Mastering Emotional Intelligence: The Key to Responsible Concealed Carry

Mastering Emotional Intelligence: The Key to Responsible Concealed Carry

Imagine a seemingly ordinary day turned perilous: a casual disagreement at a traffic signal escalates into a heated confrontation. In such a volatile moment, the line between self-defense and unnecessary aggression blurs alarmingly. This is where emotional intelligence, a crucial yet often overlooked aspect, becomes pivotal for those carrying concealed weapons. Concealed carry is not just about the right to bear arms; it's a profound responsibility that demands astute emotional control. Mastering your emotions is as essential as marksmanship for concealed carriers, potentially turning a heated moment into a controlled, safe resolution.

The Emotional Intelligence Arsenal of an Armed American

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a critical yet often overlooked aspect of responsible gun ownership, especially for those who choose to carry concealed weapons. At its core, EQ involves understanding and managing one's own emotions while being attuned to the feelings of others. This multifaceted skill set is vital for armed Americans, as it directly impacts decision-making, conflict resolution, and overall safety.

Self-Awareness: The first component of EQ is self-awareness, which involves recognizing one's emotions and their impact on thoughts and behavior. For a concealed carrier, this means understanding how fear, stress, or anger can affect their judgment and reaction in potentially volatile situations.

Self-Regulation: Closely linked to self-awareness is self-regulation – the ability to control emotions and impulses. In the context of carrying a concealed weapon, this means being able to remain calm under pressure and avoiding impulsive decisions that could lead to dangerous escalations.

Motivation: A person with high EQ is generally self-motivated, with a focus on personal and societal goals. For armed individuals, this translates to a commitment to responsible gun ownership and use, driven by values rather than fleeting emotions or external validation.

Empathy: This is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. In the realm of concealed carry, empathy helps in de-escalating conflicts and understanding the perspectives of others, potentially averting misunderstandings that could lead to unnecessary violence.

Social Skills: These involve managing relationships and building networks. For a concealed carrier, effective social skills can mean the difference between resolving a conflict peacefully and exacerbating a tense situation.

The armed American who masters these aspects of emotional intelligence becomes more than just a gun owner; they become a responsible, aware, and empathetic member of society, capable of making decisions that prioritize safety and understanding over haste and hostility. This understanding of emotional intelligence doesn't just empower individuals; it fosters a safer community for all.

Managing Anger for Safe Concealment

Anger and firearms are a volatile combination. When emotions flare, the clarity and judgment needed for safe concealed carry can be clouded. Understanding and managing anger is not just a personal virtue; it's a safety imperative for anyone carrying a concealed weapon.

The dangers of mixing anger with firearms are significant. In moments of anger, the likelihood of misinterpreting a situation or reacting disproportionately increases. This can escalate a potentially manageable situation into a dangerous confrontation. Responsible gun owners must, therefore, develop strategies to manage anger and stress effectively.

Effective anger management strategies include:

Breathing Techniques: Engaging in breathing exercises can help calm the nervous system and provide clarity in tense situations. A specific technique I like to recommend comes from the Stanford neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman, known as the “psychological sigh,” which can be particularly effective in reducing stress quickly. More details on this technique can be found here.

Pause and Reflect: Taking a moment to step back and assess the situation objectively can prevent an immediate, emotion-fueled response.

Regular Stress-Relief Practices: Activities like exercise, meditation, or engaging in hobbies can help maintain a balanced emotional state.

Mindfulness and Awareness: Practicing mindfulness can aid in recognizing the onset of anger and taking proactive steps to mitigate it.

Seeking Professional Help: If anger issues are persistent and impactful, seeking help from a mental health professional can be beneficial.

Scenario-Based Training: Participating in training that simulates high-stress scenarios can prepare concealed carriers to make better decisions under pressure. Classes like Chris Cypert's “Force-on-Force Adaptive Scenario Training (FFAST)” that was offered at the Guardian Conference are invaluable in this regard. FFAST provides realistic, scenario-based training that helps in developing the necessary skills to handle real-life confrontations safely and effectively. Such training goes beyond basic firearm handling, focusing on critical thinking, decision-making, and emotional control in high-pressure situations. For more information and to explore similar training opportunities, visit the Guardian Conference website.

By mastering these strategies, concealed carriers can ensure they are prepared not only with a weapon but with the emotional stability necessary for responsible gun ownership. Managing anger is not about suppressing emotions but about understanding and channeling them in a way that ensures safety and sound judgment.

The Intersection of Emotional Intelligence and Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is a key skill for those carrying concealed weapons, significantly enhanced by emotional intelligence. EQ aids in accurately perceiving, interpreting, and responding to various environmental subtleties. It goes far beyond basic observation, requiring an understanding of the underlying emotional dynamics in any given situation. This deeper insight allows for a more nuanced interpretation of events and interactions, crucial for effective and safe decision-making in concealed carry scenarios.

