LESS THUNDER IN THE MOUTH, MORE LIGHTNING IN THE HAND:
Why I finally decided to apply for my CCW permit after years of resisting
By E.A. Crow
The man by the subway door was on drugs and I could see in his eyes he was about to do something crazy.
What happened next happened fast but afterwards it wasn’t the action that continued to bounce around in my mind, but rather a phrase from a story my friend had once told me:
It was a fight I couldn’t chance losing.
To make his long story short, this friend had stopped for gas in the wrong part of town and been approached by a belligerent man, angry at the entire world and everyone in it (again, probably drug-induced). It only took a quick glance at my buddy’s concealed pistol and the man decided it was in his best interest to take his aggression out elsewhere.
My friend played O-line for a D1 college and could snap most mortals like twigs with his bare hands if he chose to, regardless of how many drugs they’d taken. Like a good friend, I gave him a hard time and inquired as to why he’d felt the need to escalate like that. Why not just use your God-given physical talents? “I had my toddler in the car,” he replied. “It was a fight I couldn’t chance losing.”
Some fights you cannot chance losing. It’s a simple concept, probably obvious to the many concealed-carrying folks. But even though I have plenty of weapons and training, for a long time, the concept wasn’t obvious to me.
As a young soldier living my nights in Austin, Texas, I saw bar fights often and—though some crossed the line—most were just sad contests between inebriated individuals, some of whom would be best friends again by sunrise. In other words, these were not life or death struggles. No reason to pull a weapon. I knew it could happen but was convinced I could use my own physical talents to just extricate myself if things turned for the worst.
For those chuckling at my bull-headed youth-logic, I’d also experienced first-hand the disadvantages of carrying firearms. I’d seen a lot of so-called “experts” make fools of themselves on the range with negligent discharges. I’d hear the weekly blotter of other “experts” who had shot themselves while cleaning their own weapons at home. I’d been a character witness on a court martial after two best buddies in my unit—who’d gone to war together—had a drunken disagreement that descended into one pulling a pistol on the other just to end the argument. That same individual ended up with felony assault charges and hard time in prison. Sure, I knew there was danger out there, but I saw a higher potential of liability from carrying a weapon than of protection for myself.
As life and the world changed, my attitude towards concealed carry didn’t much. My wife and I moved to a state that made it extremely difficult to carry (and seemed to look down their nose at anyone who did.) We were fortunate enough to live in a nice area, but still had no real money to be robbed of; not much property to protect. My physical abilities were still intact and my partying days were behind me. I felt I could avoid any bad situations. So again, I decided against applying for a CCW. The costs outweighed the benefit.
Or so I thought.
It was early evening on the crowded subway home from the city, when I was reminded of a critical combat lesson: the enemy gets a vote.
Perhaps in this case, the enemy’s drugs got the vote. I wasn’t the intended victim. Instead, the lunatic targeted an elderly man sitting across the row from me. It played out like a bad self-defense video. The aggressor, whom I’d noticed earlier pacing like a trapped animal in the subway car aisle, suddenly broke stride and got into the elderly man’s face, screaming something about not liking how he was eyeing him.
The screaming grew louder, as did the old man’s pleas to stop, which only made the lunatic angrier. Muscles tensed. The elderly man looked about as dangerous as a cream puff, so I knew he couldn’t defend himself. Something had to give. As the lunatic cocked back his fist to strike the sitting man, I caught it and gave him the good news.
Gable grip around the lunatic’s torso and a quick introduction to the wall of the subway car. It only took a few smacks against the wall to get the message through to Mr. Looney’s scrambled brain. He scampered off the train and out into the night without the violence getting serious.
During the confrontation, I’d had my wife shelter on the opposite side of the train with the other frightened passengers. But it wasn’t until later, as I helped her off the train, that I was able to fill in the rest of my friend’s sentence. Some fights you cannot chance losing because there are fates worse than death, especially for those you are supposed to be protecting.
I’d never felt the goon on the subway was outside of my abilities to handle without a weapon. But I’d also been lucky. No matter how “good” I thought I was, things rarely go according to plan in a fight. You can’t schedule a better time for an ambush. We’ve all seen videos of the cocky MMA guy dominating a fight until he gets clipped with a lucky check hook and goes to sleep. Difference is, out in the world, if I was on the receiving end of a lucky strike – or jumped by an aggressor’s buddy I didn’t see, or he pulls his own weapon, etc.—and I’m down, there is no ref to stop the fight. Nobody is coming to save me. More importantly, no one is going to save my loved ones. I have now left them potentially defenseless in the presence of a madman.
I don’t drive these points to monger fear or be overdramatic—we are clearly talking about the worst-case scenario. But, then again, isn’t the worst-case exactly what we’re planning for when we carry concealed? If I even think about drawing my pistol, things have gone very wrong. Maybe I can talk or brawl my way out of any future situation. But maybe not. I’m not even going to take that chance because it’s not about me.
Obviously, a gun doesn’t cure everything always, but in a self-defense situation, it does a damn good job of stacking the deck in your favor. I honestly wish I didn’t have to carry a weapon. I wish the world were different. But it’s not. And looking at any of the recent mass shootings, I don’t think the world will be getting safer anytime soon.
If you are on the fence about applying for a CCW permit, hopefully my experience at least convinces you to consider the potentially catastrophic second-order consequences of not carrying. Make the commitment and get trained. Make the commitment to get the right gear. Do not leave safety as a “maybe”. If you are presented with a violent situation out in the world, make sure you and your family are walking out of it. Some things you just cannot chance losing.
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