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The decision to carry a concealed firearm is an important, deeply personal one. You are carrying. You are responsible for your gun and what you do or don’t do with it, should you, your loved ones or other innocent life face a credible, imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm. No one can make the decision to carry for you. But they sure can make it difficult. If someone close to you is anti-gun – whether its a significant other, a friend or a colleague – telling them you’re carrying can be awkward or, in some cases, downright confrontational. Here are three tips for coming out of the concealed carry closet . . .

1. Don’t

You have a natural, civil and Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. As TTAG master fisker Bruce Krafft points out, your gun rights are subject “neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility.” Nor should it be subject to someone else’s opinion about whether or not you have a right or even a “need” to carry a firearm. You are under no obligation to inform anyone of your concealed carry handgun.

The gun community has an expression: concealed means concealed. Telling someone you have a gun violates that principle, designed to maintain what gun gurus call “operational security.” There are plenty of ways to conceal a firearm so that no one knows you have it: ankle holsters, pocket carry and other comfortable carry systems (holster and gun). You still have to master some awkward moments. Going to the bathroom, returning to your car or not entering a “gun-free” zone can be challenging. But you can do it.

Your friends don’t have to know. Your boss doesn’t have to know. Your dry cleaner doesn’t have to know. Workmen in your house don’t have to know. Your baby-sitter doesn’t have to know. If, however, you live with someone who’s anti-concealed carry or even anti-gun, well, that’s a different story. In that case . . .

2. Discuss personal safety

I hate to say it, but fear is your friend. Have a conversation with your significant other (SO) about personal safety, a discussion designed to show them the problem with not having a gun.

Lead them. Put the whole discussion in question form. If you don’t have a handgun at home, start with home defense rather than concealed carry.

What would you do if someone attacks you, me or little Michal? Where would you/we go? How long would it take the police to arrive? Move the talk towards weapons. If you had to defend yourself with a weapon, what would you use? Don’t be afraid to introduce the specter of death. What would happen if someone killed me or you? Or, yes, raped one of us?

Don’t hurry. It could take several conversations over several months, perhaps using news stories to revisit the topic. Feel free to leave firearms catalogues strategically placed where you SO can happen upon them. If this concealed carry campaign leads to arguments – “You’re obsessed with guns!” – so what? Is there anything worth arguing about more than life or death?

Anyway, get a gun into the home first. If you keep it locked-up, take it out every now and then. That way your SO will realize that A) there is such thing as a gun B) there is such a thing as a gun in your shared world and B) it doesn’t hurt anyone. Then you can move on to concealed carry.

[Proceeding to home carry and then concealed carry outside the home is an option, but that could backfire.]

If you already have a handgun in the home, ask “what would happen if we were outside and we were attacked?” Use specific examples. What would happen if someone attacked you in the supermarket car park? After work? Notice that you’re talking about your SO’s safety, not your own. An SO is more likely to approve of your concealed firearm to defend them or the kids, rather than yourself. Go figure.

You might want to say that you’d like to have a concealed carry firearm for certain situations (e.g. when you’re going out to dinner). Again, we’re talking about normalization. Carrying every now and then leads to carrying all the time (which is exactly what you should do).

Remember: you’re not easing your SO into “allowing” you to concealed carry. You’re helping them accept your decision, your inalienable right to armed self-defense. Be calm. Be resolute. Be patient.

3.  Just do it

As the survivor of not one but two divorces I am unqualified to offer relationship advice regarding anything contentious. This much I know: there are times in every relationship when a man or woman’s gotta do what a man or a woman’s gotta do. (I believe the expression is “put your foot down.”) You can come out of the concealed carry closet all at once with no prior discussion.

“I’ve decided to carry a concealed firearm to protect myself, you, our friends and family and (perhaps) other innocent life. This is my gun. This is my holster. This is my gun safe. Deal with it.”

Carrying a concealed firearm is a life-affirming decision. Once you’ve made it, or as you make it, have the courage of your convictions. Don’t take no for an answer. The life you save may be the life of the person who rejects, ridicules or seeks to restrict your decision.

63 Responses to Guns for Beginners: Three Ways to Come Out of the Concealed Carry Closet

  1. Well put. My wife was dead set against ALL guns. All uses. No matter what.
    Only a few discussions later, pointing out scenarios laid out here, she saw the light.
    that light was glinting off the Walther she now carries.

