We learn many things in the course of becoming a person who chooses to conceal carry. In my case it started with a keen interest in military history and firearms, which started me on collecting. As I trained and used the guns I collected I also read about military and civilian development of firearms. I began thinking about the legal and moral responsibilities of using the weapons on a geopolitical level and personal level, i.e. when I walked out of the house carrying.
I quickly found out that handgun safety and effective operation of the gun you choose is just the tip of the iceberg. Proper gun, holster and clothing choices are an ongoing learning experience based on many factors. There’s a lot of article and book reading you can do on these subjects to learn more. When, why and how to use your weapon if ever necessary is equally discussed and every bit as important. if not more so. I look to the great Massad Ayoob and his writings on the topic for my own guidance. His experience and no-nonsense, sobering opinions are without equal. I strongly suggest reading his stuff if you carry or are considering it.
Through all of this there are a few points I consider crucial that just don’t seem to come up as much as cool new guns or ammo. Believe me I love guns and ballistic tests I could read about them all day but if you are gonna carry you better keep it real!
It’s important to be comfortable with the operation of your gun and to have it be comfortable literally in how you carry it, but do not become complacent. You have power over life and limb on your hip which means you must be as clear and consciously awake as you possibly can be. That relates to not carrying if you are drinking. Not carrying if you are doing drugs (prescription drugs can interfere with clear thinking as much as illegal recreational drugs). Not carrying if you’re experiencing extreme emotions (anger, sadness, anxiety, jealousy, etc).
An increasing problem is the attention given to hand-held devices. When you’re out in public and you’re carrying, pay attention to the real world. Earbuds literally cancel one of your most important senses. If you have a gun anywhere on your body you simply can no longer afford to be oblivious. Someone might see your gun and come up and try to take it from you. Or a situation might develop around you and because you had headphones on, you missed it. You could shoot the wrong person because you didn’t know what was really going on, or you could be caught up in violence because you weren’t paying attention.
MAKE A PLAN
Plan with your family for what you will do if shit hits the fan and you must protect them and yourself. You will not be able to do much if your family is screaming and clinging to you or standing in your line of fire. They must know to get behind you if at all possible–never in between you and the threat. And have a personal plan for what happens after you have had no other choice but to use your weapon to stop a threat i.e. you put your gun on the ground, open the chamber, you sit calmly with your hands in plain view awaiting directions from law enforcement which are on their way because YOU have called them even if others have as well.
Anyone looking for trouble or with a need to show the world what a bad ass they are has absolutely no business with a gun concealed carry or in any other circumstance. It’s actually the exact opposite. When you carry a gun for the purpose of protection you can never be the aggressor in any form, be it road rage , a neighbor that wont be quiet in the middle of the night or somebody saying the wrong thing to your girlfriend on date night! As warranted as that may be you must be aware of what you your actions would look like to a jury in a court setting.
Your ability to carry is merely a final line of defense when all else has failed. It does not make you Superman or above the law. For those who choose to carry the benefit of knowing there is a final line of defense if we ever need it obviously outweighs the hassle it takes to do it or we wouldn’t do it. So if you choose to carry and accept the personal accountability it requires you to do these 3 things every time: Stay awake. Make a Plan. Be humble