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A number of readers have sent this picture in to TTAG central, obviously taken in the immediate aftermath of one of the explosions in Boston today. As one reader comments, “Although not related to website content directly, Boston cops apparently clear leather in reaction to blast. Good idea for CCWers to NOT do so in similar situations.” In other words, keep your powder dry until you know what’s going on. Good advice?

107 Responses to Question of the Day: Do You Know When Not to Draw?

  1. I choose not to carry because of the risks, namely drawing at the wrong time and going to jail for it. I’d rather not have to explain myself and why I did what I did, or lose control of the weapon to an attacker.

    In Massachusetts, we don’t have Stand Your Ground so you need to be extremely careful with drawing/shooting in public.

        • Having neither ever been dead or in prison (yet), I’m gonna go with “dead”. But revision is always an option, I suppose.

        • I’d rather be dead than spend 10+ years in prison, but that’s just me.

          You say that as if those are the only options. They’re not — which is why we choose to carry and you choose to be a victim.

        • how about a situation like in Georgia, Unarmed woman robbed, shot in the leg and her sleeping infant shot in the face, killed in his sleep…

          I have to wonder how often she says:
          ‘If I only would have had a gun…’

          Sometimes, you are forced to live with your decisions… alone.

        • Please explain how choosing not to carry makes me a victim when I’ve never needed a gun so far?

          I’m all for people carrying, you seem to be angry if people don’t. Why? That makes no sense, it’s a choice.

          Also, bringing up a home defense situation has no bearing considering I’m talking about carrying in public.

        • Choosing NOT to take action is still a decision. You have the right to choose NOT to carry; I just hope you don’t expect someone to save you if and when it hits the fan. And exactly how is stating an opinion being “angry”?

          I’ve always loved the rationale that “I’ve never needed a gun, so I never will.”. It’s akin to “I only carry when I think I’ll need to.”. Where can I get one of those crystal balls?

      • +1 but step 1 should always be…

        Seek cover. Then asses the situation. Your first instinct should never be to slap leather.

      • Explain how stating my opinion about how I choose not to carry is trolling. Do you even know what trolling is?

        I forgot, having any opinion different than the hivemind is verboten. My bad.

        • Guess the thread is past, but I for one won’t give you grief about your decision not to carry. As long as someone else doesn’t try to limit the self-defense options of others, they have a right to make their own choices in this regard. I hope you never need the weapon you don’t carry, but that is an individual choice as you say.

          As long as children are not involved. When an adult is responsible for protecting kids, it gets a bit more complicated. As in the case of the baby that was deliberately shot in the face because the mother didn’t have any money to give two scumbag murderers:

          http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/22/us/georgia-baby-killed/index.html

          That happened in broad daylight, on the street, in a peaceful neighborhood. I talked about this with my daughters. Both already shoot occasionally and are comfortable with guns. But after this incendent, both are determined that if something like this happens to them, they will not be powerless like poor Sherry West. I see their decision as the only sane response to this insane act.

    • We don’t have stand your ground in Wis. either. We have a good DA though. George Z had stand your ground…. Randy

    • Nate, I think what people are trying to say (admittedly quite badly) is that based on the available stats, your need to defend yourself (in public), while probably quite small, is still vastly larger than you doing it wrong and going jail. At the very least, take some firearms self-defense training before making such assumptions (if you haven’t already).

      Yeah, it’s a tough crowd here, and we’re all a little on edge lately, with a lot of justification. Please take that into consideration when evaluating the perceived tone here.

  2. It depends on your state laws.

    Typically not unless your life (and in some states the life of another) is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.

    Police operate under a different set of laws. Don’t go by what they are allowed to do or what you see on cops.

    Check your state laws.

  3. It was one guy.

    The simple fact that he ran towards an explosion instead of away from it shows he is probably the guy you want to come and help you if you were hurt, even if he is carrying a gun.

  4. I wouldn’t say the cop was wrong to unholster, but the photo illustrates why I embrace the CONCEALED part of concealed. In a crazy situation like this anyone with a gun will be treated suspiciously at the very least.

  5. Never draw until you have identified a real and tangible threat. Of course, in everyday life, that’s what being aware of your surroundings is all about. Obviously an explosion is something totally unexpected, and takes you that much time to process and identify it as such. The cop on the other hand is acting out of his training without thinking. While it probably was not necessary, it was what it was.

  6. The thought popped in my mind “The rules are different if you’re Sasquatch” which I know is a quote from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. But, then I remembered that there was a bomb scare in 2007 in Boston when placards advertising a movie based on this show were mistaken for improvised explosive devices.

    So, the local PD is all over blinking signs that look like a meatball but a Saudi with two backpacks doesn’t turn heads. Good thing we don’t profile.

    Anyhow, back to Sasquatch. I talked to a cop once that said he pulled his gun probably a couple times a week. I would have thought that you’d pull it maybe that many times in a career. They use is as a show of force which ,agree or disagree, is completely anathema to a CCWer.

