I like being in condition puce. Wait. Orange? I never quite got the hang of Col. Cooper’s carnival of color coded concern. And I’m red green color blind. Anyway, I enjoy those times when I have to up my situational awareness. For example, when I’m walking to my Bubba Benz at night. Mind you, I’m not looking for a fight. I’m looking to avoid a fight. So I’m prepared for the possibility of a fight (or quick exit stage right). I’m sensitive to sound, movement, body language and geography. I mentally rehearse my options. Anti-gunners mistake this for paranoia. It’s not. It’s a heightened sense of . . . safety. I feel focused. Alert. Alive. And calm. Would I feel that way without a concealed carry firearm. Nope. You?

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61 Responses to Question of the Day: Does Carrying Make You Calmer?

  1. Carrying simply makes me more aware of my surroundings and is a reminder to me that trouble doesn’t make an appointment. It’s not a guarantee of safety, but it sure does increase the odds of me going home at night.

  2. Carrying should not significantly change your attitude for the better or worse. If a firearm significantly modifies your personality you probably shouldn’t carry one.

    • So you don’t think that a person carrying a firearm should be more aware of their surroundings and calmer than the average Joe?

      The gun shouldn’t change you, but the responsibility absolutely should.

      • Awareness and calmness are not the same. If you are more or less calm and/or rational when you are carrying then that means you are also more or less calm/rational when not carrying, and that indicates a screw loose somewhere. As far as awareness goes: should you be less aware when not carrying? Does not carrying somehow make you safer?

        • Obviously your personality shouldn’t be changed whether or not you’re carrying that day, but I’m talking more about a CCW holder vs. Average Joe. The decision to begin carrying acknowledges that there is a possibility of bad things happening, and the wish to be prepared. It also carries a burden of responsibility that should, in theory, put a CCW holder a step ahead of Average Joe.

          So your personality shouldn’t shift between carrying and not carrying, but a CCW holder should be calmer than Average Joe.

        • You seem to think that a level of alertness and mindset change is the same as a personality change. I distinctly remember the mental change that came with carrying a loaded holstered .44 mag at one point, not because we were EXPECTING trouble… but because trouble might decide to stop on by. And it’s not calming so much as sobering. That level of immediate responsibility, even without the danger, tends to shade your mindset. On one hand, certain things worry you less… but other things concern you more, and the entire process is rather difficult to explain to someone who has never felt it. Frankly, if you strap on a sidearm and you DON’T have this kinda awareness, I might decide to stand a bit farther away from you, for my safety. For the ones who know this feeling, they will understand what I mean when I say that it was, in a way, the heaviest fifty or so ounces I’ve ever carried.

  3. Carrying definitely helps me to allow for more “what if” scenarios to come out in my favor. While it may not take the fear away from someone accosting me, it gives me the assurance to know that I stand a better chance of surviving.

    • +1

      When I’m not carrying I’m still aware, there just aren’t as many viable scenarios that I run through….

  4. I think getting older has mellowed me out. Being situationally aware and acknowledging that there are crazy people out there has encouraged me to “just chill.” Finally, being armed has enhanced my awareness of the fact that how I REACT to what happens is more important than what happens.

  5. Bit of movie trivia…In this scene there was supposed to be very nice fight between Indiana and his opponent but on the day of filming Harrison Ford was sick so they cut the scene short and decided he was just shoot him!!

    • Great scene – reminded me of the scene in “Hombre” where Newman asks Richard Boone “Hey, I’ve got a question. …. How you going to get back down that hill?” Then Newman shoots him.

    • Actually I think it was because he had to take a poo. Alright Mr.Ford in this scene I need you to have an epic sword fight with that skilled attacker… and ACTION!

      HARRISON FORD: I don’t have time for this crap… BANG!

        • Actually, and Mr.Ford said this, when they were planning this part they didn’t know what to do, so they told Mr.Ford to improv, so he did the above and they thought it was perfect.

    • I read that he was sick and when they got ready to shoot this scene, he had forgotten his whip, adlibed the scene and shot the guy instead, everyone thought that this was funny and the “bad guy” played along, thus, the scene was kept in instead of being re-shot.

      This was something that I read, and everyone knows that if it is in print “IT HAS TO BE TRUE”!!

