Ep. 49 Should I Shoot? The Sloppy Concealed Carrier

Hand of business man holding coffee cup in coffee shop

Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

Check out the last five episodes in this series:

You and your friends carry concealed just about everywhere you legally can. But you’re not a bunch of vigilantes out looking for trouble. You’re not a bunch of tough guys out to prove a point. You’re a group of friends who shares a common bond in that you do what you can to preserve life, to protect others and to be prepared. As such, you and your friends often share advice and tips on concealed carry — everything from the latest guns and gear to the best tactics for safety and protection of life. And, when you’re out together, you make it a point to be aware while you responsibly enjoy yourselves. Because you never know when trouble might spring up.

Thankfully, all that has sprung up lately is you and your friends noticing when other people are carrying concealed. You’ve picked up on some of the cues — a person constantly fidgeting with covering garments, sometimes directly adjusting a gun/holster rig, and more. While it’s somewhat comforting to know the popularity of concealed carry is growing exponentially, at times, you wish more people would read the myriad resources available to them to help them carry concealed really well. After all, concealed is supposed to be concealed.

Your state not only allows concealed carry but also open carry. While you’re grateful for these rights and glad they can be exercised, you prefer concealed carry to open carry. You want the element of surprise if you have to deal with an attacker, and you don’t want anyone seeing you with a gun and possibly targeting you for the theft of it. It would be foolish for someone to try it, yes, but you’re all about minimizing opportunities for trouble. For the most part, people who are open carrying don’t cause any trouble and they don’t create much concern for you either. Every now and then, however, you find someone carrying a gun who seems to be caught somewhere in the middle. To put it another way, that person thinks he is carrying concealed, but something has happened to his covering garment so that his gun is not concealed but on display for all to see.

So, as you and your friends are enjoying conversation over coffee at the local coffeehouse, you notice one other customer — a stocky guy in jeans and a red sweatshirt — engaged in the concealed carry fidget. Clearly this person has a duty-sized pistol on his hip and he is doing his best to keep his shirt from riding up too high and revealing anything. He pulls at his sweatshirt when he’s standing and he pulls at his sweatshirt when he’s sitting. You discreetly nod in his direction and your group nods to one another in understanding — you all know what’s going on. He doesn’t seem to be a threat, but he’s certainly worth watching.

And then, into the coffeehouse walks a gentleman wearing khaki pants, a golf shirt and a light tan jacket, zipped about halfway up. He also has a baseball cap. As he walks through the door, the wind blows in just a bit and the closing door creates a draft behind him that almost blows his hat off. The man reaches up, catching his hat on his head just in time, but in doing so, the draft billows his jacket, causing it to rise and then settle behind the stocks of the black pistol it was hiding just one second ago.

It’s a typical black polymer-framed pistol and he’s carrying it in an outside-the-waistband paddle holster — also black plastic. With the jacket caught behind the pistol’s stocks, the rig is on display as the man walks through the coffeehouse, oblivious that he has gone from concealed carry to open carry in a unique turn of events.

You and your buddies watch all this unfold but act nonchalant. After all, while the man might be no threat at all, you don’t know this for sure. For all you know, he’s here to rob the place. So you watch in a heightened state of alert. Hardly any of the other customers even notice the man, let alone the gun. But it’s just a matter of time before they do.

The man in the light tan jacket heads to the counter. As he does, you and your friends notice the man in the red sweatshirt has risen from his seat with his eyes locked on the man in the light tan jacket. Red sweatshirt makes his way through the coffeehouse toward light tan jacket.

Should I Shoot?

Scenario 1. The man in the red sweatshirt comes up behind the man in the light tan jacket and taps him on the shoulder. The man in the light tan jacket turns around, a puzzled look on his face. You watch these two have a brief conversation and see the man in the light tan jacket look down at his gun and then quickly pull his jacket over it to conceal it. By the expression on his face and his general demeanor, you can see the man is clearly embarrassed. He looks around the coffeehouse to see if anyone else noticed. A few have, but they don’t seem to be doing anything about it. The man in the red sweatshirt walks toward the front of the coffeehouse, scowling and shaking his head.

