TTAG commentator MikeB302000 believes that a significant portion of American gun owners are irresponsibly aggressive. I would argue that the number of concealed carriers actively looking for trouble is statistically insignificant. Still, point taken. Some gun owners have a worrying “take no prisoners” attitude. That’s not good. (Interestingly, dozens of people have told me they’d never own a gun because they don’t trust themselves not to shoot someone.) Unbridled aggression is never good; the only gunfight you’re guaranteed to win is the one you don’t have. Avoiding confrontation is an excellent way for a concealed carrier to stay alive . . .
The above poster provides an excellent guide for solving conflicts non-violently. It comes from a Quaker perspective; a religion that knows a thing or two about avoiding bloodshed. Let’s take it step by step.
1. Stop. Cool off
Humans are hard-wired for three basic responses to danger: fight, flight or freeze.
Fighting? You could get hurt. Other people too. You could also hurt the wrong person. Police will be involved. Lawyers will be called. Best case scenario: there will be tears before bedtime. Worst case: lights out.
Freezing? Also not good. There is evil in the world. People who sense weakness and exploit it with extreme prejudice. And nothing is quite as weak as a person who is not actively engaged in conflict resolution. In other words, a victim. [Note: Quakers do not advocate victimhood.]
There is a difference between “resolving” a conflict (coming to a mutual agreement) and “solving” a conflict (ending it). As an armed self-defender facing a potentially deadly aggressor or aggressors, you want to “solve” your problem. Leaving the conflict is the quickest, best and easiest solution. Period.
Saying that, cooling off is the key to not getting sucked into a vortex of escalating conflict and suddenly finding yourself in fight or freeze mode. Easier said than done. But nowhere near impossible.
Step 1: Be cool. Avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things. Don’t go to places where conflicts are known to arise (e.g., rough bars). Also, don’t be stupid. If you’re a Yankees fan in a sports bar stuffed to gills with Red Sox devotees, STFU.
Step 2: Stay cool. Exercise. No really. Never mind marksmanship (for a while). Do something that prepares you to cope with high levels of physical, mental and emotional stress. Kick boxing, Yoga, martial arts, meditation, marriage. You get the picture.
2. Talk and listen
Assuming you haven’t left the potential scene of the crime and the conflict isn’t teetering on the abyss, it’s good to talk.
Listen to what the aggressor wants to hear and give it to them. “You know what, you’re right. The Red Sox are better than the Yankees. I just didn’t want to admit it.” “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have taken this parking space. I’ll pull out. It’s all yours.”
How far do you go in your verbal or practical “submission”? As far as possible. It costs you nothing to apologize or agree with someone who’s contemplating (or planning) to do you harm. If you can’t cope with racial, ethnic or personal slurs, you need to check your belief system.
Bottom line: words don’t kill. Or: if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Your problem.
3. Think of ways to solve the problem
Again, leaving, giving up and giving in are excellent strategies. In all cases, de-escalation is the order of the day. Be creative.
When someone called me a dirty kike in a bar, I shrugged my shoulders and bought him a beer (without letting him get within striking distance). You’d be amazed how an offer to buy an aspiring bad guy (and his friends) a drink defuses their aggression.
Distraction is another excellent strategy. “Never mind the Yankees, the Bruins are friggin’ awesome.” If you’re with a group of people, appealing to a non-partisan outsider may also derail confrontation. “Hey John what do you think?”
Humor’s another effective ploy. Ask any “class clown”: a good joke can sometimes knock the wind out of the sails of even the biggest bully. Sometimes.
4. Choosing an idea you both like
Pay VERY close attention to an aggressor’s body language when you attempt to calm them the f down. If one of the above techniques doesn’t work, if there’s time and space, try another. Watch and listen. Are you helping matters or cruising for a bruising?
If someone is really, truly spoiling for a fight, anything you say or do can and will be used against you. If that’s the way it’s going, talking and listening and idea choosing are best used to buy yourself some time to get yourself mentally prepared to defend your life.
Non-violence beats violence all day, every day (until the violence starts). As a gun owner, you have extra incentive to find a way away or out of interpersonal conflict. An armed society is a polite society? Something like that, only on the personal level.