Subtle And Interesting Psychological Impact of CCW


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Cosmoline
August 25, 2004, 03:03 PM
I've been packing off-and-on for many years now, and since the advent of Vermont carry in Alaska I've been packing even more. I've noticed my attitude towards the world and its dangers has slowly changed, though I don't know how much of it is due to CCW and how much to other factors.

For one thing, I find I don't worry about being mugged. This sounds pretty obvious, but over time it has an impact. I carry a lot more cash now than I ever did before. Sometimes I'll cash my entire check and carry many C notes around in my wallet. There's no atm out in the sticks where I live so it's more convenient.

For another, I find I have less interest in the "thin blue line" that I used to view as protection. When I lived in Oregon and was an anti (yes, I was an anti) I had a great deal of tolerance for police arrogance because I viewed them as my protectors. Now, I'm so far away that there's simply no chance they'd be there in time to protect me. They'd take hours finding my unmarked road. I accept this and it's fine, but on the other hand I find myself questioning why I need to pay for all these troopers and LEO's cruising around. I'm not sure I have an answer, and in a society where most everyone is already armed I'm not sure there is a good answer.

I find I'm less suspicious of strangers. I'm not picking up hitchhikers or anything, but I do find I'm less nervous around strangers than I used to be.

Anyone else notice psychological changes along these lines?

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George Hill
August 25, 2004, 06:29 PM
To quote a certain cigarette ad.... "You've come a long way, Baby!"

*applauds*

Correia
August 25, 2004, 06:54 PM
This is gun related, so I'm moving it out of RT.

dev_null
August 25, 2004, 07:14 PM
What I've noticed is that now I feel naked when I don't carry.

- 0 -

DesertEagle613
August 25, 2004, 07:28 PM
I have not carried yet, though I intend to if I ever get the chance, and I feel disturbingly vulnerable on city streets. I am rather distinctive to anyone wanting to start trouble, and not physically impressive, so if problems started I'd probably be screwed. It causes me a great deal of tension, which I'd be happy to get rid of.

Zundfolge
August 25, 2004, 07:47 PM
Over the last couple of years I've noticed the effects of GunZen.

I find that when I carry I'm more relaxed, less irritated by bad drivers, rude sales clerks, obnoxious children etc. Not that my gun has anything to do with any of those things, its just that I think that knowing you have an option if the S hits the F can have an extreme calming effect overall.

In addition, since my choices now carry the weight of life and death I think I find myself less easy to anger more patient and in generally a more positive, yet serious, mood.

I know it'll sound stupid but when I'm carrying I feel like an adult ... or more to the point, I feel like I thought I would feel as an adult when I was a child (if that makes any sense).

Now when I'm not carrying I feel pretty much the same way I feel if I forget to wear a watch ... or more like if I am barefoot (I hate going out of the house barefoot ... in fact I generally don't walk around the house barefoot or just in socks).

Standing Wolf
August 25, 2004, 07:51 PM
I find I'm less suspicious of strangers.

Yep.

Some trashy types have moved into my neighborhood. When I lived in the People's Republic of California, there was nothing to be done but a.) contact the landlord, who was interested only in rent checks being turned in on time, or b.) call the police, who were interested only in serious crimes involving deaths, fires, major thefts, and the like.

I just walked down the street and had a brief conversation with the fellow about cranking up his 8,000-Watt car stereo at 10:00 Sunday morning. I didn't have to be afraid a half-dozen others would pour out of the house in a confrontational mood. Not being afraid, I could "afford," as it were, to be mild-mannered and reasonable. I could see he wanted to get mouthy about it with the old guy, and was prepared to mention the possibility of calling the local police, who do respond to noise calls here. He backed off and turned it down.

I don't still worry about individuals who look like they might have trouble in mind, and it's occurred to me they can sense I'm not worried. Part of the difference, to be sure, is that I'm in Colorado, where the police actually enforce the law much of the time, and criminals know they're outnumbered. There's an enormous cultural difference that goes hand in hand with the difference in my personal situation.