Empathy, a component of EQ, is particularly vital in situational awareness. It allows for a deeper understanding of the intentions and emotions of others, enabling a concealed carrier to better assess potential threats and react appropriately. Social awareness, another aspect of EQ, aids in reading social cues and understanding group dynamics, which can be critical in crowded or complex situations.

High EQ enables carriers to make informed decisions that take into account both physical and emotional aspects of a situation. This advanced awareness is crucial for preemptively identifying and de-escalating conflicts. By understanding and interpreting emotional cues in different scenarios, a carrier with high EQ can ensure a safer outcome, not just for themselves but for everyone involved. This skill is as vital as physical firearm proficiency in responsible concealed carry.

Navigating Conflict with Compassion in Concealed Carry

Empathy is vital in responsible gun ownership, yet, in my experience, it often seems to be lacking in the firearms community, especially in my daily social media interactions on our posts. Every day I read very disturbing responses to events and it's often painful to see such a lack of care for our fellow man. Though I think many wouldn't say it out loud in public they are thinking these things and are more than willing to spout their ignorance from behind the safety of a keyboard and computer screen. I believe that we can all be better in this area.

Understanding and considering others' perspectives are essential for safety and conflict resolution. Gun owners with empathy can better anticipate and understand others' actions, leading to safer, more thoughtful decision-making. This is crucial in reducing conflicts and de-escalating tense situations. Unfortunately, the lack of empathy and compassion I observe in online comments indicates a need for greater emotional intelligence within the concealed carry circles. Prioritizing empathy can transform interactions, favoring peaceful resolutions over confrontations.

Kettlebell workout

Physical Exercise is key to developing proper stress management.

Steady Hand, Steady Heart: Self-Regulation in Concealed Carry

Self-regulation, encompassing self-control and discipline, is crucial for concealed carriers. It involves maintaining composure and making reasoned decisions, especially under stress. Techniques for maintaining calm include focused breathing, mindfulness meditation, and engaging in regular physical activity. These practices help in managing stress, and providing clarity in high-pressure situations. For some more detailed techniques on staying calm, especially during turbulent times, you can refer to this article from Harvard Health here.

Sharpening Your Emotional Acumen

Developing emotional intelligence is a dynamic and enriching process, essential for both personal growth and effective concealed carry. It begins with self-reflection, where one learns to identify and understand personal emotions and triggers. Engaging in exercises like group discussions or role-playing can challenge and refine one's empathy and social skills. Pursuing continuous learning through books, workshops, and courses on emotional intelligence further enhances this skill set. Integrating EQ principles into regular firearm training cultivates a more comprehensive approach to responsible carrying. This focus on continuous self-improvement in emotional intelligence not only benefits personal development but also significantly enhances community safety, creating a more aware and empathetic individual.

2022 guardian conference welcome

Attending the Guardian Conference is a great idea and can play a big role in developing EQ.

The Final Aim: Embracing Emotional Intelligence in Every Shot of Life

Carrying a concealed weapon requires not just physical skills and tactics but also emotional control and understanding. Developing EQ through self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills is crucial. These elements help manage personal emotions, understand others, and make informed decisions, significantly enhancing personal and community safety. Embracing EQ will make you a better concealed carrier but it will also make you a drastically better human being. You will become more successful in every area of your life including your career, your relationships with loved ones, and your relationship with yourself.

A great place to attend and practice these skills would be our Guardian Conference. This conference is different. It’s not just about being a better shooter. It's about people and it’s about becoming a better human being. You can read more about my 2022 Guardian Conference experience here and sign up for the next Guardian Conference here.



About Mitch Goerdt

Mitch Goerdt is the Director of Marketing and Events at Born and raised amongst the Northeastern woods and waters of Minnesota, Mitch's childhood was filled with adventure, sports, and a deep appreciation for the outdoor lifestyle. His early career saw him don the hat of a mechanic and welder in the taconite mines. However, the call of distant horizons was too strong to resist. Mitch embarked on a journey across the country, soaking in diverse cultures and landscapes. This quest for knowledge also led him back to school, where he secured a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing Communications. Today, at, Mitch spends his days crafting content and using his imagination and skills to leave an impression on his audience. Outside the professional realm, he is a lifelong learner who finds solace in outdoor adventures and satisfies his love of athletics and competition in the world of competitive slowpitch softball.


  1. Rod S. on December 12, 2023 at 9:02 am

    Excellent and insightful article. Thank you.

    • Mitch Goerdt on December 13, 2023 at 10:08 am

      Thank you for reading and for the comment, it is very much appreciated.

