concealed carry training
(AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer)
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Mandatory firearms training violates our Second Amendment protection against government infringement on the right to keep and bear arms. That said, I’ve been generally impressed with the instruction I’ve been forced to absorb.

It’s tedious yes, but usually covers everything from how a gun works to the legal use of deadly force to anger management and firearms retention. Plus live fire.

But the classes don’t go over everything. Here are three things they don’t teach you in a concealed carry class.

Carrying a Gun Makes You Paranoid, At Least at First

The first time you strap on a concealed firearm, it feels like you’re carrying a Howitzer. Like you’re wearing a T-shirt that says “I’VE GOT A GUN!” Even in states with a gun-friendly culture (e.g., Arizona), first-time concealed carriers worry that a stranger is going to see their gun and confront them or freak out.

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 and/or terrified of firearms — 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 culture, this fear isn’t completely unrealistic. No matter how much you mentally rehearse a reply to gun shamers or prepare for a possible police response, the prospect of “armed confrontation” still creates low-level paranoia (and the constant checking of cover garments). It’s not comfortable.

Exposure therapy is the only cure for this paranoia. More precisely, lackof-exposure therapy. The more you carry a concealed firearm without being outed, the less paranoia or anxiety you feel.

It’s simply something you have to go through; a condition 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 disappear entirely. Or you might eventually abandon concealed carry entirely.

Carrying a gun changes your personality…for the better

Gun control advocates have a strange idea. They’re convinced that carrying a gun makes a person into a mucho macho compensating trigger-happy Clint Eastwood wanna-be.

Like so many of the antis’ “arguments,” they’ve got it exactly backwards. Carrying a gun make you less confrontational.

Why would you want to engage in any confrontation when any confrontation could lead to escalation which could lead to an armed confrontation which is something you don’t ever want to have?

concealed carry mistakes

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 showdown with a stranger.

Sure there are some concealed carriers with anger issues, which don’t disappear when they receive the state’s blessing to bear arms. But that’s not you, a person who took the time to read an article entitled 3 Things They Don’t Teach You In Concealed Carry Class.

Another psychological aspect instructors don’t mention: concealed carry makes you more independent. By assuming direct responsibility for your own safety and the safety of your loved ones, you lose your inherent, perhaps subconscious dependency on the state’s protection. You realize that you are a sovereign citizen.

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 makes you feel more in control of your own destiny at other, less dramatic times.

Carrying a gun is habit-forming

The only way to tell if you’re addicted to something: remove it and see if you suffer withdrawal. At the risk of giving the antis [additional] ammo to deride Americans exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, 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 have to disarm to go into a post office, forget to rearm and then enter a non-gun-free zone.

Crap! I don’t have my gun! They’re plagued by the niggling thought, “What if this is the one time I need it?”

The initial anxiety of having a gun eventually becomes the anxiety of not having one. Traveling to states that don’t recognize your concealed carry license can be an ordeal for a habituated concealed carrier. There are gun owners who won’t go anywhere where their gun isn’t welcome; local businesses, entire states and foreign countries.

3 things every concealed carrier should have carry
Dan Z for TTAG

Normally, NGA (no gun anxiety) manifests itself in increased situational awareness; scanning for potentially problematic people, locating the exits, carrying or contemplating alternative weapons, etc.

Gun control advocates believe this behavior indicates some kind of moral weakness or personality disorder. It is, in fact, a normal, natural 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.

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    • Micah, I don’t know. To me it looks like the off screen instructor (you can see his hands) is attempting to correct her grip. Done it thousands of times.

        • Obviously behind the muzzle. Besides, when I was teaching grip, stance, etc was done with an unloaded weapon. Verified by myself and a second person.

        • cgray, not quite sure what you mean with that comment. I will say this, I had a high school teacher. Mr. Ford. He had a profound influence on who I am today. Korean War vet, hunter and very proud 2A. During hunting season his Dodge Power Wagon was parked in front of his classroom door. The gun rack held a Browning BAR 30-06 and a 12 ga A-5. Loaded. The doors were unlocked. That’s the world I grew up in. Anyway, Mr. Ford was as likely as not to spend our class time talking with us about current events, history, hunting/fishing, firearms. Well, you get the picture. He actually taught electronics in shop class. Ohm’s law, etc. I don’t know how it came up but we were discussing law enforcement one day. Mr. Ford said, “A law enforcement officer should be the most humble person on earth because he has all the power.” That would have been circa ’75-76. I didn’t pin on a badge until1991. Every time I walked out my front door I tried to remember what Mr. Ford said.

      • Seems that he should have told her to set it down (slowly) and start all over again. I am not a firearms instructor; my first impression was that she had a left handed grip but then I realized everything is wrong with her grip. Where is her trigger finger what are her left index finger and thumb doing. I am not an expert, but I think it would be easier to start from the beginning.

