Tips for New Concealed Carry Practitioners

Woman concealed carry gun in purse

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With Chinese virus worries across America, a lot of folks new to concealed carry have decided to carry a gun for a change. Some have owned guns for years and some just bought their first firearm. Depending on who’s counting, there are 16, 17 or 18 constitutional carry states in the country where no permit is required to tote a concealed handgun legally.

While carrying a gun provides a very effective and capable tool against attack, it also carries some risk if used inappropriately. If you’re new to carry, read this. It may keep you out of jail.

I’ve carried for a couple of decades now and I’ve taught concealed carry and plenty more firearms classes over the years, too. At the same time, I have pursued my own learning and have enough course completion certificates to wallpaper my man cave. That includes a number of courses that included detailed legal considerations.

This isn’t about “What I’m Carrying Now.” These are tips to keep you out of trouble with the law and put your mind at ease about carrying that heater of yours.

Avoidance

As you navigate through life, you probably know from common sense that you can’t claim self-defense if you started or escalated a conflict. You can claim self-defense after flipping someone off and things go south over a trivial perceived slight, but you better have a really good lawyer and very deep pockets.

There aren’t likely to be any concealed carriers on a potential jury. Neither will there be, in all likelihood, any of your fellow gun club members or TTAG readers.

Instead, you may have one or more people who outright dislike guns and have a dim view of those who carry them. You may even have people who don’t believe in self-defense at all.

In most parts of America, the majority of any jury pool will likely have “agnostic” views on guns and self-defense. They will take a skeptical view of someone who uses deadly force against another people.

What’s more, the “victim” (the person you shot) may show up for your trial…or the the criminal’s family if you killed the person you shot. Those family members can influence the jury. That’s one reason why prosecutors encourage family members to attend the trial.

All of which is why it’s best to steer clear of trouble to begin with.

Mind your own business. Use your situational awareness to identify potential trouble, then practice avoidance where possible. Use the words “I’m sorry” freely and smile. Both can help deescalate a tense moment.

Don’t hesitate to say “I don’t want any trouble” as necessary where “I’m sorry” fails to smooth things over.

For those living in states with “stand your ground” (SYG) laws, beware. SYG is not a hunting license to take out a-holes and criminals.

While you can “stand your ground” in the face of a threat of death or grievous bodily harm in those states, retreating before shooting will always look better to witnesses, investigating officers, prosecutors, judges and most importantly, juries.

Image by Oleg Volk. Used with permission. blog.olegvolk.net

Self-Defense is for Innocent People, Not Property

Can you use force to defend your property? As a rule, no.

Most of us have a little terrier dog inside us. If someone’s taking your stuff, it’s difficult not to try to intercede to stop a thief. But pulling a gun to stop a theft or even a forcible felony involving theft isn’t justifiable under the law in most states (know your local laws).

And even if you don’t intend to introduce a firearm into the mix to stop a theft in progress, things may escalate.

The better, more prudent course of action is to call the police and offer a good description. Don’t shoot a thief with anything other than a (smart phone) camera. And don’t block their escape (see the previous paragraph about escalating a situation).

Now there may be extenuating circumstances that merit the use of deadly force to stop what looks like a theft to some. For instance, I can’t shoot someone for getting into my idling car at a gas station and driving away.

However, if my newborn boys are napping in their car seats as I fuel my idling car, that’s another story. If a miscreant hops in under those circumstances and tries to drive off, I’d smoke him rapidly and promiscuously. I would have used deadly force not to stop a car theft, but to stop a child abduction/kidnapping.

An attempted arson of an occupied dwelling is one very common exception to the “don’t use force to defend property” maxim. But then, the force is used to thwart the arson to protect people inside, not the structure or the property.

woman concealed carry volk

Image by Oleg Volk. Used with permission. blog.olegvolk.net

Keep your hands off of it

New carry holders oftentimes will touch their gun to reassure themselves that all is well with that hunk of plastic and metal on their hip. Criminals often do the same, but for different reasons (primarily because most criminals carry without a holster).

Wear your gun in a good, comfortable holster on a stiff belt and…leave it alone.

You may think that everyone can see subtle signs of your gun under your clothing, but worry not. At least 99.44% of people don’t pay attention. That last half-percent or so will not typically visually frisk you unless you give them a reason to do so.

I carried a big gun in a fashion-disaster fanny pack in plain sight for a bunch of years and precious few people knew I had a gun on my hip.