Scenario 2. The man in the light tan jacket places an order at the counter and waits for it to be served up. He looks around nervously, obviously wondering who else spotted his gun and how they might react. He looks at his watch. He looks toward the front of the restaurant, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man in the red sweatshirt, but he’s nowhere in sight. Finally, his order is delivered to him at the counter and he gathers it all up quickly. While he does, his jacket rides up again, revealing the muzzle of the gun on his right hip.

Scenario 3. The man in the light tan jacket turns around to head for the exit at the front of the coffeehouse but stops and stares. You and your friends see why: Two uniformed police officers have entered the coffeehouse, followed by the man in the red sweatshirt, who is pointing directly at the man in the light tan jacket. One police officer walks toward the man in the light tan jacket while the other one stays with the man in the red sweatshirt. The man in the light tan jacket calmly explains what happened to the officer, the same signs of embarrassment showing on his face, while the officer runs the man’s ID.

Meanwhile, the man in the red sweatshirt has grown agitated as the other officer questions him and asks for his ID. All the coffeehouse customers are now enraptured in these two confrontations but more so the one involving the man in the red sweatshirt. At one point, the officer dealing with him tells him to walk outside and gestures accordingly with his arms. The man in the red sweatshirt doesn’t take too kindly to the officer’s request but starts moving toward the door. But not without using his arm to push away the officer’s arm in an act of defiance. And that’s when the officer, in a deft move, grabs the man’s arm, twisting it and pushing the man face down to the ground.

Red sweatshirt unleashes a stream of profanity, but the takedown affords the officer the opportunity to spot the man’s concealed gun. Keeping the man’s arm in a vice-like grip with one hand and keeping him pinned to the floor with his knee, the officer pulls the man’s gun, drops the magazine and racks the slide on his boot, ejecting a live round from the chamber. At this point, the other officer comes over to help and the situation is soon over. The man in the red sweatshirt is arrested, the man in the light tan jacket is warned and you and your friends have a lot to discuss.

At what point in Scenario 1, 2, or 3 would you have been justified in drawing and firing your pistol? Would you have interacted with the man in the light tan jacket? What about with the man in the red sweatshirt? Would you have offered any information to the police as they were handling the situation?

For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.

{ 46 comments… add one }
  • Johnny Barger April 28, 2017, 4:35 am

    Its a game with me in public. I like to see how many people i can find that their gun is printing them. I wear shorts most of the time and have no problem putting my pistol in one of the cargo pockets. Yes it leaves a print, but so does hip holsters and about any kind of shirt. Should we all wear big coats to hide or cc gun. I say no. As long as its just a outline in my pocket you can guess and think what ever you want. Its not out in the open. I would say thank you if someone came up to me and told me it was easy to tell i had a gun on me. A handkerchief infront of my cc in my shorts works really well. People just love to bitch.

  • Joseph Chandler April 14, 2017, 10:27 am

    I can’t see any reason for any of them to draw there weapons. There was no threat at any time.

  • 2B or not 2B 2A April 10, 2017, 2:57 am

    I wondered on 2 occasions if I should have approached 2 men (seperate instances) to inform them their firearm was visible. They clearly were going for the concealed carry look. The first guy’s sidearm became visible as he sat down in a booth at a local diner. The 2nd guy I was behind him at a large shopping mall and his shirtail rode up and exposed his firearm in an IWB at the small of his back. Both times I chose not to engage for fear the individual may get mad at my approach. It turns out it didn’t make a diffence, legally, as AL is an open carry/conceal carry State. It would have been more of a comfort factor had I engaged either of the two men. I carry but mostly with a made to conceal carry jacket or vest and sometimes with an IWB on my side or small of back I would appreciate the help if my firearm became exposed. Not in a legal standpoint but in a comfort standpoint as I do not want to draw attention from the bad guys that I am armed.
    I’ve found that most CCW holders are as polite as I am when in public. After all, when we choose to conceal carry we become the FACE of CCW so acting in a cordial manner is a must in my opinion.

