Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Off Duty, Off Guard?

There are several schools of thought on whether or not to carry a firearm off-duty. There are those who carry all the time. There are those who never carry. Then there are those who fall in the middle and carry "sometimes".

The "nevers" generally have several reasons why they don't carry.

"It's too bulky." 

"It's uncomfortable."

"I don't plan on getting involved in anything off duty where I'll need a gun."

I cannot say there is anything inherently wrong with this train of thought, but everyone has their opinions, including me.

The sometimes crowd usually use the same excuses. Perhaps they only carry a gun when it's convenient or when they are going into a particularly rough area of town.

I fall into the always group. My job does not end when I take off the uniform. I am a police officer 24/7. I always carry a firearm when it is practical to do so. Now mind you, there are some places that even peace officers can't carry a gun. Federal buildings and airports are examples. I don't plan on losing my job because I brought a gun into one of those places. But 99.99% of the time I have a gun on my person or readily accessible.

My personal take on the matter is this. If I am ever placed into a situation where I could prevent the loss of a life or lives, and I do not have a firearm with me to do so, I will never be able to forgive myself. If I carry that bulky, heavy, inconvenient thing every day of my life and never have to use it, I will be a happy camper. It's kinda' like your AAA card; it's always better to have it and never need it, than to need it and not have it.

You never know when you will stumble into the wrong part of town, especially when you are in an unfamiliar area. Even in the best part of town robberies still occur. Stores, gas stations, restaurants.... all places frequented by off duty cops, and all places targeted by crime.

I am always conscious of that piece of equipment hanging off my belt, but I do not let it influence my decisions. I will never allow myself to enter a dangerous situation simply because I have a gun. I will not place my family in danger either. But my belief is that I will be placing myself and my family into even greater danger if I do not tote the pistola along. If I can't react to a threat, what good am I?  I would have to hide like the sheep and hope the armed coppers got there in time to save me.

Good luck with that.

I don't berate my fellow police officers for their decisions not to carry a gun off duty, just as I don't give them crap for carrying a backup gun on duty. I just hope that any officer who doesn't carry off duty can live with him or herself if someone dies in their presence and they aren't able to do anything other than stand and watch. I, for one, don't plan on ever being in such a position.

Now, let me step down off my soap box...

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