I’ll admit to the first time a young cop stood behind me in line at a fast food joint cause a tiny bit of pucker for me. In the end, though, he didn’t notice my sloppily concealed gun under my dirty t-shirt. Or if he did, he simply didn’t care.

If you choose to carry in non-permissive environments (that would be at work for most folks), deep concealment is the word. In other words, make sure people can’t see the outline of your gun through your clothes. Keep your mouth shut about your carry habits and nobody will know unless you need to deploy it in an emergency.

Protect Yourself Legally

Lastly, if you carry a gun for personal defense, make sure you protect your financial well-being. Buy some carry insurance. Three companies I like are Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, US Law Shield and US Concealed Carry Association.

None of them pay me or TTAG to mention them. I recommend them because I’ve studied a lot of these companies and see these three as among the very best. What’s more, all three will begin to pay for your legal defense for self-defense even before an arrest. Years ago, most companies would pay a reimbursement of legal fees incurred only after an acquittal.

Armed Citizens and US Law Shield are both about $130-ish per year. I belong to both. Armed Citizens can recommend an attorney or you can utilize your own. Meanwhile US Law Shield generally requires you to use their contract attorney.

US Law Shield, like US Concealed Carry, covers legal representation in “red flag” hearings. These legal proceeding can happen in states with these laws when someone thinks you’re a danger to yourself or others. A judge temporarily strips you of your gun rights without a hearing and you have to attend a hearing a couple of weeks later to prove your competence to regain your right to keep and bear arms.

And while none of us expects to find ourselves on the receiving end of one of these confiscation orders, knowing you’re covered is priceless for your peace of mind.

In addition to red flag coverage, US Concealed Carry offers comprehensive coverage.  But it comes at a sharply higher price.

Think you don’t need legal defense financial protection? Even something as trivial as using pepper spray in self-defense to avoid using lethal force can result in tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills.

You’re in Good Company

Remember, when you carry your gun for self-defense each day, you join millions of other law-abiding good guys and gals who do the same. Use common sense and practice situational awareness and avoidance and you’ll keep yourself and your family safe and protected. Especially in times like these.

comments

  1. avatar d says:

    Sorry to say, that I don’t many new gun owners (most likely former anti’s otherwise they would have already had guns) would be rushing to gun blogs for info. Better off getting back to regular content.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      they come for the reviews, stay for the advice.

      1. avatar SoCalJack says:

        Yup. The best we can do is help guide these new gunowners so they’re more likely to stay. In addition, these types of articles are great reminders for some current gun owners. It actually reminded me to print out an updated CCW Safe paper to keep in my wallet.

    2. avatar RGP says:

      Agreed.

      And I don’t think all these new gun owners are on our side, either. They’re part of the mob that wanted us disarmed and now they suddenly want to arm themselves. Generally, it’s not a good sign when your enemy decides to do this.

      1. avatar SuspiciousFisherman says:

        They will be selling on armslist soon. Keep an eye out. This is one enemy you actually can underestimate, unless they are wielding a piece of paper with words on it, which we all know, they only remember half of what’s on it, abide by one third of it, and want to get rid of it as soon as other people read it. Plus, their aim would be stormtrooper-ish at best, not the german kind, star wars.

        Liberals, everybody!

        Thank you, have a good night 😉

    3. avatar valorius says:

      You would be stunned how many progressives and communists (but I repeat myself) post on the firearm blog.

      1. avatar SuspiciousFisherman says:

        *Applause

        Starts on facebook, ends on facebook.
        Then it gets hung on mantle, because that is where they aim to keep it. Freedom is okay to take, just not their job.

  2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    get a gun belt.

    1. avatar guy in NM says:

      & a good holster!

  3. avatar LarryinTX says:

    Deadly force to defend property is legal in TX, and I have a difficult time understanding why it is not legal everywhere. Is the government which refuses to allow you to shoot the SOB who is stealing your shit, are they going to replace it? Hardly. And if not, they should not be prohibiting you from protecting your shit. You think you should not shoot someone over property? Absolutely fine! But don’t be giving me orders on the subject. You really should know your local laws, you may have to shoot the SOB and walk away.

    1. avatar d says:

      Just because you have a gun does NOT mean that you are going to win the gunfight. Think the bad guy isn’t armed and willing to kill you?

      What do you own that is worth dying for?

      Just because it’s legal to use lethal force to protect property does not mean that you should. You really should get training on the proper use of force

      1. avatar Valorius says:

        You sound like a beotch.