    • Damn! That’s my girlfriend…. Out to the farm. She found her LCP to be uncontrollable so, I handed her my TCP with 1 1/2 inch extended grip… First shot sliced her thumb open. The language would have done a longshoreman proud! Swore she’d never shoot that damned thing again! Hysterical laughter and “maybe you oughta keep your thumb off the slide” …didn’t help the situation. I had a tourniquet in the car. Didn’t fit her thumbs so I put it around her… She’s OK with 1911’s, CZ-75’s, big revolvers where there’s enough real estate to keep your thumb “outa the way”. Some people just NEED to do that ….once.

      • BTW, she qualified for her CCL with a Ruger 22/45 target gun…(unorthodox but, legal). Put all 30 rounds in a 3 inch circle. Probably don’t want to kick in our door. Sometimes, she’s not kind, patient and understanding.

      • Micah, It’s OK. I’m on your side! Jesus said: “Let he among us who is without sin fire the first round….” or, something like that. Safety is deadly serious …humor is the grease that makes it work!

        • ‘Without sin’. That’s a gun control law that if you could enforce it would do away with guns in their entirety.

          That’s a standard that could not be met. It’s a good thing the left doesn’t believe in any God other than bernie. If they got behind that standard we’d have serious problems.

  1. I remember the first time I carried a 1911 after carrying pocket guns. I was so happy and relaxed. I realized I was well stocked to manage a problem should one arise. Less anxiety.

  2. As to the author’s three points.
    1. I was conscious of my weapon, but not paranoid.
    2. I don’t believe carrying a weapon changed my personality. I was still me. Just armed. However, I’ve been armed so long maybe it’s become part of my personality.
    3. Agree. On those rare occasions when I left my home unarmed, or had to testify in a Federal Court, I felt naked.

    • At the onset it is hard to not be a little more cautious. For me I had to get over adjusting my gun and trousers. The extra weight takes getting use to. Time is the cure for many things and it sure helped me to relax after a short week or so of carrying daily. Oh, the woman in the picture is apparently being trained and the picture could have been taken any time during the event.

      • Hush, agree with you. When it comes to adjusting I have one piece of advice. Invest in well made leather or kydex. You can translate that to expensive. Because it is.

        • Gadsden you are exactly right for a good quality holster does make a big difference. After that a good sturdy belt is necessary for some added comfort. I was also surprised to learn how little attention others devote to observation. We notice things because we know what to look for. Around here it was a surprise to learn how little others seemed to look. Once a person realizes that others do not look as much, if at all, as you once thought, then the daily carry becomes a lot less troublesome.

        • Hush, right again. When I said invest I quality leather/kydex I should have included the belt and mag pouches. I just always think of leather as a “rig.”

  3. Carrying never did make me more paranoid per se. I always knew people can’t see what they’re not looking for. No one ever questioned why I would carry when it passes in conversation.

    The whole ‘guns make you more confrontational’ argument sounds less like a ‘what if’ and more like projection.

    Habit forming is dead-on.

    • “more like projection”
      One of my vehemently liberal friends, who had actually before this election asked seriously for advice on purchasing a firearm, but because of the Demoncrap agenda now professes that no one should be allowed to own a firearm because were she in a confrontation or a road rage situation she would likely use that firearm inappropriately. Good thing she never bought one, but now she believes no one else should be allowed to own one either, just because she shouldn’t be trusted with one.

  4. Here’s the number one thing they do not teach you to do in Conceal Carry license classes:

    1) Shoot a handgun accurately and effectively.

    So, realize you are there to get the box checked off toward acquiring your license and put in the time.

    If they drill fundamental safety precautions, the four laws, etc. into your head…consider it good enough.

    • PTM, not always true. After the basic four safety rules. Stance, grip, sight alignment and trigger control and different handgun action types. And after I was satisfied a student could keep them center mass on a Pepper Popper we moved on to controlled pairs, multiple targets, failure to stop drills, etc. After shooting I covered holsters and other carry techniques. Legal. Then question and answer. Many other instructors do the same. Do some instructors do bare bones? Sure. Buyer beware.

      • That’s a lot more instruction than most people get in a “Conceal Carry License Class.” Your students were fortunate you spent the time with them to give them all that. Here in Missouri you just put your time in, mostly cover the NRA’s handgun safety book (and that’s all good), get your easy/peasy qualification shoot in and you’re good to apply for the license.

        • And to add to the list, taking a CCL class is not taking a combative handgun class, not even close in most cases. There’s a whole lot more to using a handgun defensively than standing still at a 7 yard line and shooting required rounds into a generously sized target.

          But, you don’t know what, you don’t , so some are content to leave it at that and hope for the best if they ever have to draw from concealment use their weapon effectively.

