10 Things Concealed Carriers Should Avoid


By James England via concealednation.org

That’s a picture taken of Steve McQueen back a ways and featured in Time Magazine. See Steve? Steve has a loaded handgun.* In the background, you’ll notice an open can of Coors. While there ain’t nothing wrong with an oat soda, a Magnum revolver, or kicking it on the couch – these three things shouldn’t be hanging out together. And we’ll go over 10 other things that concealed carriers should avoid – just so we’re on an even playing field . . .

* ”But, how do you know it is loaded?” — We don’t.  We assume it’s loaded until otherwise proven because that’s a good practice to get into.

10.  The State of New Jersey

Surprised? We are, too. Every single year people carry concealed into New Jersey. Whether it’s on purpose or accidental, it doesn’t matter. The State of New Jersey doesn’t care about the reasons – it’s a felony.  Until that changes, avoid crossing their state border at all costs while carrying a firearm on your person (or just about anywhere else).

* Go ahead and add: Maryland. Lots of people get arrested in Maryland for accidentally crossing over with a legally registered firearm, too.

9.  Drinking Establishments

Some states allow concealed carriers to enter into alcohol serving establishments.  Almost no state allows a concealed carrier to drink while armed.  In general, there’s nothing wrong with going into a restaurant that happens to have a bar.  But establishments that only serve alcohol – it’s just a matter of time before someone does something they’d normally regret.  You don’t need to be that person.  Let the bouncers, the bartenders, and the police deal with it.

8.  Drinking In General

Some concealed carriers don’t see the harm in having a few oat sodas (or bourbon pops) while at a gathering of family and friends.  After all – we’re all close, right?  The only problem is that if you’ve got your favorite everyday carry strapped to your hip and you’re under the influence – you’re not thinking clearly.  Even if Chechen terrorists parachute down from the sky into the middle of your family gathering, if you’ve been drinking – you’re not going to be any good at fighting them off.  We did an article way earlier on alcohol and carrying concealed here.  It generated a heated debate, but we stand by our thoughts on the topic of not drinking while carrying.

7.  Ditch Digging Friends

You know the type. One word leads to another and before long, that friend of yours has got him or herself stuck up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Sometimes this just ends with a minor verbal altercation or perhaps a shoulder shrug on behalf of the other person dealing with your friend.  Other times, there’s the potential that friend of yours is going to wind up in trouble.  And as much as you want to help him or her – going in armed is probably not a good idea.  If you plan on being armed, avoid friends that can get you drawn into any unnecessary confrontation.

Following up on that, if you’re wondering some good steps to de-escalating a conflict – check out our article here.

6.  Itching Or Adjusting Your Holster In Public

A concealed carry firearm is that – concealed.  Just like your body, there are pieces of you that are appropriate to adjust in front of other people and then there are other parts that aren’t.  Your firearm is one of those other parts now.  If you’re in line at the checkout – don’t worry, your firearm is still there.  But if you’re not sure – you can read the article Brandon wrote about this.

5.  Leaving The Chamber Empty

It can be nerve-racking, at first, to carry everyday with a round in the chamber.  Your firearm isn’t going to discharge unless you pull the trigger.  How do you know that?  Because you place your firearm in a high-retention holster that ensures the trigger guard is secure.  Now, you are in control.

4.  Angry People

Some people are just more prone to violent outbursts than others.  We know where those people generally hang out.  Sure, they can wander outside of their usual spots and there’s no guarantee you won’t run into them at the store.  Still, stay out of places that tend to have lots of angry people looking for fights.

3.  Less Than Honorable Practices

If you’re a concealed carrier, you’re expected to act as a law-abiding citizen. You’re an unwitting ambassador of the community. If you’re carrying concealed on your motorcycle, and you decide to whip in and out of traffic just because you can – you can safely assume nobody likes you. That’s a pretty big statement.  But when you’re parked in your car in a tremendous traffic jam and you see a motorcyclists weave and bob between vehicles, you’d probably wish they wouldn’t.  Now, if you’re doing it, and you have a firearm strapped to you – you’re inviting misery.

