1. Your concealed handgun is for protection of life only.
Draw your concealed firearm solely in preparation to protect yourself or an innocent third party from the wrongful and life threatening criminal actions of another. A CCW license does not give you any greater rights or responsibilities than any other citizen. It merely provides you with the means of legally carrying a firearm to protect your own life or the lives of others.
2. Know exactly when you can use your gun.
A criminal adversary must have, or reasonably appear to have:
a. the ability to inflict serious bodily injury (he is armed, reasonably appears to be armed with a deadly weapon, or a considerable disparity of force exists),
b. the opportunity to inflict serious bodily harm (he is physically positioned to harm you), and
c. his intent (hostile actions or words) indicates that he means to place you in jeopardy — to do you serious or fatal physical harm.
When all three of these “attack potential” elements are in place simultaneously, then you are facing a reasonably perceived deadly threat that can justify an emergency deadly force response.
3. If you can run away — RUN!
Just because you are armed does not necessarily mean you must confront a bad guy at gunpoint. Develop your “situation awareness” skills so you can be alert to detect and avoid trouble altogether. Keep in mind that if you successfully evade a potential confrontation, the single negative consequence involved might be your bruised ego, which should heal with mature rationalization. By contrast, if you force a confrontation you risk the possibility of you or a family member being killed or suffering lifelong crippling/disfiguring physical injury, criminal liability and/or financial ruin from a civil lawsuit. Flee if you can, fight only as a last resort.
4. Display your CCW, be prepared to go to jail.
You should expect to be arrested by police at gunpoint, and be charged with a crime anytime your concealed handgun is seen by another citizen in public, regardless of how unintentional, innocent or justified the situation might seem. Choose a method of carry that keeps your gun reliably hidden from public view at all times.
You have no control over how a stranger will react to seeing (or learning about) your concealed handgun. He or she might become alarmed and report you to police as a “man or woman with a gun.” Depending on his or her feelings about firearms, this person might be willing to maliciously embellish his or her story in an attempt to have your gun seized by police or to get you arrested. An alarmed citizen who reports a “man with a gun” is going to be more credible to police than you when you are stopped because you match the suspect’s description, and you are found to have a concealed handgun in your possession. Under these circumstances, you have been accused, apprehended, and are in a defensive position. If you must draw your gun, make certain you are the first to notify police.
Before you deliberately expose your gun in public, ask yourself: “Is this worth going to jail for?” The only time this question should warrant a “yes” response is when an adversary has at least, both ability and intent, and is actively seeking the opportunity to do you great harm.
5. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.
Develop and practice self control. If, despite your best efforts to the contrary, you do get into some kind of heated dispute with another person while you are armed, never mention, imply or exhibit your gun for the purpose of intimidation or one-upmanship. You will simply make a bad situation worse — for yourself. You can carry a gun, or you can have a temper. You may even do both for a while, but it will not last very long.
With the growing population of gun toters, it is imperative that we establish a few simple guidelines to help introduce others into the world of concealed carry. These five are the best I’ve found.