I keep a plaque in my office with the following saying on it…
A SUPERIOR SAILOR is one who uses his SUPERIOR JUDGMENT to keep out of situations requiring the use of his SUPERIOR SKILLS.
I look at a firearm – concealed or otherwise – as being the SUPERIOR SKILL in this statement.
I want to illustrate a real-world example of avoiding a situation where you could be justified in using a firearm – using “Superior Judgment” – or simple discretion.
I have a neighbor with a Doberman Pinscher. He frequently lets it outside when he is out. It has shown aggressive behavior towards others in the neighborhood (growling, baring teeth, even chasing).
Our city has a leash law which requires that any dog not in a fenced backyard must be on a leash under the control of a person capable of doing so.
Several in the neighborhood have felt threatened, and the dog has entered the garages of other neighbors and growled at them. Laws such as this exist so that you don’t need to feel intimidated by someone else’s animal while enjoying your own property, and to keep animals safe as well.
My neighbors all know that I’m a firearms instructor and that I carry at all times. The other day when I came home I was openly carrying – as I often do at work and around the house.
When I pulled into my driveway, his dog immediately started in after my Jeep (barking, growling, baring its teeth) and he whistled at it. It ignored him. At one point his little girl grabbed the dogs collar and tried to pull it, it started pulling her – hence the requirement that someone capable be in control of the leash.
Without exiting my Jeep – from which I knew that I would not have to defend myself against the dog – I tried to explain the leash law and asked him if he would put it on a leash. He said “It’s just a baby” and ignored me.
I was using judgment. I didn’t want to enter a situation where I might have to use my firearm, and even though I was outside on my own property I took the high road. I could have exited the jeep and ended up in a confrontation with the dog on my own property – but I didn’t. Personally, I’d rather not have to defend myself against it in front of his daughter. But, I won’t take being intimidated on my own property either.
I tried to reason with him and he didn’t listen. But, in the immediacy of the situation I avoided a confrontation that might have required the use of my firearm and which may indeed have been justified.
Keep in mind that if it could not have been avoided or it was imminently threatening to attack me or a member of my family (not inside a vehicle but in the yard with nothing between us and the dog, for example), I would not have hesitated to have put it down and immediately called 911.
I went inside, and the next morning I called animal control. One of their officers responded and I filled him in on the situation. He then went over to their house and explained the leash law and let them know that there were penalties for not obeying it – and that animal control will be checking and observing for compliance.
I’m sure my neighbor isn’t happy, but if he had listened to some friendly advice and done as the law said he should and as I requested, he would have avoided the situation.
As it is, I avoided the need to defend myself in that situation, and hopefully prevented the need in the future requiring that sort of response.