    • Well done I’m starting the grind as we speak, she is now not against them anymore and has no problem with me carrying but is reluctant to undertake it herself but I’m hoping for a happy ending. (get your mind out of the gutter)

      • I’d say try not to force the idea of carrying onto your SO. If it isn’t their decision then they’re likely not going to do it right.

        I would rather my girlfriend not be carrying than getting hurt with a gun that I begged her to carry.

        Just my $.02

        • Yeah i haven’t really tried to force her to do it yet but I know I would feel a lot better with her carrying. Being a female living just outside a college campus is really prime time target bait for some really sick bastards. I agree that I wouldn’t want her carrying if she didn’t know what she was doing or if she wasn’t going to do it right, but when you care for someone you want them to be safe and I am realistic enough to know that I can’t be there all the time.

          But again, she doesn’t have a problem with me concealed carrying my sig 320 so I do that everywhere that I am legally permitted to, but again, college can be very restrictive and we aren’t together 100% of the time.

        • I feel the same way you do, trust me I would love for her to carry as well. She enjoys shooting with me, but doesn’t want to as often as me. The best thing I found for her is that she LOVED shooting her brother’s M&P22 compact. She always says she doesn’t like shooting when she misses her target, with that gun it was cheap to shoot and she was very good with it. Therefore, by default my next handgun will be a fun .22 pistol that she can shoot.

          Love for guns is contagious.

        • Yeah I suppose all there is to do is to keep working. Ive already made some really good progress just hope for the best.

      • The hardest part was home-carry. She’d bump into it once in a while (get YOUR mind out of the gutter) and recoil in fear/disgust. Solution: smaller gun. I jest. Kind of. Then the discussion of violent act vs. reaction time came into play. “How can we marshal all of us upstairs-to where you feel the guns belong- in time to counter this dangerous situation?” She relented.

        • Right. How long to kick in the front door vs
          running to the other room, fumbling with the key, opening the lock, pulling the cable through both holes, opening both latches, opening the case, retrieving the unloaded (“safe”) gun, loading it, returning to the “action room”

      • I couldn’t imagine doing it again from scratch. At this point, if all the awful crap happening around us doesn’t sway her vote; and you’ve tried the tips here, I’m at a loss. Farago summed it up nicely. It’s a tough task. If it were easy to convince someone that guns have a legitimate purpose in our society today, we wouldn’t need the NRA. Keep at it, from a personal safety standpoint.

        They’re usually sold when they see how cute they look in the pictures of a range day!

      • For starters, she doesn’t hate guns, she hates what she’s been taught about guns and the assumptions she’s made based on what she’s been taught.

        Start– without mansplaining fergodssake– teaching her new things.

        • What Swarf said. Rarely does someone hate guns in a and of themselves. They hate the idea of guns as indiscriminate killers that they are force fed from cradle to grave. That narrative needs to be broken and personal experience needs to be implemented. Its like being scared of something you don’t know, which is normal. Add familiarization and most fears fade with time.

        • Back in the day when 22 ammo was cheap, my wife and I got pistol permits (a requirement were we live)
          We went target shooting at the local indoor range with an other couple. The husband was an NRA instructor and we would shoot for medals. She came to love shooting the Ruger Bull 22. It became an every Wednesday outing. Dinner and shooting. She became very familiar with the pistol, so no fear.
          I am presently in the market for an LCP for her.
          What I’m saying is maybe make a sport of it and graduate from there as we have.

        • A trip to the range is good for friends and strangers. For a SO (works for your kids, too), I content it is much better to familiarize over a period of time, for example in the living room with no ammo within 20 feet, more if available. Explain/demonstrate how the gun works, take it apart and put it back together, dry fire, etc, then offer it to your partner, COMPLETELY safe. How the sights work, how to squeeze the trigger, eventually working on to the 4 rules, over a period as long as it takes, days, weeks, months, before anybody needs ear protection.

          The main reason I say this is for irrational fears. Even the most terrified can recognize that the gun in this scenario is completely safe unless she drops it on her foot. Once she is familiar with the look, feel, and function of this expensive paperweight, it’s time to bring up the subject of the range. Hereabouts, I’d have to suggest something like Best in the West, where for $30 the two of you can hang out in an area the size of a football field for hours without firing a shot, if you like. Sounds from other ranges are distant enough that ear protection is not required (though last time I was there someone was shooting a cannon, I think, at the rifle range) and it’s time to introduce ammo in a safe and relaxed, no pressure way. With luck, you have a lifetime, there’s no hurry.