    • +10 for dragging in Sasquatch in a totally incongruous manner!! It’s a mind-blower, and, because of that, BEST POST OF THE DAY!!!

    • So, the local PD is all over blinking signs that look like a meatball but a Saudi with two backpacks doesn’t turn heads. Good thing we don’t profile.

      There was another incident in Boston where an MIT electrical engineering student got arrested at the airport because she had rigged LEDs into her t-shirt.

      Hollywood is to blame for this. Protip: In the real world, LEDs are neither necessary for, nor indicative of, an explosive device.

  7. To be fair to the officer, if I was carrying in the line of duty, my first thought would be to go to condition 1. There are a lot of situations where the bomb is just a distraction before the real threat shows up. It’s practically straight out of the IFNAH handbook.

  8. Even if you hate cops if they are on the scene in your vicinity there absolute no reason for you to immediately draw your weapon. That is what we pay them for. And pwrserge is correct. Seek cover and get the hell out of the way. You only draw if a bad guy is coming toward your position.

    • Wrong. There is nothing wrong with a uniformed officer going into low ready until they determine the situation is safe.

        • You entirely miss the point.

          I once saw a definition of a “buff.” A buff is someone who can tell you everything about the M-1 but didn’t have the foggiest idea what WWII was about.

          I expect that you take this literally further proving that you are clueless

        • I don’t think anyone has misread anything but rather picked up on the anti-cop sentiment this site has. Yes, the texts reads CCWers but the photo shows police drawing after the explosion. It is misleading and states all it needs to in a thousand words as they say. Its a stupid post and frankly it insults the intelligence of many CCWers out there. Know when to draw? HUR! When you as the CCWer or someone you love or are close to (physically, literally even) is in immediate, life threatening danger. This is basic ‘I own a gun’ shit. The fact that there are not thousands a day arrested for brandishing states how pointless this post was.

  9. For the police to draw as they approach an explosion site is SOP in places that deal with terror regularly.

    This attack seems to have followed classic doctrine. Set off one bomb, then after that herds the crowd in the right direction or first responders show up, set off a second, larger one.

    Another method is to wait for first responders to show up and then start shooting them. Which is why a tactical approach with weapons out is advisable. If you are LEO. Otherwise, get out of Dodge pronto: you are at risk from perps and friendlies alike.

  10. Definitely best to assess the situation before you draw, but sometimes instinct and training takes over.

    In Afghanistan, an IED blast was often used to initiate a small arms ambush. Created a casualty, assault the distracted element, increase the chance of the casualty dying.

    Not as likely of a scenario on the streets of Boston, but sometimes training and experience take over. I won’t fault the cop for drawing at all, thats his training, and it is definitely the right thing to do. When shots fail to ring out, holster up and start applying tourniquets.

    As a civilian, you present less of a target. A complex assault will target uniformed first responders. Stay low, seek cover, assess the situation. When shots fail to ring out, start applying tourniquets.

    I carry a CAT tourniquet at all times just because of this shit. Being a responsible gun owner means being a responsible human too.

  11. Bombs go off, people are killed, others are wounded, women are screaming in fear, cops are running around trying to figure out what’s happening –under those circumstances, the first LTC-er to pull leather is the first guy to get shot.

    tdiinva pretty much handed down the gospel. “Seek cover and get the hell out of the way. You only draw if a bad guy is coming toward your position.”

  12. Weird. I just made a comment yesterday about wondering if any CC holders drew their gun at a gun show after a display gun fired when someone picked it up and pulled the trigger.

  13. wonder if the combat response to an IED overseas is to draw the weapon in case the ambush is followed up?

    If so, the reaction would indicate recent service.

    for the rest of us, seeking cover and identify any threat would be good. no point in drawing if there is no threat and you are under cover for the moment.

  14. I’m pro gun all the way. But man this tread post is just poor taste. You make you such an expert? Everyone in the gun community acts like they are such tatical experts. It’s really turning me off. I really am thinking about a new hobby. Gonna put my EDC pistol on the shelve and taking my NRA sticker off my car and gonna replace it with a fishing sticker or something. I’m so tired of being around self-righteous tatical-cool biggots. You weren’t there, you don’t know if guys where gonna pop out of windows ad start shooting so there doesn’t need to be a debate of to pull or not to pull. Wow.

    • Regulus, it sounds like you’d like to give a counterpoint to this story. In order to do so effectively, I’d suggest proofreading for spelling and grammar. Failing to do so makes it too easy for people to dismiss your post as that of a raving [FLAME DELETED].

      P.S.: Rob, that one’s on me. 😉

    • Did you read the article? The question was not: should the cop have drawn his gun or not? It was: do you, as a CCP holder, know when to draw and when to keep it holstered? As a police officer, it’s okay for him to draw. A bomb followed by small arms fire is SOP for pretty much all terrorist organizations. However, CCP holders in the crowd would be stupid to draw, because they’d be the first ones shot by the police.

      That was the point of this article, to get people talking about when to draw or not. If you shoulder the responsibility of carrying a gun every day, then you should also be giving lots of thought to when you should or should not draw. Putting yourself in hypothetical scenarios such as this one will help if you are ever actually thrown into a chaotic situation where you need to start making life or death decisions.