  2. Ernie on December 12, 2023 at 10:04 am

    Having just had a very emotional and volital argument with my wife, these thoughts on emotional intellegence ring true! I am sorry to say that I lost control and said things that were not only untrue but confrontational and abusive. This issue has yet to be resolved, but your article has helped me to better understand my failure and to seek to cultivate a deeper level of empathy and de-escalation techniques. Thank you for this.

    • Mitch Goerdt on December 12, 2023 at 2:33 pm

      Thank you for your honesty. I really appreciate the comment.

    • LAURENCE YAKLICH on December 14, 2023 at 2:07 pm

      My late wife was a mental health counselor, after reading this article, I now understand better why she used to call me “a laid back Jerry Garcia” I tend to assess every situation, I only raised my voice 2 times in 27 years to her. I told her “KISS” keep it simple stupid, don’t over think it, don’t assume. She stated how calm I always am. I personally see people fly off the handle for anything. Just as there are 2 sides to every story, it’s how each person perceived what happens/happened. Just as “back in my day” if you disagreed, you could talk and maybe one, both or neither changed their mind. But now if you don’t ACCEPT what you are told, these young people are willing t o kill you. SAD, I also see people disagree but don’t research before accepting what they are told. If you don’t know, research, BUT YOU MUST DETERMINE WHAT IS REAL, AND WHAT IS NOT, don’t accept because it aligns with what you want. This article in my opinion is SPOT ON! I am going to fwd this email to others, maybe they will learn/practice, one of my USMC troops flies off the handle and it’s hard to settle him down,
      I tell people “if someone says something that upsets you, tell them STOP. I heard this, I think it means this. If it does, fights on, but 90% of the time,you may have heard it wrong, one of you may be off a little, it came out wrong. Talk without raising your voice! That’s how my soul mate and I lived. We grew closer every day. I’ve had 44 surgeries, lost a leg in accident that killed me, I told GERALDINE (GERI) if she got tired of all my physical problems “tell me to leave, no harm, no foul ” no spouse should have to go through what she did, we took care of each other.
      So this article, read it, save it, later in evening when relaxing re-read, slower, think about what is being said, break it down, reflect on things that made you upset, HOW COULD I HAVE HANDLED IT DIFFERENTLY?

  3. Carey McWilliams on December 12, 2023 at 10:25 pm

    As a 23-year totally blind concealed carrier, hunter, and IDPA member, I have maintained that the mind is as, or more, important than the marksmanship skills or even good eyesight of the armed citizen. In fact, blindness helps with furtive action issues in self-defense, as the sudden appearance of frightening images are lost on the blind CCW holder. Remember, we humans spend 66% of our lives in near or close to total darkness, fog, shadow, so forth, so in that realm where crooks like to work, a blind person with a gun has an ability if they keep their emotions in check.

    • Mitch Goerdt on December 13, 2023 at 10:07 am

      I agree, as an armed citizen our mind is our most important tool. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  4. John Lawson on December 15, 2023 at 6:17 am

    An awesome article Mitch. Thank you!

  5. Greg Peace on December 16, 2023 at 10:26 pm

    Great Article!
    I learned from first hand experience, what your article was about.
    Myself and my now ex- wife argued and fought alot because we both were hot tempered and took and said things just to hurt one another, One day we were in a public parking lot arguing, she snatched the truck keys and started running towards a river bridge to toss the keys in the river, luckily I caught up to her and we wrestled around until I got control of my only set of keys, I headed back towards the truck to try to deescalate while she was following me striking me about the back of my head and back with her hands, I made it to the truck where she got her hands on the keys once again, when I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a Man was approaching me with a tire tool in his hand shouting at Me!, I drawer my concealed 357 just in time before he struck me or was fixing to, I placed the barrel of the gun on his forehead and told him to walk away and call the Police, which he did.
    It was after it was all over and police took her to jail for domestic violence since I was the one with welps and knots on my head, face, back.
    But I came to the realization that I Almost took A Persons life, no matter how well meaning the man thought he was being.
    It was 5 years before I carried another Firearm because I felt I could have handled the situation with him as I am trained in hand to hand combat in close quarters.
    I had to learn how to have Empathy before making a decision to maybe take another Human Being’s Life.
    That happened nearly 40 years ago and I’ve never forgotten the look on his face and the feeling in my soul.
    I’ve Never shared that story with anyone before, so maybe it might help someone learn that you must control your emotions when you carry concealed.
    Thanks for a Great Article!!!

  6. Rey Arellano on December 21, 2023 at 1:24 pm

    Hello Mitch, great article. As I tread your section on empathy/compassion, I wondered about the situation of managing unknown contacts where a common response is to say “sorry, I can’t help you”. Would you comment on this seemingly contrary approach? I’m thinking it depends on the situation. Thanks!

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