When you first consider concealed carry, the key word is commitment. Many decide to carry a concealed handgun after a life-changing event such as an assault or robbery. Others are concerned about crime and want to take advantage of every means possible to protect their own safety as well as that of their families. Others simply want to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
When you are earning your certificate to get a concealed-carry permit, you learn from a certified instructor. There are thousands of NRA-certified instructors, and they are all equally well trained. The NRA instructors’ website has valuable information about training and instructors in your area. As you look at concealed carry, you begin to realize there are compromises inherent in the promise of increased safety.
In many ways, a concealable handgun is a compromise in size and caliber, and you need to consider the budget for both training and gear. We all have budgets—some are simply larger than others. One size, one gun, one holster, one training school do not fit every shooter. We all have different problems and different environments.
And the bottom line is this: there are serious crime problems in America. The average criminal population of most cities is about 3 percent, although there are particular places where the ratio is much higher.
About 3 percent of the United States population is behind bars. That is a lot of criminals, and many of them are dangerous and violent. The police are swamped, overworked and underappreciated; officers are relegated by city fathers as yard police and dog-catchers, as well as enforcing petty ordinances, when they should be attacking real crimes and the sources. They are good at taking reports, following leads and arresting criminals.
Actually stopping a violent crime before a criminal injures a citizen, however, is practically unheard of. It simply is not humanly possible, no matter how dedicated the officer. Traditional patrols and saturation squads, such as the famous New York City subway teams, are effective in limiting street crime and catching perpetrators.
But in the end, you must that take responsibility for your own safety, and you are the only one who can guarantee that safety.
Budget restraints have forced police to downsize, so they simply cannot guarantee our security. The chances of criminals being caught after the fact are high; the chances of being caught in the act are slim. Against this backdrop of concern for our safety, we have politicians who present faulty ideas, emotional garbage and outright lies. But I will leave the political organizing and effort to the experts at the Second Amendment Foundation, as they have the education and energy for the task. You must educate yourself or risk losing more of your rights.
I also have considerable training in psychology, and while many regard psychology as an inexact science, the study of human antics is interesting. The behavior of certain types of criminals is predictable; I can read them like a book and not miss a page.
Some Tough Questions
Let’s ask some tough questions about concealed carry.
Is your mindset on track with reality?
Many shooters view concealed carry as a fad. They become interested, take the class and then lose interest. There is a serious side to the fun of shooting and, when carrying a concealed handgun, you have life and death in your hands. A wrong move, and the life that is lost is your own. The possibility of a financially devastating lawsuit, a criminal charge and social stigma are all considerations you need to face when obtaining a concealed-carry permit. The true winner in a lethal situation is often the one that uses verbal judo to control the situation and dissuade an attacker without using lethal force.
Avoiding trouble beats getting into trouble, and watching the news beats being the news. The handgun is not there to assert your will or to keep you from getting your butt whipped. It is there to save your life and for no other reason. Lethal force is the last—and final—option in the continuum of force. On the other hand, if you are carrying the gun only to scare an attacker and do not feel you would fire at another human being, you have no business carrying a gun. You are a danger to yourself and others and may end up arming an attacker with your own firearm if he or she wrests it from you. The mindset for concealed carry is as important as the training; determination to save your life is part of the package, as well as a determination not to fire at another human being unless there are no other options.
Have you trained properly for concealed carry?
In the state-mandated training course with which I am most familiar, there are stages of fire shot at 3, 5, 7, 10, 12 and 15 yards. Almost all those who pass the course, and most do, have qualified with the requisite 80 percent score from the 10-yard line. The marksmanship problem is not severe. Students who have never fired a handgun before often excel if they have paid attention in class. Yet it is important for you to go beyond this training and be certain you feel comfortable carrying a concealed handgun. Be honest with yourself, diligently practice and consider the worst-case scenario, not the easy problems.
If you have little to no experience with a handgun, find an instructor to give you the NRA basic handgun course. Although basic in some ways, it contains excellent information about gun handling and stresses safety. Safety is always the number one rule—safety comes first.
Next, comes learning the different types of handguns, how they function and the proper way of loading and handling those firearms. I often tell students it is best to have some type of training before you buy a handgun. A hands-on experience on the firing range means considerably more than simply handling a handgun in the gun shop. You need to know more about hand fit, recoil and the complexity of the operating action.
You also need to be comfortable when carrying the handgun. You cannot be overly conscious of the act of being armed: you must handle it with a matter-of-fact attitude. The handgun will not disappear even though it is concealed and may not always be comfortable. However, you must go about your daily routine with the handgun hidden and instantly ready.
Study is part of the training and where you should begin. It can be the most important part because it is the beginning and the impetus for facing the rest of the battle. The battle is not that difficult, and the people, training and gear you encounter are often very interesting.
Next, in this series on concealed carry and practical defense, I’ll talk about dealing with the adversary.
Have you taken concealed-carry training? What did you think when you got through the class and had the gun? Share in the comments section.