There are a lot of myths out there surrounding the responsibilities of people carrying concealed in public. One particular myth we would like to cover is the responsibility to get involved in illegal activity by direct intervention. Many believe that since you are carrying a firearm and you have the ability to act, therefore you have the responsibility or “duty” to act while carrying concealed. This is simply not true.
Duties and responsibilities are very different for active law enforcement then for civilians. As it pertains to the law, there is no specific law stating that any private citizen is required to intervene in any situation; this is called “no duty to act”. There is no law prohibiting a citizen from getting involved either, but if you can be where the bad guy isn’t, it may be the better option.
This is where we need to think about justification vs. necessity. Just because we can get involved doesn’t necessarily mean that we should. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting to a safe location, calling 9-1-1 and standing by to be an exceptional witness when the authorities arrive. We carry a firearm to protect ourselves or others from an immediate threat; however it is not recommended that we do so to the detriment of our own health.
There are numerous situations where it may be recommended not to use our firearms. For instance, a busy area with a lot of foot traffic or in a tight confined space where others are present. One important factor to consider when carrying a firearm is that you are responsible for every round fired, until and even after it stops. Bullets have the ability to go through multiple things before they come to their final resting place, which is why we must always know our target, backstop and beyond before we ever take a shot.
There are active shooter cases where a concealed carrier was present, and even drew their firearm to stop the threat only to disengage because of the lack of a clear shot. If a citizen fires their weapon to stop a threat and hits a bystander, they are legally responsible for that action. A poorly-aimed shot with good intentions is just as bad as a well-aimed shot with poor intentions.
Another important factor to think about is whether or not to seek out a fight. The purpose of carrying a firearm on your person is to stop a direct threat right now. We carry to protect ourselves and our loved ones from imminent deadly force. If that deadly force does not directly involve us, is it our responsibility to go seek it out? The answer is no. It is our responsibility to get home to our loved ones safely. It is law enforcement’s job to go seek out and stop that threat, carrying a firearm should not be putting us in more danger. We must also consider the possible legal ramifications of our actions. Anytime we get involved and use any force, we face the legal consequences of our actions. Are our actions worth the potential consequences? If we are saving our lives or the lives of our loved ones, then it would be worth it.