concealed carry must haves
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When it comes to entering the world of concealed carry, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. You have to choose the type and brand of handgun, the size of the gun, its caliber, trigger type and more.

You have to choose your carry system(s): inside-the-waistband or outside-the-waistband holster, ankle carry, pocket carry, etc. You need a system that works for type of handgun you have and its size. While this post won’t help you negotiate the first part of that maze, there are three things you must have when carrying a concealed firearm . . .

1. A clear mind

If you’re not sure when you should use your carry gun you may delay shooting an attacker or attackers just long enough to be killed or grievously wounded. Or watch someone else, an innocent, be killed or wounded.

Not to put too fine a point on it, hesitation kills. To avoid deadly analysis paralysis, you must consider these situations and have a clear idea when you will (and, just as important, won’t) use deadly force.

In terms of your legal right to use deadly force, state laws vary. Know your local laws and abide by them.

In practical terms, you should use deadly force if an attacker poses an imminent, credible threat of death or grievous bodily harm to yourself or other innocent life. Simply put, if the bad guy is in the act of trying to kill or seriously injure you or some other innocent person, and the perp has a reasonable chance of succeeding, deadly force is justified (again, consult your local laws and an attorney).

2. A good holster

Defensive gun use statistics are less reliable than mainstream media “news” reports. Even so, virtually all researchers tend to agree that the vast majority of defensive gun uses end without a shot being fired. The bad guy sees the good guy’s gun and decides to move along.

Assuming that’s true, showing your gun is more important than shooting your gun. And even if it isn’t, the combatant who lands rounds soonest is the likely winner. So whether you end up shooting a bad guy or not, the faster you get to your gun, the better.

To maximize draw speed, you need a gun and holster combination that provides the quickest possible access to your firearm. I carry my self-defense firearm in an outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster because I can get to it in a flash. You may find OWB carry impractical, uncomfortable, awkward or more difficult than an inside-the-waistband holster or pocket carry.

A holster that works well for one person may be awkward and ineffective your someone else. Choose what fits your preference and circumstances. Just make a good holster priority one.

3. The ability to shut up

If you’re involved in a defensive gun use — shots fired or not — the cops will interrogate you. They’ll try to get as much information from you as possible. They’ll play good cop, bad cop. They’ll tell you that you’re fine, they won’t be pressing charges.

There is some information that you should give them: your name and address and a description of the perp or perps. You should also point out any witnesses or evidence (e.g., shell casings) they may have missed. Other than that, you need to shut up.

Whether or not the cops arrest you, remember that you have the right to remain silent…they’ll tell you that, just like on TV. And just like on TV, everything you say can be used against you in court.

Keep in mind that you have the right not to provide ammunition for a prosecutor or ambulance chasing lawyer. One you provide the basic information, you have every right to politely tell the cop, “You know what officer, I’m kinda shaken-up right now. I’d like to talk to my lawyer before making a full statement.”

Some gun gurus recommend answering any and all questions with the mantra, “My life was in danger.” To minimize the chances of incarceration or a successful civil suit, it’s best to err on the side of silence.

Those of us who carry firearms hope we never have to use them to defend ourselves. But thinking through the process in advance can help you deal with it most effectively. Consider the possibilities and situations carefully and know what to do if the worst happens. Your life and your freedom may depend on it.

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  1. Ive found in my 40 years of carrying a gun 20/24–7. Common sense plays alot into what when and where. Ive had the maybe good luck of having to draw my gun 3 times in all those years. Always in the defence of an innocent. Being in the wrong place 1 of those times almost got me shot. Deputies can’t tell the good guy from the bad at times. What Im trying to say is doing the right thing. Isnt always the best thing.

  2. I can eventually get out of any jail. I can’t get out of a grave. If your holster/carry method doesn’t allow you to obtain the one and only correct presentation grip for your handgun before you draw, get rid of it and get one that does…NOW…and practice…a lot…This is my name…I want MY lawyer…NOW…-30-

  3. “Defensive gun use statistics are less reliable than mainstream media “news” reports.”
    Really? You find the media to be MORE reliable than real stats? On the gun issue, no less?
    I don’t think so… Geez. What staff writer wrote this? Bloomberg’s staff writers? Snopes maybe? Newsguard? Friendface?

  4. “Whether or not the cops arrest you, remember that you have the right to remain silent…they’ll tell you that, just like on TV…”

    Not necessarily. There’s specific circumstances under which you have to be given a
    ‘Miranda Warning’ and it isn’t always applicable. That said, you already know your rights… right?

    I’d say a good knowledge of the laws governing self-defense and the 4th\5th Amendment is also pretty important for any conceal carrier.

  5. why hasn’t someone come up with a after action card to remind you what to do after you’ve shot your gun? shut up, call lawer, call 911, ect……

      • Why not just carry your attorney’s business card and have it laminated if you desire……..

    • In what possible world after a shooting would you have the presences of mind and dexterity to go fishing through your wallet for a card?

