How far are you willing to go to protect yourself, your friends, and loved ones? Many Wisconsinites were quick to apply for a concealed carry permit. Few, however, are prepared for the potential legal battle that could occur should they actually have to shoot an armed criminal.
More than 127,000 concealed carry applications have been turned in as of July 14. Almost 117,000 licenses have been printed since the application process began Nov. 1, 2011. I recently mailed in my application, along with my $50 check and proof of training. I am over the age of 21, and passed the background check. Two weeks later, my permit arrived in the mail.
Considering myself a prudent person, I interviewed a few police officers, a concealed carry trainer, and a lawyer. I won't carry yet because I am not ready. Packing heat is a big responsibility and must be taken seriously. Skillful shooting is just one element – you also have to be prepared for the legal battle that could, and probably will, follow should you ever pull the trigger. All new concealed carriers should fully understand the dynamic of pulling the trigger.
Which Class to Choose?
Even though I had already taken hunters safety and a basic pistol shooting class, I still intend on taking a concealed carry class.
Type "concealed carry class" into a search engine and dozens of options will appear. Deciding on a class can be confusing. I spoke with a Department of Justice concealed carry instructor responsible for training many active SWAT team members. It is best to find a class lead by a lawyer, or police officer who can convey a full understanding of the legality of carrying a concealed firearm. Classes offered by a technical school and local police departments are thorough. Be sure to do research on the instructor's background and the class curriculum.
Hands-on training is a good idea, even if you have years of shooting experience. Defensive shooting is a whole new world.
I brushed up on my shooting skills with a few members of my local police department. The sound of my .45 bullet ringing the steel silhouette target was music to my safely muffled ears. We shot at multiple adversaries while talking about the new law and the effect it has on police officers. Imagine dedicating your life as a police officer and training for countless hours to stop armed criminals. Then overnight thousands of citizens turn in their concealed carry applications and are approved to carry just like police officers a few weeks later.
It's no surprise that many officers support the right to carry and the Second Amendment, but most of them believe more should have been written into the law about the training requirements. Specifically, hands-on training.
"There are so many things to consider before carrying a deadly weapon that most people do not think about," said one officer. "We are trained on techniques to avoid pulling a weapon in the first place. Deadly force is the last option."
Could you actually take a life if the situation occurs? If you pull your gun in a life-threatening situation, prepare yourself to take the villain out. Don't count on firing at their knee caps, or shooting the gun out of their hands, like you see in the movies. There have been studies done; it does not work. If you're going to shoot, be prepared to make a lethal shot and be quick on the draw.
Your weapon has to be accessible. Operation should be second nature. Some holsters seem like a great idea, but can be cumbersome when it comes to actually using them. Practice pulling the pistol in and out of your holster in different positions before firing. Many ranges do not allow this, so you might have to practice drawing from a holster elsewhere. Accuracy comes with practice. Even expert shooters' skills can weaken without training. Muscle memory deteriorates and physical changes with eyesight can occur. To save money, certain guns have conversion kits to shoot smaller loads.
Bigger is always better, but location of the bullet trumps everything. A .45 could be emptied into an armed criminal, but if you don't hit a vital organ, the criminal can persevere, and win. What good is a handgun if you can't shoot accurately? Picture the family having to plan your funeral, or taking an innocent bystander's life if your bullet goes astray. Now, if you are accurate and take out a criminal, you have another battle on your hands – a legal battle. This was the part I was most interested in.
To legally fire at a bad guy, you must have reasonable cause that your life was in immediate danger. If you are going to practice concealed carry, it's best to have a good lawyer lined up well before you need one.
Picking a Good Lawyer
Not having a good lawyer is the first common mistake one can make. Having good representation in court can save you a great deal of money. Responsible armed citizens can spend their entire life savings in court making their case.
How does one pick a good lawyer? First, ask if they practice concealed carry. What previous experience do they have, and have they ever represented someone in a concealed carry case?
I learned a great deal from Paul Bucher, who served as the district attorney of Waukesha County for a record term of 28 years. He now practices law in Delafield at Bucher Law Group, LLC. Even if you did everything correctly, civil liability exists, he said.
"Bad guys like to sue people," said Bucher.
Undoubtedly, a criminal investigation will be held, and there will be fees to pay. According to Bucher, there are steps to take if you have to pull the trigger:
- Establish reasonable cause (objectively and subjectively).
- If possible, call 911 and leave the phone open.
- Verbalize "I have a gun, get away, get down, I will shoot you."
- Take cover, beware of other villains.
- Tell 911 what happened.
- Call your lawyer.
Bucher put reasonable cause into perspective. Objectively, was your act reasonable? Will others think deadly force was reasonable? Would others perform the same way based on the environment and situation? Subjectively, did you really think your life was in danger? Hopefully, your split-second decision-making skills are up to par. By the way, do you have self-defense insurance? Your homeowners insurance does not cover anything if a gun is shot intentionally. By contrast, most policies will cover accidental gun shots. Only a select number of self-defense insurance companies exist. The insurance will only cover instances when the defendant is found not guilty.
No one ever expects to get mugged, raped, or assaulted. Crimes happen every day in America; I don't care where you live. It is naive to believe malicious crimes are rare. Concealed carry is not just a choice, but it's also a lifestyle. It's our Second Amendment right, but hopefully armed citizens understand the risk involved. Once you take down the criminal, the nightmare is not over. Soon I will be confident in my pistol shooting skills, a ruthless lawyer will be on speed dial and self-defense insurance will be included in my yearly budget.
You know the old saying: Would you rather be tried by 12, or carried by six?
For more information visit http://www.doj.state.wi.us/dles/cib/ConcealedCarry/ConcealedCarry.asp.
The article is from Wisconsin Outdoor News.
For more information visit www.outdoornews.com/wisconsin