      2. avatar In for a penny, In for a pound says:

        D-I am assuming the bad guy, in my home is armed, which is why they would get lead. My high powered rifles are the only insurance I need against state thugs trying to harm me over spilled thieves. The 2nd Amendment allows us Citizens to use force on the government, especailly if the government tries to harm us over a spilled thug.
        Previous generations of Americans have been cowards and traded Liberty for false security from a self interetsed government, exactly against the point of the Constitution. The state profits from living criminals, and would be removed if our nation had a bunch of men, desensitized to harming criminals, because then the government would be on the chopping block.

    2. avatar d says:

      Telling someone to ” you may have to shoot the SOB and walk away.” is the WORST advice ever.

    3. avatar RGP says:

      If you shoot somebody in Texas for any reason, and then you leave the scene, good luck in court. In the minds of a jury, flight equals guilt.

      1. avatar In for a penny, In for a pound says:

        Rgp-You do not have to stay at the scene, if you do not feel safe.

        1. avatar In for a penny, In for a pound says:

          Have your lawyer tell the jury the law, about how it is okay to leave the scene.

        2. avatar Hannibal says:

          This is often the best response. If I am threatened enough to shoot someone while conceal carrying, I am probably not going to remain there unless I am at home. The BG may be on the ground and wounded but still capable of doing me injury (people can survive a lot of damage from gunshot wounds… for long enough to retaliate). He may have a friend who was acting as lookout and is now going to make a move. And if you stay, what do you do with your gun? Holster? Okay, then one of those threats may get the drop on you. Drop it? Same story but with worse retention. Keep it in your hand? Bad idea if the five-o is coming.

          However, and it’s a big however, I am not suggesting that someone who has just been in a defensive shooting should just walk away and go home. I am suggesting that it may be entirely prudent to leave the scene and call the police from a safe location. This has the additional benefit of allowing you to to interact with the police in a manner that is hopefully less chaotic.

    4. avatar GS650G says:

      I wouldn’t shoot someone over property theft. However an invader doesn’t telegraph his intentions and seeing how property is just one of many things criminals are after that changes things.

      Someone taking my tractor from the shed will get yelled at to stop and have his picture taken with cameras. Cops can address it with him.

    5. avatar Kendahl says:

      Deadly force to protect property is legal in Texas under special conditions. After dark is one of them but I’m not sure if it’s the only one. Get it wrong and the rest of your life won’t be worth living.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        A wise response. There’s a lot of territory between what you theoretically CAN do legally and what you SHOULD do practically.

        And a lot of times if you try and play in the middle you end up finding out just how life-altering legal bills can be.

  4. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

    Oh, my heavens, my wife does NOT look like the lady in jeans drawing the Glock…*sigh*

    (darn it…my inside voice got out…again. Glad my spouse does not read TTAG).

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      glock?

    2. avatar California Richard says:

      Tell your not-wife to keep her finger off the trigger while she’s drawing her Glock out of her purse…… unless ofcourse she shoots somebody through her purse, inwhichcase she’s totally badass.

      1. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

        You tell her.

        I don’t believe purse lady is the same as plaid lady in jeans (who is the one I was thinking of…)

      2. avatar Rick the Bear says:

        Whoa. I missed the trigger finger on the draw from the purse. Tsk, tsk.

  5. avatar I Haz A Question says:

    “Can you use force to defend your property? As a rule, no.”

    If a thief is stealing your car and does not appear to be armed with a deadly weapon, you generally cannot shoot.

    However, believe it or not, it is permissible in CA to use deadly force to defend your home (property) if someone attempts to commit a felony against it and there is – just as with an attack on your person – no other available way to stop him. For example, if someone pours gasoline on your front porch, you may arguably shoot him if he pulls out a lighter and refuses your commands to stand down.

    CA P.C. Pt 1, Title 8, Ch. 1, 197(2)

    https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=197.

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      Clarification. The author above uses a sound argument that shooting the arsonist is to protect the people inside the dwelling, not the property itself. But CA law is not structured that way. You may protect the property, whether it’s occupied by innocents at the time of the felony or not.

    2. avatar d says:

      “If a thief is stealing your car and does not appear to be armed with a deadly weapon, you generally cannot shoot.”

      The thief being armed with a weapon is irrelevant. It is wether or no he is using lethal force against you. He can have a gun and not be using it against you. Or, he could not have a weapon and using empty hands to try to kill you.