Every single warm-blooded mammal in this country steps outside the law. Whether it’s running a “Stop” sign or going faster than the posted speed limit – if you’re going to step outside the law, do it without a firearm.

2.  Follow-Up: Bad Driving

Let’s continue this point a bit further. We covered a story a little while back where a concealed carrier was driving like an idiot in Florida. I know, I know – you can hardly believe it.  A Floridian driving horribly.  But suspending your disbelief just a moment, this driver happened to accrue ANOTHER vehicle following him for allegedly the purposes of getting his license plate number so he could phone it into police.  That situation turned out about as bad as you can imagine it would.  Concealed carriers don’t like being followed.  But going off point #3 and continuing it into this point: if you’re going to drive like an idiot, do yourself a favor and leave your firearm out of it.  That gun is not your automatic justification to do whatever you please.

1.  Picking Up Strangers

Even worse than picking up strangers is picking up strangers who are drunk.  Unfortunately, for this one Uber driver, he found out the hard way that it doesn’t pay to use your firearm to secure an unruly, drunk passenger.

In most vehicles, your passenger(s) will be located behind you or beside you.  That means they have an uncommon advantage in close quarters – preventing you from easily using your firearm to defend yourself.  For those out there that drive taxi cabs, you’re probably shaking your head and saying, “how the heck do you expect us to defend ourselves?”

For those who aren’t taxi cab drivers – avoid the situation if you can.  For those who do regularly drive drunk and sometimes unruly strangers about, if you run into this conflict, bring the vehicle to a stop, take the keys out of the ignition, and exit the vehicle with your firearm.   We’ll go into this in more detail in a future article.

In conclusion, if you avoid these 10 things while you’re carrying concealed, you’ll find that life got a whole bunch simpler.  And simpler is good – especially when you’re armed.


  1. avatar Sian says:

    99% of trouble comes from doing stupid things with stupid people in stupid places at stupid late hours. Don’t do that and you’ll probably be fine.

    1. avatar SCS says:

      My 3 teenage daughters all can recite the “4 Stupid rules”

      Avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things at stupid times.

      1. I love that, need to memorize it. 🙂

        1. avatar BLAMMO says:

          Yeah – Avoid stupid people doing stupid things in stupid places at stupid times. I think I might have first heard it here on TTAG. How many otherwise good and decent young people have had their lives ruined because they made one bad choice that was seemingly inconsequential at the time? There, but for the grace of God. I know I escaped more than once. (whew)

      2. avatar Bob says:

        Bravo Sir/Ma’am!

    2. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      “99% of trouble comes from doing stupid things with stupid people in stupid places at stupid late hours. Don’t do that and you’ll probably be fine.”

      I can’t stand this stupid meme because it’s too vague.

      What exactly is “stupid” is often only defined in hindsight by a bunch of judgmental Internet buttholes.

      In other words, this is the kind of advice Proggies give…like the AZ City Council voting to support gun control without actually having the nads to pass gun control legislation.

      Yes; some things are quite clearly stupid places or stupid things. But, there are HUGE swaths of gray area, so in terms of practical advice, this meme is pointless.

      Keep in mind…to a not insignificant percentage of the US population, the mere act of carrying a gun is defined as stupid. That ambiguity alone ought to illustrate how pointless it is to spout this as some sort of advice for ‘clean living.’

      1. avatar Bob says:

        It might be useful if it is presented as a way to remember the details of each of the 4 items. I agree, by themselves, they are not nearly specific enough, but for example for the “stupid times” one, it could be used as a reminder of being taught that a study was done once where about 80% of the people out in the street between 2 and 4 AM (or was it midnight and 4, I don’t remember) had arrest records.

        I would teach a son or daughter to try to avoid being out anywhere past midnight as much as possible.

        1. avatar Warlocc says:

          Clearly you’ve never worked an overnight job.

  2. avatar delta2actual says:

    Ditch digging friends = stupid people. As in “avoid the 3 stupids – doing stupid stuff with stupid people in stupid places”

  3. avatar SD3 says:

    Coors & revolvers is like Clintons & interns…something unsavory is afoot.

