Congratulations. You’ve decided to take proactive action to keep your family safer in getting a carry license. At the same time you’re a little uncomfortable about carrying a gun. It’s okay. You’re not the Lone Ranger.
According to John Lott’s research, just like you, about 1.73 million other Americans decided to get their carry license in 2015. If you’re like many, you’ve been mentally conditioned for decades that carrying a gun is unlawful. You may well think everyone will spot that subtle lump under your clothes and instantly know you’re packing heat and it’s going to be a big headache.
You’re not alone. I carried a gun lawfully in Illinois, via fanny pack, for fifteen years before I got my Illinois license. Lord, what a fashion faux pax that was. Yet even with all those years of carrying in that fanny pack – and risking arrest by cops at the behest of prosecutors who said they would prosecute me for following Illinois’ law to the letter on transporting firearms – I still wasn’t completely at ease carrying a loaded gun in my home state.
The first time a Bloomington, Illinois city cop stood not an arm’s length behind me in line at a fast food joint – well it just felt a tad uncomfortable. I figured the cop would see my gat marginally concealed under my white polo and I’d have some splainin’ to do. He never noticed.
You’ll discover people – or “sheeple” – are terribly oblivious to the clues that people are carrying guns. “Example?” you ask. I saw a guy walking through a restaurant with his shirt tail hung up over his gun and nobody noticed. Another time it was someone I saw shopping at a Wal-mart.
“Psst. Your XD is showing,” I said softly.
He quickly covered it up and chuckled nervously. “Thanks man.”
There’s no need to be nervous that someone’s going to pay attention to a slight bulge under your shirt or in your pocket, much less know what it is – unless, of course, you’re a fetching female wearing skin-tight jeans or yoga pants. In that instance, some might notice a strange bulge under your pants and recognize it as a gun.
Having said that, if you find yourself in a location where concealed carry isn’t allowed by an honest mistake, you’ll want to be extra diligent about making sure you are well concealed — as you’re heading back out to put it in your car, of course.
Other than that, concealment need not be perfect, either here in Illinois or many other states. Visit Handgunlaw.us for more information on your state’s rules if you’re not familiar with just how concealed (or not) you need to be in your state. In short, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough.
Other tips: wear quality gear on a quality belt. You’re going to spend a $50 bill on a high-quality leather or nylon belt with stiffeners built in. If it’s made in America it might be twice that. The good news is that it is a buy once, cry once affair. It’ll keep all your gear discretely against your body while you go about your business and it’ll last for years unless it shrinks – if you know what I mean.
Make sure your gun will stay in your holster and your holster will stay on your belt. Why? Because you don’t want to have your heater come out of your holster while you’re running into a store in the rain, or rolling around on the floor playing with your kid or grandkid. Or, heaven forbid, have to fish it (gun, holster, magazine, or all of the above) out of a toilet.
If stuff is prone to falling off your belt, Mr. Murphy will show up when you’re trying to pull up (or take down) your pants in the cramped 120 degree cramped port-john at the range. Your piece will go ker-plunk and you’ll have a very sinking feeling. Trust me, there won’t ever be enough toilet paper to keep it from sinking to the bottom.
Even if your mag pouch falls off your belt at a relatively innocuous place such as the fitness center locker room, it will invariably skitter under the 75-year-old man standing there naked, dripping with sweat. Don’t ask me how I know. It’s terribly embarrassing on several levels. “It sure is cold in here, isn’t it? Could you pass that back over to me, pretty please?”
“What’s that sonny? I can’t hear you!”
Speaking of potty techniques….
If you’re in a public restroom, you may find it necessary to unholster your firearm. Why? A host of reasons, including the dividers being high enough that your neighbor can see more than your shoe as you’re doing your business.
If you have do this, it goes in your underwear after you’ve dropped your drawers, not on the back of the toilet or on the hook on the backside of the door. Your hands are an equally prohibited location. This isn’t the time or place to fondle your (loaded) gun or look for dust bunnies. When you’re done with your business, put your gun in your holster and carefully pull up your pants.
