Joseph Robert Wilcox had a permit to legally carry a concealed handgun when he attempted to stop what he thought was a lone shooter in a Las Vegas Walmart. He was unaware that the shooter was one of a pair who had just assassinated two police officers in a nearby pizza restaurant. The NRA is often heard repeating the mantra, “If only someone with a gun would have been there to stop them.” Well, Mr. Wilcox was the “good guy with a gun” and it got him killed by the unseen second shooter.
I have no intention of being disrespectful or judgmental towards Mr. Wilcox, but PERHAPS he should not have attempted to intervene. Sometimes it is best to quietly retreat unless you have an overwhelming advantage. Had Mr. Wilcox chosen to do so he would probably be alive today and we would never have heard of him.
Was Mr. Wilcox prepared for the situation in which he found himself? I don’t know what firearms training he may have had, but it obviously either inadequate or not enough to prepare him for confronting a “bad guy with a gun."
In Texas, where I live, it is relatively easy to obtain a concealed handgun license (CHL). The required firearms training consists of only 4 to 6 hours of classroom training and must cover the following subjects:
- Use of Force
- Non-Violent Dispute Resolution
- Handgun Use
- Safe and Proper Storage of Handguns and Ammunition
I would venture to guess that most CHL holders, including Mr. Wilcox, have had little or no training beyond the state’s minimum requirement. The police and military are the only groups of which I am aware that undergo intensive training in these skills.Anyone making the decision to carry a firearm should not settle for the minimum required training. Carrying a weapon requires more knowledge and skill than a brief class is capable of imparting. Consider the amount of firearms training required of law enforcement officers and the military before they are sent out with a lethal weapon. Shooting is a learned skill, which requires regular practice to prevent the skill from degrading over time.
A person who carries a concealed weapon must know when and when not to draw their weapon and should be prepared to shoot if the decision is to draw. As a matter of fact, unless prepared to kill someone, you shouldn’t be carrying a weapon. If you do draw your weapon you must know when to shoot, where to shoot, and whom to shoot. Acquiring these skills requires effective training in threat assessment, situational awareness, area scanning, and cover and concealment. These are not skills that can be learned in a few hours. These skills require intensive initial training plus continued training to safely carry, and if necessary, use a weapon. If you are not prepared to make the training commitment then you are not prepared to carry a weapon. If you are not prepared to carry a weapon then you should not be allowed to carry one.
One tired excuse for carrying a weapon is, “I sometimes go places where I might need it.” In that case my advice would be, “don’t go to those kinds of places.” If you feel you must go to such places perhaps you should consider carrying a shotgun rather than a pistol.
I am not against the right to bear arms. Hundreds of thousands of poorly trained people do it every day. I enjoy target shooting, yet I do not carry a weapon. I really fail to see the need to do so, I don’t believe the benefit would outweigh the risk, nor do I wish to add to the rapidly growing list of shooting victims.