ASK THE USCCA USCCA STAFF A QUESTION OF READINESSADDRESSING THE ‘MOMENT OF TRUTH’ QUESTION: As a former member of [Security Forces] in the USAF, I have encountered too many people who purchase/carry firearms and are either unable or unwilling to fire at someone else, believing it to work like a magic wand in making others obey their commands. I believe this topic is worth discussing, as their producing firearms they’re unwilling to use escalates those situations and potentially gives the criminals [their] weapons to use against [them] and possibly others. Michael, via email ANSWER: We’ll have to handle this one in two parts, Michael. As for the “unable” side of your comment, that’s why Concealed Carry Magazine was founded almost 20 years ago: to ensure that responsibly armed Americans become just that — responsibly armed. From the information in these pages to the content we offer free of charge to anyone with an internet connection, we are in the training business. We do not like the idea of a person with a gun who doesn’t know how to use it any more than you do, I can promise you that. And everyone from USCCA President and Founder Tim Schmidt to Executive Editor Kevin Michalowski to me to every last individual who has a hand in producing this magazine is dedicated to turning people with guns who don’t know how to use them safely and effectively into people who do. As for the “unwilling” side of your comment, we spend most of our time and efforts on the realities of armed self-defense, yet rarely do we ask the straightforward question, “Are you ready to take a human life?” This is for several very important reasons. TO SUBMIT A QUESTION TO “ASK THE USCCA,” EMAIL US AT EDITOR@USCONCEALEDCARRY.COM.“ WE SPEND MOST OF OUR TIME AND EFFORTS ON THE REALITIES OF ARMED SELF-DEFENSE, YET RARELY DO WE ASK THE STRAIGHTFORWARD QUESTION, ‘ARE YOU READY TO TAKE A HUMAN LIFE?’ THIS IS FOR SEVERAL VERY IMPORTANT REASONS. First, it would be fair to surmise that a great number of persons who would subscribe to a magazine dedicated to concealed carry and self-defense would have already made the concrete decision that they are, in fact, prepared to use the firearms they carry. To belabor the point of their readiness to employ a deadly weapon in defense of themselves or others would become tiresome at best and bizarre at worst. But even more importantly, this publication dwells neither in the military nor the law enforcement worlds. This is strictly a private-citizen publication — at least as far as our core demographic goes. Though some of our members are active-duty military and on-the-job law enforcement officers, the self-defense liability insurance policies offered through USCCA Membership do not apply if a member is, at the time of the incident, on the clock as a law enforcement officer or security professional (let alone acting under orders in a military capacity). We’re not addressing and training fellow officers or service members in private but rather addressing and training private citizens in public. As such, any talk about “if you’re not ready to kill somebody, you’re in the wrong place” like I heard in the police academy and you heard in your military law enforcement training has to be communicated very carefully (and entirely differently). As I am certain you can imagine, ours is a business with powerful enemies in high places. Persons whose life’s work is to eliminate entities that advocate for the armed private citizen who would dare to defend himself or herself from criminal violence. And the closer to the “if you’re not ready to kill somebody, you’re in the wrong place” line we get in our materials, the higher on those powerful enemies’ radar we ping. I want our message to get to those who need to hear it. I do not want a sentence I write or edit for publication to “go viral” out of context and get every last rabidly anti-gun nutjob throwing Molotov cocktails at our headquarters. We do, however, warn people against treating a firearm as a magic talisman of sorts. We stress that a firearm should be drawn only when you are reacting to an imminent, unavoidable threat of death or great bodily harm and that a firearm is considered deadly force, period — no matter what it’s loaded with. We stress that the time to think about how you would handle a deadly force situation is now, while there’s plenty of time for hemming and hawing and “what-iffing” your way through violent scenarios that can end with people getting killed. And we do all of this while stressing that you never, under any circumstances, “shoot to kill” but rather “shoot to stop.” Is it likely that doing so will result in your attacker’s death? Possibly, but you’re never shooting to kill anyone. You’re simply shooting to stop an imminent, unavoidable threat of death or great bodily harm. And through stressing all of that, we communicate a very specific, very unified message: In the self-defense context, a firearm isn’t for anything other than preventing death or great bodily harm. You don’t draw a firearm to make someone “reconsider his or her decisions” or “change his or her plans” or any of the other juvenile euphemisms you hear people bandy about. If a firearm gets drawn, deadly force is in play. And sometimes, when someone has no choice but to employ deadly force, he or she ends another human life while doing so. If a steady diet of that kind of content doesn’t bring a naive member around to the realities of carrying a concealed firearm for defense of self or others, I’m not sure any of the training you or I have ever received would either. Stay safe, Ed Combs Senior Editor