â€œWe hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happinessâ€¦.â€ â€“ United States Declaration of Independence
Risk at a basic level is the combination of the likelihood of something happening and the impact that event will have. Risk management is the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risk in order to minimize and control the probability or impact of an adverse event. When I say the words â€œrisk managementâ€, the first thing people normally think of is something business related.Â But the truth is, we all engage in some form of risk management as part of our normal lives multiple times a day, every day.
We decide if itâ€™s worth it to run across the street when cars are coming, to drive through a neighborhood that may be questionable, to eat something that may not agree with us later but tastes so good now. In each of these examples, a risk management exercise is performed and a decision is made (run or not run, drive through or go a different way, eat that or get something else) by matching the analysis of the situation to the acceptable level of perceived risk.
This very same process applies to concealed carry. A decision is made, whether consciously or subconsciously, to carry a weapon to mitigate perceived risk, and it’s a decision that likely happens on a daily basis. We all know the â€œif Iâ€™m awake, my weapon is on meâ€ guy. The truth is that most of the time, this is tongue-in-cheek, because no one has their weapon on them every second they are awake.Â Even those of us who carry on a regular basis run into situations when we make the decision to not carry because of variables present when we make the decision. Where am I going? What are the laws? What am I doing? Who will be around? All these things play a part in the decision process.
What about non-permissive environments? Sometimes we decide the risk isn’t high enough to justify carrying in an area that is prohibited by policies or laws, and sometimes we make the decision that the benefits of being armed are worth the risk of potentially being cited for a minor offense, being asked to leave, or losing our job.
A couple times a week, I go to a second job which takes place in a non-permissive environment where mass shootings have taken place (use your imagination). Thankfully one has not occurred at my specific location, but it’s a “gun free zone” and has a number of people around of varying backgrounds, levels of intelligence, and degrees of mental stability. Every time I get ready to go to that place, I perform a risk management exercise, and then proceed to put a Glock 26 with two spare Glock 19 magazines in my bag that I keep with me at all times.
At the beginning of this article I cited a passage from the Declaration of Independence. I chose those words because they impact my decision with regard to carrying a weapon in a non-permissive environment.Â As citizens of this great nation we are united by those certain unalienable rights – Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. There is a reason those words are listed in that order. Life is first, Liberty is second because it canâ€™t be accomplished without life, and the pursuit of Happiness canâ€™t exist without life and liberty existing first.
I carry in this non-permissive environment because life is too important, not only to me, but to the family and friends I support, care for and care about. It’s because I have assessed the variables at play – is this an environment where shootings have occurred, what’s the overall security, what’s the overall layout, am I dependent on this job to pay my bills, etc – and have decided that my ability to protect myself outweighs the risk of being asked to leave or losing my job.
Now just to be clear, I am in no way saying that you should disregard laws and/or rules on a regular basis for no good reason. Iâ€™m simply saying that for me, there are times when factors lead me to make that decision.
Ultimately, I take on risk at certain times because I canâ€™t continue to enjoy the liberties I have, and continue to pursue a life full of happiness without making sure Iâ€™m in the best position to be protected and make it home every day. As you get ready to carry each day, I challenge all of you to take bit of time to really think about why you are carrying and if you are handling it the right way for yourself and others given the environments you will be entering.
If you aren’t, you may end up doing yourself more harm than good.