This post is aimed at people who have not yet committed to daily concealed carry. The NSSF estimates there are over seven million new gun owners this year, 40% of them women. Most of them bought their firearms this year for personal protection in an increasingly uncertain world and many of these new gun owners are interested in carrying a gun, at least some of the time.
If you already carry a gun on a daily basis, please share this article with your newbie and daily carry-reluctant friend. The more people who carry concealed, the safer we all will be, both in terms of active defense and passive deterrence. Not to mention the safety of our natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.
With that in mind, the first thing you need for effective concealed carry is . . .
It doesn’t matter what type of gun you carry, what caliber cartridge it fires or the design and composition of the bullets. What matters is that you carry a gun.
The sad truth is, the majority of Americans with concealed carry permits don’t carry their gun. They’re afraid of being “discovered.” Outed. Forced to explain their decision to carry a gun to people who can’t, don’t or won’t understand. Hence their hyper-sensitivity to “printing” (their gun making a visible impression against their concealment clothing, revealing that they’re armed).
There’s no easy way to overcome concealed carry paranoia and peer pressure. One step in the right direction: carry a list of reasons why you want to carry a gun. No one has the right to take my life; my family needs me; I love my family; all that’s required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing…whatever reasons are most meaningful to you.
Read the list out loud before you holster your gun.
By the same token, it helps to imagine the potential violent assaults as you’re going through your day. Imagining that you’re taking evasive action while disarmed. This mental exercise trains your brain to consider non-firearms solutions to life-threatening situations (always the best case scenario) and reminds you just how useful a gun would be if and when push comes to shove.
The carry process itself is another reason armed Americans don’t carry a firearm on a daily basis. They know they have to be aware of right-to-carry restrictions and either avoid “gun free zones” or disarm before entering.
That’s not much fun. Removing a gun from your holster in a parking lot and stashing it in the glove box, for example, is an awkward, not-to-say furtive endeavor that requires needless gun-handling, invites curious stares and the possibility of theft.
Coping with concealed carry’s legal inconveniences eventually becomes habit. But that doesn’t happen for most folks because carrying a concealed gun is physically uncomfortable, at least at first. Depending on what, where and how you carry, daily carry can be a literal pain in the
ass neck. Or the hip. In fact, overcoming physical discomfort is the key to making concealed carry a part of your daily routine. That’s why you really need . . .
A Comfortable Holster
Gun guru Clint Smith famously pronounced that carrying a gun should be comforting, not comfortable. Yeah, no. If carrying a gun is physically annoying or painful, your average armed American simply won’t do it on a daily basis.
Say what you will about our being A Nation of Wimps, choosing a comfortable carry system (gun, holster, belt) is the single most important factor for daily concealed carry.
The general rule of thumb on concealed carry: carry the largest gun you can. Given the incredible array of firearms on the market and the huge selection of holster materials and styles (inside-the-waistband, outside-the-waistband, appendix carry, ankle carry, boot carry, small-of-the-back, etc.) you could spend a fortune trying to find the perfect, most comfortable combination. Or, as most people do, you can buy the wrong gun and holster and give up.
That’s why a lot of reluctant concealed carriers to start by pocket-carrying a small revolver (e.g., a Smith & Wesson J-Frame) or a semi-automatic pistol (e.g. a Ruger LCP II) inside a simple sleeve holster.
I know all the arguments against “mouse guns.” I’ve made them myself. But we’re talking about training wheels here, a painless-to-wear starter gun and holster that the owner doesn’t need to throw away if and when they graduate to a different carry system with a larger gun.
Women who wear tight jeans (with nominal pockets) or tight dresses have to find other comfortable concealed carry solutions, such as small semi-automatic pistol (e.g., the Kahr CM9) in an inside-the-waistband holster positioned in the small of their back, or an undergarment holster. But the point remains: buy a carry system. Don’t buy a gun and then try to find a way to carry it.
Go to a good gun store where you can try out a gun and holster combination, even if you have to drive hours to get there. Safety check the gun and holster it. Walk, sit, jog in place a bit, practice your draw (all with the store’s permission of course). Road test your daily carry rig and you’ll be a hundred times more likely to use it on a daily basis.
A Cell Phone
There is no defensive gun use situation where you don’t need a phone. You need your phone to report a potential threat to the police, hopefully after avoiding the actual use of your gun in the first place. Reporting a defensive gun use will hopefully allow you to avoid arrest and/or prosecution.
Always call the police after any defensive gun use. If you just show your gun and the bad guy(s) takes off, call the police. If you don’t, the bad guy(s) may call the police, ID you, and accuse you of being the aggressor and threatening their lives.
[Note: state your name and location, a brief description of yourself, the location of the incident (if you’ve left the scene) and the general nature of the event (e.g., “there’s been a shooting”). You don’t have to stay on the phone to answer the emergency operator’s questions. Anything you say — and how you say it — can be used against you in a court of law. When the police arrive, promise a full statement and invoke your right to silence until you’ve talked to your attorney.]
If you don’t have a phone — maybe it was lost or damaged during the DGU — ask to use someone else’s. It’s critical that you make the call, rather than a bystander. This helps establish your innocence.
There’s plenty of other stuff a daily concealed carrier can and probably should carry: spare ammo, a utility knife, a flashlight, a spare gun, pepper spray, etc. But the three items above are the gateway to daily concealed carry. With these three items, you can keep calm and carry on. Every. Single. Day.