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Unlike some other instructors, I’m not against constitutional carry at all. Sure, it might mean fewer students and less money in my pocket, but an out of control government that doesn’t respect the limits placed on itself in the law is a much bigger problem. So, I’m going to support the lack of training requirements and background checks regardless of short-term personal costs.

At the same time, though, I also know that there is some value in a good concealed carry course. So, even if you don’t plan to get a permit, taking that course from a qualified instructor is still a great idea. But, I know that not everyone has a spare $100-$200, or more for an even better course, so in this article I want to share a few essential things you need to learn more about if you’re going to carry a gun for personal defense.

I can’t cover them all in a comprehensive way in a short article, but I can give you a shopping list of the skills you need to learn to get yourself more ready to carry.

Physical Skills

This one might seem obvious, but you need to know the basics of firearms. Carrying a firearm without knowing how to be safe with it, how to use it effectively and knowing how to hit your target can bring a lot more trouble into your life than it helps you with. I can’t give you all of that knowledge here, and I’d recommend that you take an in-person class to learn the basics if you never have.

But, if you’ve got a pistol already and you can’t get into a class or don’t want to take one right now, you should at least try to memorize these four rules:

  • All guns are always loaded. (In other words, treat them like they’re loaded.)
  • Never point a gun at anything you don’t wish to destroy.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
  • Know what your target is and what lies beyond it.

Beyond these four rules, you need to know how to safely:

  • Load and unload the firearm
  • Use any safeties or other features the firearm has
  • Know how to deal with malfunctions (misfires, hangfires, squib loads, double feeds, stovepipes)
  • Practice the six fundamentals of marksmanship
  • Safely unholster and reholster the firearm
  • Retain the gun if someone tries to steal it from you

Again, I’d recommend learning all of this in-person with a qualified instructor. But, you can also find some great internet resources for all of the above items to get started on your own if needed.

The Law

Once you know the basics of safe handling, marksmanship and basic defense, you need to learn about the law. In short, there are two things in the law that you need to learn about: possession laws and use of force laws. I’m not qualified to teach you all about this in every state, but I can point you to some good resources from people far more qualified than I am.

For possession laws, one great resource is Handgunlaw.us. You can click on each state to get a complete list of what places you can’t have a gun, among many other things. It also has some information about federal laws, indian reservations, and more.

For use of force laws, the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network has a great booklet explaining the basics. Important things like the Reasonable Man Doctrine, ability/opportunity/jeopardy, the initial aggressor rule, how a self-defense claim works, and much more can be found in the booklet.

Finally, you need to consider your right to remain silent. Here’s a video that goes into great depth about why you shouldn’t talk to the police after self defense without consulting with a lawyer.

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58 COMMENTS

  1. I carry with nary a permit or permission of the crown in nearby Indiana. I’m old and look it(but quite strong). I generally pocket carry discretely. I also always carry a knife & a SabreRed pepper gel thing. Since I got my eyes fixed(cataract’s) my vision is pretty good especially since I’m turning 70 tomorrow. It’s good to see this article & the guy who’s ok with constitutional carry!!!

  2. Constitutional carry. Never been a fan. Not against it either. Just don’t think it’s a good idea everyday. For several reasons. First, you’ll know I’m armed when I choose to reveal it. Your shit is probably going to be getting pretty weak by then. Second, and this is one I’m rethinking, is being disarmed if you’re open carry. If not seen a reliable account of this taking place. Last, there really are the cowboys. I know it, you know it, we all know it. Same mentality as the bass speakers. “Look at me!” A person who understands firearms is discreet in public.

    • Forgive me, but how is Constitutional Carry = Open Carry?

      The definition of Constitutional Carry is that you don’t need a permit to carry concealed.

    • “Constitutional carry. Never been a fan. Not against it either. Just don’t think it’s a good idea everyday. For several reasons. First, you’ll know I’m armed when I choose to reveal it. Your shit is probably going to be getting pretty weak by then. Second, and this is one I’m rethinking, is being disarmed if you’re open carry. If not seen a reliable account of this taking place. Last, there really are the cowboys. I know it, you know it, we all know it. …”

      ‘Constitutional carry’ is a term applied to the implementation expression of a constitutional right to ‘carry/possess’ in ‘public’ by those legally eligible to have firearms without the need for a permit/permission from the ‘government’ (e.g. state) to ‘carry/possess’. It is not a method/means (e.g. open or concealed) of carry.

