The NSSF estimates there are almost ten million new gun owners since the beginning of 2020, 40% of them women. Most of them bought their firearms for personal protection in an increasingly uncertain world with defunded police departments, permissive prosecutors and higher violent crime rates. Many of these new gun owners are interested in carrying a gun, at least some of the time.
If you already carry a gun on a daily basis, please share this article with your newbie and daily carry-reluctant friend. The more people who carry concealed, the safer we all will be, both in terms of active defense and passive deterrence. Not to mention the safety of our natural, civil and constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.
With that in mind, the first thing you need for effective concealed carry is . . .
It doesn’t matter what type of gun you carry, what caliber cartridge it fires or the design and composition of the bullets. What matters is that you carry a gun.
The sad truth is, the majority of Americans with concealed carry permits — or who live in constitutional carry states and don’t even need a permit — don’t carry their gun. They’re afraid of being “discovered.” Outed. Forced to explain their decision to carry a gun to people who can’t, don’t or won’t understand. Hence their hyper-sensitivity to “printing” (their gun making a visible impression against their clothing, revealing that they’re armed).
There’s no easy way to overcome concealed carry paranoia and peer pressure. One step in the right direction: carry a list of reasons why you want to carry a gun. No one has the right to take my life; my family needs me; I want to protect my family; all that’s required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing…whatever reasons are most meaningful to you.
Read the list out loud before you holster your gun.
By the same token, it helps to imagine potential violent assaults as you’re going through your day. Imagining that you’re taking evasive action while disarmed. This mental exercise trains your brain to consider non-firearms solutions (always the best course of action, if possible) to life-threatening situations and reminds you just how useful a gun would be if and when the worst happens.
The carry process itself is another reason so many armed Americans don’t carry a firearm on a daily basis. They know they have to be aware of right-to-carry restrictions and either avoid “gun free zones” or disarm before entering them.
That can be a PITA. Removing a gun from your holster in a parking lot and stashing it in the glove box, for example, is an awkward, not-to-say furtive endeavor that requires needless gun-handling (always ill-advised), invites curious stares, and increases the possibility of theft.
But don’t worry. Coping with concealed carry’s legal hurdles eventually becomes habit. But that doesn’t happen for most folks because carrying a concealed gun is physically uncomfortable, at least at first.
Depending on what, where and how you carry, daily carry can be a literal pain in the, well, neck. Or the hip. In fact, overcoming the physical discomfort of carrying a pistol is the key to making concealed carry a part of your daily routine.
That’s why you really need . . .
A Comfortable Holster
Gun guru Clint Smith famously pronounced that carrying a gun should be comforting, not comfortable. Yeah, no. If carrying a gun is physically annoying or painful, your average armed American simply won’t do it on a daily basis.
The general rule of thumb on concealed carry: carry the largest gun you can. Given the incredible array of firearms on the market and the huge selection of holster materials and styles (inside-the-waistband, outside-the-waistband, appendix carry, belly band, ankle carry, boot carry, small-of-the-back, etc.) you could spend a fortune trying to find the perfect, most comfortable combination. Or, as most people do, you can buy the wrong gun and holster and give up.
That’s why a lot of reluctant concealed carriers to start by pocket-carrying a small revolver (like a Smith & Wesson J-Frame) or a semi-automatic pistol (like a Ruger LCP II) inside a simple pocket holster.
I’ve heard all the arguments against “mouse guns.” I’ve made them myself. But we’re talking about training wheels here, a painless starter gun and a holster that the owner doesn’t need to throw away if and when they graduate to a different carry system with a larger gun.
Women who wear tight jeans (with nominal pockets) or tight dresses have to find other comfortable concealed carry solutions, such as small semi-automatic pistol (such as the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus) in an inside-the-waistband holster positioned in the small of their back, or an undergarment holster. But the point remains: buy a carry system.
Go to a good gun store where you can try out a gun and holster combination, even if you have to drive hours to get there. Safety check the gun and holster it. Walk, sit, jog in place a bit, practice your draw (all with the store’s permission, of course). Road test your daily carry rig and you’ll be a hundred times more likely to use it on a daily basis.
A Cell Phone
There is no defensive gun use situation where you don’t need a phone. You need your phone to report a potential threat to the police, hopefully after avoiding the actual use of your gun in the first place. Reporting a defensive gun use will hopefully allow you to avoid arrest and/or prosecution.
Always call the police after any defensive gun use. Even if you just draw your gun and the bad guy(s) takes off, call the police. If you don’t, the bad guy(s) may call the police, ID you, and accuse you of being the aggressor and threatening their lives.
[Note: state your name, location, a brief description of yourself, the location of the incident (if you’ve left the scene) and the general nature of the event (e.g., “there’s been a shooting”). You don’t have to stay on the phone to answer the emergency operator’s questions. Anything you say — and how you say it — can be used against you in a court of law. When the police arrive, promise a full statement and invoke your right to silence until you’ve talked to your attorney.]
If you don’t have a phone — maybe it was lost or damaged during the DGU — ask to use someone else’s. It’s critical that you make the call, rather than a bystander. That helps establish your innocence.
There’s plenty of other stuff a daily concealed carrier can and probably should carry: spare ammo, a pocket knife, a flashlight, pepper spray, maybe even a backup gun. But the three items above are the gateway to daily concealed carry. With these three items, you can keep calm and carry on. Every. Single. Day.