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October 28 : 2014  
Guest Editorial: Avoiding Negative Outcomes
Claude Werner begins his exploration of the 'software' component of defensive firearms with this piece on negative outcomes. This begins a multi-part series that disposes of trite sayings from instructors and gunshop commandos, pushes aside the common trends, and brings serious thought to preparation, planning, and what we should avoid. Fighting is a "game" of minds.

Many 'to-do' lists published for gunowners are reverse engineered in the form of 'Mistakes Concealed Carriers Make' or the like. Those lists usually include topics such as: caliber, not carrying all the time, printing, touching, forgetting the firearm, wrong equipment or clothes, not knowing the laws, etc.

While those are worth considering, it's also useful to think more about future results, both in terms of positive outcomes and negative outcomes. After all, the whole purpose of owning a weapon for personal protection is avoiding a negative outcome, to wit: death or serious bodily injury. However, as the saying goes: "There's no such thing as a free lunch." Owning a firearm can also put us in the position of incurring negative outcomes.

What kind of negative outcomes could occur? How about the ones that will land you or an innocent person in the hospital or morgue? Ending up in prison is also definitely a negative outcome.

Negative outcomes can result from problems such as:

• Gunhandling issues
o Negligent discharges - shooting yourself unintentionally
o Negligent discharges - shooting someone else unintentionally
o Losing or forgetting your gun in a public place

• Marksmanship issues
o Lacking confidence in your ability and getting too close to a criminal
o Shooting beyond your skill level and hitting an innocent downrange

• Tactical issues
o Shooting at someone without identifying the target
o Chasing criminals after they break off contact

• Legal issues
o Shooting when it's not justified
o Carrying where it's illegal
o Firing warning shots, a la Joe Biden

Issues like that are things that gunowners often don't realize can hurt them badly. And don't think that 'common sense,' which is frequently preached, will prevent them. There is little common sense in the law; in fact, much of it is the opposite of common sense. And common sense, in general, is a conscious process. Unfortunately, gunhandling and shooting, like driving a motor vehicle, are largely unconscious processes. We learn unconscious processes during the mechanical repetition of training and practice, not by reading and thinking.

New gun owners aren't the only ones with issues, either. Long time owners often are just tempting the law of averages or they have become complacent. Complacency is one of the greatest dangers of gun ownership. If you go to any gun show or gun shop, you will see it in action at almost every table and counter by people who have owned and handled guns for a long time.

While it's usually not useful to dwell on what not to do, because you can't do a negative, it can be useful to think about what to avoid. Avoidance is the conscious observation of a known hazard and then going around it. That's something we can do, as long as we know what the hazard is. We do it every time we see a hole in the ground and walk around it.

This is the first of series of articles about hazards, negative outcomes, and how to avoid them.

Claude Werner is The Tactical Professor. He served in Airborne, Ranger, Special Forces and Mechanized Infantry units in the US Army as both an enlisted man and an officer. His military assignments include being a Special Forces A-Team Commander, Intelligence Officer, and Mechanized Infantry Company Commander. Well known in the shooting community, he was formerly the Chief Instructor of the elite Rogers Shooting School and has won six sanctioned IDPA Championships with snub nose revolvers. In his civilian career, he was Research Director of three commercial real estate firms and was the National Director of Real Estate Research for Deloitte & Touche LLP. His blog is Tactical Professor Here

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