      • Both my mom and wife had an irrational fear of guns before I started shooting. Ironically it was my wife who signed me up for my first firearms class, she never thought
        I’d bring one home, but I worked her until she agreed that as long as it was locked up, it would be ok. I then traded my motorcycle for a few different guns and she just kinda played don’t ask, don’t tell.

        When IL passed the CCW law, I told her I was signing up for the class and was going to get my license, she didn’t argue (I’d already taken a bunch of classes by then). I finally bought my Shield .40, I started carrying every minute it was legal, I started showing her stories of robberies, home invasions, kidnappings, etc. to prove that it was better to be prepared. Then one day we heard some noise outside the house and she got worried, I casually told her I was carrying, which surprised her a little but I could also tell she felt good that I could protect the family if something went down (nothing did).

        She’s asked me a few times since if I’m carrying which I reply, “I’m always carrying as long as it’s legal”, she has zero problems with it now. Convincing her to go to the range has been more of an uphill battle but more because of time constraints, I think.

        With my mom, it was much the same. Tell her about all the training (letting her know that I’ve been taking it seriously and am capable), casually mention me carrying, bring up stories of people who should have been prepared but weren’t or even times they were and saved themselves or others. She’s on board now too.

        It’s a lack of education which causes irrational fear, having rational discussions over the course of a few months swayed both of them. My wife was more difficult, raised a liberal Jewish girl (I think I’ve gotten her to see the error in being liberal too) in the Chicago area, she was just against it but had no idea why. Telling her parents was more fun because
        I don’t actually care what they think, but they didn’t argue one bit.

      • Try to take her out to the range, even if she seems reluctant to do so. It does wonders when a person actually gets to have a chance to shoot a gun. It won’t make an RKBA die-hard overnight, obviously, but it softens down the anti-gun stance a lot.

        • “You wouldn’t believe it, I was in the presence of a LOADED GUN!!! and it did not shoot me.” I have had people actually become embarrassed when they discovered how unfounded their fears were.

  2. Woking on that right now with the SO’s parents. And most of our mutual friends, being 21 and in college most of those I associate with are hopelessly led down the “guns are dangerous and should be banned” rabbit hole. Many a discussion has resulted in minds being changed but I can only go one at a time and coming out of the “closet” so to be with the SO’s parents is gonna be the hardest in all likelihood as they are unavoidable.

  3. I had a lot of success explaining this to some of my gun-leery friends by reminding them that “Low risk does not mean no risk, and the dice only have to come up bad once.”. Once I got them to concede that point, it was actually relatively easy to roll them from hoplophobic hand wringing to actually feeling safer that people were carrying around them.

    • I agree with those that assert the risks (of being threatened / attacked) are low.

      “Yes. It’s true the risks are quite low. But, the STAKES are very high.”

  4. Love the ending, “Deal with it!” That’s how it should be done. You’re in control of your life.

  5. A lot of newbies feel self-conscious or nervous about packing, so they inadvertently set off alarms among their friends and relatives. Most of the time, the concern is about being “made” while carrying in public.

    Do the Wally Walk, my new friends! It’s an important right of passage. Once undertaken, your self-consciousness will begin to melt away and your confidence will return. Then, you will be better able to discuss carrying with those with whom you need to discuss it, and your confidence will in turn build confidence in your friends and family.

    • ^THIS +10
      You have no idea how little attention you actually garner from the public until you THINK you have a reason to be noticed. When nothing comes from that, your concerns fly away faster that an empty 7.62×39 out of a Norinco.

    • Before I decided to carry full time, I would occasionally pocket-carry a Colt Pony Pocketlite. That was a long time ago.

      When I decided to go concealed carry full time, I got my (Crossbreed Supertuck) holster before I got the pistol I had decided with be my EDC (Glock 27). Mind you, I had plenty of shooting experience with my G19 and G23. So, I started wearing the holster empty and did so for about a week. So, I got used to it, and got started on breaking in the leather. I also got to work it into my wardrobe. This provided a transition period where I could get used to a holster being there without the “self-consciousness” of a pistol being there.

      I added the G27 once I bought it. And, I was good to go!

    • CCW for my first 2.5 months, built confidence, now open carry 75% or more of the time. People don’t notice, or seem to care. Most of the time people probably think I’m a cop if they do notice. Never had a single person ask.

  6. Side note: I believe the picture shows a P238/P938 being holstered in Condition Zero. I’m all for cocked and locked, not sure I’d cut that second half out on an SAO. They’re spec’d for 7.5-8.5 lb., but that trigger doesn’t have far to go.