  • Alex Jay April 8, 2017, 7:26 pm

    I’ll tell you one reason I carry….it’s because if someone is going harm me, or my family, it’s going to be on my terms. I’ve served for over 20 yrs and 3 combat tours. Dispensing a BG to the hereafter back then,now or in the future is going to cause me to lose any sleep. I know my self and my limitations. I also know what’s right and wrong. Everyone can go on and on about 2A, it’s my right and all that but in the end it’s to protect the innocent and preserve life from those who mean harm to the defenseless. Situation dictates and a real quick risk assessment is a must.

    • Alex Jay April 8, 2017, 7:28 pm

      *not going to cause me to lose any sleep.

  • Big Peter April 8, 2017, 1:49 am

    It’s refreshing to see that most of the readers here have a bit more sense of reasoning than the author, who seems think just because someone is wearing a solid color dress shirts they are a “businessman”. I’d be more wary of the so-called “businessman” than the two guys in question. This is quite a mundane scenario that at no time would justify drawing a weapon, much less using force. But it puts some questions about the writers mentality to even pose the question. The LEOs probably wouldn’t even waste their time. They would probably just for the facts and then tell the red sweatshirt dude to move on. And who cares if he’s got one in the chamber. I guess Mr. Kakkuri looks down on people that prefer revolvers. I would suggest the writers be a little more objective and less condescending if he’s gonna be writing articles about this sort of thing.

  • R Dennis April 7, 2017, 9:46 pm

    Then said He unto them, “But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

    Luke: Chapter 22: Verse 36, King James Bible

    • Jonny5 April 14, 2017, 4:34 pm

      What does that even mean?! Would Jesus pack heat if he were alive and walking amongst us today?! I’ll wager he’d be real bad dude, kicking ass and taking names.

  • kirk April 7, 2017, 6:17 pm

    No defined scenario above justifies lethal force, or even involving the officers. Red Sweatshirt did a courtesy notifying sports jacket man, and should have left it at that.

    We carry firearms for the same reason that we wear seat belts; we hope that we never run into a situation that we need it, but it is best to have it than the alternative.

    People that are unwilling to defend the lives of their family and friends, lacks the ability to love, or are too much of a coward to stand up for their loved ones. The correct translation of the Biblical commandment “You shall not kill” is actually “You shall not commit murder”; defending life is GOD’s will. He gave us the tools to think and act. To do otherwise is an abomination.

    • Jon Will April 10, 2017, 1:08 am

      AMEN BROTHER!

  • Rambo April 7, 2017, 5:40 pm

    I Love It! Observation; NA (below comment) opened up a can of Whoop Ass and painted a target on herself.
    “I stay away from gun people” IS Anti-Social!
    The funny thing is ‘NA’, you’re around gun people all the time and you don’t even know it. That’s why it’s called concealed.
    ‘Gun People’ (your terminology) are in every restaurant, store, gas station, health club, church, park and pretty much every where you go publicly. Think about that… WE ARE EVERYWHERE……. BOO!
    Too Fun! Sorry S.H.B. had to…
    In the scenario’s above the question is;
    At what point in Scenario 1, 2, or 3 would you have been justified in drawing and firing your pistol? Would you have interacted with the man in the light tan jacket? What about with the man in the red sweatshirt? Would you have offered any information to the police as they were handling the situation?

    The only justification to a “Should I Shoot” decision is what…? If one of the two pulled their weapon and aimed it at me or anyone else for that matter, I am in a “Should I Shoot” moment. Whether I do is a personal decision and one of opportunity without getting myself or anyone else hurt or killed in the process. I’m not a hero, Johnny on the spot or Rambo. In a nutshell, I carry to protect and defend myself and my family in a life threat situation. Some friends included if the moment arises, (depends on the friend) but I am not responsible to protect people I don’t know. Sorry NA…. You’re on your own….