      It’s one of those clever ideas that has no basis in reality. I’ve been in a few shit situations and seen the behavior of a lot more people who have been in them. Never have I seen someone so collected that they would be able to do that. Of course I bet the first time someone actually does it will be the moment the cops arrive.
      “Uh no I gotta check this card in my…”

      • “In what possible world after a shooting would you have the presences of mind and dexterity to go fishing through your wallet for a card?” – In the type of world where you do your homework and prepare for such events, such as reading articles as loosely related as “3 must haves for ever concealed carrier”, to the point where you’ve thought enough about the event for the training to take over. Just like every other aspect of the aftermath of a justified shooting.

        And in any case, that’s not the only value of one. The other is being able to take a peak at it and refresh yourself every now and then when you happen to notice your card while you’re waiting in line or something. There’s little to no downside to having one (there’s nothing wrong with forgetting it or voluntarily not taking it out), but depending on the person and situation, the upside can be enormous if it puts you in the right mind-frame. Dunno. Just seems like a good enough idea to me.

  6. My first attorney made me up a card something like that in the late ’60’s when I was first getting politically active. I still have it. It’s laminated all over but it’s saved me many thousands of $ in legal fees and has kept me out of jail more than once. She told me that in law school they always taught them that sooner or later you’d get “one of those” clients. She told me I was hers’, she was right. -30-

  7. Honest question – have there been cases where it was a clear case of self-defense, but the good Samaritan talked too much and was charged or sued because of it?

    • You’d have to do the research, I’m quite sure that there are, or at the very least there have been multiple and protracted “interviews”, not too mention having your weapon confiscated for an inordinate amount of time, if not indefinitely…

      Silence is golden…

    • In CA, of course, bad Joe was pounding the daylights out of his victim. Good guy shot him until he stopped. Called it in. “Send an ambulance and the police, I just shot someone”. With the 911 tape they had no choice to run the whole thing, grand jury, charge and prosecute. Even one of the investigating officers told him, “there’s been a shooting”. Slam dunk not guilty directed verdict by the judge. Still cost him several thousands in legal fees, a couple of friends and his job. He got his gun back, had to file, more legal fees. The baliff told him that he’d never seen anyone get their gun back. He left CA right after that. If you live in a slave state…good luck. -30-

  8. Pretty much sums it up…And thank you for re-iterating #3, there are those that think they can “explain away” what happened and just go home, sorry to say, it just doesn’t work that way…

    Secure your weapon
    Identify yourself
    Ask for a lawyer
    Say nothing else

    The more information you volunteer, the more chance for error or inconsistencies…

    • Okay, secure your gun as soon as it is safe. This may mean dropping the damn thing, but that is life. Identify yourself, but DO NOT be stupid. You might have to do this AFTER being handcuffed and tossed in the back of the car.

      Now for the lawyer shit…if you ask for a lawyer, the cop will not ask you any questions about the crime. So, they will make their decision on whether or not to incarcerate you based on the statements of witnesses. You need to keep that in mind.

      For the love of God, tell the Police WHY you did what you did and WHY you felt it was necessary. Otherwise, it will be the word of the jackasses that were on the sideline watching telling the cops that the aspiring rapper who was trying to turn his life around was gunned down by some trigger happy gun nut who just wanted to get his/her rocks off by killing a guy.

    • “The more information you volunteer, the more chance for error or inconsistencies…”

      👍 x infinity! This is it in a nutshell.

  9. After action cards, self defense shooting cards, etc. are available on the Internet. There is some controversy about the advisability of carrying one, but if it provides some peace of mind …. Just don’t wait until the aftermath of a shooting to read it! Massad Ayoob has written extensively about the aftermath of a self defense shooting, suggestions for interacting with law enforcement, your rights as the victim/defender, etc. Read some of his books and, if possible, take his MAG 20 or 40 class. You’ve spent a lot of money on a firearm and ancillary equipment. Spend some on training and the legal aspects of a defensive shooting. If may just save your life AND your freedom!

    • Agree and I’ve stated it before. Massad’s MAG20 or MAG40 class is well worth it.

      Yes it might seem expensive, and you might have to travel, but the legal knowledge presented is extensive.

      Imagine it! A class by experts discussing DGU and self defense.

      It’s CE credit for all you lawyers out there too.

  10. Check out US Law Shield. They also offer free gun law and related topic seminars free to members. I learned many local law peculiarities going to these classes. Most important thing you can do if you need to use your EDC is to keep your mouth shut until you have your lawyer on site.

    Practice Practice Practice, both draw and dry fire at home and also at the range. Drawing from your holster and going on target should be like putting on your shoe. The life you save by being comfortable getting a grip on your EDC and quickly getting on target safely my be your own. Remember, there is a lawyer attached to every bullet that leaves your gun until it stops. Make sure it stops where you want it to stop… THE BAD GUY!

  11. Remember the video tapes of George Zimmerman running his mouth off to police,
    ‘Medical care is expensive’. Don’t be like George.

    George was smart in not going to the ER, all medical records would be used in court against him. He was not beaten so badly, if he was he would have went to the ER.