        • “But, you don’t know what, you don’t , so some are content to leave it at that and hope for the best if they ever have to draw from concealment use their weapon effectively.”

          And most do just fine doing exactly that.

          Predators not expecting their prey to have fangs get a rude surprise.

          Would advanced training be ideal? Yeah, but most are good with nothing more than the element of surprise…

        • Jeff…what an idiot….the point is we should encourage people to take professional classes in combative handgun. You sound like a couch potato who could not shoot his way out of a paper bag.

  5. They also don’t tell you that the really big gun or the smaller one, either might not be best for you.
    My local gun range has over 40 handguns to rent and try out. You can even rent revolvers!
    This is the best way to shop for a handgun.

  6. Most important thing is to train with it. and to get rid of the gun strut people have, you need to balance it out. Practice on covering and drawing unloaded with a variety of clothes on, from very light to very heavy wear. When your on the range practice moving too don’t stand still!!. Another thing is to practice holstering.

  7. Chris, that’s a good idea. I mean it really is. What I did was tell students to bring their own handgun if they had one. If not I provided 3″ round butt S&W model 65s as the house gun. I also provided representatives of other double action and single action revolvers for them to try. Examples of double action and single action pistols. Full size, compact. Pistols like Glock and H&K P7M8 that are neither fish nor fowl. DAO, etc. No rental fees. Just education.

  8. #4) you can probably carry a much larger gun than you think. Unless you’re trying to show off how great your ass looks in those yoga pants…

    • I can’t, I have no ass so whatever I carry pulls my pants down, the heavier the gun the more it happens. I’m stuck with a lcp, g43, and a sig 365. (I have problems picking one gun to rule them all, so they all rotate)… I could always wear suspenders but I just can’t do that to mysel.

  9. Good article. A fourth thing that I’ve noticed in my case is a general increase in situational awareness since becoming a POTG. It’s become an automatic thing to take note of my surroundings (who, what, where, etc.) in a parking lot or the like.

    • I agree. Adding to that, I’m always wondering “who else is armed?” I keep looking for printing around the waist, and I NEVER see it! Funny how I’m SURE that pocket carry is the only truly concealed carry and yet odds are I’m missing the guy right beside me.

  10. Most folks are clueless. Got their noses in their phone. I carried a Kimber Pepper Blaster every day before I carried a gun. And it’s fatter than my Taurus 709. No one noticed it was in my front pocket. Self-centered people are the least of your worries😏

  11. 3 Things They Don’t Teach You In Concealed Carry Class:
    1) How to make french toast
    2) How to train a giraffe to go snorkeling with your mother-in-law
    3) How to convince others that you’re just a figment of their imagination

  12. Nice grips on your 1911. They’d look good on my Kimber. What brand are they?
    Please don’t post this. Thanks, Rich.

    • Rich, you were posted anyway. They look like VZ Grips. John Van Zyke owner. Nice guy. Had him out to The Farm for a few deer hunts. He’s out of Tallahassee.

  13. What I’ve learned: it’s the wrong caliber, in the wrong firearm, you’re using the wrong ammunition in the wrong mags, and your holster sucks. Oh, and you have bad breath.

  14. Some people’s personalities are not served by having a gun. Consider the guy who decided to harass people over parking in handicap spots and then, upon getting shoved, murdered a guy. I wonder if he would have been so intent on playing meter maid if he didn’t have a gun to back him up (and land him in prison).

    • If memory serves, he was a Trump hater.

      Which really fits the typical Leftist profile, always wanting to get in your face and force you to do what they want, and get all self-righteous and indignant about it. It really enrages them, and they feel good about that.

      It’s a bona-fide mental illness they have…

      • You believe Mikey D, the parking lot commando, was a Trump hater?

        Please share with the group your resource for your belief.

        Given the fact that he wasn’t charged until a month after the shooting but then was convicted by a jury of his peers and sentenced to 20 years in the pen, I’d say he was the beneficiary of white privilege.

        He has also been the aggressor in at least four other altercations over parking spots, and yet spent no time in jail.

      • “Michael Drejka’s Voter Registration

        Party Affiliation: No Party Affiliation
        Registered to Vote In: Pinellas County, Florida
        Registration Date: 07/01/2008
        Voter Status: Active”

  15. I find it amusing that one of the pics above show a person drawing from an IWB holster under his t-shirt, while that same person has what appears to be the top part of a thigh rig holster as well. I’m sure it’s probably a pic of someone at the range practicing multiple methods of draw, but it looks awkward.

  16. Okay, TTAG, comments are disappearing again. I posted earlier this evening and saw it on my screen. Now that I’ve come back to check, it’s gone. Thought this problem was fixed a few weeks ago.