      Please don’t be too hard on me if I am wrong.

      just my $.02

  6. I’m a little suspicious of people by nature, probably from working retail for too many years. Trust God, everybody else keep their hands where I can see em kinda thing. But the only time I notice a significant change in attitude is when I’m out with other people. Definitely more relaxed if I’m carrying when we go out to dinner, etc. Makes me better prepared to protect people who my depend on me.

  7. As an official OFWG I cannot put up much of a physical fight anymore, not that I was ever much of a fighter, and my ability to run away is limited to about 50 steps before I go into wheezing fits and drop to my knees, so yeah, I am a lot calmer when I am carrying. Given situational awareness I do not have to worry about one or more punks trying to take me on just because and having to take whatever they dish out if just putting a beating on someone is what makes their day, nor do I have to fear that I have no option except to comply if they want what I’ve got. I am calm, aware, and walk with greater confidence through my day. This combination alone, I suspect, acts as a subconcious deterent to random bad guys.

  8. That heightened sense of awareness, situational awareness, is, for me, just a by-product of growing up in downtown Jersey City, NJ. Same for anyone who grew up in what is typically described as the “inner city.” Having a CCW license and carrying a concealed gun here in Sarasota is just another tool, especially as I’m a lot older now, to help me gain an advantage in the worst case scenario of being in a life or death confrontation from which I could not escape. Best case scenario is that I grow old and die without ever having the need to defend myself or anyone else.

  9. I am much better at not responding to insults or bad behavior when I carry and that has actually carried over to the times when I am disarmed. Probably the only time I have a fit of bad temper in the last few years is when I was coming down from prednisone.

    The entire seen was adlibed. Indy was supposed to use his whip but Ford was suffering from a bad cold that day. So rather than go through the fight sequence he just “shot” the guy. It was supposed to be joke but it was so good that the kept it in the movie.

  10. Shouldn’t you be twice as aware when you don’t have a gun? If a threat comes at you it’s going to be a lot harder to deal with. Getting the jump on it could mean life or death.

    I’m new to CC so I’m just in disbelief that no one is looking at me at all when I go out with a gun.

  11. I wouldnt say carrying has calmed me down, my career has. Working with people at the worst moments of their lives has forced me to to see that I have nothing to whine about. As far as what carying has done for me, it has made me more self reliant and to realize people need to take more responsability for themselves and their actions.

  12. Carrying improves confidence, and improved confidence enhances calmness. Being born and raised in NYC when it was nearly as dangerous as Bastogne was in 1945, I always walk around with my head on a swivel. And, as Cliff H noted, as an old guy, I’m already non-confrontational. So I’m relaxed but aware — which is Cooper’s famous Condition Yellow.

  13. After combat deployment to Iraq and having weapon systems by my side 24/7 280 days out of the year, common sense conceal carry is a normal routine for me.

  14. I am the same way whether armed or not: I always try to be aware of my environment and ready to respond to danger of any kind.

  15. The act of carrying has made me evaluate and modify my behaviors (particularly while driving) in such a way that could be described as calmer. For example I used to “troll” (for lack of a better descriptor) people in traffic; if they were tailgating and generally making a nuisance of themselves I would slow down and that sort of thing (tit for tat, they piss me off so i piss them off). That kind of behavior could potentially induce road rage and lead to an altercation where my firearm might be deployed. I don’t do that any more because I carry.

  16. Here is a lesson I learned as an USAF SP two decades ago: Increased responsibility breeds responsible people. If you train correctly so that you fully understand what it means to carry responsibly and you are allowed to carry, you will most likely act responsibly. Calmness or lack of it is a human condition…and emotion. A trained and responsible person will not act and react based on emotion.

  17. “I’m sensitive to sound, movement, body language and geography. I mentally rehearse my options. Anti-gunners mistake this for paranoia. It’s not.”

    When people make the claim that situational awareness is paranoid I use the analogy of paying attention while driving. When I took drivers ed eons ago they taught IPDE (Identify, Predict, Determine, Excute). Variations of this driving technique are all over the place. The Virginia DMV version (http://www.dmv.state.va.us/drivers/#mcmanual/mcmanual6c.asp) includes a Scan option (SIPDE) that says:

    Scan

    Search aggressively for potential hazards. Scanning provides you with the information you need to make your decisions in enough time to take action

    So if we do this while driving to avoid potention hazards, what’s wrong with doing it while walking?