The strangest change is that I hardly ever speed any more, and even when I do, I'm rarely more than five miles an hour over the posted speed limit.

lee n. field
August 25, 2004, 08:00 PM
I find that when I carry I'm more relaxed, less irritated by bad drivers, rude sales clerks, obnoxious children etc. Not that my gun has anything to do with any of those things, its just that I think that knowing you have an option if the S hits the F can have an extreme calming effect overall.

You don't have to play those games anymore.

reagansquad
August 25, 2004, 08:27 PM
I realized that police weren't there to help as much as you think when I was 14 years old. There was a guy in a car parked in front of my house staring at my while I mowed the lawn. I called the cops, and it took them 2 hours to get there. By the time they did, he was long gone.

Lupine
August 25, 2004, 08:48 PM
While I feel far less helpless and anxious, I actually am far more aware of the chances I take now that I am a "gun nut" with CCW.

I'm a bit more observant of those around me. If that makes me a bit more suspicious, it's all relative to how I was before.

I go to ATMs less and carry less cash. I'm more cautious about having people see me with money, because I never want to have to shoot them. Before, I just didn't think about it at all until I was mugged at an ATM.

Tom Servo
August 25, 2004, 09:47 PM
It's better that you feel safer with a CCW, but this is a really slippery slope. A CCW is NOT a license to do anything besides carry a weapon. Using it for the wrong reasons under the wrong circumstances will still get you just as dead or incarcerated as not.

I don't do ANYTHING while carrying that I wouldn't do unarmed. It doesn't matter that I've got 13 rounds of 357sig on my belt, I'm still not going to an ATM in a bad part of town at 2:00 in the morning to withdraw a ton of cash. If someone's eyeing me, I still move to the other side of the street. I'm not going to get into any sort of confrontation that can be avoided, and I'm sure as heck NOT the law. It's still my responsibility to avoid trouble, and if shots are fired, I want to be sure there's no grey-area about what I was doing or how the situation started.

The only thing that changes is that, if trouble comes to me, I've got a better chance of coming out of it alive. Do I feel safer and more confident? Heck, yeah--my life's much less likely to be jeopardized. But there's a difference between that confidence and the type that could get me into trouble.

Vern Humphrey
August 25, 2004, 10:37 PM
Quote:
-------------------------------------
I've noticed my attitude towards the world and its dangers has slowly changed, though I don't know how much of it is due to CCW and how much to other factors.
--------------------------------------

Phil Shoemaker, in an article in Rifle on "What handgun you should carry in bear country" points out that one major benefit of carrying is the psychological effect it has on YOU. It makes you more confident, and the bear senses that.

Through your calm, confident behavior when you HAVE a gun, you will usually not NEED a gun.

Carrying also makes me aware that I have a responsibility to behave in a rational, mature manner and NOT get people mad at me.

sendec
August 25, 2004, 10:51 PM
With a couple of exceptions.

Carrying a gun is not a reason to relax, feel more at ease, less suspicious or to be less bothered than when nekkid. If anything one should be more cued in. If your gun becames a talsiman upon which your feelings depend, what are you going to do when you dont have it, or its empty or broken?

A gun is just baggage. Your mind is the weapon. Complacency kills. Be relaxed, but never relax.

Thus endeth the sermon



;)

fistful
August 25, 2004, 11:57 PM
I notice a lot of people around here like to quote Robert Heinlein. (sp?) The only Heinlein I've read is a book called Tunnel in the Sky. It's about high school kids being dropped off on different planets as the final exam of thier survival class. The instructor suggests they not take firearms, unless they are "salty"-meaning experienced, I guess. The teacher thinks a gun will make them overconfident, and they will endanger themselves needlessly, thinking they can shoot thier way out of any situation.

Selah. (Think about it)

Wildalaska
August 26, 2004, 02:51 AM
Ive been carrying so long I dont feel any different

WildbutdofeelnakedwithoutoneAlaska

Double Naught Spy
August 26, 2004, 07:56 AM
Cosmoline, what you described is rather sad. You put on your gun and turn off your brain. Basically, what you are saying is that since you carry a gun, you can now carry large amounts of cash on your person and not worry about strangers or anything else like that. You seem to have the impression that because you have a gun, you will be protected. This is certainly not substantiated by other real life events.

