Risk assessment, or lack thereof: why aren’t you carrying?

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I meet many people who possess concealed handgun licenses, but don’t carry on a regular basis – let alone every day. The explanation is usually something along the lines of “I carry when I’m in a bad area” or “if I’m going into a situation where I’m more likely to need it, I’ll take my gun”. There are myriad variations, but the excuse always boils down to confusions between likelihood and consequence.

Likelihood (probability of attack) is variable. Yes, there are areas (and times) in which one is more likely to be attacked. This is what most people base their carry habits on: the less likely they are to be attacked (the lower the probability), the less compulsion they feel to carry a firearm.

While likelihood changes, consequence doesn’t. Consequence refers to the impact on the victim of an attack; consequence is a level, a magnitude. An attack that justifies the involvement of a personally carried firearm is, by definition, of extreme magnitude and thus high consequence. For such incidents, consequence is a constant – it is the same for all times and places. Thus, the necessity of response is the same.

The problem is that most people base their carry habits not on consequence, but on likelihood. I’m not sure of the reason, but perhaps it is societal: we have a tendency to defer issues of consequence to others, because facing them is unpleasant. Dealing only with likelihood allows people to focus on the pleasant (the probability is, after all, that everything will be fine) rather than dwelling on the unpleasant.

Acknowledging the consequences of an attack is frightening to a lot of people; not only do they have to contemplate their own death or injury, they also have to consider that of their opponent. It’s ultimately about mortality, and that is more than many people can handle.

You’d think that the possession of a carry license would mean that the person had considered these issues, at least minimally. My experience says otherwise. Even serious gun enthusiasts seem to only face up to the realities of consequence when they have to, which is why even they don’t carry all the times that they could.

Are you basing your carry habits on likelihood or consequence? If the former, you’re not as safe as you believe yourself to be.

-=[ Grant ]=-


About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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