For the last year (since Bruen compelled New Jersey to start issuing permits to carry) I have been listening. Listening to people chatting at the range. Reading conversations in Facebook forums and on Reddit. Listening to conversations taking place over gun store counters as people evaluate a new carry piece. Listening as people picked up their permit at the local police department. And last night, after shooting the State’s new qualification and taking the use of force class AGAIN, listening to the questions and conversations generated from the topics in this class.
And the conclusion I’ve come to is that very few people are taking this seriously. Frankly, the level of ignorance and apathy is downright ridiculous.
I get it. We the down-trodden in New Jersey have had some of our fundamental rights restored by the Supreme Court. And for the first time in a couple of generations, we now collectively have the ability and legal capacity to to exercise those rights. It’s understandable that people are enthusiastic about doing so, but from my observations, many of us are going off half-cocked, to use a related phrase.
What makes exercising this right so much different and why should you take it more seriously?
There are two factors that I believe we should think much more deeply about now that concealed carry is available to us in New Jersey.
1) The State is watching you.
The liberal element of our State’s leadership absolutely hates the fact that they are being compelled by law to issue concealed carry permits, and that you are able to exercise this right. Make no mistake, this makes YOU a target. Perhaps even more so than criminals.
The state is just waiting to pounce on the first person who uses their firearm in a defensive shooting and indict them. Why? They want to prove that law-abiding citizens carrying firearms are a menace to society and a danger to public health and safety.
But this trap is not limited to defensive uses. The state created so many pitfalls in their Bruen-response Bill (A4769; Chapter 131) that it’s only a matter of time until they catch someone on what we would call a technicality, but what the state will call a crime (punishable by prison time).
Examples? The large and ever-changing list of prohibited locations that is amended depending on where we are in the legal challenge. The type of ammo you’re carrying (did you know you can’t carry hollow point rounds in your concealed carry weapon?). Failure to notify a police officer you are carrying. Transportation violations. The point is, you don’t even have to use your concealed firearm in a defensive situation to become a target. Merely having a permit to carry, and exercising your right to do so makes you a target from the state’s perspective, and there are plenty of ways you can get tripped up, and even an inadvertent error or misstep can result in prison time. And guess what? The state doesn’t care. That’s actually their intent.
2) The repercussions of a defensive shooting are likely beyond anything you’ve imagined.
Putting aside the fact that in a defensive shooting you may actually end up taking a life, there are many factors that most people haven’t given serious thought to.
According to conversations with instructors and police officers, you will likely experience some level of emotional and psychological trauma that will include PTSD. There is no tough-guy mentality you can use to guard against this.
You will spend tens of thousands of dollars defending yourself in court, and maybe more if it goes to a trial. Be prepared to spend $20,000 just to retain a specialized lawyer to show up at your hearing. A trial could easily push it north of $100,000 or multiple factors of that.
Your life will be put under a microscope. As mentioned above, the state will do everything they can to make you the bad guy. In a legal proceeding, they will scrutinize your history of firearms ownership and training (or lack thereof). Every social media post you made will tell a story about your thoughts and proclivities with regard to guns and use of force.
Emotional and psychological distress, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits, and possibly jail time. Are you prepared for those possibilities?
Now that we’ve outlined just how serious this responsibility is, let’s talk about some simple (not easy) things you can do to mitigate these risks.
Get training. Shooting your qualification and strapping on a pistol is the BARE MINIMUM. You need training. And you need it on a regular basis. Think about any other perishable skill in your life (sports, playing an instrument, racing a car). These are all skills that require constant practice to maintain your abilities and to improve. It’s no different with firearms. Only the consequences are far more significant.
Start with a holster draw class. They are available at almost any range, and I guarantee that if you’ve never taken one, it will open your eyes to a wide range of skills that you probably are not proficient in. Don’t stop there, get advanced training. Spend some time with an instructor one-on-one. Stress test yourself. And practice at home (dry fire), manipulating your firearm, reloading, etc. You will never rise to the occasion; you will default to your lowest level of training.
- Secure some kind of legal protection. There are a variety of solutions out there. US LawShield and USCCA offer inexpensive packages with a variety of types of coverage. In some cases this includes access to a lawyer for virtually any firearms related question, including transportation, understanding the laws, and even estate planning. If you’re in New York State, NY Tac Defense is likely your only option. The peace of mind that comes from knowing you have expert lawyers ready to come to your aid is priceless.
- Study the use of force doctrine for your state and familiarize yourself with the law. Simply put, you cannot afford to not do this. If you don’t know the law, you are undermining your own well-being. In a self defense situation-turned-court case, you will be required to explain your actions. Failure to understand and apply the law will be to your detriment.
Luckily, all the information you need to accomplish the three things above, is freely available on the internet. Much of it is on our site, including:
- Articles on training and local training facilities
- Up-to-date information on prohibited locations
- Links to Second Amendment advocacy groups