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By Brandon Council

Have you ever had one of those moments in your life when you say or do something and regret it? The decisions we make every day have consequences; either good or bad. Bad decisions often produce outcomes instantly. Sometimes, it takes years for the impact of our decisions to become apparent. Decision making is an important trait that you begin learning early in life. I find myself letting my daughters, ages two and four, make decisions for themselves even when I can see that it is a bad choice. As hard as it can be sometimes, I need to let them struggle and learn from their mistakes so they’ll develop good habits they need for success. Decision-making is a constant part of our lives.

As it relates to gun ownership, good decision-making is imperative. While some decisions are obvious, others aren’t. I was reading a news article posted on Facebook yesterday that made me think about a few things. Further reading in the comments made me come to another realization that I hadn’t thought about before. Here are my thoughts on what happened, and some insights on the comments section.

KWQC posted an article and did a story on a Missouri man who was arrested for shooting a teen who allegedly broke into his car. Basically, the man witnessed the group of teens in his car and confronted them. When the group of teens ran, the man shot at them, hitting one of them in the leg and hitting a neighbor’s house. He’s being charged with second degree assault and armed criminal action, and he could spend up to seven years in prison. For details, the link to the article is above.

There are a few things that we can learn from this incident. Hopefully, if you are a gun owner or if you concealed carry, this will serve just as a reminder. First, using deadly force should be reserved for the most extreme of circumstances. Discharge of a firearm is deadly force. If something would cause you or someone around you death or severe bodily injury without intervention, deadly force could be justifiable. Shooting someone for breaking into your car isn’t something that warrants deadly force. The man did say that he thought that one of the teens reached for something but he never saw a weapon. He stated that he was afraid. My next point is that training is imperative. You will never be trained for everything, so train as much as you can to prepare you for as many situations as possible. Nothing will get you past that fear. Making a correct judgement call when the stress level is high isn’t easy. It’s critical that you get it right. Knowing your target and what lies beyond it is a critical safety rule. Even if the teen had a firearm and deadly force was justified, he hit a neighboring house. He could have killed a completely innocent bystander. If you must shoot, ensure you’re rounds are on target. Train, train, train. There’s a fine line between defending your property and going armed with intent. It’s probably a good idea to think if it could be considered armed with intent before going somewhere armed to confront someone. As a concealed carry permit holder, you shouldn’t walk through the bad part of town looking for trouble. Your firearm should always be used as a last resort. Ultimately, if you are involved in a self-defense shooting you will be arrested. Even if the shooting was completely in self-defense. Be prepared for the legal fees and the scrutiny you’ll be subjected to.

The comments section was alive and when talking common sense, I was verbally “put in my place” by those who know better than I do. I’m not claiming to be a legal expert, I’m not offering legal advice; I’m using common sense. The comments were full of 50 or so comments saying the shooter should be let go or that he should have killed the teen. Comments like this give the anti-gun crowd the impression that gun owners, especially those of us with concealed carry permits, only want to shoot and kill people. For those of you who aren’t following, we do not want to give the anti-gun crowd any further evidence that gun owners have violent thoughts. By commenting publicly, for all to see, “I would have killed him” or “if you shoot someone while they’re running away, you need to move the body so it looks like they were running at you” you are making all gun owners appear to have violent tendencies. Whether it’s your opinion or not, don’t engage somewhere where everyone can see.

We don’t need bad press. Every media outlet in the country vilifies the gun community as much as possible. We don’t need to fuel their fire. Train so you know what to do in situations so you don’t end up in prison for something you thought you were doing right. Know the basics of laws before you take actions that can’t be taken back. Don’t make us look like ignorant morons on Facebook. In the absence of mass shootings these stories pop up. The less they do, the less ammo they’ll have. Your decisions have consequences, bad or good. Make good decisions.