Have you, in your quest to become prepared, ever considered breaking the gun laws in America? Well, I’m going to cover some of the things that everyone should think before knowingly breaking any law, but more specifically gun laws in America; regardless of the reason
To Obey or Disobey Gun Laws in America, That Is the Question
With that, today’s topic of whether or not to violate the gun laws in America comes to us from a fellow preparedness community member, who asks the following.
“There is a possibility I might be taking a job in the downtown area. That means taking the train every day.
I know it’s usually safe, but I’ve also heard of really bad stabbings and robberies. My question is this, would you still carry a small firearm, even though you’re not supposed to?”
That’s a great question, which I’ve wanted to talk about for a while. I’ve wanted to talk about it, because it’s a question that I’ve heard repeated in one form or fashion within the preparedness community, over and over again.
Preface About Discussing Gun Laws in America
Before beginning though, let’s start this off by prefacing this conversation with three significant points.
First, this discussion is NOT a dive into the Second Amendment, nor a debate about our individual rights as they relate to firearms. This discussion, regardless of whether you feel firearms laws are justified, unjustified, right, wrong, or indifferent, is about knowingly taking the step to violate the law, more specifically gun laws in America.
Second, as a firearms instructor and someone who carried firearms for a living that, regardless of my personal views on guns laws in America, I believe that knowingly violating the law or risking a negative encounter with law enforcement is a decision that should NOT be taken lightly.
Lastly, I also believe that many who are not used to stressful situations while carrying a firearm often undergo a mindset shift that may not always be good when armed. That mindset shift occurs when a person, due to being armed, is filled with a false sense of security. It’s this false sense of security that causes some too, instead of working to avoid or de-escalate a situation, engage their perceived threat with lethal force as a first or early line of defense, when doing so may not be necessary.
With all of that, if you are someone who is considering carrying a firearm when you are not legally permitted to do so, this show is meant for you. Points to Consider About Gun Laws in America When considering whether you should violate gun laws in America, after the initial answer of not unless you want to have a run-in with law enforcement, there are three key points that you should consider.
The three points that you should consider before doing anything to get yourself into trouble are:
- Be informed
- Thoroughly understand the gun laws in America and the ramifications of violating them.
- Consider options other than breaking the law.
Before knowingly putting yourself in legal jeopardy, it’s a good idea to do your due diligence and thoroughly research the issue.
In other words, make sure you have good situational awareness about what you’re doing and why, before you do it.
You just never know.
While searching for information, you may find legal options to accomplish your objective of maintaining your safety.
Regardless of what information you find, one tool to help determine what your most appropriate course of action should be is to use the SWOT analysis.
For those who don’t know, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
A SWOT analysis is a simple, but a potent tool to help you develop the various aspects of your personal preparedness strategy.
Strengths and weaknesses are internal to you. They are things that you have some control over and can change. Examples include who you choose to be with, what resources you have, your mindset, and your location.
Opportunities and threats are external forces that are outside of your control. The goal with these external forces is to take advantage of opportunities and protect against the threats. However, because they are external forces, you can’t change them. Examples of opportunities and threats include other people, laws, and the environment.
A correctly done SWOT analysis organizes your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats into a manageable list. That list is usually represented by a simple two-by-two grid.
Risk vs. Reward
In addition to the SWOT analysis, you can also use a simple risk vs. reward method. In the case of the risk vs. reward that comes with breaking gun laws in America, start by asking yourself these questions.
- What are the chances of an unavoidable, violent encounter that requires the use of deadly force?
- What, in your mind, outweighs the possibility of a felony conviction?
- What are the negative consequences of getting caught breaking the law and possibly injuring or killing someone in the process?
- Do you live in Texas? (Alright well that was kind of a joke, sort of not.)
While determining risk vs. reward can be a relatively straight-ahead effort of weighing one against the other, there is also a matrix available to help with the process.
When researching an issue such as whether to break gun laws in America, especially one that you may be betting your future freedom on, it’s smart to use only reputable sources of information.
By using reputable sources of information, you give yourself the best opportunity to make an accurate and genuinely informed decision.
Some sources of information that you may want to avoid include self-proclaimed legal experts on social media, biased sources of information that merely parrot your beliefs, and your buddies who may not be real experts on the issue that you’re researching.