You carry large amounts of cash now? Somebody will notice and so now you are making yourself a target. If somebody does notice, you seem to be counting on being able to stop them if they try to rob you. Nice idea, but poor planning. They may just shoot you first without warning. Even if they don't and even if they attempt to rob you and you win, you will have managed to subject yourself to an unnecessary amount of danger by carrying around a wad of money. Of course then you will have to explain to the cops for which you now don't feel you should be paying taxes, and maybe a judge, just what your justification was for having to shoot somebody.

Having a gun does not mean you are in a safer situation. It means you have another tool by which to use in your defense or in the defense of another. Having to enter a defensive situation means your person level of risk increases dramatically. And now that you are not suspicious of strangers, you are apparently lowering your situational awareness. That is too bad.

Sendec is right. Complacency kills and it even kills people who have guns.

sendec
August 26, 2004, 08:42 AM
Uh, I was trying to be a little more diplomatic for a change...........

juggler
August 26, 2004, 09:10 AM
More polite, more aware, more thoughtful... yep.

More confident of my ability to protect me and mine....kinda. Sometimes I feel that carrying restricts my options. Unarmed I have more latitude to react to a situation without fearing that I will get drawn into a life-death situation. If I have to pull/show the firearm chances are I will be spending a lot of time/money on the legal system. H2H would be easier in some situations. Not to say that I am going to stop carrying, just an observation.

Fistful, you got the name right (Robert Heinlein). I started reading his books over 30 years ago, and still go back to them occasionally. I think many people enjoy his writings for the same reason I do.........he is a proponent of personal responsibility. His characters exhibit honor and ethics that I find admirable, and his stories make you think. Pick up Farnhams Freehold for an EOTWAWKI scenario with a twist. Then there are the Lazarus Long stories.........good reading!!

gbelleh
August 26, 2004, 11:12 AM
I've only had a CCW license for a few months. I do find myself more situationally aware, but it's a more confident awareness. Having more choices is what I find calming about carrying. If something did happen, I now have many more choices about how to deal with the situation. But, with the increase in choice comes increased responsibility. The last thing I want is to shoot anyone, but it's very nice to know that you have options other than helpless groveling at the hands of a sociopath.

Ktulu
August 26, 2004, 12:01 PM
Anyone else notice psychological changes along these lines?

I've been carrying for a few years now and, personally, I'm more sensitive to the world (especially people) around me then ever. I've noticed an increase in confidence that comes with the feeling that no matter what happens I'll be able to handle it but I also carry a tremendous responsibility to avoid trouble as much as possible.

My wife admits that she feels much safer when she's with me and she knows that I'm not only carrying but a highly honed fighting machine and master of the deadly art of Gun-fu. (Shsssssss don't tell.)

I also feel naked when I don't have my gun. Much like on the rare occasion that I forget my watch or cell phone. My awareness without my gun is much more heightened then it used to be. I now know that avoiding trouble is a MUST if I cannot return fire.

TallPine
August 26, 2004, 12:12 PM
I would say I have become more aware and more wary.

That doesn't mean that I won't help a stranger in the middle of nowhere, though. In MT there are too many lonely spaces to not help each other.

OF
August 26, 2004, 12:25 PM
one major benefit of carrying is the psychological effect it has on YOU. It makes you more confident, and the bear senses that. I believe that this is likely (although there is no way to prove it) the single most substantial benefit that carrying has on society as a whole. I think it's very likely that all the little intangible benefits that this de-sheepifying attitude change creates far outstrip the relatively few actual concrete CCW uses.

To address what sendec et al are mentioning about complacency brought on by carrying (which is a very valid point): I think there's a distinction to be made between being a functioning person, unintimidated and unafraid versus putting yourself in danger unnecessarily.

You don't want to do anything that is going to get you into a major jam, but at the same time, don't you have an obligation to 'take back the streets' in some small way? If only by walking around un-intimidated by those who spend all their lives trying to gain ground through intimidation and threat of violence. There are forces for good battling forces for evil in every neighboorhood in this country. If people do nothing, the neighboorhood will eventually fall. The more people who are unafraid, the better that neighboorhood will stay or become.

