Is Carrying a Concealed Handgun Right for Everyone?
Terry Nelson 01.05.21
Request for concealed carry permits is at an all-time high. Gun sales, especially to first-time owners, have skyrocketed. It’s great that we live in a country where we can exercise our right of self-protection and the 2nd Amendment. Since many of these new gun owners have made their purchases with the intention of carrying a concealed handgun, I must ask the question: How many folks have really given serious thought to carrying a concealed handgun on a daily basis?
While I completely agree with concealed carry and support any law-abiding citizen who wishes to do so, few people have really thought about what it means to wear a gun for personal defense. Commonly I encounter people who only want to carry the gun in the vehicle, or when they travel out of town, or when some potential threat has received local publicity. The gun that’s not with you is useless to protect you.
Other people have decided they’re unable to change certain habits to accommodate a handgun. This is especially true for their manner of dress. Safe and efficient carry nearly always requires adjustment to at least one way of doing things, on a daily basis.
Let’s take a look at a few of the areas where I see concealed carry students struggling to make good choices:
I have long suggested to new concealed carry students that if the gun is not comfortable in its daily carry position on your person, then you will not carry it for long. If it is too heavy, too big, pokes you in a manner that is uncomfortable, etc., then you simply won’t carry it. Finding a carry method, or methods, that will be comfortable, accessible, and safe can be a daunting task. Invariably these challenges will be different from one person to the next based on body type, lifestyle, and determination to put some time into training to figure it all out.
Bottom line: the gun itself should be reliable and easy to operate. Bells and whistles, i.e., lasers, external safeties, added optics, and so on all require additional training time. The gun should also be one you’ve spent some serious range time with and can carry comfortably.
On body or off body, inside or outside the waistband (and location on the waistline), pocket carry, ankle carry, shoulder holsters, purse carry, and others are all methods of carry that responsibly armed citizens will ultimately have to decide on. All of these choices are of course, affected by body type and physical capability, and are lifestyle-dependent. Inside your carry holster as well as in hand, you must maintain control of your own gun, otherwise it could be turned against you or others.
Style of holster and the material are very pertinent questions. Should the holster be leather, kydex, or a blend of the two? How about a soft fabric holster for a pocket or waistline? There are a couple of absolutes you should consider; the holster and material should cover the trigger and trigger guard in their entirety, and keep the handgun securely in place. Carry of a pistol without a holster is a no-go in my book.
As most any experienced concealed carrier will tell you, you’re sure to give both carry location and holster types much trial and error before settling on any one carry method and holster type which suits your style of carrying a concealed handgun.
The requirements for concealed carry permits vary greatly from state to state. Some states, like Arizona and Vermont, have Constitutional carry and require no permit or license so long as you can legally possess a handgun. Other states require only an application and a background check. Others have training requirements that in some cases involve multiple days of training.
Considering that carrying a concealed weapon involves considerable knowledge of state and federal law, not to mention the emotional and legal aftermath of a use of deadly force incident, I would recommend intensive training both in the classroom and on the range. Also realize that in most states that issue concealed handgun licenses, there is a renewal process that may also mandate training.
Ask yourself is carrying a concealed firearm on my person on a day-to-day basis something I want to devote myself to and be willing to go the extra mile for training? It’s a question worthy of serious thought.
I believe in my right, and your right, to protect oneself and those around you. Having said that, do not take your decision to carry lightly. Once you have made this decision, be well-prepared and comfortable with your firearm and carry system. A fellow instructor once told me, “concealed carry has to become a lifestyle.” Carrying a concealed handgun requires commitment to that lifestyle, along with the hope that it is never needed.