Every Beginner Should Have A Plan To Carry Concealed Everyday
For many would-be concealed carriers, there's a bunch of hurdles to overcome before taking that big, bold leap into self-defense. You may find, though, that most of the obstacles stopping you from legally and responsibly carrying a handgun every day are mental and not physical. The physical part is quite easy: put on a high quality inside the waistband concealed carry holster that's comfortable and works for you and then put a loaded handgun into that holster. Proceed with life.
But, it's not always that easy to get over the mental obstacles. And they are legitimate. Let's break down a few of the most common ones and show you how they're actually quite manageable.
Social Stigmas Of Carrying A Firearm
No One Has To Know But You
The great thing about becoming a concealed carrier is that you're not obliged to tell everyone you encounter that you're armed. Using the right inside the waistband concealed carry holster can go a long way. It ensures when people see you, they don't see your handgun. The only reason your handgun needs to come up is if it's needed.
More importantly, while some are vocally adamant about their views on guns – you don't have to be. Just because you're carrying a concealed handgun doesn't mean you need to weigh in or even say a single word. You're just protecting yourself and your family – simple as that.
Educate yourself on the facts. Regardless of your motivations to carry a concealed firearm, you're doing it to protect yourself. No one needs to come inbetween that so long as you do it responsibly.
Issue: Initial Cost of Concealed Carry
Price Need Not Be A Factor
If you're one of the many of us living paycheck to paycheck, you're probably worried about the costs of getting into concealed carry.
Let's recap some of the most common costs associated:
Concealed Carry application and paperwork ($20-$200)
Approved* Concealed Carry Handgun course ($70-$130)
Concealed Carry Inside the Waistband (IWB) Holster ($32-$80)
Hearing Protection ($2-$60)
Eye Protection ($6-$20)
Gun cleaning kit ($12-$20)
Range bag ($5-$80)
*Some state issuing authorities require a course approved by their board. Check with your state to see if this requirement applies.
Minimum likely expense: ~$500 (cumulative)
Now, you may already have hearing protection or suitable eye protection. You might have an old duffel bag you can dedicate to storing your unloaded firearm and ammunition when bringing it to the range. Maybe your state doesn't require a course of training before getting permitted.
Even if that amount is still too big an amount to swallow, you don't have to swallow it all at once. You can get your concealed carry course knocked out of the way and then purchase your handgun or application with a separate paycheck. There are a bunch of ways to break up the expenses but ultimately, you will likely need all of those things in order to have a good foundation as a concealed carrier.
As you can see, owning and carrying a concealed carry firearm can be extremely affordable. It's literally possible for anyone, given a bit of budgeting, to responsibly own and carry their own firearm.
Find out the requirements for your CCW application
Budget for an affordable, reliable pistol
Budget for a reliable inside the waistband concealed carry holster
Save for training or the right approved course
And never cut out the costs of safety equipment and ammunition for practice
You can do this. More importantly, once you've done it, you're opening up a brave new world of opportunities to learn to defend yourself and be able to protect those around you as well.
Issue: Family Safety
Education And Situational Awareness Are Key
You know your family better than anyone else. If you live with people whom you don't feel would act responsibly around your firearm, you can take that time to educate them on the principles of firearm safety. If you want to ensure no one has access to it but you, you may need to purchase a handgun safe. There are a lot of affordable options out there and not all of them demand you lug a 400+lb. hunk of steel and iron up the stairs.
Issue: Uncertain Living Conditions
Safety And Security No Matter Where You Go
If you find yourself constantly shifting around either due to working conditions or obligations, owning a firearm can actually be a source of security in an uncertain world. A firearm, by itself, can never guarantee safety. It can be a great tool to ensure you are able to defend yourself.
Benefits of maintaining a concealed carry permit in the state you're residing in:
Ability to travel through other states that acknowledge your CCW permit
Security of traveling with a loaded handgun
Confidence when meeting strangers
Makes living on a boat or RV much easier
There are a lot of reasons why carrying a concealed pistol can be a benefit in uncertain living situations. It's always best to know the laws of the state you're in and make sure they acknowledge your concealed carry permit. This isn't a hard process and it's something that can keep you safe in uncertain times.
Your Plan To Own And Carry: It Starts Here
After addressing just some of the social concerns related to carrying a concealed firearm, we're now ready hit the pavement and start the process of owning and carrying a legally concealable firearm. Now let's go further indepth on how to develop an ongoing plan to keep carrying your concealed firearm every day.
Step 1: Know The Law
Before you head out in the morning, you need to know where you shouldn't go with a concealed firearm. This is a mistake that can often cost well-intentioned concealed carriers dearly. There are places which prohibit you from being armed by state or federal law. Those rules change depending upon where you live.
