I frequently hear co-workers tell me they do not carry a gun away from work for various reasons. These reasons range from simply being lazy or the gun being “uncomfortable” to stating that they wouldn’t want to involve their family in something so they leave the gun at home. Despite Emeryville (CA) Police Chief’s claim that guns aren’t a defensive weapon, the National Crime Victimization Survey and National Survey of Private Ownership of Firearms indicate that Americans use firearms to defend themselves between 108,000 to 1.5 million times a year. Additionally, according to the NCVS, resisting violent crime with a firearm is the most effective form of self defense resulting in the least amount of injury to the victim, including resisting with pepper spray, mace, hands/feet, or even being completely compliant.

Having a pistol on me doesn’t force me or my family to get involved should an incident happen. However, it gives me options. If at all possible, I won’t intervene and simply be a good witness. BUT, as LAPD Metro D-Platoon veteran and well renowned firearms instructor Scotty Reitz has put it, if some cretin intends to use violence on me, I want to have some input into the decision on whether or not I live or die. Having a firearm on me gives me a bit of choice in the matter. Living in Southern California, the sad reality is that the likelihood of a “good guy with a gun” being there when a criminal or psychopath decides to use violence on me or innocent citizens is low. Since I am legally able to carry a gun, I consider it my responsibility to my friends and family to carry a gun, despite the fact it is not very comfortable and that I have to dress around it.

Incidents where armed intervention by off-duty officers or citizens saved lives are not hard to find. In December 2011, a crazed gunman began shooting motorists in a busy area in Hollywood. An off duty officer and a plain clothes detective were able to intervene and stop the shooter before he could hurt anyone else. In February 2012, a gunman drove his car into a church parking lot in Aurora, CO and began shooting church-goers killing two of them. An off duty police officer shot and killed the active shooter, saving countless lives. The active shooter at the Clackamas Town Center in Oregon was deterred by an armed citizen, likely causing him to turn the gun on himself. There are many, many more stories like this that go unreported.

MagPul Dynamics Instructor and military special operations veteran Jon Canipe wrote an excellent article over at Soldier Systems on why everyone should carry a gun if they have that option. It’s all about risk management. As many before me have stated, better have and not need, than the other way around.

The question has come up, should you carry a gun if it is not legal in your area? Again, this is about risk management. In my estimation, unless you are out looking for trouble, for most people it is generally more likely you will encounter law enforcement than find yourself in a situation where you need to use deadly force. Therefore it doesn’t make sense (and isn’t good practice, in general) to violate the law.

I agree with Jon Canipe that we must do our best to take action and change the laws that prohibit law abiding citizens from having the most effective tools for self defense.

In the meantime, check out Jon’s article at the following link. It is a worthwhile read.


This entry was posted in Training by Tim Lau. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tim Lau

Tim Lau has over a decade of experience as an end user, armorer and instructor. He has worked for several well known firearms training organizations, and holds multiple firearms instructor certifications. He owns and operates 10-8 Consulting, LLC, which provides industry consulting services as well as marksmanship and specialized firearms training to qualified civilian, law enforcement and military personnel.

8 thoughts on “WHY CARRY A GUN?

  1. I agree, I carry because of the option of having vs. not having if the SHTF. My state is pretty red, gun laws are very favorable to the gun owner and carrier. I will feel a bit sorry for those in NY, Cali and other states that will continue to restrict the ability of its citizens from owning/carrying a firearm.

  2. Let me add that this article was written in the context of CONCEALED CARRY. Open carry is tactically unsound, and just begs a predator to take you out first. It is a silly way to make a political statement and puts you in unnecessary jeopardy.

  3. Tim
    Good article and hopefully thought provoking for those who don’t carry. Personally I carry anytime I leave my house. I’m making slow progress with some of my fellow officers, but find the same excuses you mentioned. I teach my students that a handgun is a threat management tool. If you don’t have the tools your options are limited. If we could pick the day we’d be in a shooting, I’m sure we would all stay home that day.

  4. Well stated.

    Off-duty I have needed my handgun several times over the course of my 26 years as a cop, in a number of cities. In none of these incidents was I, as stated by John Farnam, going stupid places and doing stupid things with stupid people. I carry my pistol/s everywhere, because bad people go to “nice” places too.

  5. If a handgun is not a defensive weapon why do his officers carry them? Twerp.

    • He states that they are used by officers to “do their job in a safe and efficient manner” and to “face any opposition”. What he means, I have no idea.

  6. In as far as carrying off duty…yesterday in our little city of Indianapolis, it appears two teens
    1) stole a car
    2) drove into a neighborhood on the south side of the city and murdered a guy pulling out of his own driveway
    3) drove to the far northwest side of the city (guesstimate of 20 miles) where they shot another guy who was walking his dog. He will survive.

    Now who would have thought that they needed to be armed while walking a dog?

  7. I’ve never worked for an organization that prohibited off-duty carry, but while not mandating it, at least allowed you to carry something approved. Over the years, I have heard a number of excuses for not carrying:

    1) having a gun is likely to get you into trouble.

    2) don’t want to bring a gun into a bar or place where alcohol is served.

    3) If the department wants me to carry off-duty, they should issue me something that I can carry off-duty.

    4) Just not that much into guns.

    I’ve been carrying off-duty for 22 years thus far, and still haven’t gotten into trouble or had any issues. I was made twice off the clock early in my career. Nothing ultimately came of either incident, but I’m glad I had the tools to defend myself if it came down to that. I’m waiting for a competent civilian CCW holder to safe an off-duty noncarrying cop’s bacon and see what kind of ripple that makes.

Comments are closed.