    You can also point out that the threat doesn’t have to be something requiring a firearm. It could be a loose dog or a broken piece of sidewalk that you don’t want to trip over. Just the other day I watched a girl texting on her phone walk straight into a sign post. She hit her forehead on the post so hard I had to stop and make sure she was alright. I was suprised she was still standing after the impact.

    This is a great way to teach your kids to drive safely and teach them situational awareness at the same time. Start by explaning the SIPDE process to them while you are driving and they are the passengers. Have them Scan, Identify etc. Once that have that learned it is very simple to convert that to situational awareness outside the car. Teaching it in the other order works fine too. The scanning part also translates well into hunting.

    Situational arwareness is a life skill. It is not paranoid.

  18. 60 years old over 6 feet tall & 300 pounds, from a lifetime of ER nursing I know that someone ramped up by recreational drugs will take me on just to be a giant killer. I have handicapped plates on my car due to muscular dystrophy. So I can fall on someone and kill them, but couldn’t arm wrestle a 5 year old. Elderly and handicapped are targeted because we are likely to be easy targets and have abuseable drugs. I can’t avoid looking like a target for those reasons. When carrying I avoid any words or driving that could be taken for aggression. Few people are as familiar with death as ER Staff. If it’s me or you, to your family, I’m sorry for their loss.

  19. If anyone here does not recognize the quantum leap in responsibility that one takes on while carrying a lethal, at a distance weapon, then one should not carry.
    Many differing philosophies, habits, rituals, protocols and procedures but one unifying reason for carrying: do good to the good and harm only the bad.
    Someone once wrote here on TTAG that we are actually in a better position to come to someone’s aid from outside a situation than to be able to protect ourselves from within a situation. If the threat is to ourselves or loved ones, we are forced to do the best we can. That is why we train to work within the range of choices that reveal themselves. Because of this I am more calm. But if we come upon and see a threat to others we can choose to walk/run away from the threat or engage it. This dilemma is something we should also ponder before it arises. I once acted by running in front of a speeding train to sweep a young girl off the tracks. Just in time. I did not decide to do this, I just acted. I now know I cannot trust myself to always act for my own safety. Therefore, If I am going to carry a firearm, I had better train (no pun) to use it skillfully. Without skills I may do harm to the good by my own action or precipitate actions by the bad that do harm.
    Do I feel calm?
    Yes, by these words written by the artic explorer William Scoresby in 1820:

    “Here we seem elevated to the very heavens, and though in an hazardous situation, I was sensible only of pleasing emotions, heightened by the persuasion that, from experience in these adventures, I was superior to the dangers with which I was surrounded.”

    Confidence is calming!

  20. There are two ways I see you can take this statement. First, do you behave in a calm manner more often when carrying and second, do you feel calm and confident when you carry.

    I was thinking about this last night actually. For me carrying is like having a spare tire, tire iron, and jack in my trunk. Having those doesn’t mean I can handle every type of car issue I may come across, for my vehicle or for someone else, but it does make me feel more prepared for specific situations. Just having those items isn’t the end of the story either, you have to know how to use them as well. Vague simile established.

    Does it make me calmer? Actually, yes in that way, although I don’t know if “calmer” is the right term. It just feels right. In terms of my behavior, I don’t act any different, I just feel different.

    • Well said, Fred.

      I carry a first aid in my trunk as well. I’ve used it on several occasions, including giving aspirin to a friend having heart difficulties. I’m fully aware that the first aid kit doesn’t make me a doctor, but I appreciate the way a stocked first aid kit enhances my ability to help others in need. I don’t *need* the first aid kit when I’m healthy an uninjured. If that changes, the first aid kit may say my life or the life of someone else.

      I use the same line of reasoning when talking to progressive liberal ER staff who hate gun because they “understand gun violence” due to their treatment of gunshot wounds. My other talking point: imagine if the wounds they saw were on Adam Lanza or James Holmes, and if they got those wounds from a mother defending her children.

  21. Glad to see so many good answers. There are infinite variables, and many correct answers to this question. Those who say globally “this and that or you shouldn’t carry” are seldom correct for each situation.

  22. Like others have commented, when I have a gun on me I force myself to be calmer. I refuse to let an idiot upset me, since If they did, I may react badly. Being calmer also lets (or makes) me pay more attention to my surroundings. I know it’s stupid but I pay less attention to my surroundings when I’m disarmed then when I armed.

