“ . . . . . . I was just so angry . . . .”
“ . . . . . . he was temporarily insane . . . .”
“ . . . . . . I’ve never been that scared – I couldn’t help myself . . . .”
“. . . . . . “I was sssoooooooo pissed . . . .”
Heat of the Moment: done without thought because of anger or excitement.
Anger, fear, excitement – they’re powerful emotions that can play havoc with a person’s mind. The can lead to massive chemical dumps in your body – chemical dumps that effect your ability to think, see, move, breathe . . . . . They are usually generated by an event – an attack, an argument, a memory . . . . They are difficult to anticipate, difficult to control and can easily leave death and destruction in their wake.
That said, you – as a shooter, as an individual practicing the use of a firearm to protect yourself, your family or your friends, as a person who likely carries this firearm on a daily basis – you are expected to be in control of yourself and your weapon at all times. So let’s chat about the “Heat of the Moment” and some of the things you can do to train for it and to help mitigate it.
“The Moment” is why I say over and over and over . . . . “Wear your damn gun!!” I live in rural Iowa – probably one of the most secure and safest areas you could live in the US. Still, even we are not immune to the threat of violent criminals, drug gangs, armed robbery or home invasion. The last piece of “clothing” I put on each morning is my weapon and a spare magazine. At night, it’s removed before I go to bed and placed in its home – a drawer near my bed. Every day . . . . without fail. Do I leave my house expecting to be assaulted every day?? Of course not. Is it a possibility?? Yep, as it is for you as you step out of your home and go through your day.
“The Moment” is when you walk into a convenience store expecting to get a hot cup of coffee and find yourself in the middle of a robbery. Or you’re standing in front of your teller at your local bank as a robbery goes down. You’re walking to your car from the big-box store when a couple guys begin to track your movements. You’re sitting in church when a door bursts open and a guy with a shotgun runs in. A quiet evening on the couch with the kids is shattered by a couple guys kicking in your front door.
Or perhaps it’s your “ex” and all the anger, the animosity, the frustration floods your body. The school/office/town bully puts you in their sights and again the verbal assault begins and they do their best to humiliate you! You brain demands action!
“The HEAT” is how you react, how you control your mind and body, what actions you choose. Those that simply surrender to the emotional and chemical demands of the body are the ones that you read about in court. “I was so angry – I couldn’t control myself!” “I was so frightened I just kept blasting away!” “I was just out of control!!” “I was temporarily insane!” Their “Heat” becomes their excuse. These things typically do not end well for the shooter. “The Heat of the Moment” is NOT an excuse for your actions – PERIOD!
So how can you mitigate your body’s reaction to “The Moment”? Your best tool is on-going training. If you have taken a single class – the bare minimum to get a carry permit in your state – and then strapped on a holster and your defensive weapon, chances are things could go sideways on you fairly quickly during “The Moment”. There are a number of solid courses that are offered throughout the country that focus on Close Quarter Combat skills to enable you to react quickly and soundly if attacked. Take one . . . or two . . . . take a course of some type each and every year. Take one that will allow you to learn a new skill set that you can practice on the range after you come home.
Range trips should be scenario based. Work on marksmanship as well as your draw and first round hits. Play scenarios in your mind that covers everything from an unexpected encounter in a parking lot to a bank robbery while you’re standing in line.
Work encounters through in your head. When you are sitting on the couch this evening think about “The Moment” should someone burst through your door. Do you have your gun?? Why not? Where is your safe room? Where is your wife/husband/kid? Do you have your cell on you? Still have that spare magazine in your pocket? Where is the cover in your home?
If you work – NOW – through the possibilities, threats and reactions – should a real threat appear, you already have a plan in place. Will it be perfect?? Nope – BUT it will be a beginning that will take the edge off and help you keep your “Heat” from adding to a bad day.
And lest you think “The Heat of the Moment” applies only to individuals, let’s take a quick look at the results of the Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings. There’s a story told about a conversation between Thomas Jefferson and George Washington after his return from France. Jefferson was curious why the delegates to the Constitution Convention had created the Senate. Washington’s purported response?
"Why did you pour that tea into your saucer?" asked Washington. "To cool it," said Jefferson. "Even so," responded Washington, "we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it."
The thought at the time was that the “hotheads” would be those elected to the House of Representatives and they would be filtered out every two years by recurring elections if they got out of hand. They would be reactionary, impulsive and their legislation would need tempering.
That became the job of the Senate appointed (at that time) by the governors of each state. These would be the “adults” in Congress tasked with refining and “cooling” the legislation proposed by the House. Since they were not elected – but appointed – they would not fall prey to the demands of the people of their state, but could remain a bit more aloof allowing them to be a bit more rational and not subject to the emotion of “The Moment” and the next election.
A quick review of the actions of the Congress following Aurora and Sandy Hook show the wisdom of the founders and the folly of those that followed. Moving the Senate to the electoral court has turned the “saucer” into the “tea kettle” that is boiling on the stove. The aftermath of Aurora and Sandy Hook has been an attempt to pass broad scale legislation that continues to curtail the Constitutional rights of America’s citizens while doing little or nothing to protect “the children”.
States have not been left out of this “heat of the moment” reaction either with New York, Colorado and Connecticut passing laws restricting the freedoms of the law abiding citizen while having no effect on the criminal that willingly break the law. The shooters at both Aurora and Sandy Hook broke dozens of laws – all quite willingly. It’s estimated that there are over 20,000 gun laws on the books today - a few more will not stop the next theater or mall or park or school shooting. It will simply make the law abiding citizen a bit more unsafe.
“The Heat of the Moment” can affect anyone. It is YOUR responsibility to train, anticipate, speculate and prepare yourself for “The Moment”. You are the only one who can do that. Remember . . . .
You have all the time in the world today to prepare . . . .
Is it time to hit the range tonight???