The first thing you need to understand is that in a court of law, arguably the most unreliable piece of evidence is an eye witness testimony.
During a high stress situation involving multiple people and perhaps only one dirtbag, often police get varying witness statements: “The dirtbag had a gun” “He had a knife” “He left in a van” “…left in a truck” etc. etc. Sometimes, witnesses will even have varying physical descriptions, “He was tall” “He was short” “He was blonde” “He was brunette”.
We as concealed carriers not only have a responsibility to be good citizens, but also good witnesses. Something that we all must face is that there will be times, places, and situations where we will not be carrying our CCW. It’s a risk, but that’s life.
One of the things that my mother drilled into my head was that “if it’s not written down, it didn’t happen,” because its about what you can prove. In the movies famous “hunches” or “gut-feelings” make for good stories, but its not evidence.
Now I’m not saying that those feelings are useless—on the contrary. Humans have those senses for a reason. You feel like you’re being watched? You probably are—it’s apart of instinct. Now we’re not talking paranoia here, but if you walk into a store or someone walks up to you and you get that feeling, keep your eyes open.
In a stressful situation especially when you can’t carry, there are a few things that will help you be a good witness.
1. Stay in Yellow
Situational awareness has different levels and we all harp on them. But remaining alert with your “head on a swivel” will help you. When I first started concealed carrying, I didn’t pay attention to people that gave me that feeling (discussed above). Thankfully I didn’t get into a bad situation, but I realized (in hindsight) that I could have. Like I mentioned, that feeling is useful in the sense that you should pay attention to what is happening, what’s being said, who is there, etc.
2. Look at People & Behavior
I mean really look at them and remember those features and clothes. Test yourself if it helps. Go to your favorite diner, observe for 20 minutes, then try to remember the patrons’ features. When giving a statement to police, you’ll want to tell them identifying features: tattoos, scars, piercings, heterochromia (two different eye colors), etc. Also make note if a bad guy touches a door, a table—something useful for evidence collection.
3. Pay Attention to Vehicles & Flee Direction
I’m not saying to write down every single license plate you see—that’s a little much. But you should be able to remember a series of 6 letters and numbers if something happens. Practice if it helps. You should also pay attention to which way they go if you’re able.
This is not an extensive list, but if you think I missed an important point, let me know in the comments.
Hannah Staton holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith where she also is a Writing Tutor. She was issued her Concealed Carry License in 2016, but has grown up around firearms her whole life. She is a Contributing Editor and Copy Writer for Clinger Holsters. She is an artist, cigar enthusiast, poet, and an avid shooter. She resides in Van Buren, Arkansas with her dog, Sunday and spends as much of her free time either with her family or making art. You can find her on Instagram @hr.staton or reach her by email: firstname.lastname@example.org