I have something to confess. I have a concealed handgun license (CHL) and I rarely carry my handgun. The reasons why I don’t carry that often—and why thousands of other concealed carry permit holders also leave home without it—bears examination.
When I (finally) received my CHL, I immediately started to carry my handgun in an inside-the-waistband holster. For about two weeks, I carried it diligently. For me, carrying at work wasn’t a problem; I own the joint. To and from my daughter’s school wasn’t an issue either. I dropped her off outside, and never left my car. I don’t frequent bars, so that wasn’t a problem. But I found one problem that stopped me from carrying in all but what I anticipate to be the most dire of circumstances.
My gun’s too heavy.
I’m 6’4″ and weigh more than 240 lbs. (Sometimes a lot more than I’d like.) That makes concealment inside the ol’ waistband something of a stretch (no pun intended.) When your “love handles” embrace and surround the grip of your firearm, it can get to be a little uncomfortable by the end of the day. My choice of firearms—a 5″ barrel 1911 .45 semi-auto—does not ease my pain. Quite the opposite.
If I owned a gun that was easier to conceal and carry, I know I would carry it more often. So what’s stopping me from keeping ballistic stopping power on my person on a daily basis? For one thing, I’m one of those guys who would rather err on the side of “enough gun” rather than carry something small and easy-to-conceal at the expense of lethality.
On the other hand, I have carried a 4″ barrel Springfield XD, which weighs about 1/3 less that’s about 1/3 smaller. That weapon is MUCH easier to carry. And yet I still don’t holster a weapon every time I leave the house. Why would I? It’s a lot of trouble when you consider the fact that it’s unlikely that I’ll never need it.
I live in a relatively safe neighborhood. I don’t feel the need to carry, at least not all the time. In the often macho world of CHL advocates, I sometimes I feel as if I need to get to a meeting of Handgun Owners Anonymous and confess my non-carryin’ ways. (“Hi. I’m Brad. It’s been over three months since I’ve concealed and carried my handgun.”)
It’s also true that there are a lot of places I go where concealed carry is not an option. Texas law states that you can’t carry in schools. Or bars and/or restaurants that generate over 51 percent of their income from alcohol sales. Courthouses and most government buildings are also verboten (y’all). And businesses can “opt out,” banning legal handgun owners from their premises.
And the penalties for ignoring the law are stiff. You might or might not to go to jail for a violation, but it’s pretty much a given that The Lone Star State’s minions will pull your license and you’ll forever lose your right to carry.
All of which means I need the ability to lock up my weapon in my car when I visit those places that don’t allow handguns.
Luckily, Texas (and many other states) have extended their “Castle Keep” statutes to allow you to keep a gun in your home, your car, and to transport it in between. Some states have even held that a gun owner can keep a gun locked in their car, regardless of their employer’s policies forbidding guns on the property.
Here’s the thing: I drive a Jeep Wrangler, which is about as theft-proof as a straw basket. And even if I could stash my gun in a lock box in my car, I realize that auto theft is the most likely of all burglaries. They’ll just take the box. Bottom line: I do NOT want a criminal running around with my gun.
So I carry when I think I might need my weapon, which is not all the time. In fact, it’s not even most of the time. Still, I don’t want to lose that option. I believe it’s my right, as an American, to be able to carry a weapon to defend myself, my family, and my property. Not to get all post-Katrina on you, constant concealed carry might not be necessary now, where I live. But it could be in the future. And is right now for other.
Too often, we think, “Oh, that will never happen,” whatever “that” is. But people’s homes get robbed, cars get carjacked, and innocent victims get mugged on a daily basis. You can pick one of two options: hope a crisis will never occur and trust the police to bail you out, or become a situationally-aware citizen, ready, willing, and able to defend yourself. I choose the latter.
And one day, when I can afford to buy my dream conceal-carry weapon, I’ll be a lot more likely to carry. Likely, but not certain.