  15. I don’t like a lot of what cops do nowadays, but this isn’t one of them. When a series of bombs detonate in a crowded place causing maiming and death to scores of people, I expect the cops nearby to have their weapons drawn immediately until they determine that they might be okay to reholster. That’s their job and I expect them to do it.

    • This is the pic I saw, in which you can see that the officer on the left is female, and that her finger is properly indexed. In a wide shot taken from the bridge, from this site, you can see that this photo was taken at the moment the second bomb went off. The guy in the red shirt is the old man across from the first explosion who stumbles and falls.

  16. LEOs: Draw and look for further threats.
    Civilian: Look for further threats while attempting to GTFO. I’d only draw if someone started shooting and was in my immediate vicinity. The rationale for carrying diminishes in a highly LEO saturated area, but you still need to get there and get home.

    YMMV.

    • +1

      It’s a shame to all these comments condemning them for being ready. A drawn gun can react much faster than a holstered one.

      • agreed, glad the arm chair commandos came out in full force today to really live up to the stereotype of gun owners that those of us who have a brain are trying to overcome.

  17. As the story above this one highlights: GTFO is job one, always and forever. Get you and yours out of danger ASAFP. Never lose sight of that goal, even when you are removing obstacles to said goal. If there are threats that must be dealt with, please do not forget that dealing with threats is not your job; getting yourself and your loved ones to safety is. Eliminate the immediate threats and avoid the others on your way out of Dodge.

    • Same lesson from Beslan, per Col Grossman:
      Get out fast, and don’t follow the crowd- in order to break thru a cordon herding them to a second blast, or a containment area.

      If CCW, don’t draw until positively ID threat, and that only after loved ones are clear. Until then, hands off weapon, or at best on grip only.
      High likelihood of blue on blue otherwise.

    • Wow, Ralph! At your age you are still able to differentiate a guy from a gal? I hope I’m that lucky when I’m as long in the tooth! 😉

  18. While it may be good advise for the average CCWer I think the main point of this post is to yet again poke some fun at the police.

    Frankly if a bomb just went off and all the police around me didn’t clear leather I’d be terrified. It would indicate that they were in on it and knew something was going to happen – hence the uncanny calm, which these guys don’t have – Thank God.

    I’d also like to add that this site has lost a lot of ‘taste’ in the recent months. Both from the OPers and the commenters. And that doesn’t bode well for us level headed folk who like our rights.

  19. It was a bomb…not a gun shot…you can’t shoot an explosion. It was irresponsible for those cops to draw…and as a CCW holder, I wouldn’t draw at that type of situation until I knew their was a threat that drawing could be a step toward stopping the threat…no point in drawing if there is nothing that you can shoot to stop a threat.

  20. Stories out of the bombing of our Marine barracks in Lebanon included terrorists walking past after the explosion, lifting rifles out of their tunics, shooting at the wounded and those trying to help.

    Other scenarios involve things as simple as fire alarms to evacuate buildings and get lots of vulnerable targets out in the open.

    Situational awareness is everything, and these cops did it right. If you’re a CCW holder, you want to be very aware, and not do anything unnecessary to make the cops think you’re part of the problem.

  21. “not do anything unnecessary to make the cops think you’re part of the problem.'”

    during something like this, I would think this to be the #1 consideration above and beyond getting your family out of there.

  22. Nothing to see here. I think you would be an idiot NOT to draw in a situation like that (if you are cop).

    • Yeah, it is kind of a no brainer. Why this thread was posted is beyond me. That or someone thinks a lot less of our intelligence than we know.

  23. Honestly, I read the initial post and it comes off in a tone that condemns the officers in the picture for drawing weapons I think it’s the “Boston cops apparently clear leather in reaction to blast.” That makes it sound like the officers acted inappropriately, which they most definitely did not. I don’t know if the post was meant to come across that way Mr. Zimmerman but I don’t think I am alone in being rubbed the wrong way by it.
    Unfortunately a lot of the internet “operators” seem to think they could have done a better job, and rather than focusing on the intended topic of “what should a concealed weapon carrier do” the focus in a lot of the comments from the peanut gallery has been “cops suck and are stupid for drawing a weapons in response to an explosion”.
    I would hope out of respect for those involved in the situation today this post and related comments get removed. The officers involved are going to have enough to try to deal with in the coming days, weeks, and years because of the crap storm they went through and saw today without being criticized by unintelligent contributors to this site.

  24. Carry concealed and ignore any “law” that says you can’t. Should you be faced with the remote misfortune of being sent to prison (for a jury failing to exonerate you for wasting a bunch of cops that have violated your rights)…have your doctor get you all the “good” meds and a cozy hospital bed with special diet. It’s not vacationing at Staad, but close and your time will go by swimmingly. Stay out of general population.

  25. dang, why are we all being jerks to one another?
    let’s just chillax and exchange ideas and opinions (no matter how conflicting) in a polite, civilized manner.

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