Keep your gear maintained. It’s not something you need to do on a daily basis, but it’s something you should do monthly. Your holster is probably going to have screws in it for tension adjustments or attaching belt clips or loops. If you’re pro-active, you’ll Lock-tite those suckers (thank you, Tim Giblin).
If you’re more reactive (like me), you’ll need to check to make sure the screws aren’t backing out/working loose from time to time. No big deal, so long as you check and tighten as necessary. Ditto for your everyday carry blade.
Clean your gun now and then as well, slaying those aforementioned dust bunnies and ensuring you have fresh ammo at least once each year. I carry two spare magazines and I rotate the ammunition in those once a year – as well as what’s in the gun, just to be on the safe side.
After jiggling around for 16+ hours of daily life for 365 days, I don’t want to risk the powder breaking down into smaller pieces and increasing chamber pressures when firing.
Remember, ammo is cheap. Life is precious.
If you’re one of those people who think it’s safer to carry with an empty chamber and train yourself to rack the slide upon drawing, I’m telling you to STOP. You’re training to fail. The average deadly force encounter takes place at about six feet or less — patty-cake distance (and often in low light).
How long does it take a bad guy to close from six feet? The technical answer is not very frickin’ long.
How long will it take you to run the action on your pistol – assuming you’ve got both hands available to do so and you aren’t guiding a loved one away, or fighting off an attacker with your support hand?
Watch some surveillance, dashcam and bodycam gun battle videos on YouTube and see just how fast gunfights unfold.
Don’t train to fail and die. Train to survive and win. Carry your gun with a round in the chamber.
Concealed carry badges? Save your money and aggravation: don’t do it.
Yes, your CCW badge might cause a cop to hesitate before shooting you. Here’s a better idea: drop your gun and put your hands up if challenged by a cop. If you reach for your belt to show him your piece of tin, or turn suddenly to face that voice issuing commands with your hands anywhere but up and open, your body may become rich in lead supplements.
Even worse, every day you carry a CCW badge, you risk catching an “impersonating an officer” charge – a felony here in Illinois and many other states. Don’t set yourself up for trouble. You don’t need no stinkin’ badge!
Practicing off-body carry, such as in a jacket? Don’t forget and leave it behind somewhere. Doing so may cost you your license…if you’re lucky. If some kid or a criminal finds it, you may lose more than that.
For the ladies, purses are popular over more traditional carry methods favored by guys. Clothing styles for women, especially “cute” clothes, often provide fewer locations to secret a sidearm.
As women are pretty much inseparable from their purses, the risk for “forgetting” a packing purse somewhere is almost non-existent, but at the same time ladies must be sure unauthorized people – such as kids or grandchildren – don’t have access to the purse at home or at relatives’ homes. Ditto for kiddos riding in a shopping cart.
Don’t just toss your heater in your shoulder-bag to roll around among your lip gloss and keys. If you’re going to carry that way, get a purse built for concealed carry with a dedicated compartment for the gun. And ladies, revolvers can be fired from inside a purse pretty reliably.
Semi-autos? You get one shot from inside the purse, then you’ll be feeling the burn (not the Bern) of a hot, spent shell on the web of your hand and have to clear a malfunction before you shoot again. Practice it sometime with a $5 purse from the local Goodwill store.
Hitting your target when firing from a purse isn’t at all difficult out to six-plus feet with a little practice. The great thing about not pulling the gun out of the purse (or pocket of a jacket) is that nobody knows you’ve got a gun in your hand until it goes bang. If it’s a false alarm, you can withdraw your hand and go about your business and nobody is the wiser.
We all know that carrying a gun can protect us from violent attack and potentially even save our lives and those of our family members. With some thought and practice, carrying your safety rescue tool will become an everyday, routine, non-event for you as it is for the other roughly 15 million People of the Gun with carry licenses. And unless you tell someone that you’re carrying, odds are 99.44% of the time they’ll never know.