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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.

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  1. Brad: As I posted here, I rarely carry as well.

    The thing is, for all the concern about safety that we have, we actually live in a remarkably safe country. Statistics may show that there are xx number of violent crimes committed each day, but the reality is that those crimes are not evenly distributed. They tend to be concentrated in certain, high-crime areas. Areas outside those high-crime zones are as safe as any European country, probably safer.

    Each time we are faced with the question of "should I carry/shouldn't I carry" we either consciously or subconsciously do a risk/benefit analysis: What is the advantage of carrying the gun? What is the disadvantage? What is the advantage of not carrying a gun? What is the disadvanatage? We run this through our heads and then make a decision. In my case, 99% of the time the decision comes down on the side of "don't carry."

    I've never quite "gotten" the mentality that a person should always be armed. Every person I know who exhibits that mentality strikes me as being a little "off," as if they're carrying because they either fancy themself as some sort of enforcer, or as if they are actually hoping for a chance to use the gun. I generally tend to avoid such people – after 23 years of military service the "cool factor" of carrying a gun wore off for me a long time ago.

    I've even known people who refused to go into museums or national parks because they weren't allowed to carry their weapons in there, or people who refuse to travel internationally because they can't take their guns. To me, that's ridiculous. To deny yourself the opportunity to travel and enjoy life because you're wedded to your piece strikes me as childish and a little bit disturbing.

    In fact, I regard such people as the flip side of the gun banners who get terrified at the mere sight of a gun. In both cases, the gun is elevated to the status of a religious artifact with magical powers.

    But it's not. It's a hunk of metal (or in the case of my Glock, several hunks of metal mixed in with some polymer plastic.) Sometimes it's the right tool for the sitution, sometimes it's not. Besides that, there are plenty of places in this world where a gun is more likely to get you into trouble than to get you out of it.

  2. I agree. Mostly. Where I think we differ is that while, I've never had that vigilante mindset where I felt as if I was the only one standing between civilization and chaos, I do, occasionally find myself in places where I just feel better with a gun around. For instance, when I'm travelling at night, off the beaten path. The odds of me needing a gun probably approach statistical zero, but I still feel better knowing that, if someone does try something, I have a way to defend myself past my silver tongue.

    In addition, I've always felt that "gun-free zones" are actually more like "soft targets" to those that are inclined to shoot 'em up. It's like Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks. "That's where the money is." If you were a nut-job, bent on killing as many people as you can before the authorities kill you, seems like a better target would be a school, university, hospital or office building with a "no guns allowed" policy. You see, the sad part of all the sad part of all this is that we think rationally. But the bad guys don't. We play by the rules. They don't. We would like to have places that are safe and can be free of danger. The bad guys look at such places as easy pickins'. So I'll keep my rights intact, and choose to carry when it's necessary. And hope that our country continues to be a place where, most of the time, I don't need to.

  3. Generally speaking, when I travel by motor vehicle, I like to have a firearm with me. My reasoning goes like this:

    1. I'm not likely to need it, but if I do need it, I want to have it. Furthermore, if I ever am in a position to need a gun while traveling, I'm likely to be a long way from any sort of police assistance.

    2. In most of the places I travel (i.e. the American West) it is perfectly legal to carry a firearm in your vehicle, even if it is loaded and concealed. In those areas where loaded/concealed carry is not permitted (California, for example) it is still legal to have the firearm in your vehicle if it is unloaded and kept separate from ammunition.

    3. Even in those instances where it is illegal to have a firearm in the vehicle, I figure my chances of coming into contact with law enforcement are virtually nil. It's perhaps a sad commentary on the status of racial or economic justice in this country, but the reality is that a middle-class, middle-aged, clean shaven white guy with National Guard license plates (I'm retired) is not likely to find himself the subject of a felony traffic stop or a 'fishing expedition' vehicle search (I also know my rights which is why if I'm ever asked "can we search your vehicle" my answer will be not only no but HELL no.)

    Now, if some or all of those factors don't apply, then I won't carry. For example, when I rode my motorcycle across the country I had no secure storage for a firearm, so I simply went unarmed. I wasn't thrilled about that, but I didn't want to take the risk of losing the weapon, having it stolen, or having it discovered and confiscated by the cops. Similarly, when I drove from Wyoming to North Carolina in 2002 to attend a military school, I stopped at a friend's house to drop off my pistol before proceeding on to Fort Bragg. Pre-9/11 Bragg was an "open post" that anyone could drive onto. Post 9/11 they had security at all entrance points and conducted random vehicle searches – having an unregistered weapon on-post is a serious UCMJ offense, one that I wasn't willing to risk.

    IOW, I calculated that the risks outweighed the benefits which I think is what all intelligent people do.

  4. I could easily get a permit for my second home in PA, but even though it is one of the more dangerous cities, I doubt I could get a weapons permit at my primary home in Baltimore. But even if I could, I'd have to leave it home most of the time because neither public transportation or my employers would want me carrying.

  5. This is precisely why James Bond (the assassin of the Fleming books, not the clown/chap in the movies) carried a .25 Beretta automatic: lightweight, small and flat, yet plenty lethal for close quarters combat. 🙂


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