road rage finger bird
This is not a good deescalation technique. (Shutterstock)
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A good concealed carry course should shock you a little bit. Many students go into a class thinking they’re getting training that could possibly make them a hero, and as TTAG and the NRA-ILA regularly point out, this does actually happen. But, we also have to face the ugly reality that things can also go horribly wrong.

You can do everything right, but end up spending years in prison…like Harold Fish. As one off-duty California police sergeant learned the hard way, innocent people can die in an avoidable gunfight. Or, confused police can mistake you for the bad guy and kill you.

At the end of a good training course, you should come away with a balanced attitude and mindset. You should have the determination not only to survive, but to prevail over evil. You should at least walk away with a foundation of fundamental shooting and defensive skills that you can build upon at the range and with more training.

But you also need to know when to fight and when to deescalate a situation, or maybe even retreat and head for the nearest exit with your loved ones.

Even the best training by the best instructors is only good to the student as far as they actually learn from it. Paying minimal attention, passing a written test, and then promptly forgetting what you’ve temporarily learned gains you nothing but a piece of paper you can use to apply for a permit.

The responsibility for doing the right thing still rests firmly on your shoulders, regardless of whether you live in a state that requires training for a permit or one with constitutional carry.

A recent tragedy in Florida shows us that carrying a gun without good training and a balanced mindset can cost you your life.

Before I go further, I want to point out that this shooting is still under investigation and more facts could emerge. What the ghostly voice on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland says is also true: “Dead men tell no tales.”

The story I’m going to share is based on current reporting. The point is to review a situation we can learn from and not to defame anybody or play politics.

Not the First Time

We don’t know what John Kuczwanski’s training background was. To get his piece of Florida plastic, he might have showed proof of a basic NRA course, hunter’s education, or proof of military service (none of these necessarily mean you know much beyond which end the bullets come out from). But, for all we know, he could have had extensive training from the best shooting schools available.

What we do know is that in 2014 Kuczwanski made a very bad call that would cause any instructor worth their salt to plant palm on forehead. In the course of some sort of altercation, he pulled out a pistol with a laser sight and took aim at another driver.

Doing this can be justified in some circumstances, but if that’s the case, your best bet is to contact the police immediately and report the other person’s threatening behavior so that you aren’t reported first by the other party and seen as an aggressor.

Kuczwanski didn’t do any of that, and when police were called, they tracked him down. They found him sitting in his car in his driveway with a gun matching the description the other driver gave.

With something as specific as a laser sight, the other driver’s story holds a lot of credibility. This arrest led to a conviction for which he served several years of probation. Kuczwanski was an otherwise law-abiding citizen, and well-respected in the community, so the court didn’t slap him with a felony or prison time. He couldn’t possess a firearm legally while on probation, but that ended in 2018 and things went back to normal for him.

From the current reporting, Kuczwanski apparently learned nothing from the 2014 incident.

At the same intersection where he drew the gun in 2014, Kuczwanski reportedly caused a relatively minor traffic accident. Kuczwanski and the driver of a Prius that he struck drove to a nearby parking lot, probably to exchange information and dial 911.

The other driver reportedly verbally accosted the Kuczwanski for causing the accident and then sat in his car to wait for police to arrive. Sources familiar with the investigation told Florida Politics that Kuczwanski was so enraged at being screamed at over the accident that he . . .

…rammed his BMW into the Prius on the driver’s door, and began pushing the car sideways in the parking lot. Then, he reportedly pulled out a pistol and began shooting rounds into the Prius.

At that point, the Prius driver pulled out his own gun and shot through the BMW’s windshield, killing Kuczwanski and stopping the attack.

Police examined the evidence and later released the Prius driver without charges, likely because it appeared to support the Prius driver’s claim of self-defense.

What We Can Learn Here

Assuming everything that’s been reported is correct, and Kuczwanski wasn’t assassinated (as his wife has claimed), it looks like a situation that a few deep breaths and maybe a quick prayer could have prevented. We all get angry sometimes, and no one likes getting their ass chewed, but responding with deadly force to some foul language and a finger-wagging isn’t a good idea.

If you have a history of losing it with people like the driver of the Prius some kind of help is probably warranted. Therapy, talking with clergy at your church, or taking up meditation are all good ways to get more control over your impulses and be a better person.

A good instructor will also tell you about things like resting heart rate, verbal Judo, deescalation techniques, and other tactics that are useful in situations such as these. Talking about religion, prayer, and/or Buddhist-style meditation might not be popular with some, but they’re all proven ways of keeping your resting heart rate low and improving your mental well-being.

On the other side, it’s not a great idea to chew out a stranger over an honest mistake on the road. You never know how that someone might react. They could lose it — as Kuczwanski apparently did — and get violent. Then things can spiral from there, as they seem to have in this case.

