Be Ready

What to do when something just doesn't look right.

posted on May 20, 2023
Sheriff Jim Wilson

One of the things that becomes quickly apparent when going over actually personal defense cases such as those in the NRA’s Armed Citizen column is the number of people who are taken by surprise when the attack occurs. They are not expecting such an encounter and they aren’t ready to deal with it. It is only the very fortunate ones who are able to overcome and prevail.

This is the reason that it is important for us to develop defensive habits that take effect automatically when we have a surprise encounter of any kind. No, I’m not talking about pulling a gun on your neighbor when he sneaks up on you in the grocery store. I am talking about recognizing potentially bad situations and developing habits that prepare us to deal with them should they actually turn out to be dangerous.

One important habit is to keep your hands empty whenever possible. We men are famous for coming out of the grocery store carrying 30 grocery bags instead of using a grocery cart. Using the cart allows me to go to my concealed handgun much more quickly. And, in addition, I can push the cart towards the threat in order to buy me even more time to respond by creating a diversion. Failing that, we practice carrying whatever we have in our support hand so that at least our gun hand is free. You do carry in such a manner that you can draw with one hand, don’t you?

We also give thought to our covering garments only in terms of keeping the gun concealed. In certain situations, such as dark parking lots, bad neighborhoods, or having spotted suspicious persons, it might be a good idea to get that covering garment open to reduce the time it takes us to make the draw stroke, should that be necessary and we might select covering garments with this ability in mind.

Upon encountering, or being approached by, suspicious persons it might be a good idea to put your hand on your gun using a shooting grip. Depending upon where you carry, it might be possible to slightly turn your body so that this move is not obvious. Regardless, it is not brandishing or assault because you have not drawn a gun or pointed it at anyone. If done with some thought and practice it is not an obvious move. However, to be on the safe side, consult with your attorney as to the legal aspects in your community.

Finally, most suspicious encounters don’t turn out to be gunfights or fights of any kind. For that reason, putting on a gunfighter grimace like you are about to take on Johnny Ringo and Curly Bill might not be a good idea. A pleasant smile might disguise the fact that you are in Code Red and ready to put your defensive plan into play. And the same smile might help resolve things when it turns out that there really is no threat.

Putting degrees of readiness into effect is not something that a person will be able to do without some prior thought and planning. It has to be thought out and practiced on a regular basis. It has to become a habit. When your brain says, “those guys don’t look right,” your covering garment should be open and your gun hand empty and near your gun. That’s the kind of readiness that I am talking about.


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