  7. Decide to carry before getting married. Start carrying as early in your life as you can legally do it, (and hopefully have enough maturity to take it seriously.)

    I would not be in a relationship with someone who told me I had to be disarmed. I sure as heck wouldn’t marry one either. It’s a LOT easier to find a new boyfriend/girlfriend who is gun friendly than a new spouse.

    • That’s what I was thinking! Man hands and woman’s figure. If they are a woman’s hands, my apologies. If it is a man’s figure… hmm. Well, you know what they say, “I ain’t gay, but if you see a unicorn, you’re going to want to ride it!”

      • What in the world are you guys talking about? She exposed the gun with her right hand, and is drawing with her left. Nothing fancy at all, except I’d like to see a bit more, she seems to be a fox. And she likes gunz!?!?

  8. I guess I am fortunate in that my wife pushed for me to carry (and purchase my first handgun). My colleagues at work also have carry permits. Except one who is anti-gun and honest about it. He has stated on more then one occasion: “I don’t like guns because I don’t trust myself with them. And if I don’t trust myself, I certainly don’t trust you!”

    I respect his honesty about the issue. But I will carry whenever and where ever I can. Hopefully, I never have to use it for more than putting holes through paper or making a steel plate sing.

  9. One of the main reasons people you know would be against it is that they don’t trust you even though they may never actually come out and say it.
    If the trust has to be earned prove you do know what you are talking about. Go shooting with friends, rent at a range, take a course, explain how a child in the house is not going to accidentally get it and shoot themselves.
    Make it “this is going to happen but I am going to make an effort to ensure you are comfortable with it” effort.
    Trust will come because they didn’t marry one of the dumb people.

  10. THIS MESSAGE IS BEING SENT TO STAFF LOCATED AT **********
    “There is a situation going on outside this building at this time. ****** Police Dept has been informed. Please stay inside the building and we will keep you informed as we receive information.”

    I had arrived at my building just as the police did.
    Rumor had it that there was a man with a rifle in the building.
    Up in the office, people were discussing the situation and feeling vulnerable. I was not.
    Looking out the 6th floor window we could see a LEO with an AR guarding an entrance.
    One of my co-workers joked that I could be his shield. Little he nor anyone else knew that I indeed had my Shield of the S&W kind.

    I told no one that I was armed. (allowed by my employer)
    I could tell that they felt helpless. Having an option to defend myself in this potential situation, informed me that without a doubt I will carry for the rest of my life.
    It turn out that the scary rifle was an oversized black umbrella (it was raining that morning) that was seen through a 2nd story window.
    I stayed in the closet.
    I’m sure they would have felt better knowing that protection was near, but then they would get nervous once the status quo returned.
    The only other person at work that knows is a fellow CCW from whom I bought my first semi-auto.

  11. My wife loves that I carry but isn’t ready to carry herself. Whenever we enter a GFZ, which isn’t often, I ask my wife if she feels safer now that my gun is in my car. She always says no. I think we go to less of those because she’s annoyed with that question.

    If anyone gets in my face about how my carrying causes wars in the middle east and kills babies I simply say I’ll give up my gun when they can tell me exactly where the nearest police officer is and when and where the next crime will occur. I can open up with a thousand different comments from there if they’re feeling particularly talkative.

  12. Two of my oldest friends that knew I carried concealed told me we couldn’t be friends anymore after I started to OC. (I had come to my senses about carrying a weapon when I was already friends with them). We’re no longer friends.

    A woman, self-employed, gorgeous, owned some guns, a former marine, (My dream girl) I started a relationship with knew I carried a gun and had various sporting rifles. After being together for almost a year, she came to a “revelation”, (she became a pacifist), that the guns had to go or she would. We’re no longer together.

    It’s like someone that comes to G-d in a relationship with an atheist. Or someone that comes to the second amendment in a relationship with an anti-gun zealot. Both scenarios are very emotional and polarizing, and could very likely lead to a breakup.

    • Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers ThomasR-in life or politics or gun rights. Been marrried a few times. My wife of 25years loves guns. And we agree about most everything. Way before I ever got into firearms 4years ago. Life is too short to have a mate order it…

  13. “supermarket car park”?
    Did you spend a lot of time in the UK or with the Queens subjects?
    Here in the US they’re called “parking lots”.
    just wonderin’

  14. Been carrying all the time for two years. Often 2 guns, often home carry. Hoplophobic wife does not know. She knows I own guns but not that I carry them.