    The man in the tan jacket concealed or not, as his jacket revealed his firearm was within the law. When his jacket revealed his firearm he went from concealed to open carry with an outside holster. In this scenario apparently not against the law. I would have watched him in a heightened sense of awareness but the scenario showed he was embarrassed when called out.
    The man in the red sweatshirt? He made a decision that the man in the tan jacket needed to conceal his firearm and called him out. He made a bad decision to intervene, it was the wrong one and it got him arrested.
    The police? They handled it in a lawful way. If they were not asking for input I’m outta there. End of story…

    Good one S.H.B., it got a lot of blood stirred up, Thx!

  • RH April 7, 2017, 12:18 pm

    I’ve been perusing these articles off and on for awhile – none of the situations or scenarios I read justified shooting or even drawing a firearm. Do any? Did I miss one? I think these are good articles to make people think but if none are shoot or at least draw situations, something is missing here. Again, I might have missed a couple. Just an observation.

  • Edward Glenn April 7, 2017, 11:50 am

    No occasion here to draw, let alone shoot. However, if you are going to get the cops involved, you darn well better be prepared to follow their orders, without becoming hostile, especially if you are carrying a gun. Sweatshirt guy escalated the situation all on his own. This was an important point, not mentioned in the comments.

  • Adam Jeppson April 7, 2017, 11:32 am

    First when you enter any establishment scan the room – does anything look or feel out of place. If it does leave. Second, sit where you have your back to the wall, have a clear view of the clientele, and have one or more clear escape routes picked out. Thirdly, don’t be foolish. if the situation starts to feel “wrong” leave. Move decisively but calmly, get out and go away. Let the cards fall where they may as you are out of harms way. If that is not possible then get low and small – out of the lime light so to say – have your weapon of choice accessible quickly if the need arises and try to be background. Fourthly, if deadly force looks like it will be needed move with purpose. Hesitation kills. Defend yourself or those in need and then get out of there. Stay alive. Taking a life is no small thing. At that point you are doing God’s job and you are not qualified. You will have to explain. There will be ripples and ramifications for your actions. Make up your mind ahead of time through prayerful consideration weather you are willing and/or able to take a life. Not a topic to be mocked or joked about.

    • Dave McConnell April 10, 2017, 10:51 pm

      Great advice, Adam. Also a good point about deciding if you can/will take a life. Having a weapon that you won’t use is kind of useless.

  • KimberproSS April 7, 2017, 10:38 am

    Obviously not a Starbucks or they both would be arrested.

    • Chris April 7, 2017, 11:16 am

      Forgot scenario #4. Tan jacket man walks up to the counter takes off his jacket and sits down for a nice meal, open carry.

  • Sean April 7, 2017, 9:09 am

    Hey guys – 99.999% of bad guys don’t use a holster. You do know this right? Sure, keep an eye on him but don’t do anything stupid – like draw your gun. Or crazy 0 like draw your gun and shoot.

  • Graysailor April 7, 2017, 9:02 am

    Only Barney Fife would have pulled his pistol in these scenarios. I would have been on the alert, ready to put barrier between me and the idiots, but even if one had pulled a pistol I wouldn’t have assumed it was time to open fire. Imminent threat with no ability to avoid the conflict is the rule. If you are going to try to protect others you are crossing the line between clear defense and becoming a law enforcement officer. How do you know one of the guys isn’t an undercover cop?

  • Rick April 7, 2017, 8:02 am

    I’m with Chris. There’s no threat present here, except a threat to common courtesy. If sweatshirt brought jacket’s faux pas to his attention, then why did he get the po-po? It would seem that were he upset enough about the reveal to officially complain, then he wouldn’t tell jacket directly.

    Also, a point that I’ve so far been unable to research: do bad guys or gals use holsters? Logic tells me no. If they had to ditch the roscoe in a chase, there would be evidence that they had a gun, this channeling police efforts to find it.

