by Rob Morse of Slow Facts

I know that you’re way smarter than this, but I keep hearing new gun owners get bad advice. We hear it everywhere, from the news to the lunch counter. I’m not criticizing either party because I suspect they are simply repeating something they’ve heard. This is important because we can invent all sorts of complicated schemes as we plan our defense. It is easy to forget that time controls almost everything as we defend ourselves. Eventually, we remember that the bad guys arrive with a plan. We get to defend ourselves, our family, and our friends with what’s physically within reach and mentally within reach. Let’s look at some common suggestions and see how they measure against the clock.

“I only carry a firearm when I’m going someplace dangerous”

Maybe this means you’ll carry if you go to a convenience store or an ATM after sunset. That is good advice, but it is better advice to plan those trips for safer times of the day. The obvious question is how you will know if this is a dangerous place ahead of time. People have been attacked at every hour and in every location. It is dangerous for us to think the law of averages doesn’t apply to us. It is often too late to get your gun once the safe trip you planned turned out to be a dangerous journey after all. Part of our defense is admitting we are at risk.

Give the robbers what they want and just be a good witness, then call the police and let them handle it

Robbers do whatever gets them what they want in the shortest time. Criminals use violence because it works. The robbers don’t really care if that means issuing verbal threats, hitting us, stabbing us, or shooting us. You can hope that the criminals will be satisfied with what you hand them, but that is asking for mercy from the merciless. I’ve never heard a good reason to leave the degree of violence up to the robbers.

Being a good witness may sound smart, but you’re too busy to call for help while you’re being attacked. After the robbers have left, then you can go find someone who has a cell phone and ask them to call 911 for you because the robber took your phone. Since the robbers are long gone, this isn’t a priority call for the police. Some police departments won’t even take a report if the robber took less than a thousand dollars or so, and if you didn’t need medical treatment. If they do come out, the average response time for police is a little over 11 minutes. The police will give you a case number and ask you to file I report in the next few days. The police usually catch up with the robber after he has committed about 20 crimes. If that schedule works for you then by all means be a “good witness”.

Calling yourself a “good witness” certainly feels better than saying you were a “good victim.” I think it is safer to be an armed defender.

“I have a gun up on the shelf in my bedroom so my family is safe.”

Feeling safe is different than being safe. An acquaintance in town got out of bed to find a stranger in her home. She screamed when she saw him and the stranger ran out the front door. I asked her how long it would take for her to get her gun off the top shelf, load the gun, and put the gun between herself and her attacker. You don’t have that time if the gun is two steps away and the robber is two steps behind you. He can get you before you are able to stop him.
Now imagine you have your family at home with you. You hear glass breaking and you walk into the center of your home unarmed. Are you going to take your eyes off the intruders and turn your back on your family as you run to get your gun? Maybe that is the only option you’ve left yourself. If so, then let’s make that ugly decision now rather than freeze or stutter when we have intruders in our home. Will you hesitate when you hear your family scream as you run toward your bedroom and your gun?

“You really should keep that unloaded for safety”

Should your self-defense gun be unloaded? That depends. Everybody has an opinion so please be careful where you take advise on armed defense. How many hundreds of hours of instruction has your advisor taken? How many self-defense incidents have they studied? How many classes have they taught?

Several very respected trainers said it clearly, “If a gun wasn’t dangerous then it wouldn’t be useful.” We are obligated to prudently manage that risk as we bring a gun into our home. Leaving an unloaded gun in the open is neither safe for children to be around nor is it effective for immediate defense. Fortunately, we have better choices.

We have centuries of experience with firearms. We learned how to carry guns on our body. We learned how to store personal firearms safely while they remain accessible for an authorized adult. We learned how to use small firearms for armed defense in our home and in public. We have access to that great body of knowledge, and how we teach today is different than the way we taught even a few years ago.

These are self-defense skills my grandmother could master, particularly because grandma was willing to ask questions and listen to the answers.

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