Most states have mandatory training requirements as part of their concealed carry permit process. The quality of that training can vary. Widely. That said, most of it tends to be pretty good and fairly comprehensive, including everything from the basics of how guns operate to compliance with local laws.
But no matter how well taught a CCW class may be, they don’t cover everything. Here are three things they never teach you in conceal carry class.
1) Carrying a Gun Will Make You Paranoid, At Least at First
The first time you strap on a concealed firearm, it feels like you’re carrying a Howitzer. You’ll be convinced you have a big sign over your head telling everyone, “I’VE GOT A GUN!” Even in states with a gun-friendly culture (places like Arizona, Alaska and Montana), first-timers worry that a stranger is going to notice their gun and confront them.
Pistol-packing paranoia makes perfect sense. Public speaking is Americans’ greatest fear; we’re hard-wired to be afraid of public embarrassment. Being “outed” while carrying a gun – especially by someone who’s rabidly anti-gun or terrified of them – is like public speaking on steroids.
“Oh my God! He’s got a gun! What do you need that for?!”
Even if you live in a gun-friendly area, that fear isn’t completely unrealistic. No matter how much you mentally rehearse a reply to a gun-shamer or prepare for a law enforcement response (!), the prospect of an armed confrontation — no matter how remote — still creates low-level paranoia (and constant checking of your cover garments).
It’s not comfortable.
Exposure therapy — i.e. Wally walks — is the only “cure.” The more you carry a concealed firearm without being outed, the less anxiety you’ll feel.
It’s something every new carrier has to go through, something that usually lasts between a week and a month. The trick: go through it. If you find excuses not to carry daily, the paranoia will never entirely go away. Or, worse still, you might eventually abandon the whole idea of concealed carry.
2) Carrying a gun changes you – for the better
Gun control advocates have this strange idea: they believe that carrying a gun makes a person into a macho, trigger-happy, make-my-day wanna-be.
Like so many gun-grabber “arguments,” they’ve got it exactly backwards. Carrying a gun actually make you less confrontational.
Why would you want to engage in any confrontation when any confrontation could lead to escalation which could lead to a ballistic response which is the last thing you ever want to have?
This confrontation avoidance thought process becomes second nature for concealed carriers. You become far less likely – if not completely unlikely – to engage in road rage or any sort of altercation with a stranger.
Sure, there are CCW carriers with anger issues which won’t disappear when they receive the state’s permission to bear arms. But that’s not you, a person who took the time to read an article entitled ‘3 Things You Won’t Learn in Your Concealed Carry Class.’
Another psychological aspect instructors don’t mention: concealed carry makes you more independent. By assuming direct responsibility for your own self-defense and that of your loved ones, you lose your inherent, perhaps subconscious dependency on the state’s protection. You realize that you are a sovereign citizen. That you are your own first responder, responsible for your own safety.
It’s an understanding that you’re in control of your own destiny in a worst case scenario, when controlling your destiny is a matter of life and death. That, in turn, makes you feel more in control of your own destiny at other, less dramatic times.
Most firearm instructors will talk about the enormous responsibility of carrying a firearm. What they don’t tell you is how it makes you a better person.
3) Carrying a gun is addictive
The only way to tell if you’re addicted to something: take it away and see if you suffer withdrawal. At the risk of giving anti-gunners more ammo to (further) disparage Americans who exercise their gun rights, I’m going to say it: concealed carry is addictive.
Anyone who carries a gun on an everyday basis can tell you about those times when they suddenly realize they’re not carrying one. Like when they disarm to go into the post office, forget to re-arm and enter a non-“gun-free zone.”
Crap…I don’t have my gun! They’re plagued by the thought, “What if this is the one time need it?”
The former paranoia of having a gun eventually becomes the paranoia of not having one. Traveling to states that don’t recognize your concealed carry license/permit can be an ordeal for a regular concealed carrier. There are gun owners who won’t go anywhere where their gun isn’t welcome; local businesses, entire states and foreign countries.
Normally, NGP (no-gun paranoia) manifests itself in increased situational awareness. Gun control advocates believe this behavior indicates some kind of moral weakness or personality disorder. It is, in fact, a normal, survival instinct, amplified by carrying a concealed weapon on a regular basis.
I’m sure those of you who carry have other examples of what you didn’t learn in concealed carry class. Please share them below.