There is much to know and understand before making the choice to carry a concealed handgun. Here are some of the basics to assist you in making this important decision and to help keep you responsible and safe.
Concealed carry. What does it mean?
Concealed carry is exactly what it sounds like: the carrying of a handgun (or other weapon), in public, but in a concealed manner (either on one's person or in close proximity). While off-body carry is a method that some disagree with, any carry practice that comes with great responsibility. Carrying a concealed handgun suggests that you are willing to take the life of another human being in the event that your life or the life of someone that you love is in eminent danger. Yet that is only one of the complex considerations. Concealed carry requires that you carry your weapon legally and abide by the laws of your state.
It is important that you fully understand what it means to carry a gun in a legal and concealed manner. Should you ever need to use a gun, you will be held accountable for your actions. This topic is sometimes overlooked, or not fully understood, but it is a reality. Every action you take during such harrowing moments will be scrutinized. You may be incarcerated, and you may have to endure potentially long and involved court proceedings. Obviously, these few sentences cannot substitute for your in-depth and very personal soul searching on the matter of concealed carry, nor the required research and study necessary to come to the required level of the understanding of laws prior to walking out your door with a concealed gun. That is work for you to do on your own.
Do you deeply believe you need to carry a firearm for your self-protection?
Is it necessary in your world that you have the ability to defend yourself against violent crime? It is imperative that you fully believe that where you live, work, and play there might be people who mean to do you or your loved ones harm. It is my conviction that if you really don’t believe that a violent crime can happen to you, or if you believe that you will never have to use a firearm in a defensive manner, you need to reconsider your desire to concealed carry. A causal attitude often equals causal training, and there is no place for casual when dealing with such an important issue as concealed carry. There is no room for a person that is ill equipped to use their gun as it puts everyone involved in greater danger.
Do you fully know what you can do and what you can’t do?
We should all know ourselves pretty well, right? We know our capabilities, what we like, what we dislike and how well we can perform in the challenges of our adult lives. It would be fairly easy to say something like “I can handle it,” or “let someone just try to hurt my children.” We think we know what we can do. I am not so sure that we really know how we will respond and act in the darkest of events. Why? We haven’t gone through them. As healthy human beings, we should prepare more, and even role-play with our loved ones. You must take the time to imagine unthinkable events. We must get as close as we can to what it would actually be like to know what we would do in such awful events.
I know this is unsettling, but you have to prepare for the responsibility of carrying a gun concealed. Perhaps use news stories, or TV drama scenes. Put yourself in the position of the victims and to think through what you would do if it were you. Could you pull the trigger and take the life of another human being? Would you pull the trigger if doing so saved your life, or the lives of your loved ones? Could you reconcile taking a life with your faith and friends and family?
Are you willing to commit to carrying safely and responsibly?
The basic rules of firearm safety must be adhered to at all times. There are some additional rules of safety for concealed carry. Always carry your gun holstered, and with the trigger guard fully covered. The trigger cannot be negligently pulled if it is properly covered in a holster. Don’t remove the gun from your holster unless you are intending on using it in self-defense or you are undressing at the end of the day. Your gun is never safer than when it is on you. There is no need to un-holster your gun in jest, or to show your friends how quickly you can draw. It stays holstered on you at all times.
Understand the specific concealed carry challenges that you will face.
We are each unique. We live unique lives, unique bodies, and unique physical limitations. Each of these must be considered to determine the most effective and comfortable ways to carry your gun. Do you have children around you? Do you work in a gun free zone or frequently access areas that do not allow guns (here is a list, for example)? Are you in and out of your car all day? Do your clothing styles make it easy or difficult to hide a handgun? All of these questions must be addressed when considering concealed carry.
Identify what solutions work for you.
Next is the task to solve some of the problems you have identified above. What holster options will fit your body, with its lumps, bumps, and curves? Which holsters can be hidden by your clothing? What wardrobe changes might you need to make to accommodate concealed carry? How will you deal with having to go into buildings and areas where you are not allowed to carry your gun? There are some great solutions out there, take the time to find the solutions to these issues first.
Commit to practice.
This is a non-negotiable commitment that is required as a responsible concealed gun carrier. If this decision is truly about protecting yourself, you will need to be able to shoot and hit an attacker. This can only come as a result of rigorous and frequent training. You must not only be trained to hit your target, but you must also be trained to draw your gun from your holster. Being a good shot is not enough. If you can’t get your gun safely and quickly from your holster, your precision shooting means nothing.
Be a good ambassador.
As law abiding gun owners and citizens who are licensed to carry guns, we must be good examples of what responsible gun ownership looks like and how it is lived out safely. Those that do not respect this right sit in wait for the opportunity to use any negligent act with a firearm as proof that they must restrict or remove our rights. Be a good ambassador. Understand how important it is that we all demonstrate the integrity of the American gun owner.