Whether or not you choose to carry a concealed firearm, the defensive mindset is the same. It must start with a heightened awareness of your surroundings and a commitment to you own and others safety.
The single most important mindset is avoidance, the only conflict you will ALWAYS win, is the one you don’t have. This is especially important when you choose to be armed, your level of personal responsibility is increased exponentially. You are carrying a destructive device capable of causing great harm in the wrong hands or when improperly used.
I have made the choice to be an armed citizen, a decision I made over 30 years ago. The lessons of restraint and composure that come with this lifestyle are important. In all the time I have carried, I have never had to engage a threat with my firearm. It is extremely important to ALWAYS consider a firearm the choice of last resort. You cannot un-kill someone and you will change your own life forever, if or when you choose to use a firearm in defense of yourself or another.
You need to measure the threat appropriately, the intent of a defensive handgun, is by definition defense. When you engage a perceived threat be sure you are not becoming offensive by this act. For example, when I was much younger I was taking Criminal Justice night classes at our local community college, I used our mass transit system, one of the best in the country at the time. I was standing in the bus shelter after class one night, I was armed as usual, when out of nowhere a young gang member runs up to the shelter wielding a large frame stainless revolver. Now, of course this moved me to orange immediately, as one would imagine, but I stayed composed and ready, and observed his behavior, he simply looked around furtively and jammed the handgun under the bench before running away.
Never once did he become aggressive or threatening to me, now I could have easily over-reacted and escalated this encounter by confronting him with my firearm, but that would have made me the aggressor not him. As it turns out, he returned a short while later, before my bus came, and retrieved his handgun, never once paying much attention to me. I later reported the incident to the police, but keep in mind, as hard as it might be to grasp, this was before cell phones. I called from home, I can still see his face, to this day.
As you can see, we must always consider the threat, or lack of threat, in each and every encounter. Your firearm must ALWAYS be a choice of last resort. We carry to defend ourselves and those we love, always be defensive, not the aggressor.
Stay Vigilant and Be Prepared