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. A system that depends on the type of handgun and gun size. While this post won’t help you negotiate the first part of that maze, there are three things you must have when carrying concealed . . .
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, someone innocent, be killed or grievously wounded. Not to put too fine a point on it, hesitation kills. To avoid deadly analysis paralysis, you must have a clear idea when you’re going to use deadly force (i.e. shoot someone).
In terms of your legal right to use deadly force, state laws vary. (Google is your friend.) In practical terms, you should shoot someone if they pose an imminent, credible threat of death or grievous bodily harm to yourself or other innocent life that you deem worthy of ballistic intervention. Simply put, if the bad guy is in the act of trying to kill or seriously wound you or some other innocent person, and the perp has a reasonable chance of succeeding (e.g., they’re not across a busy street waving a knife at you), shoot them.
2. An effective holster
Defensive gun use statistics are less reliable than Amtrak trains. Even so, researchers tend to agree that the vast majority of defensive gun uses end without a shot fired. The bad guy sees the good guy’s gun and decides to disengage. If 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 gat, the better.
To maximize draw speed, you must have a gun and holster combo that provides the quickest possible effective access to your firearm (bobbled or dropped guns aren’t very effective). That’s why I carry my self-defense firearm in an outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster; I can get to it in a flash. You may find carrying in an OWB holster impractical, uncomfortable, awkward or more difficult than an inside-the-waistband holster, or pocket carry, or strapping a gun to your ankle. Whatever. Just make your holster, your carry system, priority one.
3. The ability to STFU
If you perform a defensive gun use — shots fired or not — the cops will interrogate you. They’ll try to extract as much information as possible: who, what, when, where and how. They’ll play good cop, bad cop. They’ll tell you they won’t be pressing charges. There is some information you should provide: your name and address and a description of the perp or perps (if they’re not on the scene). You should also point out any witnesses or evidence (e.g., shell casings) they may have missed. Other than that, STFU.
Whether or not the cops arrest you, you have the right to remain silent. Whether or not you know it, everything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right not to provide ammunition for a prosecutor or ambulance chaser. To say “How many shots did I fire? 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 question with the mantra “my life was in danger.” To minimize the chances of incarceration or a successful civil suit, you have to err on the side of silence. Or else.