Congratulations, you’ve decided you want to take responsibility for your personal safety and carry a firearm with you regularly. This is one of the most adult decisions you can make in your life because you’ve realized that there will not be a policeman around when you need one the most.
Also See: 10 Ways to Carry a Concealed Gun
This isn’t going to be a post about equipment or training, it’s about getting yourself ready to carry a handgun for self protection wherever and whenever it’s permitted. I’m going to assume you’re one of thousands of people who own a defensive pistol and have recently acquired a concealed carry permit, but you’re still not sure if you want to carry your gun all the time.
Spoiler alert: You do. We’ll get to why in a minute, but for now, let’s talk about how.
First off, if you don’t have a holster for your gun, buy one. There are pages and pages of information out there on what makes a good holster, but in general, a good holster does four things.
- It holds the gun securely and lets it go only when needed.
- It covers the trigger guard of the gun, preventing accidental discharges.
- It doesn’t impede a smooth, safe draw
- It also enables the safe and easy re-holstering of your pistol.
Holsters aren’t optional: A holster is just about the only way to carry a gun safely on a day in, day out basis. Not only is sticking a gun into your waistband or pocket without a holster unsafe for others, you can also lose things that are dear to you if a negligent discharge occurs.
Effectively concealing a defensive pistol depends a lot on your lifestyle. I live in south Florida, so flowery shirts, untucked t-shirts and the occasional fishing vest can be seen everywhere here. That gives me lots of options to conceal my gun. Also, because the weather doesn’t vary that much from season to season, I don’t have to change how I carry my gun when I add on extra layers for winter. You might not be so lucky, so look around to how your friends and neighbors are dressing, and plan your method of concealment accordingly.
Don’t carry just your gun, carry the gear to make your life safer. For instance, how will let people know you’re safe if don’t have your phone? How will you know if what you’re facing is a mugger or grandma on a dark night if you don’t have a flashlight? If the worst happens, and a loved one or friend is injured, do you have the first aid training and equipment to save their life? Having a defensive firearm on you when you need it solves one problem. Having a phone, flashlight, tourniquet and knife on you can solve a lot more problems.
It’s up to you to know the circumstances and consequences of carrying a concealed weapon in your state. Can you carry in schools? Churches? What happens if you walk into a business with a “No Guns Allowed” sign? Taking a class like Andrew Branca’s Law Of Self Defense, MAG20 from the Massad Ayoob Group or a similar class can give you a better understanding of the specific laws that cover concealed carry in your state, giving you knowledge to help avoid or win any potential court battle after a defensive gun use.
Also, I recommend getting to know a lawyer in your area who deals with firearms and self-defense law. You might also consider one of the self-defense legal insurance programs out there. That's something you'll want to do before you need those services.
Get to know your gun and how use it safely. Chances are you had to pass a shooting qualification to get your concealed carry permit, but if you can’t remember the last time you practiced with your defensive firearm, it’s probably time to head to the range. Also, be sure to learn the rules of gun safety as if your life depends on it, because, well, it does.
Take time to think about what you’re gaining when you carry a gun, and what you’re giving up. For instance, carrying a firearm means giving up the luxury to be angry. If you carry a sidearm, you have to consider the results of your actions and reactions a whole lot more carefully than if you don’t. What are you getting in return? You’re getting the ability to defend your life and the lives of your loved ones on the worst day of your lives. If being angry means more to you than that, please, for your sake and the sake of everyone around you, don’t carry a gun.
So, why carry a gun all the time? Now we come down to the crux of the matter. The simple fact of the matter is, you don’t get to choose when you’ll need a gun to defend a life. If you think you’re going somewhere where you might need a gun, don’t go there. Wait until it’s safer or call the police. After all, the police has SWAT teams to go the places where they don’t feel safe. You, however, don’t have that luxury.
Understand that criminals don’t play by your rules. Once you accept that basic fact and learn to see the world how they might see the world, you’ll be safer. We call that sort of thing “situational awareness” and it means the difference between having to use your gun and not having to use it. Think of it this way: Have you been in a car accident? Did that accident happen when you expected it? Do you wear a seat belt only when you expect an accident to happen? So why carry a gun only when you think there’s danger around?
Now we come to my easy, two-step process on how to carry a gun all the time.
Step One: Carry a gun with you all the time.
Step Two: There is no Step Two.
I know that seems a bit silly, but really that’s about all there is to carrying a defensive gun with you. Start by wearing your gun in your holster around the house, and because an unloaded gun is rather useless, carry it loaded, with the appropriate safeties engaged. Understand that it’s going to feel a bit weird at first to have a gun hanging off your hip, but just relax, you’ll get used to it. Then, go ahead and wear it concealed outside the house on something you do every day, liking shopping at your favorite grocery store. Don’t worry, your gun isn’t showing, and no one is looking at you. In fact, I can predict right now what will happen the first time you walk outside the store with a concealed handgun on you.
Absolutely nothing at all. So relax and feel confident that you are now your own first responder.