Confessions of a Concealed Carry Permit Holder: Day One

Earlier today, the Providence Police hand-delivered my concealed carry weapons permit. Credit the low-volume of applications for the personal service. Mine was one of five CCW applications submitted to the department in 2010. One of three the Police granted after an eighteen year hiatus (with one exception). Following a six-month wait. To be fair, the Renaissance City po-po used to kick the can to the AG’s officer. The Providence Police had to invent a CCW permitting process on the fly. And so they have. Proof of my ability to negotiate that freshly-constructed legal labyrinth now enjoys pride of place in my wallet. Just as my Smith & Wesson 686 revolver has been elevated to a sacred spot on my right hip . . .

I decided to carry my pre-lock Smith & Wesson 686 because I’d sent my trusty, 19-round Croatian nine mil to Springfield for a $140 trigger job. Sad but true: I’d given up believing I’d get my CCW permit before the fourth of July. In fact, I’d begun thinking the Police would find a way to deny my Second Amendment rights come hell or high water. That’s what happens when a statutory 90-day application process gets stuck in administrative mañanaland.

[Quick aside. I wish Springfield called their go-pedal conversion something a little more jury-friendly than a “combat trigger.” How about “Enhanced Safety System”? Thanks to the shorter trigger pull, I’ll be far less likely to miss what I’m aiming at. I make that a win-lose-win proposition for the shooter, bad guy and bystanders.]

Picking up the Smith, I turned my back on my Gemini Custom Smith & Wesson 642. While the laser-equipped and ported gun is the lightest yet softest shooting snub-nosed revolver I’ve ever fired, and I can hit center mass at ten yards all day long, it’s a diddy thing. There’s no way to get a sure handle on the handle without adjusting the grip mid-draw.

Unless I carry the black gun buck naked in a front jacked pocket and “pre-grip” it when my spidey senses start tingling, I’m highly likely to fumble at the ten yard line. That’s not the play you want to make when it’s fourth down and long.

I’m with the rabbi on this one: you need a carry gun that you can grip once, draw, aim and shoot (if the situation warrants). Your first grip is your best grip is the grip you’ll use in an emergency.

I also want to carry a gun with which I can hit targets at greater than bad-breath distances. “Belly guns” be damned. If someone’s so close I don’t need to properly aim my gun, I’m better off defending myself with my hands, getting some distance and then drawing my gun. The last thing I want is to get caught mid-draw.

And just because “most” armed confrontations happen close-in doesn’t mean they all do. (Quite the opposite, in fact). Why prepare for an “average” confrontation? Why not be ready to handle as many potential scenarios as possible, including relatively distant encounters of the deadly threat kind?

In short, I want to carry a weapon that gives me as much accuracy as humanly possible. That’s not on any snub-nosed revolvers resume. Even mid-size guns can’t do that. Not for me. But the big Smith can—at least until the XD-M returns to the Farago fold. Bonus! Right from the git-go, the big Smith’s grip is as instinctive as shaking hands with your father. And there’s more . . .

The 686 fires .357 hollow-points. (Recoil is stout but painless and manageable.) That caliber is, it must be said, a highly effective way to stop a bad guy from continuing bad (i.e. murderous) behavior. When I fill the Smith’s charge holes with Hornaday Critical Defense rounds, I’m filled with confidence that any round on target will go a long way towards ending an imminent threat to life and limb.

The 686 also looks like a gun. Immediately. Viscerally. While some people believe that pumping a shotgun is sonic intimidation, pointing an N-framed revolver with a four inch barrel at a bad guy is the real ballistic equivalent of the STOP RIGHT THERE moment in Meatloaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard Lights. Or, if you prefer, a compelling version of Elvis’ admonition to Reconsider Baby.

OK, so, a Fobus paddle holster, a photographer’s vest and away we go . . .

Obviously, nothing happened. No confrontations. No close calls. No brandishing. No inadvertent brandishing. Nothing. I broke bread with the family at Panera, looked at a Schnauzer puppy, and went home. No drama. Which is exactly how I want it to be for the rest of my life.

While I’ve got about as much emotional intelligence as Commander Data, carrying a concealed weapon certainly produced an emotional change. It’s hard to explain (obviously). Carrying a gun in public made me feel more . . . grown up. More responsible. Less dependent.

I never thought armed independence would make me cocksure (an attitude that gun control advocates constantly and mistakenly ascribe to CCW holders). And it didn’t. But there was a surprising side-effect: isolation. I felt alone. Apart. Different.

When a woman bumped into me, straight into my gun, I saw myself as “not her.” More than that, I wondered what she would think of me and my beloved Smith if she knew I was carrying. Not much, I imagine. (Or way too much, depending on the situation.)

That’s the thing about being one of four city-licensed CCW holders in a liberal-minded city of 170,000: I’m an outlier. Rest assured I will do my best to blaze a trail for other Providence residents looking to exercise their constitutional right to keep and bear arms—by carrying responsibly.

Truth be told, that’s more than slightly besides the point. My CCW permit allows me to defend myself and my family more effectively. Just as the founding fathers knew it would. That doesn’t feel normal—yet. But it does feel right.