife to take action.  Was his first responsibility to his pregnant wife or to the safety of his fellow citizens?  Did he have a duty to act at that time or were his actions the materialization of a sense of duty outside the scope of his oath?

This is a personal choice which each person has to make for themselves.  What is your level of willingness to get in the fight?  Are the lives of strangers who may never thank you and who may not do the same for you, were they in your shoes, worth yours?  What is your reason for carrying a firearm? Do you have enough training and do you trust your ability to allow you to overcome and crush the person(s) causing you to take action?  Are you someone who is prepared to put themselves in harms way for the sake of others?

Are you ready to get in the fight?