You might wonder what the above confrontation has to do with you. The obvious lesson: if someone draws a gun on you, it’s best to run, comply, de-escalate and/or attack. If you’re going to charge a guy with a gun, don’t wait for an engraved invitation. Here’s something else to keep in mind: if it’s the other way around, if you’re aiming a gun at someone in self-defense, do not expect compliance. If someone is f’ed-up enough to want to threaten you or your loved ones with death or grievous bodily harm they are more than likely ready, willing and able to take swift and immediate violent action against your lethal threat. Can of worms opening time . . .
For this reason, some armed self-defenders are dead set against brandishing. “If my gun’s coming out, I’m shooting.” The logic is simple enough. They’re not going to unholster their gun unless they’re in life-threatening danger AND imminence is imminent. In other words, the gun’s out because bad shit’s going down. If BS is going down the bad guy’s going down. Period.
I used to ascribe to this GOS (Gun Out Shoot) philosophy. Like many armed citizens, I was afraid I’d be paralyzed by fear in a self-defense situation. I wouldn’t shoot. Or shoot fast enough. The GOS is binary; it removes the pressure to process information in a crisis. So I adopted the GOS philosophy and ignored the mentally muddling middle ground.
Not to go all S.E. Hinton, that was then, this is now. I now understand that a defensive gun use (DGU) is a messy business: a volatile, inherently chaotic situation where I must try to combine training (a.k.a., muscle memory) with strategic thinking.
Not only can the threat change dramatically between unholstering and aiming, but my perception of what’s going on may also alter. Ask a lawyer: shooting when you shouldn’t shoot is just as big a danger as not shooting when you should.
Committing to GOS locks the concealed carry defender into a course of action which may get his or her ass killed. If nothing else, it could distract the good guy from thinking about his or her prime directive (leave). A decision is only as good as the information upon which it is based; an armed citizen in the middle of a self-defense shit-storm needs to keep ye olde OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) spinning.
And that means a well-trained concealed carrier has to live with—and prepare for—uncertainty. Who knows what’s going to happen in a DGU? Not you. Which is why I bring my gun out of the holster with my finger off the trigger. Ready to fire. Ready not to fire.
Bottom line: when you brandish a gun, you’re asking a question: will my attacker (or attackers) stop threatening me? If they cease and desist, legally, morally, strategically and financially, you should hang fire. If they keep coming, chocks away. But you won’t know which way it’s going to go until you draw your firearm. And maybe not even then.
No matter what happens or doesn’t happen, unholstering your gun and expecting (i.e. waiting for) some sort of compliance is a terrible idea. Brandishing is the beginning of a DGU. Not the end. Even when it is.