- Gabe

Vern Humphrey
August 26, 2004, 12:38 PM
Quote:
----------------------------------------
You don't want to do anything that is going to get you into a major jam, but at the same time, don't you have an obligation to 'take back the streets' in some small way?
-----------------------------------------

Yes.

There used to be a philosophy, "Give the criminal what he wants. It isn't worth your life to resist him."

Those who pushed that philosophy failed to understand that the criminal IS taking your life. Talk to anyone who's been mugged. Talk to any woman who's been raped. The criminal, in a very real sense, did take their lives, and they will never be the same again.

I would not let the government infringe on my rights. I would fight a foreign invader who tried to impose his tyranny on me. Why should I allow criminals to dictate where and when I can walk in my own town?

I will do all I can to avoid a confrontation. But I won't let criminals dictate to me.

Jack T.
August 26, 2004, 12:42 PM
Ouch. . .it is painful having to say I agree with WildAlaska. . .

OF
August 26, 2004, 12:47 PM
Why should I allow criminals to dictate where and when I can walk in my own town?

I will do all I can to avoid a confrontation. But I won't let criminals dictate to me.Well said.

- Gabe

Mikul
August 26, 2004, 01:01 PM
I applaud those of you that have become more responsible in response to your decision to carry a gun. ANYTHING that gets people to act more responsible in these times is an excellent thing indeed. But do not look to the gun as the reason for your improvement. It's all in your head, so to speak. Good men do not take action lightly, do not walk blindly, and are not braggarts. Those who carry and have become "enlightened," as it were, have become so because they are good men, not because there is steel strapped their side.

In different times, a man seen carrying a sword was a sign of nobility, and this was often so, but all men with swords were not noble.

A noble man makes a noble sword.

Andrew Rothman
August 26, 2004, 01:37 PM
I have been a security-conscious person as far back as I can remember. As such, any time I walked into a store or any other public place, I would size people up. I did this to assess the risk involved in case anyone started trouble. Now that I carry, I feel much as most of you do, generally more relaxed. Though I remain aware of my surroundings, I don't bother to size people up anymore. I know that if I am ever in danger, the playing field has been leveled.

That's a good way to get dead.

A gun isn't a talisman that will protect you from harm. It's not even a guarantee that you'll prevail in a fight. It's just a tool that may help to increase your odds of survival.

Imagine this scenario. You are about to walk into a convenience store.

The "old you" sizes people up, sees a couple of scumbags acting nervously and hanging near the front register. You decide something may be going down and decide you don't need that slushee right now. You leave immediately.

The "new you," immune from trouble, now that you're packing, breezes in and ends up in the middle of an armed robbery. There's a gun to your head, and yours is in its holster. You gonna shoot it out, cowboy?


-------------------


When I started carrying (which happened shortly after the birth of my first child), I think I realized just how careful I should really be. I now do my utmost to avoid "iffy" situations.

The consequences, ranging from hearing loss to legal bills to bodily harm to death, are just too severe to take pointless risks.

MP5
August 26, 2004, 02:25 PM
I don't CCW yet, but since I started shooting in general, my confidence and situational awareness have both risen. I'm more aware of weapons and what they can do than I ever used to be, so I keep even more of an eye out for trouble and how to avoid it in the first place. I have more confidence from learning how to use deadly weapons but also even less desire to ever use them in combat than I might have had in my pre-gun days.

I know it'll sound stupid but when I'm carrying I feel like an adult ... or more to the point, I feel like I thought I would feel as an adult when I was a child (if that makes any sense).


That's sort of how I feel about shooting in general. At the risk of sounding archaic, part of becoming a full-fledged man (or adult in general) includes learning how to defend yourself and your family with both smarts and weaponry. What guy, in his heart, ever wants to admit that he'd be helpless in a violent conflict and have to rely on cops to run to his rescue (when it's too late)?

Wildalaska
August 26, 2004, 03:03 PM
Ouch. . .it is painful having to say I agree with WildAlaska. . .

Shouldnt huirt being right for once should it? :)

WildyaknowbetterthantoleavemethatopeningAlaska

sendec
August 26, 2004, 05:57 PM
The gun is not an enabler. Possession of it should not impact your attitude at all, except perhaps to make you more aware of the awful, horrible responsibility that comes with the ability to shed blood and take life. If I would'nt go down a street unarmed, I would'nt go down it while armed. Preventing violence is the higher aim, not putting oneself at risk because of an increased likelyhood of rescue, though possession of a gun is no garantee of a good result.