Take a concealed carry handgun course. Even if it's not explicitly required by law, many of these courses include a classroom portion where the instructor will go over state provisions of when and where you can carry.
The basic questions you need to be able to answer:
Do you need to notify law enforcement that you are carrying?
While it is always suggested you inform law enforcement upon first contact, you may not be obliged to do so. You need to know the answer to this, though, because if you fail to inform an officer of the law during a routine traffic stop, he or she may decide to press charges. Even if it is not explicitly required by law, in general it's a good idea. So long as you are legally allowed to carry a concealed firearm and are not breaking any laws, informing the officer will give him a heads up versus him discovering it on his own accord.
Solution: Research your state's gun laws to gain a better understanding. Use your best judgement when deciding when and how to inform a police officer. A general tip would be to do so at the beginning of the interaction. Do not motion towards the firearm. Simply telling the police officer
Does your employer allow guns in the workplace?
A lot of states leave it up to the employers to determine whether or not their employees can carry (concealed or otherwise). Many of the big companies will allow employees to store their concealed carry firearms in their vehicles – provided they are not visible in plain sight. What is your company's policy on firearms?
Solution: Look in your employee handbook or ask Human Resources for clarification.
Step 2: Be Prepared
Before you walk outside your front door, here are a few questions meant to jog that discussion in your head before you are faced with the real thing.
Do you keep a spare magazine in your vehicle?
A lot of the firearms that are geared to concealed carriers sacrifice magazine capacity for size constraints. The main purpose of a concealed carry firearm is to defend your life long enough to either escape or neutralize a threat. It may help to have a spare magazine accessible on either your person or in your vehicle.
Solution: Consider carrying a spare magazine or a small quantity of back-up ammunition loaded into moon clips or speed reloaders if you’re using a revolver.
Are your firearms kept safely away from wandering hands?
You may have children in the car with you. Maybe you're just waiting in line at the bank to make a transaction. You need to make sure you're the only person with access to that firearm. The best solution is to keep it in a high-retention concealed carry holster located on the waistband. That means you stay in control no matter what.
Solution: Get a high-retention inside the waistband concealed carry holster that’s positioned according to your comfort and your ability to use it.
Where do you intend to lock up your guns?
In the event you need to part ways with your everyday concealed carry handgun, you need to have a way to secure it from others. This can include a locked safe in the home or even a hidden locked compartment in your vehicle. It’s up to you to decide how you plan on securing your firearm but leaving it out is always a bad idea.
Solution: Find a handgun safe or lock box which can fit your concealed carry handgun. Always have a duplicate key stored somewhere where only you can find it. Always keep a key to this safe on you in case you need to get to your gun in an emergency.
Step 3: Just Do It
Once you've answered all previous questions to a level you feel comfortable with, you're ready to carry a concealed firearm. The commitment to carrying everyday means you're taking personal responsibility for your well-being. That's a big accomplishment and it's also a big responsibility. Do you feel equipped to handle that?
Make a routine
From the time you get up in the morning, incorporate equipping your concealed carry firearm into your morning routine. Brushing teeth, preparing your kids' lunch, putting on a tie, equipping your inside the waistband concealed carry holster. It's all part of the routine. The more you incorporate your everyday concealed carry handgun into your daily routine, the more you'll find that it fits your lifestyle.
Make a point to carry everywhere, every day
Even when you feel it would be inconvenient to carry, try to carry. Imagine being stuck in a situation where your handgun would be absolutely essential. If you don’t know precisely when that moment can occur, your best bet is to always stay prepared.
Step 4: Make A Training Schedule
A concealed carrier cannot be expected to train everyday or spent tens of thousands of dollars on ammunition every year. You have to set reasonable expectations for your training schedule – but you need to have a training schedule.
Familiarity with your firearm comes from first carrying it everyday, knowing the law, and maintaining situational awareness. The next step is keeping those skills honed through regular practice.
Take a look at your calendar and determine how many days in a month you can reasonably take a few hours to go to a range or practice drills. Not every training session has to incorporate a live-fire portion, but it's generally a good idea to always incorporate live fire at least once a month.
1st Tuesday of Every Month: (Non-live fire) Concealed carry IWB holster practice (30 minutes)
2nd Saturday of Every Month: Live fire exercises at the range (2 hours, 100 rounds)
3rd Sunday of Every Month: (Non-live fire) Close quarters maneuvers (45 minutes)
4th Wednesday of Every Month: Routine firearms maintenance (30 minutes)
Step 5: Stick To That Training Schedule
Once you have a training schedule in place, it's up to you to maintain it. In addition to the previous steps mentioned in this series, you have to hold yourself accountable to keeping that training schedule. You decide the training schedule, you decide the times, how many rounds, everything – but no plan is complete until you implement it.