    Lucky he woke up the next day unlike so many people who decline ER visit and die in their sleep from brain swelling.

    • What are you talking about? Zimmerman’s numerous cooperative statements to police and their consistency not only stopped him from being arrested that night but were instrumental in his acquittal by the jury. You’ve somehow gotten it completely wrong.

      I’m not saying everyone should go the same way but Zimmerman was screwed as soon as he got out of his vehicle given the race-baiting and one of the things that saved his ass, legally, was that he didn’t act like a murderer. And like it or not, that is exactly what the jury is going to think when someone lawyers up immediately. Is it right? No, but it’s true. So weigh options carefully.

  12. As usual people in these comments sections haven’t a fucking clue. First off, kill the motherfucker. If you can’t live with the idea of killing someone that was trying to harm/kill you or your family, don’t bother carrying a gun. By killing the perp, there will only be one story told in court, yours. And lastly, by shutting your mouth, you WILL get hauled off to jail. The cops have to write a report. The report will not wait until your lawyer arrives. It is crucial to portray yourself as the victim. If you can do that, there is a good chance you will sleep in your own bed that night and not even be arrested. By shutting up, you will not do that. If you were a cop and showed up at a shooting and the person told you, “oh thank God you guys are here! This guy kicked in my back door and demanded money or he said he was gonna kill me and my family! So I shot him to protect my family. I’m sorry I’d like to answer more of your questions but I’m feeling ill I think I need medical attention.. OR when the cops showed up and you said I’m not saying anything until I talk with my lawyer. You’re not looking so much like a victim. Guess what, you’ll be waiting for your lawyer in county lock up.
    I’m not saying spill your guts. But if you give the cops enough information for them to write up their report with you as the victim, it’s going to work out much better for you than saying nothing. Police reports don’t change. Know WHAT to say.

    • Police reports don’t change. They get amended. And may the Good Lord have mercy on your soul and may you have a very good and well respected former prosecutor as your defense attorney to explain to the DA why he does not want this matter to drift into open court. Personal experience, the fight after the gun fight can be won but even if you are in the right, no way is it easy or anything close to fun. -30-

    • If you end up in criminal court there will be, bare minimum, three stories told to the jury (or judge in some cases).

      Your version, the police version and the prosecutor’s version.

      You can start adding stories to that if this goes to civil court.

      • Since by the time it gets to court it sometimes gets lost; the 4th side, what really happened, you know, the truth. Sometimes winds up as dead as road kill. -30-

  13. Making an incorrect statement (a “lie”?) to the police is a felony. Making an incorrect statement to the police *through your lawyer* is simply incorrect information, and not a crime.

    Don’t say ANYTHING to the police. Absolutely NOTHING good will come of it.

  14. Something to consider about potential legal issues:

    Talking or not talking is really up to you. Personally, I don’t think there’s a “one size fits all” answer. Having been questioned by the police about a couple of shootings to which I was a witness I can say that they will tend to use tactics that mean you better keep your head together if you’re the person who pulled the trigger (I wasn’t, thankfully). If you can’t do that then play for time and get a lawyer. You’re also at the mercy of random chance in terms of how reasonable the cops you happen to deal with are. In one instance where my friend was shot I had one cop who was pretty nice about the whole thing, a few who seemed indifferent and another who was just pissed at the world and looking to lock me up even though I was just a witness. If one of the young guys was to be believed it was because that particular officer was in a bad mood because he’d been served with divorce papers recently and was being a dick to everyone he encountered.

    Regardless, you should be aware that you can tell a consistent and 100% true story and still end up getting charged when you did nothing wrong simply because other people say things that are incorrect.

    There was a case awhile back in Massachusetts where a guy was questioned about a murder, I don’t remembers the dates or the names but the gist is this: He said he was out of state visiting a family member and the cops let him go. They came back later and arrested him for murder which the state filed charges on. Why? Because he said he was out of town but a witness, someone who knew the accused in high school, said they saw him at a gas station a block away from the crime scene just before the murder. That person made an honest mistake of identity, thinking they saw him when they didn’t, and as it turned out credit card receipts and security camera footage from out of state cleared the guy who was charged. In court. He still had to pay to defend himself against a 1st degree murder charge.

    So, really, you can do everything “right” and still get fucked because your statements don’t match those of someone you might not even know and have no way of knowing what their statements are. Your statements may be completely true and the other person may be incorrect or even lying. As has been said for some time: you’re going to have to “tell it to the judge”.

    You should also be aware that cops may not know what the law actually is in some instances or they may not care. If you’re really unlucky you can get a cop who’s just out to feel better at someone else’s expense and that person is you.

  15. Buy insurance from a group such as US Law Shield, USCCA, the NRA, etc…it’ll provide you with a lawyer (paid for by your monthly membership dues), whether you’re arrested or not…my wife & I are members of US Law Shield…the best 20 bux I ever spent was for the seminar put on by them back in 20154 or 2016…we’ve been members ever since…

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