    Additionally, I find the attitude of the storyteller & friends a bit condescending. No everyone who fidgets is carrying. And, to paraphrase Jesus: let he who has never revealed cast the first criticism.

  • Dianne Daniels April 7, 2017, 6:18 am

    I like reading these scenarios – I always learn something. Today I learned that just because I notice that someone is “concealed” carrying awkwardly, they are not necessarily a threat. Had Red Sweatshirt man stopped at notifying Tan Jacket of the fact that he was no longer “concealed carry” it would have been a genuinely nice thing to do and a public service. Not everyone is comfortable knowing that their fellow patrons or neighbors are carrying. Keeping the notification “on the low” avoids upsetting other patrons and Tan Jacket, and the day could have continued as before. By bringing law enforcement into a situation that did not need them at the time, the situation escalated. Definitely not what I would do – and I’ll file this away for future review and knowledge.

    • SgtOxUSMC(ret) April 10, 2017, 11:38 am

      Diane, I have never commented on here before. But I feel the need to now. You are on the correct path to being a responsible gun owner. From your excellent comments and questions, I see that you get it. I would not hesitate for one moment, to share a foxhole or emergency with you. How about staying around here and schooling some of the more bravado acting tough guys. They need to understand just how “unmanly” it is to brag about how easy it is to take a life. My one tip, that I would offer. Practice with your heart rate as high as you can get it. It’s rare to be one of the few whose adrenaline doesn’t go into overdrive in a “fight or flight” situation.

  • Tom C Snook April 7, 2017, 6:16 am

    No wise player tells the group they have the ace. Concealed carry is a great responsibility. The saying “know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away” are prudent scenarios well thought through in advance. As wise gun carrying citizens we are not to be militants stuffed with bravado and thinking we’re “tactic-cool”. Even the wise soldier is not wildly militant, he’s smart, assesses spatially and he knows the difference between a necessary fight and a tactical retreat. I’m an admirer of the example of those who are cool and controlled under fire and when they fire and when not to if it means I can live another day.

    • SgtOxUSMC(ret) April 10, 2017, 11:39 am

      Wish I had read your post before I posted above to Dianne. You obviously get it also. Not enough of that around here.

  • NA April 5, 2017, 11:07 am

    People who carry deadly weapons, regardless of why they do, are the KIND of people who carry deadly weapons. They WANT deadly power.
    The Constitution gives people the right to bear arms, but it doesn’t make carrying guns respectable. Our nation was built on Christian principles. Carrying guns is an indication of something else, something unprincipled and antisocial.
    I stay away from gun people.

    • Jonny5 April 6, 2017, 5:04 pm

      “I stay away from gun people”.

      That’s why I’m on Guns_America.

      • Mark2005 April 7, 2017, 6:50 am

        Lol!!

      • DenverDude April 7, 2017, 8:35 am

        I wish there were a like button. My thought exactly.

    • Mr. White April 7, 2017, 3:42 am

      You, whoever you are, are a troll.

    • Somegunguy April 7, 2017, 6:11 am

      Evil resides in men’s hearts, not at their sides. It is evil to apathetically allow people with evil in their hearts to rape, rob, enslave and murder the innocent. That is a Christian principal. It is displayed throughout the Old and New Testament. Even St Peter and Jesus used weapons to defend what they considered sacred. If you do not want deadly force on your side when your family is being raped, robbed and killed in front of you only to give pleasure to men with evil in their hearts then something is wrong with your moral compass. Please reread your Bible.

    • Blasted Cap April 7, 2017, 7:15 am

      You stay away from gun people because they are the ones that gave and defend the freedom to make that decision. Please stay on the sidelines and keep your mouth shut if those freedoms ever lost. After all after the freedom to bear arms is gone, freedom of speech would be next.

    • Daniel Jeffries April 7, 2017, 8:17 am

      Clearly sir or madam, you are an idiot. There will come a day when you wished you had been carrying or at the very least with a friend who did. And to infer that having a gun isn’t Christian like? That just sounds like ignorance or stupidity.