As a recommendation, incorporate the following pieces into your training routine. You can do all of them in one training session a month or you can split them up however you like. Each piece is important for its own reasons and they all tie in together.
Routine Firearm Maintenance – Operator level disassembly and cleaning to manufacturer specifications. Check your handgun's instruction manual for further information on this.
Live Fire – Reinforcing the fundamentals of marksmanship through firing rounds in a safe and controlled manner.
Inside The Waistband Concealed Carry Holster Draw And Re-Holster – Familiarizing yourself with drawing from inside the waistband, active scanning for targets, and re-holstering safely. This can be done loaded or unloaded and ideally should be incorporated in two separate training sessions – one at the live fire range and one in a secure area.
Self-Defense Drills – For example, practice movement in a close-quarters environment (i.e. your home). Make sure you are scanning and taking proper preventative measures to keep your location safe and secure. You are also keeping your finger clear and off the trigger until/unless you are ready to fire.
Once you have developed a training schedule and are sticking to it – you will see how all the other parts come together seamlessly to produce a reliable and confident concealed carry plan. The longer you do this, the more you will see your plan to own and carry every day was a smart decision – one we hope none of us will ever need to have pay off.
Great Concealed Carry Practices
This is it! It's the moment when you receive your first concealed carry permit in the mail. Opening up that letter and seeing your name printed on a state-certified card is a big deal. Surely, your mind is racing to figure out what to do next. You are, after all, a freshly minted concealed carrier.
Because you’ve read the previous sections, you know how important it is to have the right training and the proper mindset when carrying a concealed firearm. In previous sections, we talked about good habits to develop and now we will discuss more about having the proper mentality and reinforcing good behavior. Let's discuss five essential things every concealed carrier should do after getting his permit.
#1: Set Up An Alarm For CCW Renewal
Almost every state requires you to renew your concealed carry permit. Maybe it's every year or maybe it's every ten – whichever the case, set an alarm for 90, 60, and 45 days before your renewal date. This way, you'll be able to assemble your paperwork and make sure you have everything you need to smoothly transition from one concealed carry permitting cycle to the next.
#2: Make Sure Your Holster Is Equipped At All Times
Getting into the habit of wearing your holster with your gun in it is essential. The holster you should carry when your permit arrives should be the one you've trained with and one you trust to retain your handgun without it sliding out. If your holster isn't up to snuff, consider getting one that protects the trigger, has high retention over the handgun, and has a comfortable, contouring backpad to keep you comfortable.
#3: Stay Current With CCW News
There's a lot going on in the world of concealed carriers. Campuses are slowly getting rid of “gun free zones”, concealed carriers are being tried and tested out in the real world, and politicians are sometimes daftly stepping on our constitutional rights. Whatever the flavor of politics you prefer, it's important to stay current with what's happening in the world of concealed carry. Who knows – maybe your state will be the next one to go permit free?
#4: Start Carrying In The Car
Some states don't allow you to carry a loaded weapon in the car without a concealed carry license. The best thing you can do for yourself is carry in the car. You may notice your holster isn't comfortable in the seated position as well as standing – this is something you can address in training by adjusting the position of your holster. You may also notice a tendency to store the handgun in a glovebox or console while driving. Your holster is actually a preferable place to keep that handgun because it will be more readily accessible and safer.
Carrying the car is very much a first step to realizing that this is a handgun you expect to carry with you everywhere. It will accompany you next to every single place you step foot inside of – your vehicle included. So, by starting out with vehicle carry, you're cementing the fact that the gun stays on you no matter where you are.
#5: Carry Around The House
We prepare for the extravagant scenarios where we must defend our lives out in public. In truth, violence can happen anywhere and often with no warning. Being home alone or home with family, we expect the world to be as docile and serene as we are. The reality is that when you are disarmed, you are exposed. Carrying in the is one of the most important things you can do for your own safety.
In addition to the activities we’ve mentioned, you should also reach out to the local gun owning community. There are a lot of fun activities like competitive shooting and casual events that can bring your preparedness to new heights.
You will find the longer you carry concealed, the more your lifestyle adapts to that decision. Ritually practiced elements like paying attention to your surroundings and avoiding unnecessary conflicts will become a part of who you are as a person. One thing that a newly minted concealed carrier has to always remember is that complacency kills. Avoid it at all costs. And avoid becoming overly content in your ability to handle a potentially bad situation. Nothing is guaranteed once a violent scenario commences and you have an incredible amount of power to avoid and escape those situations instead of facing them. The only reason to ever use your concealed carry firearm is in the necessary defense of yourself, your family, and your property from those who would seek to use violence to achieve their means.
About The Author
James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.