In the end, it’s good to remember to do your due diligence and do it effectively.
After all, it’s not the less than reliable sources of information and people giving you bad advice that are the ones who will suffer when things don’t work out as planned.
Thoroughly Understand the Gun Laws in America and the Ramifications of Violating Them
When it comes to deciding whether or not to violate the law, it’s critical that you understand the laws you are thinking about breaking, and that you also understand the ramifications of doing so.
Then, once you understand the minefield that lays ahead, you’ll be able to weigh crossing, versus not crossing.
Expect the Unexpected, Plan for the Impossible
When making the decision to do anything with the risk involved, it’s a reasonable train of thought to expect the unexpected. In other words, don’t do yourself a disservice by planning in a vacuum of idealism and normalcy bias.
Additionally, while awaiting the unexpected, you should also prepare for, or in this case, consider the impossible.
To consider the impossible, address your consideration process with a mind towards recognizing that the most mundane and insignificant of things could go wrong.
As you do that, you’ll become more in synch with the potential negative repercussions of your actions.
Unexpected Issues and Unforeseen Surprises
The fact is that unexpected issues pop up and unforeseen surprises happen.
Guns can be lost or stolen.
Yes, I said lost or stolen, because it does happen.
Show me any sizeable population of law enforcement officers, and I’ll bet a number of them will have lost a gun or had one stolen.
Now, if it can happen to a police officer, who is paid to carry a firearm, what do you think the odds are that it can happen to you, or someone you know?
Think about it, if you’re going to illegally carry a gun, where are you going to carry it?
I mean, if the risk is so high that you feel justified in breaking the law, it is reasonable to assume that it should be easily accessible.
With accessibility in mind, where will you carry it so that it’s easily accessible but secure enough not to be stolen, seen, or compromise you in some other way
Brandishing a Firearm
While we’re on the topic if something happens when out and about, and other people see your gun, it’s vital that you understand your local laws about brandishing a weapon.
In many jurisdictions, regardless of whether you’re legally able to carry your gun, it may be considered brandishing if your firearm becomes visible to others.
Depending on your location, if your gun is on you and someone sees it, you could be in trouble.
Now, the definition of brandishing a firearm varies between jurisdictions.
However, in some areas, merely exposing your gun, intentional or not, could result in a felony.
Again, this isn’t a debate on gun laws, but just a statement of the reality of the gun laws in America.
People Make Mistakes
As for people carrying firearms in such a manner so others do not see them, yes, that is what they should do.
However, the truth is that we all have bad days and make mistakes.
So, just like the reality that no one should be shot with an “unloaded” gun, so too should no one brandish a firearm.
Unfortunately, we all know the truth when it comes to people getting shot with “unloaded” guns.
You Encounter a Bad Guy While Armed, Now What?
When deciding to carry a firearm legally or illegally, one of your first considerations is simple.
The consideration is, what happens when you have to draw your gun, and possibly pull the trigger.
As you consider this, do so while considering the two primary encounters that you may have.
Encounters with Bad Guys
The first type of negative encounter when breaking gun laws in America is an encounter with a bad guy.
Encountering a bad guy at any time is a bad thing.
However, confronting a bad guy while you’re illegally armed, can quickly make a bad situation worse.
If you’re super fortunate, the encounter will deescalate, and everyone goes their separate ways with no extra holes in them.
If you’re not so lucky, you either end up shooting the bad guy, a bystander is injured, someone calls the police or all of the above happens.
Regardless of which occur, they all bring their own set of potentially costly and life-consuming problems.
Encounters with Law Enforcement
The next type of negative encounter when illegally armed is an encounter with law enforcement.
So, let’s assume that you decide to carry illegally because you’re worried about possible crime on the way to and from your work.
Basically, you’ve decided that it’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by six. Roger, got it.
What happens during some random crazy act of Murphy, and your firearm becomes exposed in front of a law enforcement officer.
Let’s assume that you are in an area prone to violence.
Do you think the cops are going to automatically consider that you a concerned citizen trying to protect himself?
Or, do you think they may view you as a bad guy since you are obviously breaking the law?
