Three stories hitting the news—the story of an ex-firefighter, a SWAT police officer, and a neighborhood watch volunteer—offer important lessons for those of us learning self-defense and carrying concealed handguns.
Learning to shoot is important. Learning basic firearms’ safety is important. Knowing the law of when deadly force is appropriate is important. Too often overlooked, though, is assessing our own self-control, temper control, or self-regulation. It’s something most of us take for granted.
Wikipedia.org defines self-regulation as “…controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.” Simply put, we must learn to control our response to our own emotions. We don’t want to respond in a hot-headed fashion when it’s inappropriate.
As I wrote in The Prepper Next Door, great police officers don’t become emotionally entangled in a negative way in a situation. They remain professional. That’s difficult to do when somebody insults you. If a guy feels disrespected, he’s more likely to become aggressive.
According to news reports, one reportedly inebriated SWAT police officer was upset that a fellow patron at a bar was talking loudly on his cell phone. The officer, who wasn’t in uniform, asked the guy to pipe it down. He didn’t. The officer became enraged, and according to what was reported, the officer sucker punched the guy and fled the scene.
Being a member of SWAT, this officer is certainly far better trained in tactics and combat weaponry than the average prepper. But, if what is reported is true, it didn’t matter; his own inability to control his response to anger did him in. Because he didn’t control his temper, he’s facing a slew of problems:
► Criminal prosecution
► Possible civil lawsuit
► Attorney fees to deal with the above
► Possible job loss
That’s a serious price to pay for being annoyed by a cell phone call. The other patron endured multiple brain surgeries. There were no winners in this conflict. Either party could have mitigated the situation. Neither did.
An ex-firefighter too was troubled by noise and decided to confront his apparently drunken neighbor who was having a party. The firefighter, according to reports, had a confrontational personality. In fairness to him, he had repeatedly called police asking for them to deal with the situation, apparently to no avail. The ex-firefighter had a permit to carry a concealed weapon and brought his gun with him. He also juggled calling the police and filming the entire event.
The video, parts of which appeared on various youtube videos, shows neither party tried to mitigate the situation. The ex-firefighter, for his part, drew his gun and shouted “stay back…turn that crap down!” Rather than walking away, he claimed he was “standing his ground.” The neighbor, insinuated he’d get a gun, and said, “You pulled a gun on the wrong mother ….”
In the end, the neighbor was dead and the ex-firefighter was headed to prison. If either party hadn’t felt the need to be such a tough guy, the neighbor wouldn’t be dead and the firefighter would have far better life today.
In the most publicized event, a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, followed somebody he felt was suspicious. Zimmerman had a CCW permit. A shooting ensued. There were no witnesses to the full event. We really don’t know what happened. Whether it was a legitimate case of self-defense depends upon the actual events. At the very least, Zimmerman made a bad judgment to follow this guy. He’s facing a criminal prosecution. The $10,000 question: If Zimmerman hadn’t been armed, would he have been as willing to follow this guy?
In this last case, Zimmerman didn’t appear to have some macho hang-up. According to a news story, he began carrying his pistol after his family repeatedly encountered a loose pit bull. In fairness to the dog, the dog didn’t appear aggressive, but a loose pit bull isn’t something to be taken lightly. After the second encounter with the dog, Zimmerman decided to carry chemical defense spray. After the third encounter, he was advised to get a gun, because defense spray might not work against a dog.
The lesson from the Zimmerman case is that concealed carry permit holders should go out of their way to avoid confrontation. The lesson from the other two cases is that we should realistically assess our own ability to control our response to anger. Being the best shot in the world with significant tactical training is useless if we can’t manage our emotions.