    1. avatar Badgerman says:

      Would a glass of Famous Grouse Scotch and a 1911 make it acceptable? (Sure sounds good to me).

      1. avatar Gurney Halleck says:

        They do go very well together. However you might wish to pair The Black Grouse with a black powder revolver. Both are very smokey.

  4. avatar foxmuldar says:

    Not much good to have a concealed carry if you don’t keep your weapon loaded. A responsible concealed carry person should know his weapon is loaded and ready to be fired if needed. If someones breaking into your home you don’t want to be searching for that empty clip and box of ammo. Same goes for when your carrying. Sometimes you only have seconds to react.

  5. avatar delta2actual says:

    Number 11: social media. If you’re regularly on Facebook, Twitter etc. sooner or later you’re gonna let something drop about carrying concealed, whether you intend to or not. Remember CANT – Carry Always, Never Tell

    1. avatar ThePontificator says:

      Rule No. 12: (or 11-b): Keep your mouth shut about CCW while at work. Nearly all of us do not work in a gun shop. Leave others to disclose or argue hot button topics while on the job.

      The guy who boasts about this Fall deer hunting exploits and who displays an NRA sticker on his truck is not necessarily a true 2A supporter. It’s funny how people like that can drop a dime on you to human resources.

  6. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Awesome photo.
    I’m scratching my head on what brand revolver that is…

    1. avatar SD3 says:

      It’s an H&R 939, if I know Stevie.

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        By golly, I believe you’re right.

      2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        H&R 939 FTW. Two big clues are the slab sides and the rebated front sight.

    2. avatar Cucamonga Jeff says:

      Looks like some kind of Colt snake theme gun by the looks of the vented rib atop the barrel. Annaconda?

      1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        No under-lug though.

    3. avatar jwm says:

      Yep. I owned a 939 and that’s what they looked like. Billed as a target gun I used mine for potting possums and raccoons that got near the hen house. And occasionally innocent raccoons and possums that were just hanging out in the woods minding their own bidness.

      1. avatar peirsonb says:

        They may have been minding their own business at the time, but you can bet they were plotting something…

  7. avatar Warlocc says:

    Bad list is bad.

    Two of those are the same.

    Two more are similar.

    And at least one is personal prefence.

    I can agree that you shouldn’t go to New Jersey or pick up strangers, but that applies to everyone in America, not just gun owners.

    1. avatar Stinkeye says:

      Yeah, this one feels a little “phoned in”. An example of what can happen if you come up with the title first and back-fill the content later…

  8. avatar Franko says:

    How do you dry fire a weapon if you assume it’s always loaded? Should I take it to the range? Couldn’t I just this once, empty all 6 shells in my hand, count them, recheck the weapon and assume I’m not that stupid?
    The Ghost of Steve McQueen.

    1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      A better photo would help, but I sure can’t pick out any shiny brass rims between the cylinder and the recoil shield.

  9. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    10) Amen, brother.

    9) Almost no state allows a concealed carrier to drink while armed. – Thank God I live in one of them.

    8) The way I see it, a concealed holstered handgun is a lot like a set of car keys in your pocket. Neither will ever do anyone harm unless they come out. Anyway, I’ve never been so drunk as to lose my better judgement when it comes to firearms.

    7) People like that should be avoided whether your have a gun or not.

    6) The vast majority of people are completely oblivious to you adjusting your holster.

    5) I keep a round in all 6 chambers, but some older revolvers are not drop safe with a round under the hammer.

    4) See 7.

    3) ?

    2) ???

    1) Well if you’re going to pick up drunk strangers you probably should be armed.

    1. avatar SteveM says:

      9) Almost no state allows a concealed carrier to drink while armed. – Thank God I do not live in one of them.

      I’m 37 and have never once been drunk though I do drink on occasion. I don’t need hand wringers telling me that I can’t have a little rum in my coke because there is a chance I might get drunk and kill someone with my gun. We need to stop telling people how to live and instead judge them by the consequences of their actions.

