by Chuck Klein, Copyright 2018, 2020

Published: Gun Mag Jan 2018
                  P.I. Magazine May/Jun 2019
                  IALEFI The Trainer Suppliment: June 2020
When it comes to firearms, there are three types of police officers: One who always carries a handgun for personal protection and the one who doesn’t – the third, I’ll get to later. 
I returned the smile while putting a finger to my lips in the classic “shhh” expression. Even though the hair on my neck was standing on end and my back was now to them as I walked past, I never broke stride. I was no longer an LEO, but I’m convinced my character said I was and that was enough to keep them at bay. I don’t believe I could have pulled that off sans the Colt. Looking tough, but knowing there is no gun available can sometimes be discerned by street-smart thugs who also have a 6th sense. My son drove me home later using a different set of streets. 
 If you believe that psychological tough talk will enable you to bluff your way out of a dangerous situation, you might be wrong...dead wrong. Super-predators - losers with nothing to lose - can't be bluffed. 
 I’ve been lucky. Other than the range or hunting game, I have never fired my gun. However, I wouldn’t be writing this today had I not had a firearm during a number of instances as a cop, a P.I., and regular citizen.  The aforementioned third type of law officer, the sometimes carrier, creates a conflict inasmuch as pretending toughness or inadvertently walking into a restricted location while armed and, of course, reaching for a gun when one isn’t there but is needed.
Consider the officer who straps on his/her duty weapon, goes about his/ her daily routine, comes home, stores the gun and then … a thug/past-target crashes thru the front door while the firearm is … stored. Or, he/she forgot to pick-up the milk on the way home and slips out, holding hands with a young daughter for a quick run to the local stop & rob, sans a gun. “It’s just a quick trip, honey – we’ll be right back.” At the S&R, they walks into a robbery/mass shooting in-progress where the robber/shooter is coming after him/her and the child….   
 Other than statutory restrictions, there is only one condition when you should never have a firearm on your body (or very close at hand) – when under the influence of anything that may impair your thinking. Yes.  Even in your own castle, it is best to carry not only for the actual protection, but because it keeps you mindful that this power to protect is right where it should be. Besides, no child can get to it - if secure on your body.  
If you think it best to pass laws making it tougher for law-abiding citizens to own/carry guns – you might be part of the problem, because one day, if you’re lucky – just like your spouse is now - you’ll only be an ordinary citizen. 
Chuck Klein is a former LEO, retired P.I., NRA Certified Firearms Instructor, active member IALEFI and author. Contact him via his website: 
 Being an LEO involves far more danger than that of any other profession. As a cop even when off-duty, running into a disgruntled past arrestee could generate a physical attack on you or the family members you might be with at the time.  Back when I attended the police academy, one of my fellow recruits asked the OIC if we should carry our handguns while off-duty. His answer was so succinct and obvious and made such complete sense that, not only have I lived it, but I’ve taught it in my classes and written it into my books and articles. The 
Norwood, Ohio police lieutenant said:  “One either never carries a firearm, or one always carries, but one never sometimes carries."  
 In other words, if your mindset is that you are carrying, then you won’t be transmitting vibes of fear. It naturally forces you to be in condition yellow at all times – aware of your surroundings. This persona of confidence is telegraphed by your posture and the ability to look anyone in the eye with conviction. That shield in your pocket is no protection against a homicidal maniac.  
 Cops, per se, have that 6th sense – the innate ability to “read people.” But we also project a demeanor that ofttimes is discernable by criminals with animal-type instincts. In other words, the bad guys can read us too. Those who carry the power of life or death on their person tend to transmit a self-preservation bearing. The only possible advantage to never carrying is not having to worry about being in a place that forbids possession of a lethal weapon – such as airports or when consuming alcoholic beverages.  
 When I moved to the downtown portion of Cincinnati as a civilian and after 17 years of country living, I was saved by my projected image. On a warm summer evening, I decided to walk to my son’s home about 8-10 blocks away. What I didn’t realize was my course took me through a high-crime neighborhood – one where tennis shoes hung from telephone and cable wires. The streets were lined with dilapidated rowhouses that had only a sidewalk between them and the curb. I was outfitted in shorts and a loose-fitting, short-sleeve shirt covering a 2 1/2” Colt Diamondback .38 in a strongside holster. 
Sensing this route was not a good plan, I stuck to the middle of the narrow, garbage-strewn street. Approaching a cluster of drug-seller types dressed in underwear-exposing garb, I looked them over, eye-to-eye. One of the gangbangers stepped away from the group and smiled showing a diamond studded tooth before saying, “What’s shakin’, officer.”