When Can You Present (Draw) Your Concealed Carry Handgun?

This question comes up at almost every CCW class I teach, and my standard response is “it depends”. Now I know that sounds more like a CPA answering a tax question but in fact it is a very valid answer as each and every case of legitimate use of a firearm in self-defense is unique.

Generally speaking you may not present your gun to threaten someone, even if they are threatening you. Legally your handgun can only be used to save you or another from grave bodily injury. Yes, many times a gun was presented and that ended the threat but to draw the gun it is still required for you and a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstance to believe that a threat of grave bodily injury is imminent.

I often tell students that once you present your gun you have essentially backed yourself into a corner and you now may have to use it when there were other options prior to that point. The gun is a tool of last resort and if you carry it concealed you CANNOT use it to ward off potential threats and it really should only come out of the holster when the expectation is to not draw would result in some innocent being seriously injured or killed.

So let’s look at some possible situations where it may or may not be appropriate to draw or show your gun.

You are walking back to your car in the parking lot of the mall when you discover it is now the latest hotspot for a group of six obviously intoxicated males to sit on and smoke a joint in that nice shady spot where you parked. Can you go up to them and show them your holstered gun and tell them to take a hike? Can you pull your little pea shooter and demand they get on the ground face down? Should you even approach them?

Well the obvious conclusion I hope you came to was to turn around and walk away, do not approach them and in particular you CANNOT draw or brandish your gun to get them to leave . . . and you will not believe how many potential students who I have talked to say they would show them their holstered gun to frighten off the bad guys. In the end, I just hit the alarm button on the remote as I walked to the car and when they jumped like their pants were on fire I apologized and stated that I had hit the wrong button on the remote, quickly jumped in and drove off.

Here’s another possible scenario, you are driving into a complex parking lot across the street from a crowded park on the 4th of July and two cars have the entrance blocked. As you come to a stop you see three young men hunkered down by the rear window of the forward car exchanging money for little packages. If you assume it is a drug deal I would guess you are right. So to make a quick exit you throw your vehicle in reverse only to find a car right behind you blocking your way. At this point the three guys are giving you a look that says they are going to mess you up for interrupting their fun. You throw up your hands in a gesture of “you guys are blocking my path” and all of a sudden three other obvious ne’er do wells pile out of the forward car as it begins to slowly creep out of your way. Now instead of a car you have six young males who you are pretty certain have been conducting a felony right in front of you blocking your way. Is this the time to whip out your gun and start banging away? or point it at them with a menacing look on your face?

There is no clear cut answer to what to do but pointing your gun is not going to be beneficial unless they show intent to cause you grave bodily injury. Pretty shaky scenario actually.

Thug with gun

Please note, do not attempt to use your gun with the slide locked open

One last one before I leave you to ponder your actions. You are walking in a crowded mall, near the end where there are several closed businesses and no one is down there but you and another person walking towards you. Since you are going to pass too close to this person you alter your angle to leave plenty of distance between you considering the relative isolation you are in. Three steps after you change direction the approaching individual alters his direction to be coming right at you again . . . at this point your “spidey senses” should start to tingle for there was NO reason for this person to do that except to get close to you. So being a wise individual you alter your path again only to end up walking right next to the wall of some closed business . . . and low and behold, the jerk changes angle again coming right at you and at this point he raises a $20 bill in front of his face as he approaches . . . OMG he is hiding his face as he closes in on you. So at this point do you just whip out your piece and start banging, or stick it in his face so he will know to leave you alone?

Again as with most of these there is no right answer, there could in fact be several right answers but there is definitely a wrong answer. You CANNOT present or show your gun because the person is not an imminent threat of grave bodily injury. SO what did I do? Well when he was 20′ away I said to myself, self if he keeps coming give him a command and prepare to defend yourself. So I turned my gunside to the wall behind me, blading myself to the approaching “BADGUY”, discreetly placed my hand on the butt of my gun . . . and at the top of my lungs I screamed “GET THE F*** AWAY FROM ME” . . . and at that point you would have thought the guy had been launched out of a cannon as he took off running like his pants were on fire.

Right or wrong, it was effective. My posture indicated I was ready for a fight and I would guess he was wondering why my hand was behing my back under my sports coat . . . but really I think my profanity laced screaming convinced him I was insane. In the end he ran, and my belief is most innocent people would not do that. Not sure what he was up to but I had zero intention of letting him get close enough to me to find out.

So ask yourself, when can you pull or brandish your gun? It is a very important question and you MUST know the answer for to get it wrong can lead to all sorts of bad things happening to YOU.