      On the other hand, if you’ve been convicted of a DUI then you have demonstrated poor judgement in the area of alcohol and part of your punishment should be a period of years where you are not allowed to have alcohol in your system while doing any dangerous activity.

      1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        In my state you’re fine up to .08% BAC. Seems like a good compromise. A 5000 lb. SUV is every bit as dangerous as a .357 magnum. Probably more.

      2. avatar Jjimmyjomga says:

        “Beer Muscles” don’t mix with loaded firearms…that’s a fact.

      3. avatar Matt in FL says:

        “I’m 37 and have never once been drunk though I do drink on occasion. I don’t need hand wringers telling me that I can’t have a little rum in my coke because there is a chance I might get drunk and kill someone with my gun.”

        I would like to associate myself completely with Steve’s statement on this. I have been well and truly liquored up on a few occasions, but never to the level of loss of self control. I don’t make a habit of drinking to excess, but I do regularly have a beer (or two, gasp!) with dinner, which is legal in Florida. If you don’t like it and tell me so, we’ll politely agree to disagree.

        1. avatar Matt Richardson says:

          No… Anybody who doesn’t like it can FOAD. These self-righteous turds that spout nonsense about alcohol and firearms not being capable of happening at the same time are projecting the same kind of horsesh*t that the antis spout.

          Guess what; I am perfectly capable of drinking and not operating my vehicle the same as I am drinking and not drawing my sidearm. The only difference is I won’t ever NEED my car to save my life. My sidearm on the other the other hand exists solely for that purpose and come f*cking get it if you think I shouldn’t have it on my person at ANY given time.

          This is EXACTLY the same argument as gun control advocates positing that nobody should be able to own firearms because they don’t trust themselves with one.

    2. avatar Chip Bennett says:

      WRT alcohol: it’s a matter of personal responsibility and impulse control, and applies to everything, not just alcohol. I don’t drink to get drunk. I don’t drink to get buzzed. I do, however, occasionally enjoy a cider while barbecuing, or a wine with a steak dinner. I’m not unholstering any more than I’m hiding my own car keys. I take responsibility for myself in all things, and maintain control of myself.

      Can’t drink without getting drunk? Don’t carry while you drink. Can’t drive without going all road rage? Don’t carry while you drive. Etc.

  10. avatar SteveM says:

    I would have included in the list not carrying a non-lethal alternative such as pepper spray or a tazer.

    I also would have included not deciding in advance what reasons will cause you to draw your firearm and which won’t. Many of the items on this list assume that in a heat of rage or a in a sudsy haze you’ll be making the decision to draw or not. All you should need to do is remind yourself what your own rules are and do your best to follow them.

    For example, you may decide to only draw to fire on an active shooter which means you’ve already made the choice not to stop a robbery with your gun. If you feel the need to break up a drunken brawl then you might reach for the pepper spray.

    1. avatar Bob Sadtler says:

      Be glad you don’t live in Virginia, Steve M. A Va concealed HANDGUN permit does not cover less-lethal options, despite the Va Supreme Ct decision in 1989 that MANDATED reasonable force. Genius, aint it?

    2. avatar Chip Bennett says:


      That said: seeing the way that police officers get second-guessed (usually by SJWs and ambulance chasers) regarding their escalation of options, from non-lethal, to less-than-lethal, to lethal, I’m not sure I’d want to introduce that into the equation.

      I prefer to keep the decision binary: either deadly force is justified, or it is not.

  11. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    Hmmm…. I always thought it was Don Johnson that started the no sock thing.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      I was sad because I had no socks. Then I saw Don Johnson.

  12. avatar Farmer Tyler says:

    I think when it comes to drinking and carrying it should be treated like driving. Everyone has their limit. If you drink enough to not drive yourself you shouldn’t have been carrying.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Well, you can leave your car and take a taxi. What should you do with your gun?

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Send the gun and ammo home in separate locked taxicabs. There’s no reason why a man and his gun should both be loaded at the same time.