Now, without me saying so, how many ways do you think encounter could go wrong?
How many ways do you think it could go well?
If you have some thoughts on that, please tell me them in the comments of this post.
We can’t discuss how carrying an illegal firearm can go wrong, without talking about Bernhard Goetz.
We can’t move forward without talking about Bernhard Goetz, because he provides a great example of what can happen to a person, who concerned with his safety, decided to carry a firearm illegally.
According to reports, Bernhard Goetz began carrying an unlicensed .38 caliber revolver for his protection following a 1981 assault by three men.
Then a few years later in 1984, Goetz, while carrying his unlicensed pistol on the New York subway, was approached by four young men who demanded $5.
Perceiving the four men as threats, Goetz pulled his unlicensed firearm and shot all four at close range.
Following the shooting, Bernhard Goetz left the subway and fled New York, eventually surrendering to police nine days later.
Goetz was subsequently charged with attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment, and several other firearms offenses.
Finally, a jury found Goetz NOT guilty on all charges except for one count of carrying an unlicensed firearm.
As a result of his conviction, Goetz served eight months of a one-year prison sentence.
Then, in 1996, Goetz lost a civil suit bought by one of the injured teens, who was awarded $43 million in damages. Yes, $43 million.
Goetz immediately declared bankruptcy and has since floated in and out of the public eye.
When he drifted back into the public eye during a 2004 interview with CNN, Goetz was asked, “Do you ever wish you had just given them $5?”
Goetz replied with, “I think it would have been the better thing for me, in my life, if I had just given them all my money, even though they might have pushed me around and beat me up for a second.”
A Note About Bystanders
In addition to the encounters we spoke about earlier, there is also the added potential of the two encounters intertwining with innocent bystanders
The fact is that you are not always in control of where an encounter with a bad person may occur.
Because of that, you may find many places are not very conducive to using a firearm when defending yourself.
After all, the number of people in a crowded space can make protecting yourself with a gun a dangerous proposition for bystanders.
The truth is that gunfights in unpredictable, confined, or crowded spaces can take many crazy and unexpected turns.
Ramifications of Illegally Carrying a Gun
The downside of illegally carrying a firearm takes many forms. First, there are the criminal penalties that come with unlawfully carrying a gun.
Those criminal penalties, unless you want to take whatever the prosecution throws at you, have a negative impact on your finances, firearms, freedom, and family.
You may be impacted financially due to court costs, attorney fees, fines, penalties, civil lawsuits and possible loss of your job or career.
Next, if convicted of a felony, you may lose your ability ever to own a gun again.
Not only that, but you could have your conviction hanging over your head for years to come, which could easily affect your freedom and ability to prepare.
Finally, in addition to financial issues, a conviction for illegally carrying a firearm could cause a variety of severe and ongoing problems for you and your family.
Consider Options Other Than Breaking the Law
As you may probably guess, I am not a fan of people illegally carrying firearms in today’s world.
While yes, that firearm may save your life, it’s worth considering whether or not other options may also work.
No Area is 100% Safe
As you weigh the pros and cons of rolling the dice with the legal system, make sure to consider that no area is 100% safe. We face threats everywhere. Therefore, do you plan on carrying your gun everywhere, or just in some areas?
What are your tripwires for when you do and when you don’t carry a gun with you?
Finally, take a look at alternatives.
When you do, don’t just follow the herd.
Be inventive and think outside of the box, but use the herd to keep any possible crazy ideas in check.
Some simple options to consider include changing the way you do things and approach your day.
Other possibilities are to improve your situational awareness so that you can better avoid potential problems.
You can also look for legal alternatives to firearms and other measures.
In the end, I highly discourage everyone from breaking the law.
However, I also believe that we are all grown people and must do what we think best with our lives.
The caveat to that is doing what we believe is best only after arming ourselves with all of the information we need to make an accurate and informed decision.
Quote of the Day
Today’s quote is from Frank Abagnale who said,
“If I had been brilliant or a genius, I wouldn’t have needed to break the law just to survive.”
Never forget, you’re just one prep away.
If you have any other thoughts or questions about gun laws in America, please leave a comment below.
Stay safe, secure and prepared,
Thanks for listening to this episode about the gun laws in America.
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