Failing to train IS training to fail.
Liberty Firearms Training


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What makes sense for a every day carry gun?

This is a question I often hear and there are a ton of articles and opinions on the gun forums from the many keyboard warriors. Opinions are like assholes and internet forums seem to have a lot, every one has an opinion but the best I have found come from those who do the deed, the professional firearms instructors who carry daily. Often when I am asked these questions from my students I want to just blurt out my thoughts but realize they will come to a better conclusion if I ask them the right questions, so we are going to in this direction.

The history of concealed carry laws is sketchy, prior to 1986 there was not a lot of information available and many states had no laws against concealed carry so it was legal prior to the shall-issue statutes. Where I grew up, everyone carried something, usually a hand me down shotgun or small caliber rifle, often in a rack on the back window of your pick up truck. I know it will strike some as odd but I can remember in high school I thought it odd to see a truck in the school parking lot without a rifle rack . . . we had to be 18 to own a handgun but, most LEOs knew your parents or extended family so it was kind of like having a bunch of uncles out there keeping you from doing stupid stuff.

I started carrying regularly in 1985, starting with a S&W 357 Model 60 Combat Magnum and occasionally a S&W Model 3914 in 9mm . . . the revolver in my truck, the 3914 behind my back if I was going some place I felt had a higher degree of risk. Keep in mind this was in Colorado, the only real risk at that time was downtown Denver after dark. I always wore a cover garment and the guns were carried in a OWB leather holster. Honestly, the majority of the time the gun was in the truck.

Today, I live in South Sacramento, there are over 100 different gangs in the city and I live on the edge of some fairly high crime neighborhoods. According to Sacramento County Sheriffs Dept estimates there are over 10,000 gang members, and that number does not include the wanna-be’s and those looking to get into a gang. To get into many of these gangs part of the initiation is to commit a crime of violence witnessed by existing members. So in Sacto we have 10,000 with a certain number joining each year, committing acts of violence on the citizenry . . . . that is the scenario today, in 2006 there were almost 11,000 VIOLENT crimes per 100,000 people in the county. Now since then, those numbers have gone down, but the randomness and level of violence has gone up remarkably.

Now think about that for moment, almost 10% of the people in the county will be the victim of a violent crime . . . so today, I put my gun on when I dress in the morning, and I take it off when I undress at night because . . . I refuse to be one of the 10%.

So questions?? Why do I carry should be pretty obvious at this point but there are the more pertinent ones, the point of this article.

If you were to be attacked in a violent manner do you want the odds in your favor that will help you survive? What will it take to accomplish that?

For me that means I am going to carry a gun I am intimately familiar with. One that I have a lot of rounds down range with in real life scenarios. One that I can operate accurately, clear any possible malfunctions and reload without thinking about it. One that when I do live fire practice I score 100% with because in the real world I am not going to be 100%. I want that first round on target every single time I squeeze the trigger.

For me that means I will carry a gun of a caliber that has been proven to stop a violent encounter in the fastest way possible. Regardless of what the keyboard experts will tell you, I will not go into a possible violent situation with something that begins with less than a .4 . . . while certainly every caliber has a record of having stopped a violent encounter, when the real shooting begins the objective is to incapacitate in a 100% reliable manner the perpetrator . . . .40 S&W and .45 ACP are really the only two calibers that can accomplish that.

For me this means I am going to practice regularly, and I mean at least once a week, getting that gun out of it’s holster and on target fast . . . I mean really FAST. For those who know me, it means lots of bathroom time, trying to see if I can get the gun on that guy in the mirror faster than he can get his gun on me.

The impetus of writing this was the latest issue of Handgun Buyers Guide, while looking at what they offered as concealed carry pistols.

So what works? I want a gun that will function flawlessly every single time I squeeze that trigger. For me that list is pretty small. There are a lot of really good gun makers out there, some really good revolver companies, some really great rifle companies . . . but only a handful of those make 100% fool proof handguns. I refuse to get onto the bleeding edge of manufacturers. I want a gun that has a history in real life gunfights without any failures. When I have student show up with the latest and greatest teeny tiny gun, that cannot function flawlessly through a 60 round CoF, well, that maker is off my list of recommended guns pretty much forever. My short list is; Sig Sauer, Colt 1911’s, Glocks, Berettas and now Kahrs . . . beyond that I am skeptical, not certain I want to bet my life they will work when needed.

