Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Is the Deadly Force With You?

My earlier posts evaluated the political climate of recent Wisconsin politics.  Since then, the governor (with a small "g") bullied his budget repair bill into law effectively raping public servants of earned benefits and collective bargaining rights.  Another piece of legislative genius leaves Illinois as the only holdout in the Union.  This wreck waiting to happen shot through both the House and Senate with such velocity that .22 magnum rounds are envious.  Come November, residents can apply for concealed carry weapons permits.  FANFARE Please! 

People smile thinking that they will be safer.  No one will know who is armed and who isn't.  People crimes will plummet!  Hold on there, Bucky.  Before the high fives and knuckle bumps subside, perhaps some thought should have gone into the licensing process.  Or, more precisely, about establishing some training guidelines to meet in order to receive a license to strap.  Right now, it's TBA.  Yes.  Like an instructor listing for a 200 level composition class, to be announced.  No one knows exactly what criteria needs to be met; however, hunter safety classes are rumored to be enough.

Everyone needs to understand the responsibility and therefore, accept the liability inherent to going armed.  But before I continue, let me qualify myself to make such observations.  I grew up in the era where guns were accepted and respected.  I sprayed the ceiling of my Dad's bedroom ceiling with the cap firing Tommy gun that Santa brought me for Christmas in 1966.  It scared him out of a sound sleep earned from working nights but being a military man, he hit the floor, then the seat of my pants several times.  We celebrated Western Day in my second grade class where we brought our six-shooters and winchesters to school.  I had a Crack Fire rifle which was a lever action affair with a speaker in the butt that made the bullet ricochet sound when you pulled the trigger.  There were Man from Uncle pistols and a cool spy movie camera that hid a firing mechanism inside. 

Enough you say, well I am a street cop too, twenty-seven years and counting in addition to serving three years in the Army MPs.  Adding it up and on the calendar, I've policed in five different decades.  I run "what if" scenarios in my head constantly to have a plan in case today is the day someone decides that this is the day.  I am not an anoemale.  Most cops train to not only carry a firearm but use it too.  That may sound funny but if you pull a gun and the "bad guy" is not afraid and keeps coming, can you shoot?  If you can't, did you receive any weapons retention training?  Nothing worse than being embarrassed by having someone take your gun unless you are shot with it too.

What exactly are you going to go armed with?  During the summer, it's pretty difficult to hide a Dirty Harry special in your shorts.  Handguns come in all sizes to include caliber and ammunition count.  Are you going for the "cool" factor or are you actually thinking tactically?  Now, you feel the weight of it in your hand.  You are confident in its handling.  Excuse me, what are you carrying it in.  Use a holster and make it a good one.  Don't slip it into your pocket like the gentleman did in Chandler AZ that promptly shot himself in the penis.  Or fiddle with it out of the holster and shoot yourself in the leg like a certain Super Bowl MVP that ended up spending time in the slammer.

Does the average citizen know when deadly force is authorized?  A couple of incidents during the summer answer the question, no.  An elderly gentleman in Kentucky faces attempted murder charges after shooting a 13 year old in the back as he ran away from the man's front door.  His crime?  He played ding dong ditch having just rung the man's door bell.  A pharmacist repelled robbers with his handgun wounding one in the store and chasing the others out.  His problem occurred when he elected to shoot the downed robber several more times when he was all ready incapacitated.  If you remember how everyone Monday morning quarterbacked Brett Favre after (pick an issue), are you prepared for that kind of scrutiny for an involved shooting?

It happens.  You see a guy holding a gun on an unarmed man.  You intervene and draw.  The armed assailant says something back but you can't hear.  You give an ultimatum.  He ignores you. In the excitement, you fire... alot.  Did you evaluate the situational backdrop?  Someone's grandma rocking in her chair or the baby napping in its crib.  Couldn't see them anyway but the apartment building was facing you.  Oh well, the movies call it collateral damage.  The robber that you just took down?  He was a detective or off-duty police officer and the rapist got away.  That darn mental planning thing.

This going armed scenario changes the dynamics of your household also.  Does your wife know how to use the gun.  In this day and age, that could be a two edged sword.  How about your kids?  Will you hide it in the sock drawer and keep it a secret or openly expose the weapon to your kids.  By the way, does your wife or significant other know how to call into a 9-1-1 Center and explain the situation so you don't get blasted by police coming into the scene and think you are the bad guy?  Mental planning again.

The really scary thing about any of these situations is the civil liability that one may incur.  A new breed of ambulance chaser will emerge.  The lawyer looking for potential victims to protect from all the new gun loving fanatics exercising a flawed right.  This lawyer will try to reduce your lawful action to a more simple case of recklessness citing inadequate training and / or over zealousness.  The poor victim was only looking for property to steal, not wanting to harm anyone.  That is if you figured out a problem correctly.  Can you imagine the financial ruin based on any of the previously mentioned cases.  Would it be too out of line to think that insurance companies may find it necessary to up your premiums because you pack heat and store it in your house?

Finally, Wisconsin is the #2 party state in the country.  Guns and alcohol have been a bad idea since the wild west.  My thoughts are not intended to sway opinions for or against carrying concealed bullet launchers.  If you chose to not participate, no worries.  If you do, understand the entire package of responsibility and liability that the proposition holds.  Do not be a victim of the "I didn't know" defense.  There will be plenty of people, professional or not, who will point out that you should have.



  1. Well said, Arizona is a concealment state. No class or special permit required. I’ve pointed out your same reasoning over the need to understand the responsibility of going armed. I’m met with blank stares.

  2. Thanks for your input. Hell, I'm just glad M16s dont fit in shoulder holsters!

  3. I have always been a firm believer that only two groups of people should carry firearms: cops and soldiers...people that have made a career out of handling weapons responsibly, engaging in ongoing training to ensure that responsibility stays intact. Unfortunately, when civilians start putting holes in each other, the sad truth is that it's good for business. I love a good trauma. Drinks at "R" place later!