      1. avatar Miner69er says:

        Just shoot and when it comes time to defend just say “I believed my life or that of my family/friends was in danger so I shot and I would not hesitate to do it again”. It’s better for criminals to be punished immediately since if you don’t take it upon yourself to fix the problem now then you’re morally responsible for any death or harm coming to any other future victim of the criminal.

        1. avatar GS650G says:

          And after a year or so and 50K in legal expenses you might beat it. Or not.
          Meanwhile your job is gone, reputation trashed, and youre a guest of the state for a while.

          Better to let it go.

        2. avatar Hush says:

          “I was trying to stop the threat”. And saying nothing more, quoth the raven “nevermore”!

        3. avatar neiowa says:

          Mr Suziki must be one of those internet lawyers. A YEAR and 50K gollee. Better let the shithead have his way.

      2. avatar Hush says:

        The title could have read, “Tips for Concealed Carry Practitioners” and been just as accurate. The advice therein is excellent and any person should give serious thought as to why they would want to take a human life needlessly over property. Thieves are committing a wrongful act and should be punished, but it is not a killing offense. Risking one’s life to stop a thief just isn’t worth the risk of getting hurt, killed or the trouble and expense of future lawsuits. It is far less trouble to simply allow the thief to walk/run away. It may not be easy at the time, but later one may feel better by knowing they avoided all the grief further action could have caused. Protecting life is the only reason to take a life.

        1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          what thieves deserve, starting with horses and going down to my last saltine, leaves them as better off dead.

      3. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        legally it depends where you’re at.
        practically you are correct.
        but actually, you’re wrong. and you sound as though you’re comfy with non- violent theft.
        literally, it’s my jibarrito. don’t touch it.

        1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

          French Fries, Saltines and Sandwiches. Is someone hungry?

        2. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

          Don’t know about the rest of you fine people, but, it’s lunch thirty here in the Mountain Time Zone…Bratwurst on the grill, handful of Jalapeno flavored chips and a Throwback Mt. Dew.

        3. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

          Old Guy Im not quite 40 and that’d be my preference for a decent lunch, but usually swap the Mtn Dew for a Real Sugar Pepsi or a glass of water with fresh lemon.

        4. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

          Never been too big on Pepsi…now, a real sugar, Dublin Dr. Pepper with a twist of lime..yum. Haven’t had one of those for years (they stopped bottling real Dr. Pepper at Dublin a number of years ago). I do have 5 bottles of Cheerwine left sitting in the spare ‘fridge in the garage.

  6. avatar Dude says:

    Flipping someone off is an invitation to fight.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      so is liberating a french fry.

      1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

        Is getting a hand stabbed by a fork really a fight though?

    2. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      That’s how I feel. I was previously easily angered while driving. Since having my CPL, I am a very polite and congenial driver. That’s because I don’t want a middle finger escalating to the point of needing to clear leather.

      1. avatar Miner49er says:

        You know, you could’ve changed the way you react to situations without carrying a gun, just simple mental discipline to display a more reasonable response.

  7. avatar Diksum says:

    Concerning concealed carry: I don’t have a concealed carry permit. However, here in Virginia, open carry is legal. I recently asked a LEO what constituted concealed vs open carry. He said that if enough of the gun is visible for a reasonable person to perceive it as a gun, it is open carry, even if only the grip is visible.

    1. avatar CentralVirginian says:

      You’d be well advised to not ask LEOs legal advice. While you received what is most likely the correct answer this time, that wont always be the case. Familiarize yourself with the code of Virginia, look up case law to see judges actual interpretations, when in doubt consult an attorney.

    2. avatar GS650G says:

      Cops are never attorneys . Even when they arrest you there is nothing that says they should of.

      1. avatar Well Armed says:

        My attorney specializes in firearms law, I will never use anyone else unless he tells me to.

  8. avatar Kendahl says:

    Anyone contemplating the use of force in self defense should read Andrew Branca’s book, The Law of Self Defense. I also recommend his Level 1 class on DVD and the supplements for your home state and any others you visit often. He does shows on his website (lawofselfdefense.com) which are well worth viewing. Some of what he advises will go against the grain for a person who carries to prevent becoming a victim. His goal is to keep you from going to prison or being sued into poverty by the bad guy you fought off.

