When I was asked to review a video instruction course for concealed carry holders I hesitated for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I’m not a gun guy. I’m a martial arts/self-defense instructor and a semi-professional consultant on violence issues. (Meaning if you have a problem, I can assess the seriousness and point you to the information you need, or in extremis put you in touch with the heavy hitters who do this for a living. Now buy me a beer.)

Secondly, I thought this was an instructional video on firearms technique. And while I do know which end the little lead pill comes out, I’m not qualified to instruct in gun handling.

But I was mistaken. It’s not. It’s something just as important. It’s intensive instruction on the critical decision-making skills that everyone who carries a firearm should have.

Full disclosure, this is an unsolicited product endorsement. I’m not getting paid to write this. Though I do get to keep the video, which is cool. I’m doing this because, while I am a big Second Amendment guy, it would be foolish to deny there are ignorant or irresponsible gun owners out there.

So I recruited a gun guy friend to watch it with me who collects guns, hunts and competes in matches. Together, we looked over the training logs it comes with.

The “Shoot – No Shoot Series One Post Office” videos from www.shootnoshoot.com, produced by Shawn Kovacich, contain a set of 100 scenarios on camera. It’s meant to be watched on a big-screen TV — a wall projection would be even better, because it’s interactive. You don’t watch sitting down, you should be standing up in your street wear with your firearm (rendered safe in ways shown) and treating it like you’re there.

You go to your local office to send or receive a package — and something goes wrong. It could be aggressive panhandlers, a domestic disturbance, a drug deal, a robbery in progress, a rape. Or it could be a couple sneaking out the back for a little slap-and-tickle.

Each scenario poses a number of questions, the most important being: Is this a situation which justifies shooting?

That decision generates lots of other questions. When should you draw your weapon? Can you justify your decision to the law? (There, you must do your own research because the answer differs from state to state.) Are there bystanders who could be hurt or killed? Was there at any point an alternative?

And here’s what struck me, because as a journalist I have taken the police shoot/don’t shoot simulation training. This is specifically for civilian holders of carry permits. Police have what’s called a “duty to act.” You don’t.

One of the truly horrific scenarios is you walk into a robbery in progress that turns into a multiple murder. The agonizing decision is, should you have walked in, engaged with your firearm and died with them, or should you have looked through the window, backed off and called 911?

And about looking through that window, there is a lot in here about situational awareness and it is highly specific. Lots of self-defense instructors talk about situational awareness, without a word of what you should be aware of!

Bottom line: The training for a concealed carry permit is not enough. You should train to a much higher standard than required so if, God help you, you ever have to decide whether to take a life while under stress, you make a decision you and the law can live with.

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