      • Until you walk into a post office or certain other restricted place and end up having your right to guns removed. Regardless of permit status.

      • Yep, that happens… its even more likely the bad guy will be successful if you use one of those ‘passive friction retention’ holsters that are so popular.

        I rarely open carry, mostly when I do its to and from the range and I rarely stop someplace else but occasionally might stop to get some gas or go into the convenience store to get a drink or snack. Very very very rarely I might open carry for a quick errand to pick up something from the grocery store.

        But anyway, this is why my OWB holsters are Level II at least.

        I did have someone try to grab my gun once. Basically; Made a grab for it then was gone. Didn’t get the gun though. At the time I was wearing one of those ‘passive friction retention’ holsters. The guy didn’t get a good grip on it and I was able to turn away to break the little grip he did have but I have no doubt that if he had gotten a good grip on it he would have gotten the gun because the little grip he did have was enough to pull it up away from the retention before I could break his grip. That very day I destroyed every OWB passive retention holster I had (some were brand new and had never been used, still in packaging – name brands every one of them) and ordered Level II OWB holsters for all the guns I would open carry in those rare instances.

    • Doesn’t know what Constitutional Carry means…complains about it anyway!!!!
      Every day is an IQ test and not everyone is participating, or ready apparently.

    • Dev, none, but that doesn’t mean that training is a bad thing. Just shouldn’t be required to exercise 2A. I spent four years jumping out of air planes, shooting machine guns and then twenty five more years as an LEO. What’s funny is, I learned more about shooting in a couple of years between the two from a guy I made friends with a local GS in Albany, GA. He had no experience in the military or LE. I learned a lot in the army. And in the academy. Brought home the top gun trophy. Not sure where it is now. Lol Point is, this guy was self taught. With a K98k Mauser. Then he bought an HK-91. Then he did buy some of the best training he could at the time. It wasn’t required.

    • “Which part of the Constitution mentions… “

      Help me to understand, the constitution doesn’t mention any libel or slander exceptions to the first amendment but we have laws against libel and slander.

      Are all laws about libel and slander unconstitutional?

      • MajorLiar,
        Always hard to tell, with lying Leftist/fascist propagandists like you, when you are displaying your ignorance, and when you are just outright lying. But there is always the healing power of “and”, isn’t there?

        Specifically cite the Federal statutes specifying libel and slander exceptions to the 1A. List them.

        Now, carefully parse the 1A, and then the 2A. Catch the “subtle” difference, MajorLiar??? “Congress shall pass no law . . . ” vs. “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Since it is a BASIC principle of both statutory interpretation AND Constitutional analysis that if two provisions are intended to mean exactly the same thing, they should be written in conforming language, capisce?? So, per the MOST basic principles of statutory and Constitutional interpretation, those two VERY differently worded amendments must mean different things, correct??

        Now, once again, list me the specific Federal laws stating a libel or slander exception to the 1A. Also, even a moron like you should be aware that the 1A is specifically written as a curb on the power of CONGRESS – states are only implicated by the 14th. Now go look up the definition of “infringed”, you babbling moron.

        I often wonder if you really are as stupid as you seem, or you are just willing to embarrass yourself in support of your fascist agenda. Or, once again, perhaps I should embrace the healing power of “and”, eh?

        Once again, you demonstrate yourself to be a pathetic @$$clown.

        • Actually Lamp…you may be right but your constant belittling and childish use of name calling makes you the embarrassment.
          Try to grow up and speak like an adult and maybe you will gain some respect.

          • Now more than ever people should try to address one another cordially even if you do not agree with them. Basic manners go a long way towards clarifying a position.

          • Dog,

            Don’t think you are a long-time follower of/commenter on this site, so let me give you a little background (for context, you know, which the Lefties always CLAIM is important . . . but never pay attention to). When I first started following this site, and a few months later commenting here, I actually had some interest in a dialog with this particular troll – he was obviously a partisan Lefty, and woefully ignorant, but seemed reasonably erudite, and sometimes raised valid (if one-sided) points.

            In trying to engage him, it quickly became clear that he NEVER argues in good faith (also that he is very inept at logic, rhetoric, and debate, and woefully lacking in knowledge about . . . well, damn near everything). I made an honest, sincere effort to engage, and at least get a dialog going. It rapidly became clear that he had no interest in a dialog; he had an agenda, and he was ONLY interested in spouting, and advancing, his agenda.

