Understanding Risk And Concealed Carry

The reason we concealed carry is in case we encounter a specific type of dire emergency and need to use a life-saving tool to resolve it.

In other words, a concealed carry gun is a type of insurance. You have auto insurance in case of a car crash, and homeowner's insurance in case something happens to your house, and a carry gun in case you're confronted with a lethal threat.

What that means is a concealed carry gun is a means to counter a specific type of risk, namely that of violent crime and/or threats to your life or that of others.

A conscientious, responsible person knows you don't go looking for trouble. A concealed carry permit isn't a badge. It's a means to save your life if confronted by a lethal threat, not to create one because you have the means to deal with it.

A good guy with a gun doesn't WANT to shoot anybody.

So how do we minimize the chances that we might have to?

You start by understanding what the risks are - i.e. what increases the likelihood you'll encounter violent crime - and managing them accordingly. How you start is by learning what and where they actually are.

All Crime Is Local, So Know Where It Happens Around You

If you read comments on Facebook - most of which are left by people who don't know what they're talking about - you'd get the idea that Chicago is completely crime-ridden. It's happening everywhere; it isn't safe to be in that city at all.

It certainly isn't safe to be quarterback for the Bears!

You'll find similar sentiments echoed about plenty of other US cities. Detroit. St. Louis. Memphis. Baltimore. Cleveland. Oakland.

And - to be fair - if you go by the numbers, those ARE high crime rate cities.

But it isn't actually that simple...is it?

Here's a heat map of crime in Chicago.

As you can see, a lot of crime happens in specific areas; the northwestern, northern and southern areas in particular. Outside of those areas, total crime decreases to isolated incidents.

Here's another one for the city of St. Louis, Miss., using data from the St. Louis Metro PD.

What do we see? We see that crime, again, is very localized; it tends to take place in specific areas. In St. Louis, it's more common in the Granite City, Clayton and Webster Groves districts.

As we can see, the bulk of crime tends to happen in specific areas, and for a variety of reasons.

One of the strongest correlations, of course, is poverty.

We could get into the root causes of poverty and possible ways to address it for the benefit of the rest of society, but that is a very, very big and very, very complicated topic for some other time. For our purposes here, we can therefore understand these ideas:

Crime happens more often in some places than in others. Therefore, you are at less risk of being the victim of a crime if you don't go to those places.

Know, therefore, what those places are, and don't go there. However, if you must, you also know to be more alert.

Other High-Risk Locations

So, we understand then that violent crime on a statistical basis is largely concentrated in specific geographical areas, though it does occur outside of them.

Now, are there any hot spots within the hot spots? Is there a certain type of place where we are more likely to encounter violent crime than others?

As it happens, there is.

If you look at the FBI's Uniform Crime Report data, you see various crimes broken down to their most common location. The table you see is for 2019, the most recent year at the time of this writing for which there is complete data.

Now, we as people who concealed carry must be the most concerned with violent crime.

When it comes to robbery, look at the relationships between the numbers; the locations at which the most robberies occur.

Streets/highways, commercial houses (ie stores), convenience stores, residences and gas stations are the most common. Bank robberies are certainly lurid and make for great movie fodder, but as you can see are not incredibly common.

Of those locations, streets and highways, stores of any kind - or in other words, where commercial activity takes place - and our residences.

What does this tell us? It tells us where we face the most risk of being victimized by violent criminals. In the home, in and around our cars, and in stores.

Furthermore, the UCR also includes a list of reported crimes by city and state, so you can see the towns and cities that report the most amount of crime in each state.

And why is all of this important?

You cannot anticipate when a violent crime is going to happen or who is going to commit it. However, what we CAN do is learn where it's most likely to happen. By learning the hot spots for crime in your area, and where crimes are usually committed, you therefore understand the higher-risk areas.

In other words, you know where not to go...or where you need to pay extra attention if you have to.