Once again, taking the high road and forgiving people (another thing you can pick up at any house of worship) is not only good, but could keep you out of trouble and even save lives.

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  1. Verbal judo. In the seminary I learned to recognize that when someone becomes aggressive, that person is in crisis. Understanding that stress, and calming my own, speaking with respect, even caring, can diffuse the situation. This is what hostage negotiators do. HOWEVER, once that person points a gun at me, the conversation is over and the fight has begun, assuming I am in a position to defend myself. If not, words may be all I have to use.

    • Verbal judo is something I’m seriously going to look into. De-escalating a petty conflict seems very important, unfortunately.

    • The only verbal judo I know how to use is STFU. The only physical judo is GTFO. It’s hard to paint someone as an aggressor when he refuses to argue with the other guy and backs away from him.

  2. Mindset, before/during/after the fight is just as important as your marksmanship. This is self-defense in everyday interactions, not Fallout or GTA. Judging by this guys attitude (and choice in car brand), I wager he was a ‘gunz for me, not for thee’.

    It also important to let go of your ego and remember you’re not the only one carrying a piece.

    • Jesus, from the sound of this report that evil Prius may have scratched an actual BMW! The horror! There should be a law!

    • “The Prius deserved it.”

      A Prius in general, yes.

      That Prius, that incident, no.

      BMW driver clips Prius, both cars pull into a parking lot. Prius owner gets out and confronts the BMW driver, then gets back into Prius.

      Apparently the BMW’s driver took umbrage at the gall of the Prius driver, and decided to ‘teach him a lesson’ and ram his BMW into the Prius, then draw and fire into the Prius. Good shoot on the Prius driver’s part.

      I would like to thank Ms. Sensiba and TTAG for publishing this. If I’m in a crash, I’ll now just stay in my vehicle, call 911, and keep an eye out for a potentially-enraged other driver or passenger in the driver’s vehicle…

  3. I hope all you expert writers get to test yourselves one day. Can’t wait till another writer critiques you too

  4. “The responsibility for doing the right thing still rests firmly on your shoulders, regardless of whether you live in a state that requires training for a permit or one with constitutional carry.”

    The training required for getting a license to carry is NOT training. It is an introductory to the law and to being able to safely carry. It is not meant to be anything more than an intro. A state being considered “constitutional carry” has nothing to do with anything.

    This is like being considered a Formula1 driver as soon as you get your drivers license as a teenager.

    There are are kinds of training that can be had. Much of it does come at a cost. Spending time at the range is part of this.


    • n.texas…Do you SHOUT when ordering a burger at a drive through? HOLD THE L,T. ONE LARGE FRY AND A MEDIUM COKE..GIVME ONE OF THEM THERE APPLE PIES. Just think…All of N. Texas knows what you had for lunch and 99 9/10% of them do not want to know and wish to never know…C’Mon On Man.

    • i think this was your best post so far.
      i hope you can hear me. my boss calls me a lower case person.
      but it’s only true for electro format.

      • @ Reply to tsbhoa.p.jr. > I just received a email yesterday actually referencing what a “lower case person” is…..oh I wish I could post it, but I’d catch holy hell from the politically correct people!

    • NTexas was in artillery guys, back when ear pro was clapping your hands to your head. Give him a break.
      Semper Fiesta FTA

  6. There’s an old joke about porcupines and Bmw’s. Boils down to the bmw having all its pricks on the inside.

    I drive a lot of beemers at the auction. European cars do not impress me.

    • I thought that joke was ,,,,,
      If she had more ‘bms’ sticking out of her then in her she’d look like a porcupine.

    • that’s not trolling with a broad brush, that’s using a trawler’s seine net.
      i’ll never get something built in auburn, indiana.
      i could maybe swing a kenosha caddillac.
      i worked on beemers in the eighties. grew to hate them.
      loved romping them around though.

      • An 80’s 318i is loads of fun to throw in a sweeping curve… 😉

    • When another car hits your car, verbally assault them before killing them? And you walk. Interesting lesson.

  7. A recent tragedy self defense shooting in Florida shows us that carrying a gun without good training and a balanced mindset attempting to murder your fellow citizen after you cause a car crash can cost you your life.

  8. First mistake , Drove to a nearby parking lot.
    If it drives fly it, cops get involved , no DL, proof of insurance , gunms in car, half a bottle of Jack Black.
    No siree Bob, the shooting starts when the car dont start.

  9. Soooo…have yer chit together? Got it. I’ve had that for a helluva long time. How do places like Indiana not have nonstop bloodbaths every day? They require NO training.

      • Training? To practice a civil right?