    • How does she not know? The nature of being married or seriously dating someone invariably includes being in close contact with them. Her hand runs along your hip and feels your firearm, how do you explain it?

      I’d rather tell her, get it over with, than let it linger and get caught.

  15. The wife was anti-gun at first. Kept it low profile and locked up. She got used to it. Because she doesn’t trust herself, she thought no one should have one either. Conceal carry – why? Not like we live in Chicago….

    She loosened up when I got the kids involved in shooting. Now she’s OK with guns in the house.

    Her sister had an episode with the about-to-be ex-husband that allowed me to close the deal for conceal carry. “If your sister was here, and he went off, or I had to defend you and the family for that matter, how would I stop a sizable larger person from assaulting you?” Now she’s not so spastic when I do conceal carry,

  16. Vulnerability!
    My wife didn’t like it.
    She pushed for more guns in the house and one for herself.
    I was raised around guns and always had a bunch of 22’s and a shotgun but my only pistol was a Ruger Single Six revolver in 22LR or WMR. (2 cylinders).
    She pushed for CCW when it was passed in Wisconsin.
    I had to take a class, she used her 30 year old DD214 for the CCW requirements. Don’t worry we train and practice quite a bit. We have our own range on family land, she is always wanting to go “out to the farm”
    We now have a .40, three 9s, two .380,s a few more 22’s.
    She carries the new G42. My SO, is not a problem! At all!

  17. I take a combination of the first and third approach.

    I don’t volunteer the information unless I feel comfortable with the person I’m thinking of telling.

    With regards to my S/O, she was ambivalent about guns, having grown up around them, but not having one personally, I took the third approach. I have guns, ammo, holsters, a gun safe, and accessories related to those things – deal with it.

    I never pressured her into getting into shooting. A year and change since we’ve been together, and now she’s getting her CWFL, and our nighttime discussions sometimes revolve around home defense plans.

  18. Conceal carry is staying in the closet, if you want to come out, open carry. Do you think gays would have gotten their rights back by staying in the closet? No, don’t conceal it, where it loud and proud. (Maybe not loud)

  19. We’re in our 40s. Not as grabby as used to be.

    Sure she’ll figure it out eventually. I don’t really actually hide it.

    She is not anti-gun but does have an inordinate fear of them. I’m not going to push the issue with her, nor am I going to refrain from being prudent. I used to worry that she couldn’t defend herself. Now the kids are both excellent shots.

  20. I lucked out I guess. Buying and carrying was actually my college age girlfriend’s decision, although a terrible day at the range with a 642 J frame S&W almost made her give up on it…… until we met the Sig 238. Anybody who’s SO hates guns or thinks they are scary show them the Sig 238. I promise they will love how it looks and they can actually rack the slide. But boyfriends/husband’s beware, Sigs are not cheap, and you will probably be the one cleaning it regardless of what you buy her

  21. After years of talking about it, my Wife surprised me with a visit to the county probation building for my birthday last year.

    Been edc ever since.

  22. The holster in the picture is from N82 Tactical. The best IWB holster I have ever worn (I got the Professional model for my Walther PPS in 9mm). I’ve had it for about a year and a half, and it has held up to nearly every day carry (can’t carry at work, but after work and all day on the weekends). I’d recommend a good belt to the young lady in the picture though…and also recommend that she draw the firearm…not some dude. 🙂

    My SO just found out that I carry a few weeks ago (married 7 years, carrying for 3). After telling her I routinely carry, I waited. She hasn’t brought it up since. Her parents are stubbornly anti…so she grew up afraid of guns. I have preached and practiced safety since day one, and she seems OK with me having them in the house. I’m going to gradually increase the conversation to where I can help her build a familiarity and a level of efficacy with firearms. Baby steps are best in my opinion.

  23. “…I believe the expression is “put your foot down.”

    I’ve had to so with my wife. But conversly, she also understands why. She knows that I will greviously harm any person trying to hurt her or the kiddo. And she’s good with that 🙂

  24. Growing up, my mother was very much against there being guns around us children. My dad always kept a locked up Beretta .22 in the house though. My mother changed her opinion about guns only after she experienced several attempted assaults.

    My wife didn’t want a gun in the house either. Then I got her watching old seasons of Top Shot on Amazon Prime. That peaked her interest enough to get her to a range and now she will be getting her own CFP and firearm. The only problem I have now is affording all the guns she wants to buy.

  25. so what do you do when your husband is against concealed carry? just do it anyway? he sees no reason in our rural area that i would need it for anything, even though crime can happen anywhere…

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