    • Randy April 7, 2017, 9:06 am

      “Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property… Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.” Thomas Paine

    • Jack April 7, 2017, 9:46 am

      This kind of stupidity doesn’t even deserve a comment.

    • Alan Yates April 7, 2017, 9:46 am

      And your point is? Of course we carry because we want ‘deadly power’… I don’t carry a gun because I want to hand out flowers. The point is intent. WHY do they want deadly powers? If they, like me, want this in order to provide safety against an armed threat then that’s a great thing. And, yes….you’re batting zero today. The constitution does make carrying guns respectable. It’s respectable because we care about society. We care about the safety of our loved ones and we will do all that we may to provide that safety. What isn’t respectful is complaining about others exercising their rights given by God to free people. I have carried guns for over 52 years, 34 of those as a cop. The rest as an armed and proud of it civilian. I’m a Christian, a father, a grandfather, a Vietnam veteran and a 32nd degree Mason.
      And I stay away from anti-gun people because they are the first to demand that the mean old responsibly armed people protect them when the monkey backs into the fan.

    • tony April 7, 2017, 9:57 am

      don’t get out much, do you?

    • Jim Hasak April 7, 2017, 10:02 am

      In this case, “NA” obviously stands for “Not Applicable.”

    • Robert April 7, 2017, 1:45 pm

      You’d best stay in you safe little cocoon then, because “gun people” are everywhere.

  • George April 3, 2017, 7:24 pm

    Perhaps I did not read the scenario correctly. But it said both open and concealed carry were legal. So the red shirt’s complaint was nonsense. And the cops response was over the top.

    • chris April 4, 2017, 5:54 pm

      Common sense would say that yes you are correct, but depending upon the state, like in Oregon, if you have a CCW you are not lawfully able to open carry. Yes that is correct and is ridiculous as it sounds, but if you have a permit to conceal carry then you have to abide by that and not open carry.

      • Jonny5 April 6, 2017, 3:05 am

        The narrator in the scenario states he prefers concealed to open carry, implying he and the wider public in that area have a choice of two options so no offence committed it would seem. What does disturb me here is the sartorial choices of these two faux “protagonists”. One sports a red sweatshirt and jeans, (clearly white trash) and the other gent is dressed like he’s going on safari and is wearing a hat inside a building. This is the real issue. These fellows should have been quietly advised to return to their place of residence and choose more appropriate attire. I’m glad “khaki slacks” man wasn’t described as wearing white “sneakers”… that would have tipped me over the edge.

        • P7M8Guy April 7, 2017, 10:13 am

          “Your state not only allows concealed carry but also open carry.”
          So there’s that. But I agree completely Jonny5. The hat indoors was the real crime. This is the sort of cretin who probably wears a button down collar with a suit. You know the sort. The kind of guy who doesn’t even know the difference between a blazer and a sport jacket. The kind who wears loafers with a double-breasted suit. I see them all the time, often with their jacket sleeves covering their shirt cuffs. It makes me sick. That isn’t America. That isn’t even CANADA. In point of fact I’d like to go to this mythical coffee house. When would I draw and fire? As soon as I saw some fop saunter in with his top button undone and his (no doubt Windsor-knotted) tie pulled loose.

          • Edward Glenn April 7, 2017, 11:19 am

            Nice to see a little lighthearted humor for a change.

  • Chris April 3, 2017, 6:01 pm

    At No point in scenario 1,2 or 3 would you have been justified in drawing and shooting your pistol. Given these 3 ongoing scenarios, there is at no point a grave danger or life threatening situation that could be argued as self defense of yourself or others that a jury would decide in your favor. If you did decide to draw and fire you would be the aggressor since neither one of those individuals posed a threat to you or anyone else. You could try to argue your point of view but ultimately you would be found guilty.

    • J April 7, 2017, 9:20 am

      Thanks. Good reply and my thoughts exactly.

    • Tim April 7, 2017, 10:09 am

      Yep. I agree 100% with you Chris.

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