  23. It simply gives me confidence that I can handle certain situations if they arise. For instance, I know from experience it is better to have a fire extinguisher in my car than not to have one. Ditto on the pepper spray, 7 years as a lifeguard, first aid merit badge & red cross training with emergency medical kit in trunk, spare magazines, etc. Now, legal training on use-of-force law: THAT makes me calm!

  24. Yes. It makes me calmer and more rational. I laugh at stupid people rather than get irritated. I am aware of and take very seriously what is on my hip and my demeanor changes as a result.

  25. Calmer, not really. The peace of mind I have when carrying is offset by my constant awareness of what lies beyond any potential round I fire.

    I carry much more often since I took a gig where I’m 45 minutes from any law enforcement. I don’t only have to worry about criminals but large wild critters and wayward sheep dogs (Great Pyrenees). Not to mention the unleashed canines that guests are constantly allowing to run loose. My guess is I’ll have to use it on one of those to protect my LEASHED dog…which reminds me of the proximity of other guests that will likely be nearby. So no, not calmer.

  26. I was recently asked this question. My answer was: Yeah, I’m calmer since, ultimately, a threat can be neutralized if things get out of hand.

    I was then asked: Aren’t you afraid of getting shot with your own gun?

    I answered, “No. You can’t shoot someone with an empty gun.”

    They didn’t get it. I wouldn’t explain it.

    Criminals and assailants are predators. Predators can tell if you’re an easy target. People who carry may not “feel” more confident, but they act more confident and aware. I believe this is more important than the actually carrying of the gun for preventing crime.

    Even if you’re not carrying, act like you are. Predators can sense it.

  27. In the early years I only carried because of a specific threat, therefore carrying naturally provided a lowered level of apprehension. When that threat was reduced by the local authorities, I continued to carry simply to improve habits with two quite different firearms. This cycle has happened several times. In recent years I’ve had no particular apprehensions to reduce. I’m calm either way, varying only with Market Volatility. Laugh. At home, I usually have an item near at hand. That, too, is habit. I view these habits as practice for when I’m very old, rather than just sorta’ old. Very Old is my concept of SHTF, Zombies, and all the other catchwords. Really. Too late to shop, acquire big safes, learn new items, groove habits. I want to know I’m GOOD with the pistol hidden under my blanket as I cruise in my electric wheelchair along the boardwalks and piers of my golden years.

  28. I don’t think the act of carry it self makes you calmer, I would attribute it more to the mind set of people that carry. By commiting to carry a weapon of any kind you’ve already mentally prepared your self to deal with some kind of high stress situation. I’ve been in plenty of high stress situations and i can tell you that the more shit you go through calmer you’ll be the next time something happens to you and at some point you’ll just run on autopilot. If you grow up like me in preverbial inner city warzone aka ghetto you’ll experience alot of shootings and alot of violent altercations and by the time you an adult that kind of thing doesnt effect you as much. Same thing applies with cops. Take a soldier thats seen combat and throw him in a patrol car, if lead starts flying he’ll deal with it alot better than the rookie who’ve never fired a weapon outside of the range.

  29. A gun should not really modify your behaviour. It should change your options when you react to danger. I am as aware when I am not carrying as I am when I am. You won’t always have a gun on you and that is why the man is the weapon not what he has in his pocket. The two scariest events in my life were when I was not carrying and with quick thinking and knowledge of the weak points of the human anatomy I was able to prevail. My old Judo sensei used to have nonstandard practice where he would present real world situations like if you were outnumbered and knocked to the ground. “How are you going to prevail?” He would ask.

    What do you do after you are out of ammo? Yeah your job is to fight your way to a retreat but we should not be one trick ponies when it comes to being deadly.

  30. Whenever I’m chatting with a group of people and the subject of negligent driving comes up, especially other people crashing into you, I tell them that whenever I’m in my car, I’m on red alert. You have to watch everything. All the other drivers are out to get you, so see them coming. “What about side impact?” Well, don’t stop in front of a road that’s a traffic outlet, duh. So I ass-u-me that if I were ever CCing in the car, I’d already be on red alert since I’m in the car, and see above. I’m only talking out of my hat, because I haven’t CC’d yet, in or out of a car. but I’d like to think that I’d be OK with it.