    CCW Safe is another good legal services provider. It is more expensive than ACLDN (another good program) but offers more, too. Whichever one you select, READ THE FINE PRINT CAREFULLY. A perfectly good program may have an exclusion that makes it unsuitable for your personal situation. For example, if you are having problems with a violent former spouse or boy/girl friend, you wouldn’t want a program that excludes defense against current or former romantic partners.

  9. avatar WilliamA says:

    I don’t believe there is any law that states that a person can not defend their property. Just that the use of force has to be reasonable.

    If someone is stealing your pink flamingo from your front lawn, it would be reasonable to chase after them to get it back and not shoot them. Maybe get into a wrestling match to get your pink flamingo back. But if the person you are wrestling with a pulls a knife and tries to stab you, using deadly force would be reasonable. But then it wouldn’t be using deadly force to defend property would it? Even though originally you wanted to get your property back.

    1. avatar RGP says:

      Taking the lawn flamingo is going too far!

    2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      You just had to bring up the pink lawn flamingos. Had a bad experience years ago that I had attempted to forget about…until you dredged up the dreaded memory. Involved a plastic flamingo, a gopher, a garden hose, two pidgeons, four pool noodles, an irate neighbor, and spiced rum. Too much spiced rum.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        We all got those stories.

  10. avatar former water walker says:

    Things are a mite sketchy around here. I see(idiot!)folks openly talking about shooting badguys trespassing or breaking into their vehicles! This on a local city crimewatch page😩Obviously they’re too stupid to “get” a criminal could find their address. I don’t relish shooting a miscreant but the local 5-0 didn’t believe me(or my wife & son)when I reported multiple gunshots on Halloween night! Get off my lawn😖

    1. avatar SoCalJack says:

      Maybe a TTAG article on home defense for new gun owner is next? I can see the left media jumping all over a HD event where a new gun owner makes a mistake

  11. avatar Alotta says:

    James Campbell carries his PPQ and AMT Backup in his sequin purse.

  12. avatar Mark_PAV says:

    “… Tips for New Concealed Carry Practitioners…”

    Start by getting your finger out of the trigger guard in photo #1.

  13. avatar lefty says:

    Anyone here remember Massad Ayoob’s book:”In the Gravest Extreme”and “the Truth About Self Protection?
    Classics but still valid,although some of the firearms and/or ammo are no longer available
    Also the book:”Handgun Stopping Power”

  14. avatar Dave G. says:

    “For instance, I can’t shoot someone for getting into my idling car at a gas station and driving away.”

    I thought everybody knew that you DO NOT LEAVE THE ENGINE RUNNING while pumping gasoline. And if the engine isn’t running, THE KEYS SHOULD BE IN YOUR POCKET.

  15. avatar Warwolf says:

    The first thing any newbie should do after getting their first weapon and appropriate ancillary kit is to get training! And not a basic pistol class. At least a basic concealed carry class. People who have never carried and who are new to guns in general are more of a danger to themselves and those around them. Getting into trouble for doing something questionable is also another good reason to get proper training as good classes will usually go over basic local laws.

  16. avatar Wheel gun guy says:

    On body carry only ! To many ladies are in the habit of laying their purse down or hanging it on a chair. Bad news !

  17. avatar Paladin says:

    Be sure to vote out every gun grabbing democrat in every election you can or you won’t have the right to buy guns in the future! The 2nd amendment and the groups that fight for those rights have given you the opportunity to keep safe! Don’t give that up, EVER!
    And carry every day!

  18. avatar zoniarsawyer says:

    Emily Boris Richerson Hey you guys I have found the perfect job as a full time student, it has changed my life around! If you are self motivated and social media savvy then this is ideal for you. The sky is the limit, you get exactly how much work you put into to it. Click on this link to get started and see for yourself… Details Here

  19. avatar StLPro2A says:

    Still, the best way to win a gun fight or a jury trial is…..don’t get involved……avoid both at what ever cost.

  20. avatar Tate says:

    I do not see the connection between the Covid-19 pandemic and carrying a handgun. What are you going to do, shoot sick people? I live in Texas, and I can tell you, we have been carrying handguns for self protection, long before it became legal to do so. I am more concerned about my safety when I am out in the middle of nowhere, and there is a lot of that in Texas, than someone (sick maybe?) coming onto my property or trying to steal property. Now coming into someones house is another story. In this state do not do it without permission, because you will probably get shot.
    PS…gun-carrying lunatics scare me more than unarmed, gun-grabbing Democrats!

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