If a person was intimidated before they carried, and are unintimidated when they carry, something is wrong. Self confidence should not flow from a gun.

fistful
August 26, 2004, 06:56 PM
Seems like we have two seperate, but not conflicting, principles here.

First off, a gun don't make ya bullet-proof. But...

Personal experience: The other day my fiance drove me to my apartment building, and then she drove home, but not before we talked and smooched and so on. While we were standing there, gazing into one another's eyes, a guy ran down the street behind us, covered in blood. We had no idea of this until after she was gone, and I walked up to my door, on the outside of the building, where my neighbors were talking about it. Apparently, some nasty business had been taking place in the building across the street.

One guy was rather shaken, and talked about moving out, and having a few words with our leasing agent, even though she has nothing to do with the other building. I, on the other hand, am considering putting my revolver in my truck. I haven't yet gotten a CCL, as this is new in Missouri.

Maybe he ought to move out, if he is not prepared to defend himself and others. Maybe I ought to move out, as I am no Massad Ayoob or Clint Smith. But the principle remains that if we simply move out when the neighborhood goes south, if we stay out of a part of town because it gets dangerous, we end up with bad neighborhoods, that get worse.

Bottom line: Let's use common sense, and take precautions, but let's not allow the BG's to have free reign.

MeekandMild
August 26, 2004, 08:27 PM
Interesting effects, primarily increase in my kindness toward strangers. But on the other hand all the 'brother's keeper' stuff got wearing. I became increasingly hostile toward the concept of living as one cog in the great machine of the big city until I had to move to the country.

Vern Humphrey
August 26, 2004, 11:35 PM
Quote:
-----------------------------------------
The gun is not an enabler. Possession of it should not impact your attitude at all, except perhaps to make you more aware of the awful, horrible responsibility that comes with the ability to shed blood and take life. If I would'nt go down a street unarmed, I would'nt go down it while armed.
------------------------------------------

I think we're talking past each other here -- let me hark back to Phil Shoemaker's advice about carrying a gun in bear country. There is a way you SHOULD behave when you encounter a bear that decreases the liklihood you will be attacked. But it's difficult to send the bear the right message if you're trembling and sweating, and your knees are knocking.

Being armed makes you more confident, and more able to do the right thing WITHOUT shooting the bear.

Similarly, no one goes looking for trouble, armed or unarmed. But if I NEED to go to the all night pharmacy to get medicine for my child or wife at 1:00 AM, I'll go. I have a right to go, and no hoodlum is going to deprive me of my right to go there.

BHPshooter
August 27, 2004, 12:12 AM
Vern,

I agree so much with what you've said in this thread that it would be superfluous to try to reiterate it. ;)

I can't wait until I get my CWP (4 months and counting).

Wes

PvtPyle
August 27, 2004, 12:14 AM
I am a better and camler person for my CCW. I dont worry about punks and crime either. But I notice that I don't get upset as easily, don't spout off and look for trouble (like I used to) and my general attitude is better when I carry. I think a large part of it is due to society holding us to a higher standard of conduct, and I hold myself to an even higher standard than that.

I have noticed that after carring overseas EVERY day, I don't feel the need to carry as much here. I still do, but since the threat level is a tiny bit lower here it is not second nature like it was prior to and during the deployment. I don't know why that is yet, but I am trying to sort it out.

ExtremeDooty
August 27, 2004, 01:46 AM
I don't sweat the small stuff since I started CCW. Road rage isn't an option because of where it could lead. I do feel more confident, but I don't feel the need to face down a bear to prove it. I'd rather avoid "the bear" whenever possible.

Because of my job, roof inspections and estimates, I have to go into less affluent neighborhoods on a regular basis and had been intimidated on several occasions. Since starting CCW, I've been more relaxed and confident and have not been bothered. I don't know if I've been left alone because of my attitude or if it's just my perception. I'm still very alert in those areas, I just don't seem to feel as threatened.

I also carry pepper spray for non lethal option if needed.

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