(Author's note) It has long been mantra that police, per se, are against civilian carrying of concealed firearms. That seems to be changing as evidenced by the publication of this feature article in the two primary American police training associations. The magazine, The Firearms Instructor, that first carried this important training concept is the official publication of The International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI). THE BEST OF CHUCK KLEINSince that publication in their October 2008 issue (#45), the International Law Enforcement and Educators Training Association (ILEETA) has re-printed it in their jouranl.

Following on the heals of the Supreme Court's "Heller" decision acknowledging the fundamental right to keep and bear arms, it appears that the hearts and minds of our country's first line of defense are also coming to realize the importance of civilian carrying of concealed firearms. Regardless of which way the political winds blow, the pendulum continues to swing toward our founding father's Second Amendment goals and aspirations.



Officer Safety and the Armed Citizen
© 2008Chuck Klein, Member IALEFI

Over 40 states now allow concealed carry for private citizens. Ranking police officers and many police associations have historically been opposed to allowing civilians to carry concealed firearms in public. At least one of the reasons was rooted in the exclusivity of the "badge club," i.e., it's cool to carry an off-duty gun and only those who are sworn cops should be allowed to do so. Other reasons, such as: if- everyone- has-a-gun-there-will-be-shoot-outs-over-every-traffic-stop have not materialized. They have not occurred because not everyone applies, much less carries even if they are a holder of a concealed gun permit. Additionally, those who are successful in securing a civilian carry permit - after a background check and instruction course - are not the type of people who become threats to anyone other than a felon. Statistically, only a very small portion (4-6%) of the general population actually secure a permit. The increasing number of reports where armed citizens have saved their own lives or thwarted a felonious assault just by the mere presence of a firearm supports civilian carry. There are documented cases of where a legally armed civilian has come to the aid of an under-attack police officer

We are beginning to experience a new type of criminal, the Suicidal-Bang-Man (SBM). This disgruntled/misfit/crazy (take your pick) comes to the realization that he is never going to amount to  much or get his "15 minutes" of fame in a legitimate format. His anger at his predicament (or those he perceives have caused it) have generated a need to not only go-out-with-a-bang, but to guarantee he won't have to suffer the indignities of a public lambasting or end up crippled for life and/or in a prison cell. The SBM can, in one glorious rage-relieving, defining, Rambo-like killing spree, meet all his needs.

Though the SBM might be deranged, he isn't stupid. It is clear that most of the public arena shooting rampages were planned out by the Suicide Bang Man. In almost all cases he has been successful because he conducted deadly attacks in "Gun Free Zones" (GFZ).

And herein lies the problem. Clearly they are not gun free zones as the SBM had a gun in this zone where he was not only able to conduct his murderous assaults, but knew he would have the time to commit suicide before the police could arrive.

It is the media that has labeled places that post a sign saying "No Guns Allowed" as a GFZ because it provides for a feeling of security. This pseudo sense of a protected location is what attracts SBMs. The correct term for such places - other than truly GFZ such as court houses and airports where uniformed officers screen for weapons - is a Self-Defense-Free zone. The problem is enhanced due to the huge number of places that, statutorily, prohibit even licensed persons from carrying concealed firearms. This begs the question: If the state, through its testing, background checks and licensing procedures has deemed the licensee to be qualified to carry a concealed firearm in public, by what standards does a shopping mall, church or public/private business use to determine that this state licensed person is not qualified or is a threat to anyone other than an armed criminal?

It would serve the public (and police officers - including their families) to support removing any restrictions for the lawful carrying of concealed firearms anywhere. The only exceptions would be where metal detectors, manned by uniformed agents or other such screening methods for entry, are in use in a border-secure area. Perhaps if police agencies were to pass out signs to local businesses saying: "Criminals Beware, Patrons and/or Employees May Be Armed," it might reduce the opportunities for SBMs.

Regardless of all the rules, laws and statutes to contain "undesirables" and to keep body armor piercing firearms from them, there will always be threats that only can be answered with deadly force. Yesterday it was the hostage taker, today the Suicidal Bang Man, tomorrow…. If history is any indicator of future happenings, armed and trained citizens have proven their worth. Having read this far, you might be thinking, What does this have to do with me, a police firearms instructor? Someday, if you (and your students) are lucky, you'll be a civilian again. How will you be able to defend yourself and your family if you're suddenly in the range of a SBM. Yeah, I know there's a federal law that allows retired officer to carry concealed firearms IF they comply with their agency's rules, policies and procedures. However, this is not all that it seems. Some agencies have installed draconian measures for this special license (justly so to protect the agency from liability suits). Of course, if you don't retire (resign)  then that federal law doesn't apply. Many retired officer take the easy way and secure a civilian state carry permit upon leaving the force. However, whether armed, under the state or agency permit, you will still have to comply with state laws, i.e., it will be illegal to carry in posted places.

It is my suggestion that IALEFI members use their influence and expertise to encourage off-duty, retired and former police officers to always be armed and to support trained civilian carry anywhere except truly secure areas.

Chuck Klein is a former police officer, retired Licensed Private Investigator and author of Instinct Combat Shooting, Defensive Handgunning for Police, Guns in the WorkPlace, A Manual for Private Sector Employees and Employers and other firearm and police related books.