One of the first things any competent carry instructor teaches his or her students is conflict avoidance. This is (or should be) a basic way of life for all of us who carry firearms for self-defense. Someone with a short temper, a belligerent attitude, or, for lack of a better description, a chip on their shoulder, should seriously consider whether or not they should be carrying a gun.
Not only are such people more likely to get into serious trouble, they can make things more difficult for the rest of us, when their actions lead to greater restrictions on our rights. Thankfully, most of us do go out of our way to avoid confrontations.
But what should we do when we meet people who seem to be intent on provoking a confrontation with us?
As you may have noticed, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of “busybodies” in our culture—people who seem to feel entitled to openly criticize the behavior of others, even when it has no effect on them. A couple of examples should illustrate this.
One friend of mine is a fitness fanatic. He’s a former Army Ranger who runs, works out and spends a lot of time on his bicycle. He never wears a helmet, and the other day, as he was riding down the side of the road, some guy in a car screamed at him, “Hey, where’s your helmet, a__hole!” My friend, who was carrying, wisely chose not to respond. He is fully aware that escalating such a situation has no upside to it, especially for him.
Another permit holder I know, a Vietnam combat veteran, was sitting on a bench in a local public park, quietly enjoying one of his favorite cigars. No surprise, it wasn’t long before some guy walking a dog came along and said to my friend, “That’s disgusting!”
The Vet, one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, calmly replied, “Well, sir, since this is America, I guess you’re entitled to your opinion.” The dog-walker became downright hostile, and yelled, “Oh, go f__k yourself!” The Vet simply smiled and said nothing. As he related to me, “Some folks just aren’t worth the hassle.” He’s right.
We do seem to live in a world where people no longer respect the once time-honored American saying, “Mind your own business.” I’ve seen people putting notes on cars because they were parked in the “Handicapped” space. What business is it of theirs? Order a burger cooked “bloody rare” and the waitress will now very likely frown and tell you, “That’s not good for you, ya’ know.”
I recently had a woman sitting next to me at a breakfast café. As I salted my eggs and hash browns, this complete stranger actually had the nerve to lean over and tell me, “You shouldn’t be using so much salt. It causes high blood pressure.” I simply replied, “Ma’am, I am perfectly capable of deciding what I can or cannot eat. I’m sure you can do the same.”
Now, most of these rude people are merely annoying, and seldom dangerous. But any confrontation can spiral out of control. So, first and foremost, make sure that YOU “mind your own business” yourself (hint: see “Road Rage”). Then learn to ignore or walk away from those who don’t mind theirs. Common sense should trump ego, and avoiding conflict is always the better option.
Stay smart. Stay safe.