Owning and Carrying a Handgun 101 Part Four

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

With an up coming “fundamentals” handgun course coming up soon, I decided to step back to the very basics of owning and carrying a handgun for self-defense reasons. Here is a very brief look at the very basics of this very important decision and topic.

This take on these basic concepts are geared toward Nevada state law. Please check the laws in the area that you live.


The philosophy of trying to avoid being targeted for a criminal attack is always a good idea.  Inside of your home you want to set up a “layered” approach to security.  Lighted exterior, trimmed bushes, a dog with beware of dog signs, good locks and dead bolts, security screens, alarm systems with signs are all part of the “layered” security approach.

Avoidance in a Car

The best plan is to just leave the area in your car.  If you are fighting for your life and you cannot just leave, the car is a far more effective weapon than your gun.  Keep your windows rolled up and your doors lock.  Leave space in between you and the car in front of you so you can maneuver and leave the area.

Avoidance on the Street

There are three very good rules that everyone should follow to reduce their chances of being targeted for a crime on the streets.

The “Three Stupid” Rule

“Do not go to stupid places, with stupid people, and do stupid things”

We all know that nobody wants thugs to dictate where they can or cannot go.  Put there are simply some places, people, and things that you should avoid if you want to lower your risks.

The Grey Man/Woman

The grey man/woman walks through life unnoticed.  They do not drive fancy expensive cars that are all “blinged” out.  They do not show of their expensive jewelry collection everywhere that they go.  They do not cover their cars with “I own guns” bumper stickers.  They do not advertise themselves with “shoot me first” clothing covered in gun manufacturers logos or pro-gun slogans.  They do not where fanny packs, photographers vest, or combat boots.  They go unnoticed so that they reduce their chances of being targeted by a criminal.


Being aware or your surroundings is always a good idea.  For most of the people in America this is simply not the way things are done.  People get so caught up in their lives that they do not notice anything else.  For people who conceal carry this is not a wise way to walk through life.  Being aware does not mean that you are paranoid.  It just means that your head is up and you know what is going on around you.   The very best way to look at awareness is the “Color Code of Mental Awareness.”

  • White – Unaware and unprepared. If attacked in Condition White, the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy or ineptitude of your attacker.  When confronted by something nasty, your reaction will probably be “Oh my God! This can’t be happening to me.”
  • Yellow – Relaxed alert. No specific threat situation.  Your mindset is that “today could be the day I may have to defend myself.” You are simply aware that the world is a potentially unfriendly place and that you are prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.  You use your eyes and ears, and realize that “I may have to SHOOT today.” You don’t have to be armed in this state, but if you are armed you should be in Condition Yellow.  You should always be in Yellow whenever you are in unfamiliar surroundings or among people you don’t know.  You can remain in Yellow for long periods, as long as you are able to “Watch your six.” (In aviation 12 o’clock refers to the direction in front of the aircraft’s nose.  Six o’clock is the blind spot behind the pilot.) In Yellow, you are “taking in” surrounding information in a relaxed but alert manner, like a continuous 360 degree radar sweep.  As Cooper put it, “I might have to shoot.”
  • Orange – Specific alert. Something is not quite right and has gotten your attention.  Your radar has picked up a specific alert.  You shift your primary focus to determine if there is a threat (but you do not drop your six).  Your mindset shifts to “I may have to shoot HIM today.” In Condition Orange, you set a mental trigger: “If that goblin does ‘x’, I will need to stop him.” Your pistol usually remains holstered in this state.  Staying in Orange can be a bit of a mental strain, but you can stay in it for as long as you need to.  If the threat proves to be nothing, you shift back to Condition Yellow.  Cooper described this as “I might have to shoot HIM,” referring to the specific target which has caused the escalation in alert status.
  • Red – Condition Red is fight. Your mental trigger (established back in Condition Orange) has been tripped.  If “X” happens I will shoot that person.

Your number one philosophy for personal security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation.

Avoidance: The act of avoiding or keeping away from (Three Stupid Rule.) If you can safely retreat from the encounter, by all means do so. For instance, if you are out for a walk and feel threatened or intimidated by an occupant of a car, you should retreat in the opposite direction that the car is traveling.

Deterrence: The act of discouraging someone from taking hostile action against you by being aware of them and their possible intent.

De-escalation: The act of decreasing in intensity.  To not let your ego or emotions get the best of you, to refrain from escalating the problem into more than it already is.  As a CCW you may need to back down from non-life threatening, argumentative encounters in order to not allow things to spiral out of control.

When these things do not work, then and only then may you need to show or use the gun.  Just because we are carrying does not mean that we need to use the gun.  You want to do whatever is reasonably possible to avoid using the gun.  But when your well researched, well thought out “line in the sand” has been crossed you need to act without hesitation.

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