        That makes *you* the douche… 🙁

        • Geoff the Florida Pervert is the biggest ‘joke’ on TTAG, and that’s really saying something lol 🖕🤡.

        • I just *love* the way my personal punch-toy shows up for me kick his non-existent testicles all the way up into his sinuses.

          Dance, troll! I order you to dance again! 😉

  10. This is exactly the kind of thing anti gun voters worry about. And they’re not wrong. An asshole will yell and scream and carry on. Arm that same asshole and things can go sideways fast.

    Especially if that same asshole has the attitude that he’s has to be the good guy since he’s pro 2A.

    • Being pro-2A is in itself part of a pro-American mindset. There are those that just want ‘the look’ but don’t care about truth or ‘what’s right’.

      Owning or even carrying guns does not make someone pro-2A.

    • Hmmm, what training have you had the qualifies you to share your opinion? Without adequate training anyone can just spout off on a subject, especially if they have the attitude, they are pro 1A. Liberty is scary and laws don’t cure idiocy.

  11. “On the other side, it’s not a great idea to chew out a stranger over an honest mistake on the road. You never know how that someone might react.”

    Bingo. I just assume everyone is armed. The whole “polite society” thing. Why get upset over a scratched Prius?

    • You don’t even have to assume they’re armed. Just don’t be a jerk. It doesn’t help the situation. It doesn’t undo what was done. Someone just backed into something of mine yesterday. It did considerable damage. They were torn up about it. I asked if he had insurance. He said yes. I said, then don’t worry about it. We’ll work it out. They told me they were surprised how nice I was being about it. I may have been more upset if they didn’t have insurance, but being a jerk would accomplish nothing. Stuff happens. We all make mistakes.

      • Same thing happened to Me and the Mrs. at Wally World a few months ago. I man hit our van on the passenger side door after his foot slipped off the brake. I could tell he was upset and concerned I would be upset. I was just glad no one got hurt and asked if he had insurance. He did and He called the local LE to make out the report. We chatted until the LE got there and exchanged insurance info. We got our van fixed in good time with a loaner vehicle (Brand New Pacifica) to drive for 7 days and all is well. Sometimes just being chill can make things much better all the way around. It’s just a car. Lives are what Truly Matter.

      • Years ago some guy in a work truck backed up without looking well and he hit the rear tail light on my Cherokee breaking it. That was all the damage that was done. We got out of our trucks and no damage to his company’s truck. I told him there’s nut much damage to mine, none to his, let’s handle this like men. I’ll price a new taillight and he pays for it. The guy gave me his number, I got a fair price on a new taillight, we met a day later and he gave me the money for it. That’s how most accidents should be handled, civilized.

  12. You referred to “a recent tragedy in Florida”. Based on what the evidence seems to show this was no tragedy.

    The non-aggressor / victim lived and was uninjured.

    The aggressor died because of his actions. The victim killed him in the process of trying to stop him. All is god with the universe.

  13. Not getting the sanctimonious tone of the piece. An a hole failed to behave and he was killed. He’s the 1% of ccw a holes that prives the decent behavior of 99% of responsible carriers.

    Treat guns like the objects they are. Stop the righteous pretentious attitude. Stop the safety first preaching. They are as obnoxious as the Left.

  14. !!!! ROAD RAGE !!!! is a lot more common than I thought. Here is a simple DuckDuckGo search for “how common is road rage”:

    That gets a whole long list of results, including one entitled: “What percentage of accidents are caused by road rage?” and the following bits of text are copied / pasted from there:
    – – –
    Road rage, which is generally characterized by aggressive driving, is a contributing factor. over 50% of all car accidents that according to AAA are fatal.

    What percentage of Americans have road rage?
    8 out of 10 Americans get involved in street scandals at least once a year.

    What percentage of drivers are aggressive?
    Aggressive driving is very common among drivers in the United States. According to 2019 data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, almost 80% of drivers have expressed anger, aggression or rage behind the wheel at least once in the last 30 days.
    – – –
    It goes on & on but the point is clear: Virtually everybody who drives is virtually certain to at least witness road rage at some point, and/or be very very tempted to BE the “road rage-er”, at some point as well. It all depends if you are one of those people who seem to have a whole hidden alternate personality that only emerges when you get behind the wheel of a car. Most of us apparently at least know (or know of) someone like this, as well.

    So, have a nice day, ***BUT STAY THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY!***

  15. When I started driving, my mom taught a little poem:

    “Here lies the body of Joseph Grey.
    He died defending his right-of-way.
    His right was clear and his will was strong;
    But he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong”

  16. This is really a very good article that I really like and will definitely share it widely with my friends, wish you all good health and make more articles in the future. Thanks

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