  13. avatar 27 Words says:

    So I can have a beer or a scotch when out to dinner with my wife, and safely and legally drive home. But I shouldn’t be allowed to carry while doing so? Hmm. I guess even supposed freedom loving folk like to tell people how to live their lives.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Funny, isn’t it? Everyone has their blind spots, and some of them don’t even realize they’re doing it.

    2. avatar Katy says:

      There’s a long path between telling you how to live your life and making suggestions for a happier and safer life.

      Nobody is making you study when you’re in high school, but you’ll be able to accomplish a lot more if you do well on your exams. Nobody is making you wear modest clothing, but that part of town is known for bad people doing bad things, and do you want to attract attention to yourself?

      If you want to drink while carrying, that’s your prerogative. Just keep in mind that in the event of a ND, the prosecutor is going to have a field day with your BAC. It may not meet the legal definition of operating under the influence, but it won’t be hard to show that your judgement was impaired. If someone is hurt…that’s an even easier standard to meet.

      1. avatar Matt Richardson says:

        Seriously, you brought dressing modestly to this discussion?

        I want off this planet…

        1. avatar jwm says:

          That’s all it takes to make you want off the planet? The planet wants you off, now.

        2. avatar Katy says:

          Just curious what the issue is with that.

          Nobody is saying that you have to hide your wrists and ankles when you’re out and about. Nobody is giving those who assault a pass for doing so.

          But, when you are in a place where bad people are known for doing bad things, it’s prudent to avoid attracting attention to yourself. you don’t want to flash lots of cash, jewelry, or anything else that you hold precious. You only display what you can afford to give up.

  14. avatar Mark Lloyd says:

    Here’s another thing I will tell everyone to avoid, because as of a couple of days ago, I have first hand experience.
    Don’t allow terminally ill people to handle a firearm!
    I recently made another purchase and bought myself a new Uberti SA Cattleman .45 It’s the Taylors Smoke Wagon Deluxe. So I take it over to my friends place who I have known since high school. We graduated in 76.
    He was recently diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. It’s not good and he’s going to die from it.
    So I want to let him safely handle it. He has a S&W .45, a pre 64 30/30 Winchester, so he knows how to handle firearms, but he’s never handled a SA revolver. I unzip it from the case and allow him to half cock it and remove the five live shells, and then how to load one, skip one and load the rest, where you fully cock it and lower the hammer to an empty chamber. He had no idea that’s how it’s done. He looked at it from the side and then flipped it around and looked down the barrel!!

    Je— fu— Ch—-!
    He just looked at me like………yeah so?
    What do you say? You could die from that! Yeah so and??
    I think that I may not hand him any more firearms.
    I really don’t want to see that again.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Yeah, that could be really bad. Try to explain to the cops that it wasn’t an assisted suicide or mercy killing.

      I support the right of the terminally ill to commit suicide. just not with my gun.

  15. avatar Ralph says:

    Rule #11: Treat your gun like your dingus. Keep it clean, lube it well and take it out for special occasions.

    1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      That’s terrible advice Ralph!

      I think if a lot of people followed that advice the finish would be gone and the recoil springs completely worn out after a few weeks from “racking” the slide.

      Most would also repeatedly break a couple of the rules already mentioned as for many people “special occasions” = anytime the owner thought there was even half a chance for action.

  16. avatar Long dong woo says:

    So, just in case it was missed. No matter anyones supreme ability to metabolize alcohol into sugar better than anothers, the whole prohibition on booze and guns is really simple. You aren’t judged by you in a courtroom, you are judged by 12 peers who may disagree with you. If you ever defend yourself with a gun, and go to court over it, knowing that you can safely test 0.00% on the BAC test is a point for you. “Hey I was only intoxicated to half of the legal limit before hitting that guy with a bullet” is not going to improve your chances of winning your case.

    1. avatar Anthony says:

      This was always my reasoning. I know I can still handle myself after a beer or two, but I’ll be damned if I let that become a factor in the courtroom.

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        I disagree on both counts. At a BAC of .08%, I can still walk on my hands. That’s right, on my hands. I could easily demonstrate and perform the standard battery of FST’s. Wet lab? No problem.

