Last Friday morning most citizens in the US were awakened to the news of a mass murder perpetrated by an evil human being in Aurora, Colorado (and I call him a human by the strictest scientific interpretation of his genus and species). This cowardly and evil person opened fire on theater full of unarmed and defenseless people that resulted in at least 12 deaths and 58 injuries.
After I had time to digest this latest act of evil, there was one question that kept running through my mind – Did the theater allow concealed firearms to be brought in by those individuals that had obtained the legal permits? The answer is no.
“The Century 16 Movie Theater where Holmes allegedly opened fire does not allow anyone to carry firearms on the premises even if they have a concealed handgun permits, said Dudley Brown, the executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, which lobbies against gun control laws.”
This is not a surprise to me because the movie theaters where I live have signs posted on their entrance doors similar to the image below.
I have a Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) and by my state’s law (South Carolina), I am not allowed to carry my concealed weapon into a building that has a sign on the entrance that meets the legal requirements (which pertain to its verbiage, symbols and dimensions). It appears that the Aurora, CO theater had a similar policy and therefore, the law abiding citizens were not allowed to defend themselves from this evil person.
I’ll concede that this evil person was protected with a vast array of body armor that would have made it difficult to get a quality shot at the murderer but if a couple people in the theater would have sent a few rounds into the guy’s chest I wonder if he would’ve been so bold as to keep firing his weapons or run out like these criminals did in Florida.
The purpose of this post is not to play ‘what ifs’ regarding the Aurora tragedy, but instead to give those who are interested in obtaining a CWP advice from one who has gone through the process. If you are like me, I wanted to obtained my CWP in order to protect my family against the evil people of the world who choose to willingly disobey the law and I want to use my 2nd amendment rights to do all I can to protect my family.
Here is my advice to those who want to go down this path.
Know the Laws
First and most importantly, know the laws in your state. Go to your state’s website and understand what you are legally allowed to do with regard to arming yourself in public. Every state is different and you can get a flavor for how states differ with regard to their gun laws by going to this site. Some states make it more difficult for you to obtain a CWP but unless you live in Illinois, you do have a legal option to obtain a CWP.
As a sidebar, I find it interesting that the only state that refuses to issue CWP’s is also the one whose largest city, Chicago, has a worse homicide rate than Kabul Afghanistan.
In South Carolina, I used the following link to find the state laws and also purchased this book that amplified the laws for the average citizen because it was written by two attorneys and a police sergeant. There should be similar links and books for your states and read them first before you start this process.
Understand the Restrictions of the CWP
A CWP is not a license to act like a Dirty Harry style vigilante.
You can’t carry your weapon anywhere you choose so become familiar with your state laws. For example, even with a CWP in South Carolina, you can’t carry your weapon into the following locations – churches, government building, private residences, bars, restaurants that serve alcohol, schools or establishments that post CWP restrictions (just to name a few).
Just because you have a CWP doesn’t give you the right to play judge and jury like in the old West. If you are walking down the street and see an altercation, your best advice is to move along and call 911. Once you get involved and pull your weapon, you are liable for anything that happens from that point forward and unless you have the full history of the altercation, you have no way of knowing 100% who the ‘bad guy’ is and who the ‘good guy’ is. The only time you should pull your weapon out is to fire it in self defense, period.
The CWP does not give you the right to choose your firearm as your first line of defense. You still must use common sense and employ all other methods to diffuse the situation (even running) before you resort to pulling your firearm out. In a court of law, you must prove that you used all means necessary to escape the confrontation and that you only pulled your weapon out when all other means had been exhausted and you still felt your life was in danger.
Even pulling the gun out in public to show someone will result in certain jail time so remember that the CWP only gives you the right to use your firearm when all other methods have been exhausted and it is apparent to you that your life is in danger.
The only situation where this restriction is relaxed is in states that have a ‘castle doctrine’ which stipulates that in your home, you don’t have to retreat but can repel those who enter your residence without your permission with any force you choose (including a firearm). So if someone enters your home without your permission, you can shoot to kill as your first line of defense.
Certified CWP Instructor
Find a qualified instructor in your area that provides a comprehensive class for your CWP. This will involve, at a minimum, a full day class where you not only go over the legal aspects of having a CWP but covers basic conflict avoidance, public safety fundamentals and significant time on the shooting range where you can prove that you can hit a target at reasonable distances with your firearm (or one similar).
Depending on what state you live in, I would also suggest you find an instructor that can give you a CWP in an additional state that has better reciprocity than your home state. For example, South Carolina only has reciprocity with 18 other states – meaning that these states recognize my CWP but if I were in one of the other 32 states (or 39 other states if I were talking to Obama), then I would not be allowed to legally conceal carry. Georgia, which is a neighboring state, doesn’t have reciprocity with South Carolina so I chose a CWP instructor that had a license in Florida and this allowed me to get a Florida CWP (Florida has reciprocity with 35 states, including Georgia).
Respect the Weapon
If you are not experienced with guns then I suggest going above and beyond the standard CWP class and taking a class from a qualified instructor that educates you on how to fire and maintain a firearm. Guns are not toys and if you’ve never fired one, then you need to spend hours doing just that before you purchase one for yourself and carry it out in public.
Local gun stores are a great resource to start this process as they are well connected with shooting ranges and instructors and I suggest that as a starting point for those who are inexperienced with the guns.
We live in an evil world with evil people and that will always be the case. Gun laws are broken every day by criminals and the evil person in Aurora, CO broke the law by bringing guns into the theater so more laws will not prevent evil people from doing evil things to innocent people. Our only hope is to do what we can to protect ourselves and our families from the rare instance when this happens and obtaining a CWP is a great way to do just that.
Colorado had some of the most aggressive gun control laws on the books but that didn’t stop this evil act. From the ABS News story:
“The Brady Campaign, which pushes for strict gun control laws, ranked Colorado’s gun laws in the top third of all states, commending Colorado for closing the “gun show loophole” and requiring background checks for every gun purchase.”
I hope that I never have to pull my weapon out to defend my family but if that situation ever arises, I am confident that I’ve done all I can to give my family the best chance of surviving that altercation.