  31. Far more calm. Far more situationally aware. I laugh off what before may have really upset me, especially driving, getting screwed by the car dealership or in general getting screwed and not getting even kissed.

    I’m far more of an adult. Now I have to think about circumstances and I never get in an argument, I now just walk away.

    It’s a good thing.

  32. As I carry about 20/24 a day even in the house. Id like to think Im always aware of whats around me.
    I know Im ready to go the other way if need be. But wont alter my walk because of whats in front of me.
    So yes Im more comfortable with then without.

  33. Some really interesting comments and observations on this thread. I find myself readily agreeing with both sides of apparently opposing arguments.

    Wearing a gun ought not to change a person’s POV. It’s a tool and I don’t feel more like a carpenter with a hammer or a chauffeur with car keys. Maybe it’s maturity, maybe it’s familiarity with being armed but about the only time a gun makes me calmer is when I detect what might be a threat in the same way it’s nice to have car keys if you decide you want to leave. I have a tool that may enable me to meet my needs, survival in the former and travel in the latter.

    There are times I’m schlepping along, armed or not, in condition white. This doesn’t bother me, condition yellow is impossible to maintain indefinitely and it actually would be a sign of paranoia no matter what Cooper or anyone else says. Show me a man who is ALWAYS alert to potential danger and I’ll show you a clinical case of hyper vigilance).

    Incidentally Coopers color codes are White, Yellow and Red. There are only three and considering all the things we’ve received as gifts from Col. Cooper it seems a little demeaning to his memory to pretend it doesn’t matter.

    I also relish the ‘switched on’ or ‘spun up’ sensation that recognition of a potential threat causes. It’s a powerful and empowering calmness coupled with awareness and clarity of thought seldom had otherwise. This feeling is the same armed or not however and it’s important to remember that the gun is only a tool. This prelude to combat ought to be exhilarating regardless of one’s arms.

    I come to and pay attention when it counts, at the transition points, car to street, store to parking lot. I tend to notice only those people who are conspicuous for all the right reasons, standing when everyone is walking, being in a place they shouldn’t be or paying attention to me when I’m not interacting with them. This is what eventually results from years of living in condition yellow and perhaps months of being in condition red. It takes a lot to switch you on, but you’ll come on when it’s needed. The rest of the time you get to focus on the name of the band that did the song that’s muzaking or what you need from the store or any of the myriad million things you think about in a day.

    Anything that gets people to pay attention is a plus; if that is carrying a gun, carry on. Guns are powerful talismans, good for dispelling threats real and imagined. I think carrying one makes good people better, though they sometimes make bad people worse.

    I’m neither more aware or more calm armed or not but I really think I may have reached a place where I’m both as aware of what I need to be as I can be and nearly unflappable to boot. It’s a simple matter of experience, have enough of the right (or wrong) kinds and you just sort of reach an equilibrium. I know that combat is always a possibility but it’s also very remote. I know it’s terrible but I also know what to do if it happens. I know I’ll be afraid but also that I can function regardless. I know I could have to kill but that will be alight in time. I know I could die but I really think I’m ok with that too.

    I’ve known men who have been in combat who never really got used to it, and that’s ok. I’ve known men who have been in combat who never got over it and I wish, for their own sakes, they could. Then there are those who accept it and are never quite as afraid again. It’s not macho or brave, it’s a trick of the mind, a personality quirk, luck, training, prior desensitization . . . who even knows for sure. Maybe it’s a sign of sociopathology as Lt. Col. Grossman seems to think. I think perhaps I’m one of these latter, a little too tired to get more excited than I have to when I don’t have to.

  34. Carrying does not make me a “calmer” person. However, it does calm me down in the sense that I feel much better knowing I have it. Just like that time you accidentally leave your phone at home and feel helpless all day. That sort of calmer.

  35. Carrying excites me more than relaxes me. The thought of killing a bad guy in self-defense of myself or others is part of the American dream IMO. I’m calm in the sense I know I can defend myself unless I’m going to be exchanging rounds with a machine gun, but I can say when not armed during certain events or locations where I cannot legally carry and don’t, I feel a bit helpless. Kinda the same feeling when stuck in traffic. I think being a bit paranoid about crime and criminals is a good thing, awareness of reality and your surroundings will keep you alive longer.

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