From Theory To Application: Minimizing Risks In The Field

After you gain a basic understanding of where crime is more likely to occur in your area - and therefore the ability to learn of where it happens elsewhere, should you have to travel - we then come to learning to minimize risks in the field.

Totally minimizing risks in the field is impossible; there's no way to predict the future or what exactly what person is going to do and when they're going to do it. But what CAN you do?

What you can do is minimize disadvantage by being able to react more quickly. The easiest way to do that is what's called "situational awareness." Pay attention to where you are and what's happening.

That can be the difference between being able to react to something that's starting to happen, rather than having to react to something in-progress. Awareness buys you time, and every bit helps.

Use lines of sight inside buildings. Position yourself to have as much peripheral vision as you can possibly get. Robbers and muggers rely on the element of surprise, so the less you can be surprised the better.

If you're in a high-risk area, don't walk around with your face in your cell phone and music blaring in your headphones. Put the earbuds away, keep the phone in your pocket. Pay attention to other people where you're at. Be alert, but not hyper-vigilant.

Shadows and darkness can conceal someone. Obviously, you can't carry NVGs everywhere with you (well...you can, but boy would that be weird) so the obvious solution is to have a flashlight.

Light up the area around your car in that darkened parking garage. You might never see anything or anyone there...but you also might.

So, if out in the world, be aware, and do everything you can to maximize the amount of information you can take in. The more you're aware of, the better the odds you'll see something starting to happen and be able to react, rather than having to play catch-up.

In the home, make it as hard as possible for someone to get in.

Security film on windows won't stop someone from breaking them totally, but WILL slow them down considerably. An extra 30 to 60 seconds can give you enough time to dial 9-1-1 and prepare to defend yourself.

All exterior doors should have strike plates on the door frame, which should be secured to the framing with 3-inch wood screws. Again, a determined-enough person can get through if they have a sledgehammer...but it will take them extra time.

Having clear lines of sight around the home gives potential robbers and burglars less concealment when they approach. It's easier to get up to a house surrounded by shrubs and arbor vitae.

If you can, consider a video surveillance system.

In other words, be able to see as much as possible, and make it as hard as possible for someone to get into the house when you've locked the doors and otherwise don't want anyone getting in.

That buys you time, and time buys you options, as Jon Correia from Active Self Protection likes to say

Then we come to an aspect that perhaps doesn't get covered enough.

You Have Less Risk If You Don't Engage In Risky Behavior

Another way to minimize personal risk? Don't engage in risky behavior.

People have disagreements all the time. People are affronted, frustrated and otherwise nonplussed by what happens in traffic all the time.

But what shouldn't happen at all is using a gun to settle a dispute, or be emboldened to escalate a dispute or argument by having a gun. A carry permit isn't a badge, and it doesn't mean you are the law unto yourself.

A carry permit is not a permission slip to intimidate others into doing your bidding or to warn them of consequences of your displeasure.

Most people don't need to be told this, but does that keep some people from winding up on the news? No, it does not, and that's how we get people shot and killed over a parking spot. Over what happens in traffic. Over a a mattress in a dumpster.

If you don't have the emotional fitness to not get into heated arguments over pointless crap...you shouldn't have a gun. You shouldn't carry one. And you should get into therapy.

Don't drink and carry. The only instance in which a BAC of 0.01 is not going to make a shooting suspicious is if you were having a few in your own home and someone broke in.

Don't pick fights with people, and don't escalate anything unless escalation is the only way to counter an actual threat. If you're worried about road rage...don't drive like a jerk! Don't tailgate. Let people merge. Don't cut people off.

Be a responsible carrier. Gear that will carry a gun safely and securely isn't too expensive. Don't pocket carry without a pocket holster. Minimize administrative handling outside the home. Don't leave loaded guns in the car.

You can't control what other people do, but you can monitor it so you can react sooner. However, you can control what YOU do. You can't make anyone else not do bad things, but you can keep yourself from doing them.

Minimize the risk you create for yourself, and learn what they are everywhere else. That will go a long way to keeping you from ever having to use your concealed carry gun.

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