  17. OK, here’s the reality. I live in a very, very safe place. I have a psychotic ex-wife who has never forgiven me for divorcing her …despite her multiple affairs (I have 2 daughters). She has a HUGE financial incentive to see me in any condition other than …alive. I’m sure a couple of her ex-military boyfriends could make this happen. The day I signed over a $1 million policy on my life, I enrolled in the CCL courses. I’m in my late 60’s ..been shooting since I was 7 years old on the farm.
    The first day I walked into the grocery store with a tiny .380 on my belt, I was terrified that everybody would see it. Nope. I was at the “lake house” one day, shopping in town, when the .380 “crawled” out of my belt and almost fell on the counter…. I held it in place with my arm ’till I got outside. Since then, I’ve walked around with 1911’s in shorts and a t-shirt and nobody has noticed (I’m kinda skinny).
    I have the usual pile of holsters that didn’t work. I now have Concealment Express for most of my guns… they fit in the little “hollow space” where my beer belly should be.
    I’ve scoped out my office for possible sniper positions …none. I have multiple cameras on the house, approach alarms, alarm system. I cycle with a camera on my helmet and a little gun in my jersey. I have a “dog gun” in my coat pocket for walking the dog late at night. My girlfriend is terrified by the situation… she has multiple guns in QA safes around the house, a safe room with a loaded AR…
    I love guns and go to the range a couple of times a month… always work with the guns I carry and then play with a rifle or two. I hunt, I play… I’ve gotten used to being prepared. It’s not a big deal. I don’t live in fear. I can carry a 1911 in shorts and a t-shirt and nobody knows. Get over it! You’d have to hang it around your neck before anyone would notice.
    BTW: I got interested in bird watching when I was 7 years old. If you can spot a Ruby Throated Hummingbird at 100 yards, you have situational awareness like nobody else! I can spot a rabbit, pheasant, quail or ..bad guy before the dawg does!
    It’s just a gun! Get over it!

    • BTW: You can criticize my sense of humor but, would you like to trade places with a guy that has a $3 or $4 million dollar price tag on his head? I think I’ll do a long bike ride tomorrow to prep for some spring skiing. Be prepared but, get over it!

      • Life is fun! It beats the shit out of the alternative. I will NOT waste my precious time on earth living in fear. But, I will sure as hell make it hard to take the joy of being alive away from me! Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Support 2A!

        • Also, for you “newbee’s” I NEVER practice with 2-handed shooting! I’m a student of the Army’s “conventional pistol”. I can’t imagine a scenario where I would need to shoot and I could “assume the stance” and use both hands to shoot at at a target standing square to me and standing still! I shoot only one handed with strong and weak hands. I can do 80’s and 90’s at 25 yds… strong hand. That doesn’t mean shit if somebody really wants you dead.

        • And, don’t mess with my girlfriend! She’s a good shot. Her favorite is a 1979 S&W Model 10-10 in .38sp with custom walnut target grips. She doesn’t like the TCP much but, she feels safe with the S&W.

  18. One last thought! I have 1911’s, Rugers, S&W’s, CZ-75’s, etc. but, I carry a Taurus G2C. At 6.2 inches long, it doesn’t dig into my leg with the CE holster… 9mm not wimpy .380, 22oz. empty and easily concealed. It was only $200 so, I don’t give a shit what happens to it. I’ve fired thousands of rounds and …for a cheap gun, it’s embarrassingly accurate. Never had a misfire of any kind. The striker tube comes clogged with shit… you’ll have to clean it. The pins are rusted from sweat, I broke the plastic sights (easily replaced with steel or night sights). You won’t find a bad review. With 12+1 it has capacity and is worth 3x what I paid for it! It’s become an old friend… I’d bet my life on it. Oh, I guess I do… I don’t want to beat the shit out of a S&W, Kimber, Ruger… They are certainly better guns but …. exactly, how are they better for carry? I bought another one for my girlfriend. Nobody paid me to say this.

  19. The article is on point. I was reading it going, yes, yes, yes. I felt and did all those things. I used to feel naked without a good blade in my pocket. Now I feel naked if I’m not strapped or my vehicle gun is not there like when I go to the dealer for service.

  20. I’m glad you talked about carrying a firearm and what to expect at the beginning. Recently, one of my cousins said he’s interested in learning how to use a gun and buying one. My cousin wants to enroll in firearm safety classes, and I do think your article could also provide key insight to him, so I’ll be sure to share it! Thanks for the advice on concealed carry and how it might be hard at first!

  21. You made a good point that building good habits should also be part of learning how to use a gun. I’d like to know more about basic and enhanced concealed carry classes because there are times when I think about being more proactive in learning how to use my gun. Being able to carry it with me might be useful for longer trips to unfamiliar places.

  22. You made a good point that being able to have access to one’s gun at all times will help a lot in easing one’s anxieties. I’d like to take concealed carry courses soon because I’m planning to start shopping for a new gun. I think that being able to have one at all times will make me feel a lot safer during my travels.


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