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For the past few years, there have been lots of folks getting concealed carry permits. People feel a need to be armed because they may face an armed assailant. They may realize that when violence occurs there must be immediate action taken. That is my hope because many, if not most, people have no concept of time related to violence. They don’t get the immediacy of it.

Having more people armed is, like it or not, part of the answer to active shooters/threats. Some  folks even say it encourages respect for others as “an armed society is a polite society."

There are many cases where aspiring assailants back off at the sight of a weapon. But there's no data. We don’t know how often this occurs. It’s probably safe to assume that it happens quite frequently.

Active threats (shooters, stabbers, suicide bombers, etc.) require immediate intervention. It’s a seconds-long window to do what is necessary to protect oneself and others.

These  incidents will likely  increase. The drivers are there: mental instability for one.. Internet incubation of that instability. Media coverage  foments copycats; historically a major factor. Internet incubation of extremist beliefs. The eventual release of hardened criminals who get paroled or who serve out their full sentence and must be released. Starting this year, we’ll  see a new twist on this old problem, so marvelously chronicled by Truman Capote’s "In Cold Blood," the release of terrorists now incarcerated who have served out their sentences.

Weapons are readily available. Guns. Knives. Axes. Cars. Trucks. Bigger trucks. With causal factors  on the upswing and ready access to weapons, it is only reasonable to assume that violent attacks will become more common. They may also get more violent; targeting innocent bystanders who have  no real connection to the perpetrator.

But is carrying a gun for defense the best approach?

Guns are dangerous. They go off when the trigger is pulled. Not pointing a weapon at anything you don’t intend to shoot and treating all guns as if they were loaded are also necessary tenets of gun safety.

Bullets hit  wherever the muzzle was pointed when they exit, not necessarily where the shooter intends. With no replay and with potentially tragic consequences the shooter lives with 24/7.

While the definition of “dumb” is taking a knife to a gunfight, weapons have limitations. They are only useful when  in the hand of someone proficient  - not “trained”, “licensed” or ”certified” — proficient in their use. One must practice and internalize the key skills, making them  automatic.

Appropriateness for  the  situation is also critical. Weapons are tools; useful for a specific task or situation. They are almost invariably employed at distances closer than they are designed for. There is  a reactionary gap: by the time you react the assailant is closer — 6 feet away become 2 feet away, etc. Gunfights are generally in-close, fast and furious.

Obviously being armed has a major impact on one’s lifestyle, one aspect being wardrobe. Rapid accessibility is key; especially under stress. The weapon must be carried in the same place all the time so that drawing it is automatic.

And the legal considerations are serious. One can be prosecuted criminally for having, displaying or using a firearm. Civil liability comes into play as well, threatening enduring economic loss.

One must carefully study all aspects of carrying a firearm.

Years ago I wrote a positive, detailed academic review of "Merchants At War: Survival Tactics for Armed And Unarmed Merchants," by Paul Caparatta. Merchants described legal, tactical and other considerations in being armed. As it discussed robbery in significant detail, my review made a nice supplemental handout for several  classes.

A promotional video from Concealed Carry University is spot on regarding the dynamics of armed encounters. Taking 45 minutes to view it is a good start towards understanding combat. There are classes in our area taught by attorneys and firearms instructors. One should follow up with defensive tactics training for both close quarters engagement and weapon retention.

Guns are serious business. Those carrying them must also be serious.

— Chris Hertig, Spring Garden, has taught and written on  use of force, defensive tactics and related topics for more than 3 decades. He’s on the York Dispatch Editorial Advisory Board and is active in professional associations.

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