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Posted on March 15, 2021 by in Training



It appears that the protests America saw in 2020 are continuing into 2021. There has been at least one incident this year already in which an armed concealed carrier was arrested by the police for displaying his concealed handgun during a protest. The first question many will want to know is under what exact circumstances did this event take place. Regardless of what all the facts are, some of which may never come to light, there are definitely two that are salient. One, the person arrested was an armed concealed carrier, and two, the incident took place at a protest.

Rob High is a Use of Force expert, content specialist, member of the Critical Incident team for CCW Safe, and content specialist and training coordinator for the Firearms Trainers Association. Rob retired as a detective assigned to the robbery unit from the Oklahoma City Police Department after twenty-five years of service. High is recognized in the United States Federal Court as an Expert Witness on Use of Force and was a department firearms instructor. He earned nationally recognized certifications in Control and Defensive Tactics, Police Use of Force, and Arrest and Control. Rob was considered the subject matter expert in these areas for the Oklahoma City Police Department from 2003 to 2010. He was also the Training Coordinator for their police academy during that same period.

What follows is an interview that I had with Rob on February 22, 2021. Rob has a unique perspective on the subject of concealed carry during protests based not only on the fact that in addition to being a former policeman, Use of Force Expert Witness, and a member of the CCW Safe Critical Incident Team he is also an armed concealed carrier who has the same concerns as everybody else.

Steve: Peaceful protest has been around for decades. Both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther, King, Jr. proved that peaceful protest is a legitimate way   to effect a positive change. Of course, others attempted to oppose those changes, sometimes violently, but the end result in both instances was that changes were eventually made that most of us today would agree were in the best interest of the nations. That does not seem to be the case in 2020 and 2021. What do you think happened?

Rob: So many people are buying into misinformation on both sides and have become stirred up emotionally. It is all too easy to step out and act   on emotion instead of calmly discussing issues where the viewpoints of the persons involved differ. Extremes on both sides appear to be disinterested in any kind of conciliation or compromise. Some gunowners are terrified that the government is going to take away their rights under the First and Second      Amendments. The problem for them may lie within their decision to arm         themselves and then voluntarily participate in a situation in which they may be threatened with violence and perhaps even forced to defend themselves. Even if the concealed carrier was justified in using deadly force or the threat of deadly force in order to avoid being seriously injured or killed, he or she may still be arrested, charged, tried, and even  convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. Something that is often overlooked by the concealed carrier is that the simple act of showing up    armed at a protest may give the anti-gun side additional traction when it comes to arguing that private citizens should not have access to firearms.

Steve: Do you have any idea why concealed carriers willingly go to an event knowing that the possibility of violence is significantly greater than zero?

Rob: Let’s focus strictly on concealed carriers. It is safe to assume that that they want their message heard and they want to be able to protect themselves. If that assumption is correct, they probably should be aware that if they are forced to display their handgun during a confrontation between parties with opposing views then that display may be used against not only against them but against everyone’s right to possess firearms. Even though it may be lawful to take certain actions, that does not necessarily make it prudent or safe. In other words, just because we can legally take a certain action does not mean that we should.

Steve: As far as I know, the most recent event of which I am aware of in which a concealed carrier was arrested was one in which the concealed carrier may have been part of the group conducting the protest. If so, this would suggest that the concealed carrier was not just a bystander that found himself caught up in a protest through no real fault of his or her own. What are your thoughts on that?

Rob: Whether the concealed carrier was the initial protester or a counter-protester, he willingly participated in an event in which he likely   knew that emotions were going to be high for all the parties present.  It is perfectly understandable why a person would go to a protest. They want their side to be heard. Unfortunately, this can turn into a problem for a concealed carrier who chose to bring a gun with them, most  especially if they did so with the expectation that they may encounter violence. It may appear that the concealed carrier proactively armed him or herself because they believed    that the very actions that they decided to take might force them to use it. The difference between not looking for trouble but refusing to budge if trouble comes your way is often smaller that many people think.

If you are going to exercise your rights to protest peacefully, you need to do so in an environment in which you have every reason to believe that is safe, and one in which you can leave unimpeded at the first sign of possible trouble. We naturally gravitate to a location in which we know our message will be heard, otherwise our message will never truly be brought to the public’s attention.

People in America have the right to air their complaints in public, but they do not have the right to do so violently. Showing up at a place where tempers are likely to flare for the purpose of advocating your position knowing that there will be others present who advocate an opposite position typically means that you are a part of the problem, and not a part of the solution.

Steve: Why do you think that the odds are so high today that an argument between groups with opposing viewpoints is likely to occur during what should actually be a peaceful protest?

Rob: Civil discussion seldom occurs doing modern day protests. It is not unusual for a conversation between two parties with opposing views to go from words to taunts and then to verbal threats. Should this happen and then a concealed carrier realizes that he or she is now facing ten or more persons it becomes all too easy to suddenly remember “oh yeah, I brought my pistol and can use it to get me out of this situation.” I love CCW Safe co-founder Stan Campbell’s take on dealing with others when   emotions are starting to ratchet up: “The best way to handle agitated persons is to always handle it like you were not armed.”

Steve: Sounds like the best advice for concealed carriers is to simply avoid protests in 2021.

Rob: There is an enormous difference between being a concealed carrier who inadvertently gets caught up in a protest as opposed to a concealed carrier armed with an agenda and a firearm who willingly goes  to a protest knowing that violence may occur for the purpose of airing their views to make sure that their side gets heard as well as the   other party’s side.

Part Two of this article is a continuation of my interview with Rob High that includes some tips on how a concealed carrier might know when the only option remaining to them to prevent others from seriously injuring  or killing them is drawing their handgun.

Steve Moses

Steve Moses has been a defensive firearms trainer for over 26 years and is a licensed Texas Personal Protection Officer with 7 years of experience performing as shift lead on a church security detail for a D/FW area metro-church. Steve is a co-owner and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group, LLC based in Dallas, Texas. Moses is a retired deputy constable and spent over 10 years on a multi-precinct Special Response Team. He owns multiple instructor certifications, including Rangemaster Advanced Handgun Instructor and Defensive Shotgun Instructor, Red Zone Knife Defense Instructor and Adaptive Striking Foundations Instructor, Modern Samurai Project Red Dot Sight Instructor, and State of Texas Personal Protection Officer Instructor. Steve holds a BJJ Brown Belt in Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He is a content contributor for CCW Safe and writes weekly articles on various subjects of interest to concealed carriers. Moses shoots competitively and holds an IDPA Expert rating. Steve is an annual presenter at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.