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Posted on November 4, 2019 by in Training



I had an interaction with responding law enforcement in 1980 after taking and holding a burglar at gunpoint in my apartment during the early morning hours. I recall having spent absolutely no time prior to this action taking place contemplating such a scenario, and as a result had no idea how to manage this event so as to minimize the possibility that I might get shot by either the burglar or responding police. The handoff to law enforcement was managed without drama, and I give much credit for that to the professionalism of the three police officers that showed up.

The pressure on law enforcement today to protect the public without causing social offense, arousing media ire, or violating departmental policy is enormous. This means that law enforcement officers must keep all of this in mind while quickly responding to situations that are most likely chaotic and where the possibility of additional violence is high. For the most part, they are operating off of minimal information.  Responding law enforcement is facing two challenges. They want to do their job properly and not mess up (which could mean penalties, loss of job and possible career, and even criminal charges), and they want to avoid injury and death every bit as much as civilian defenders.

I eventually learned as a young adult that the best way to achieve a positive outcome on situations was to try to look at things from the perspective of others, and then take control of those things that I could do in order to make it happen. People can argue back and forth about how other persons should act or not act, but ultimately, they can’t control the actions of others.  In reference to the topic at hand and knowing the challenges facing responding law enforcement, what can concealed carriers do to help those officers quickly get a handle on what happened and reduce the chances that the concealed carrier is mistakenly perceived as a potential threat?

One of my best friends, full-time police academy firearms instructor, and long-time Texas peace officer, Hany Mahmoud, told me that many law enforcement officers responding to a shooting have a tendency to separate the people encountered at the scene of a violent crime into three groups:

  • Victim
  • Offender
  • Bystanders/Possible Witnesses

Noticeably missing is the armed civilian defender.

Concealed carriers should consider themselves to be in danger as many as three times if forced to use a handgun in self-defense. First, when they must deal with the criminal actor. Second, they may be confronted by a well-intentioned armed Good Samaritan with no training, poor judgement, and good aim. And third, they must interact with responding law enforcement operating off of little information and knowingly going into a situation where there are unknown people armed with firearms.

Concealed carriers should consider visualizing what the immediate aftermath of a defensive display of a handgun or actual shooting may appear. There may be a person lying on the floor who just attempted to kill them that may still be in the fight. That person may have accomplices. The concealed carrier is likely adrenalized and his or her natural instinct is to completely home in on the threat to the exclusion of almost everything else. The concealed carrier may not see or hear responding law enforcement approaching. There is a chance that when the concealed carrier is first aware that the cavalry has arrived, he or she turns in their direction still holding a handgun. To that end, it largely up to the concealed carrier to think about what is about to happen next and act accordingly so as not to be perceived to be an immediate threat.

Are there actions that a concealed carrier can take to lower the odds that a tragic action will happen in the aftermath of a defensive use of a firearm? I believe this to be true. The top priority of law enforcement will be to secure the scene until details can be sorted out. The concealed carrier’s top priority is to first not get shot by anybody, and second to survive the legal aftermath.  I do not want to discount the importance of, as attorney Andrew Branca might say, being hard to convict, but the primary focus immediately after such an incident should probably be get into a position and achieve a state of mind whereby the concealed carrier can see what is going on around him or her and then correctly process that information and respond appropriately. Responding officers will almost always view the concealed carrier as a potential threat until that can be proven otherwise. It is the concealed carrier’s responsibility to act in such a manner that they appear to be as non-threatening as possible.

Part two of this article will discuss some actions that the concealed carrier might take in order to reduce the odds of being engaged by both well-intentioned concealed carriers and law enforcement after a critical incident involving firearms.

Steve Moses

Steve is a long-time defensive weapons instructor based out of Texas who has trained hundreds of men and women of all ages for more than two decades on how to better prepare to defend themselves and their loved ones. Steve has completed over 80 private-sector and law enforcement-only defensive weapons and tactics classes, and has trained civilian and law-enforcement officers in six states. Moses is a reserve deputy, former member of a multi-precinct Special Response Team, competitive shooter, and martial artist. Steve has written numerous articles for SWAT Magazine and other publications. Steve is a licensed Texas Level 4 Personal Security Officer and Instructor who was Shift Lead on a mega-church security detail for seven years, and has provided close protection for several former foreign Heads of State. He is currently an instructor at Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu/Krav Maga in Tyler, Texas and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group (