Disclaimer: this post is aimed at people who have not yet committed to daily concealed carry. If you already carry a gun on a daily basis, please share this article with your newbie and daily carry-reluctant amigos. The more people who carry concealed, the safer we all will be, both in terms of active defense and “passive” deterrence. Not to mention the safety of our natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. OK, so, the first thing you need for concealed carry is . . .
It doesn’t matter what type of gun you carry, what caliber cartridge it contains or the design and composition of the bullets. What matters is that you carry a gun. The majority of Americans with concealed carry permits don’t. They’re afraid of being “discovered.” Outed. Forced to explain their decision to carry a gun to people who can’t, don’t or won’t understand. Hence their hyper-sensitivity to “printing” (their gun making a visible impression against concealment clothing).
There’s no easy way to overcome concealed carry paranoia and peer pressure. One step in the right direction: carry a list of reasons why you want to carry a gun. No one has the right to take my life; my family needs me; I love my family; all that’s required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing…whatever floats your ballistic boat. Read the list out loud before you holster your gun.
By the same token, it helps to imagine violent assaults as you’re going through your day. Imagining that you’re taking evasive or attacking action while disarmed. This mental exercise trains your brain to consider non-firearms solutions to life-threatening situations (always the best case scenario) and reminds you just how useful a gun can be if and when push comes to shove.
The carry process itself is another reason armed Americans don’t carry a firearm on a daily basis. They know they have to be aware of right-to-carry restrictions and either avoid “gun free zones” or disarm. That’s not much fun. Removing a gun from your holster in a parking lot and stashing it in the glove box, for example, is an awkward, not-to-say furtive endeavor that invites curious stares and the possibility of theft.
Coping with concealed carry’s legal inconveniences eventually becomes habitual. But that doesn’t happen for most folks because carrying a concealed gun is physically uncomfortable. Depending on what, where and how you carry, daily carry can be a literal pain in the ass. Or the hip. In fact, overcoming physical discomfort is the key to making concealed carry a daily event. That’s why you need . . .
A Comfortable Holster
Gun guru Clint Smith famously pronounced that carrying a gun should be comforting, not comfortable. Yeah, no. If carrying a gun is physically annoying or painful, your average armed American won’t do it on a daily basis. Say what you will about A Nation of Wimps, choosing a comfortable carry system (gun and holster) is the single most important factor for daily concealed carry.
The general rule of thumb on concealed carry: carry the largest gun you can. Given the farrago of firearms on the market and the huge selection of holster styles (inside-the-waistband, outside-the-waistband, appendix carry, ankle carry, boot carry, small-of-the-back, etc.) you could spend a fortune trying to find the perfect comfortable combination. Or, as most people do, buy the wrong gun and holster and give up.
That’s why I advise reluctant concealed carriers to start by pocket-carrying a small revolver (e.g., a Ruger LCR) or a semi-automatic pistol (e.g. a SIG SAUER P238) inside a simple sleeve holster. I know all the arguments against “mouse guns;” I’ve made them myself. But we’re talking about training wheels; a painless-to-wear starter gun and holster that the owner doesn’t need to throw away if and when they “graduate” to a different carry system with a larger gun.
Women who wear tight jeans (with nominal pockets) or tight dresses have to find other comfortable concealed carry solutions, such as small semi-automatic pistol (e.g., the Kahr CM9) in an inside-the-waistband holster positioned in the small of their back, or an undergarment holster. But the point remains: buy a carry system. Don’t buy a gun and then try to find a way to carry it.
Go to a gun store where you can try out a carry system, even if you have to drive hours to get there. Safety check the gun and holster it. Walk, sit, jog a bit, practice extraction. Road test your daily carry rig and you’ll be a hundred times more likely to use it on a daily basis.
A Cell Phone
There is no defensive gun use situation where you don’t need a phone. You need your phone to report a potential threat to the police – hopefully avoiding having to use your gun in the first place. You need your phone to report a defensive gun use – hopefully avoiding arrest and prosecution.
Always call the police after any defensive gun use. If you show your gun and the bad guy or guys take off, call the police. If you don’t, the bad guy or guys may call the police, ID you and accuse you of being the aggressor threatening their lives.
[Note: state your name and location, a brief description of yourself, the location of the incident (if you’ve left the scene) and the general nature of the event (e.g., “there’s been a shooting”). You don’t have to stay on the phone to answer the emergency operator’s questions. Anything you say – and how you say it – can be used against you in a court of law. When the police arrive, promise a full statement and invoke your right to silence.]
If you don’t have a phone – it may have become lost or damaged during a DGU – ask to use someone else’s. It’s critical that you make the call, rather than a bystander. This helps establish your innocence.
There’s plenty of other stuff a daily concealed carrier can schlep: spare ammo, a defensive knife, a utility knife, a flashlight, a spare gun, spare ammo for the spare gun, pepper spray, etc. But the three items above are the gateway to daily concealed carry. With these three items you can keep calm and carry on. Every. Single. Day.