            Where I come from, respect is EARNED, not demanded. While, yes, in general, I agree that we all owe people we come in contact with basic courtesy, that is only the starting point. Is that courtesy reciprocated? Is the person in question actually seeking a good faith discussion, or just advancing their agenda? Is their “reasoning” worthy of respect, or not? Do they examine both sides of an issue? Literally none of those apply to this person. Moreover, when you call him on his BS (like his assertion, made several times on this very blog, that Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution expressly authorizes universal gun control), then when confronted on such a position, he runs away.

            If you research the background, MinorNuisance started on here with name-calling. After several (fruitless) efforts to have useful discussions (I am, at least intellectually, actually INTERESTED in the thinking behind the Leftist/fascist, gun-grabber position, if for no other reason than “know your enemy”). But he is simply an agenda-driven troll, so I treat him as such. He is welcome to simply go away, but he continues to come back and pollute the discussion with propaganda.

            Trust me, I treat MinorAnnoyance with every bit of the respect he has earned and deserves. If he wants to engage in good faith discussion, I might revisit that, but until then? My only interest in MinorAnnoyance is to mock him and his idiotic efforts at propagandizing for his agenda. If it bothers you, feel free to just skip over any comments from me, but I will continue to treat him as his comments deserve. Sorry; not sorry.

      • The laws against using speech to cause direct harm are no different than the laws against using arms to cause harm.

        Neither negate The Bill of Rights.

        That said, carry of weapons may be scary, but it is not directly harmful. Laws criminalizing carry are examples of prior restraint, and loved by tyrants everywhere.

        • XZX,
          Oh, GOOD CALL, pointing out the ‘prior restraint’ aspect!! I should have added that to my argument, but it would have gone right over MajorLiar’s head (like everything).

      • I don’t know of any laws which prohibit expressing opinions or practicing religion without first having required education and training. Though, as with
        firearm training, still might be smart to do. Similarly, though it’s illegal to cause a panic by screaming fire in a theater, it is legal when there really is a fire, and no law that you need to wear a gag in case you might scream fire inappropriately. It’s illegal to give medical or legal advice if you represent yourself as a professional, but if you say up front you are not and tell someone what works for you, again no law against that. Limitations on 1A, with only one class of exceptions of which I know, target misconduct. Most specific limitations on 2A, outside of laws against acts that would be just as illegal when done using any weapon, target capacity for misconduct, or precrime.

        • Phil,

          EXCELLENT summary!! The issue is ‘prior restraint’ vs. ‘prevent possible harm’!

          Funny, you, and XZX, have shown a better knowledge of the issue than our Leftist troll, and yet you don’t claim “expertise”. It has always been my contention that, as Einstein was supposed to have said, “If you can’t explain it to a 10 year old, you don’t understand it yourself”. If the law can’t be reasonably accurately parsed out by the average ‘man on the street’, without a law degree or a very expensive lawyer? The problem is with the law, and the legislature that adopted it, NOT with the ‘man on the street’.

  3. I throw a flag on improper carry of a government model.

    Should be rolled all the way back with safety engaged. Or not.

    • JMB is rolling in is screaming at you from the afterlife.

      “It doesn’t need a switch safety! I only put that on there for the War Department!”

    • …. gotta cut em some slack, being wrong-handed – they use a different half a brain.
      And now I have to go see if any of my 1911s can have the safety engaged at half-cock… I’ve never actually tried.

      • I don’t think it’s engaged in the photo.

        At least not fully.

        I’m didn’t know left-handeds were allowed to carry a government model.

        I think AMT made a left-hand model, but they didn’t work too well.

    • 2nd that. 1911’s should always be carried cocked & locked. They also deserve a high quality LEATHER holster. Plus, that holster is dangerous with the finger release near the trigger. Many people have shot themselves with that design and the state licensed instructors I know don’t allow those holsters in their classes. Our LGS won’t even sell those any more.

  4. Can’t believe that no one has commented on the condition of carry in the picture.

    I can hear the 1911 fanboys going in to vapor lock 🙂

    • It is strange, everyone on here thinks the 1873 peacemaker is a wonderful gun and it requires a hammer cock before firing.