        DUI is presumed at .08%, or .04% for commercial drivers in CA (section 23152 VC). I can drink two beers and two mixed drinks in a period of 4 1/2 hours and register a .01% on a calibrated breath test machine.

        I’m not trying to sound like an alcoholic here, but a drink or two will not put a 180+ pound man into a legitimate DUI. Sure, everyone handles alcohol differently. Know thyself.

        Don’t think prescription meds can be brought up? They certainly can. Any decent attorney should be able to assist. DUI is being demonstrably under the influence of drugs and / or at an elevated BAC (blood alcohol content). It’s not a single drink or two for a grown man.

        Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

      2. avatar Sprocket says:

        The problem is boozers, like most other drug users, are incapable of sound judgement where their drug of choice is concerned. Many will be incredulous at the notion they should have a coke rather than risk their freedom and financial well being should they be involved in defensive shooting.

        1. avatar Matt in FL says:

          I’m incredulous that some would live their entire life based on an infinitesimal what-if.

    2. avatar Matt in FL says:

      For most of us, actually having to use a gun in self defense is an event with a pretty small likelihood. Many, if not most of those who do so never see the inside of a courtroom, making going to court over an unlikely event an unlikely event in and of itself. You would have us deny ourselves one of the basic joys of life over an event of second-order infrequency? That’s a level of planning and forethought that I just don’t have time for.

  17. avatar BigBoy says:

    Add NYC to the list of prohibited places. All the major airports – JFK, Lagardia, Newark – are prohibited zones of especial danger to air travelers with guns (intentional abd diverted).

  18. avatar Larry says:

    Pity that he’s not wearing his favorite watch ( Rolex Blackface Explorer II ) in that picture.

  19. avatar Marc says:

    #4…..seriously? No one should have their firearm with them when they are driving on the street? Lots of angry people on dem streets.

  20. avatar cknarf says:

    Bah. I don’t bother removing my firearm if I’m drinking in the safety of my own home. My gun rides on my hip, untouched, as it does any other time.

  21. avatar Martin B says:

    I can now see why Steve McQueen was such an adventurous type, almost never at home. That furniture looks like an invitation to a backache, obviously chosen by the wife or some designer, not by anyone with knowledge of human anatomy.
    Typical 60s style. I was a child then, so the furniture didn’t cripple me for life.

    1. avatar SD3 says:

      Kinda looks like he’s doing his best Elvis impersonation.

  22. avatar Bob Sadtler says:

    One more for the list (where are we now, 13, 14?): DO NOT, I repeat, N-O-T carry around one of those retarded-ass concealed weapon permit “badges!” Number one, you look like a wannabe. Number two, in just about any jurisdiction in America, flashing any kind of badge not issued by a LE agency will be interpreted as impersonating law enforcement. Who buys these friggin’ things?

  23. avatar charles farley says:

    Look at the hole in the end of the barrel of that pistol. If that’s a magnum, it has to be a 22 magnum. Too small a hole to be anything else.

  24. avatar David says:

    #4, #7, and to a lesser extent #3 means many people need to avoid blood relatives. The 4 stupids often involve family.

  25. avatar Cloudbuster says:

    11. Busybodies with lists.

  26. avatar H says:

    A hair off topic but motorcyclists are allowed by law to go between cars in stopped traffic. Very few are water cooled and will overheat if they sit still.

    It may annoy car drivers that they are stuck in traffic but the problem isn’t the motorcyclist.

  27. avatar JohnF says:

    In VA, and probably some other states, civilians can’t drink and carry, but there is an exception forLEOs. I’ve heard the lame-o excuse, “Oh, well, LEOs sometimes have to drink when they’re undercover”. So why doesn’t the exception say, “…when necessary to the performance of duties?”

    In any case, I don’t see how a cop who is UI is any safer with a gun than a civilian.

  28. avatar Dustin says:

    So, if I’m going to be a Good Samaritan and pick up a hitch hiker, I should do it unarmed?


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