I have to have that thing on my body when I need it. This is often the argument used by those who believe they cannot carry a gun of appropriate size, that is better to have a small gun of suspect reliability and caliber than to have no gun at all . . . that if it is uncomfortable, you won’t carry it. I will tell you, when there is a will, there is a way . . . you will not see me carrying a tiny gun of suspect caliber and reliability because they are easier to carry. And the same holds true of women, if they really want to, they will carry a gun that will assuredly get the job done.

So what about comfort? I like thin, single stacks, work best for me, revolvers are not as thin as single stacks . . . SA, SA/DA or DAO . . . well when I jerk that thing out I do not want to have to do anything other than rotate to target and squeeze . . . that’s not to say that I do not love the ease of a single action trigger, I just don’t want to be on the business end of a failed manipulation of a 1911 safety . . . nor do I want to be fumbling for a safety while the bad guy is plunging a knife into my arm. As for the DAO, well why go through that when you can do a DA first shot and then enjoy the speed and accuracy of the SA from the DA/SA . . . so here we are. I have a Sig P229 in .40 of course that I have over 100,000 rounds through . . . I know that gun more intimately than perhaps anything else . . . and guess what, all Sigs work the same . . . my primary EDC is a P239 with a SRT in .40 S&W . . . my sort of backup is a Kahr K40 for when I wear suits or sports coats, it is a bit shorter and thinner than my Sig.

Each person will have to determine their own choices to the best of their ability. If you have several thousand rounds through a five shot revolver and you can get 10 rounds on target at 21 feet in under two seconds, then by all means carry that little beater . . . but if you cannot, you might consider something else . . . if you just bought the latest and greatest little toy from Ruger and on round 45 the trigger quits, you might want to consider something else . . . if you are deadly accurate and fast with that super tricked out full size 1911 yet never have it with you, then by all means consider something else . . . if you have one of those little tiny FAT plastic framed guns that you cannot hit the broadside of the barn with and REFUSE to practice with it because it hurts your hand you might want to consider something else . . . and finally, if you cannot consistently improve, consider not carrying because if you miss and the soccer mom down the street takes your screw up in the head . . . well not only will her family own everything you ever had or ever will have, and you will never sleep well the rest of your life . . . so bottom line,

get a gun and practice, a lot . . .
get a gun in a caliber that will incapacitate the threat ASAP
get a gun that is thin but heavy so it will be comfortable to shoot a lot
and practice . . . you have accepted a new lifestyle, you now carry a gun . . . and with that comes a higher level of responsibility in society.


Criminals Fear Armed Citizens more than they do the Police

California is an interesting example of the deeply confused minds of those who assume they know more about how YOU should live your life than you do. I am of course referring to many of the politicians in Sacramento.

After years of trying to regulate California criminals with a never ending stream of gun control laws they have still not given up with the belief that if they make something a crime that criminals will miraculously start obeying the law.

In a survey of criminals(read that as FELONS IN PRISON), Professors James D. Wright and Peter Rossi of the Social and Demographic Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts conducted a study in 1982 and 1983 paid for by the U.S. Department of Justice. (Professor Rossi was a former President of the American Sociological Association.) The researchers interviewed 1,874 imprisoned felons in ten states.

88% of the criminals surveyed by Wright and Rossi agreed with the statement that, “A criminal who wants a handgun is going to get one.”(read this to mean that these felons are not obeying the gun laws and the Legislature cannot figure this out)

Wright and Rossi reported that:
81% of interviewees agreed that a “smart criminal” will try to determine if a potential victim is armed.

74% indicated that burglars avoided occupied dwellings, because of fear of being shot.

57% said that most criminals feared armed citizens more than the police.

40% of the felons said that they had been deterred from committing a particular crime, because they believed that the potential victim was armed.

57% of the felons who had used guns themselves said that they had encountered potential victims who were armed.

34% of the criminal respondents said that they had been scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed citizen.

Based on this government-funded research by Wright and Rossi, it would appear to a reasonable and prudent man that armed citizens do have a deterrent effect on crime. from Freedom Now!

I would be willing to guess that the majority of the State Legislature has never read this study and would add that there are far too many that would refuse to read anything that challenged their anti-gun mindset.

It has been said that men have but two ways of dealing with each other; reason or force. Also it has been said that God made Man but Sam Colt made men equal. Given those two statements being true, it makes you wonder why some in the Legislature are so intent on preventing free citizens from defending themselves. Could it be that those people may be tired of trying to reason with us and would prefer to force their beliefs on us?

“Trust the people: The Case Against Gun Control”
“Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1) Those who fear and distrust the people . . . . 2) Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe . . . depository of the public interest.” — Thomas Jefferson