      Why is it wrong to carry a 1911 in the exact same condition, hammer down (half-cock) on a loaded chamber…

      • Single-action revolver = hammer down, empty chamber, designed specifically to draw and thumb cock in controlled fluid motion…

        NEVER carry a revolver absent a transfer bar with the hammer down on a loaded chamber.

        So, false equivalence. Shocker.

        Halfcocked with loaded chamber is unsafe with any single action firearm.

        Got to admit, that is one weird picture of a nonsensical 1911 carry condition. If the pictured gun has a round in the chamber, it goes beyond mere weirdness. If the chamber is empty, carry any way you want, but the pictured mode is still weird.

      • “NEVER carry a revolver absent a transfer bar with the hammer down on a loaded chamber.”

        Both Colt and S&W offer revolvers without transfer bars, how should they be carried?

        • MajorLiar,

          “NEVER carry a revolver absent a transfer bar with the hammer down on a loaded chamber.”

          So, among the MANY other classes you either never took, or failed completely, we can include reading comprehension, MajorLiar???? I would ask, “Are you stupid???”, but we ALL know the answer to that question.

      • In addition, to get a 1911 into this carry condition, you would need to cock the gun) in order to get a round into the chamber) and then de-cock the gun after doing so (in preparation for pulling the hammer back to half-cock). The 1911 has no de-cock mechanism, so you’ll be doing that the old-fashioned way, by holding the hammer back with your thumb and pressing the trigger and then slowly lowering the hammer. On a loaded chamber. With the safety off.

        At least, you PLAN to lower the hammer slowly. If you were eating buttered toast before you did all that, you’re about to have a real loud morning.

        • Plus you have to hold the grip safety down, while pulling the trigger, to ease the hammer off of the full cock notch. Takes 2 hands…

          The “good” news is that if your thumb slips just exactly right, the half cock notch will catch the hammer…

          Which is why it is there, mostly – if the gun is dropped which the safety off, and/or the seat is worn, the half notch will probably catch the hammer if it slips off of the full cock notch.

          Safest design ever…

          And usually misunderstood.

  5. Knowing what to do with a firearm is one thing knowing what not to do with a firearm is another I.E…

  6. Permitless carry, also called constitutional carry still has it’s limitations. Some being legitimate reasons. But, some are ridiculous nit picking harassment of gun owners.
    Nor does permitless carry mean open carry. It just means you can carry a weapon without government permission in your home state in most situations. Since getting a cc permit in AL is pretty easy, I do keep my permit simply because I do travel out of state and most of the states I travel to or through have reciprocal permit agreements with AL. So my CC permit is acceptable over the state line. By Constitutional/2nd rights I shouldn’t need a permit just because I crossed the line into MS, or FL. Nor even NY or IL. Of course the politicians and idiots in charge seem to think the citizens of not just their own states but also other states aren’t trustworthy or intelligent enough to be armed in public. Can’t have armed citizens able to defend themselves from either miscreants or overbearing tyrannical government thugs/officials.
    Never trust politicians who don’t the citizens of their own state/districts.

    • I don’t think it’s trusting the citizens of their own ststes/districts at issue in most blue states. It’s really that those pols are bullies who know how stupid their own voters are – and the voters prove their stupidity every election.

      If you support the constitution why should you be allowed to cross state lines and pollute the local stupidity already in place with NY, CA CO etc.

  7. There is no reason for a firearms instructor to have to lose money based on the concept of permitless carry. People still need to be trained. Spend more time concerning yourself with educating and less time thinking about how much money you will not get. The required courses attached to concealed carry licenses are NOT training. They are basic requirements set by the state as an introduction that just lets people know there is a law for this or that. Then a chance to show that you can actually hit the broad side of a barn. If you are an instructor that thinks this course is the be-all end-all of firearms ed then you have missed the whole point. This is the beginning for many people. NOT the end.

    Everyone seems to think this course is training. It isn’t.

    There is no ‘constitutional carry’. No state in the union allows that. NONE! This should be made part of that course.

    In Texas, There absolutely are restrictions. These apply in some form and in various ways to those wanting to carry guns.
    30.05
    30.06
    30.07

    • Whata bunncha bumbling bimbos. “How can people not see that things are better now” she says… uh, look around maybe?

  8. Your dedication to promoting firearm safety and constitutional carry, even at personal cost, is truly admirable. Just like enjoying a cake pop from Starbucks your guidance is a small investment with significant value.

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