Hello, new guy here. Just thought I share this story about a strange encounter I had in Montana a few years ago. I did not have a CPL and was not carrying at the time, although I did have a firearm available in my truck, as it was legal to do so there.
One night two of my friends and myself were at the local K-mart, near closing time. We were leaving the store without having bought anything, talking to each other and joking around as we left. As we were passing through the checkout stands, and without meaning anything by it, we all walked through different isles. There was a man standing in line at the counter who I immediately noticed was taking an interest in us. He looked really nervous and his eyes darted from me to the other guys and then back to me. I knew right then something is up with this guy because of his fidgety body language, but I blew it off and continued leaving the store, all along talking with my friends and trying to ignore it. We were just talking, smiling and laughing, so I did not understand why he was acting this way. It briefly passed my mind that this guy was planning on robbing the store or something and was not happy with our presence.
We made our way out to the parking lot and got into my pickup truck, and shortly after we were followed by the guy at the checkout stand. By this time I was explaining to my friends that there was something up with this guy, so of course we were all keeping an eye on him. He stared at us the entire time also, as he put his bags into his trunk and got in his white car. I then started to drive off, and of course was immediately followed by the other guy. At this point it was obvious he was trying to cause trouble. I circled around in the parking lot, and he followed me, then I drove into the gas station next door to the KMart, and he followed me still.
As he pulled up near me I rolled down my window (probably not the smartest, but we were in a public place with other people around, and with two other guys we felt fairly comfortable... We were young and bold) and yelled "What is your problem?" He then yells the same thing back to me. After some back-and-forth like this, he comes right out and tells us he is a Concealed Carry holder and was very concerned about our "suspicious activity" inside of Kmart. He said he was very alert to his surroundings and that we were the ones acting strangely, and he thought we were going to rob the store. He said he noticed that we each took a different route through the checkout isles, and thought we were surrounding him. I told him that I felt the same way about him, that we were doing nothing that was out of the ordinary (which I thought was obvious), and stated that I thought his actions and body language were overly paranoid, and with that kind of attitude, he is going to get someone hurt and be thrown in jail. Thats about how it ended, and we both drove off.
I understand the need for situational awareness, and I practice it every time I'm in public. But I thought his approach was way over the top. You can be alert and protective without being confrontational and paranoid. He was trying to play Mr. Cop, but came across as being a potential threat himself, especially when he began following us. And then, to come right out and tell us that he was carrying a concealed weapon. This was not meant to be a negative against CCW holders... But this IMO is an example of what NOT to do. In retrospect, I should have called the police, but we were younger then and didn't worry about things as much, and I don't think we had a cellphone.