Editor’s note: A few months back, I spent the morning in a small cafe in a rural Arkansas town with Jon Hodoway (the author of this piece) and Eric Fussell, who was running the cameras at the shoot we were headed to. The breakfast ended peacefully enough, but–as breakfasts go–it ranks pretty high up on the tension scale. You can read about that here: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/5-ways-to-spot-concealed-carry/. What I presented in my article did not take into account Jon’s side, so he’s here to expand on the lessons learned.
Readers of a certain age will be able to put a voice to this famous line from radio personality Paul Harvey: “And now, the rest of the story.” If you haven’t read the story in the link above, I would encourage you to follow the link and do that first. I don’t suggest that because the facts presented herein will differ from those in David’s story, but this article offers a different perspective on the same scenario.
While sitting at the diner, David wanted to know if I was carrying. From my perspective, the question should have been “Why would anyone who has the ability to legally carry a firearm for self-defense rely on another to have a gun?”
My side of the story go like this. David, Eric, and I met at a diner for breakfast. All of us were legally allowed to carry a firearm in this state, and in this particular restaurant, which was one of the reasons I chose it for our meeting place.
Which brings me to point #1. As the Boy Scouts say, be prepared. This is, in fact, the Boy Scout’s Motto, a motto well known to all three of the Eagle Scouts sitting at the table. But only one of the Eagles was prepared.
I don’t carry a gun so I can go to bad places; I carry a gun because sometimes bad things happen to good people. In short- if you have plans to go somewhere, and you think you’re going to need a gun, go ahead and cancel your plans. That’s not a place you want to be on purpose.
It was a fairly safe choice in my mind to have a nice meal at that restaurant. What I did not anticipate was a biker gang also choosing to enjoy their morning there. Due to the layout of the restaurant, the bikes were not parked immediately in front of the doors. As such, it was difficult to adjust my expectations regarding the type of crowd we would find inside this establishment I had chosen before walking in.
I believed that my two fellow diners were armed, and I was not particularly concerned when our seating arrangement resulted in my back facing the gang in question. My seating became quite uncomfortable When David and the Eric both confessed that they were unarmed. They were in full-on Pre-victim Status, and my seating became very uncomfortable, very quickly.
What You Need to Know
The next step is really a daily ritual. #2 Know the condition of your gear. For those of us who carry everyday, we must check everything ahead of time, every day, as part of the ritual. Do you carry an extra mag? Are the batteries in lights and/or lasers working? Is there a round in the chamber? Is it an appropriate defensive round? If the answers aren’t all yeses, start again.
#3 Practice situational awareness. You are responsible for evaluating the venue, and assessing new information as situations develop around you. You are also responsible for your seating choices as they relate to potential threats, loved ones and exits. I clearly allowed myself to be set-up for failure by positioning myself with my back to the threat. Having been to the establishment before, I was fully aware of the exits and had a plan to use them.
What You Can Do
In retrospect, there are actions I could have taken to avoid this situation. I should have clearly determined whether my fellow diners were armed, and stressed upon them the need to get that way quickly if they weren’t. Both had guns near by. By CNN’s standards, we had enough guns to equip a medium sized terrorist cell. But both had come to breakfast naked, assuming they could tool up when they got to the range.
I should have done a better job of assessing the motorcycle enthusiasts that were dining there. We quickly Googled their colors, which led us to several pages that demonstrated their, shall we say, “less than tolerant” racial views. I’m sure that these beliefs may have contributed to some of their more violent tendencies that were also on proud display on the Internet. And this particular crew’s overt display of weapons–mostly ridiculously oversized knives–suggested that the weren’t shying away from the reputation.
Normally, I am not only one to take a seat with my back to the wall, but I’ll typically demand such an arrangement. On that particular day, I capitulated to my two unarmed buddies and that complacency could have cost us all dearly.
Should you share
I will quite often carry multiple guns on my person, allowing me for options. Options are never a bad thing to have. One of the options this allows me, which I think can be very valuable in certain situations, is to #4 share a gun with a trusted companion. In this situation, all I shared with my dining companions was dirty looks and harsh language. There are some situations where you may be legally allowed to carry, while your companion may not. But if the need truly arose, and you had a gun that your unarmed companion was familiar with, it would perhaps be an appropriate time to share.
For more on my sharing philosophy, take a look at my Truck: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/everyday-carry-truck-edition/.
The Bottom Line
#5 Assume responsibility for your own safety. The only person responsible for your safety is you. If everyone at the table had practiced this one rule, I wouldn’t be writing this. Even in the company of very close friends, you have to formulate a game plan for yourself and stick to it. You can never assume that others have exercised the same due diligence that you have. If you truly care about the people in your life, you will stress upon them the importance of situational awareness and emergency preparedness.
This last point may seem a bit harsh to some, and I know it is going to sting, but I want to close with this; just because you carry a gun, you aren’t invincible. You’re not guaranteed to be a hero. You may feel good thinking you have your friend’s back, but wouldn’t it be great if he had yours, too?