Are You Fit To Concealed Carry
Don't let the title fool you – we're not trying to get you to evaluate yourself for various flaws and pin those flaws onto an inability to carry a gun. In this article, we're merely looking at a few caveats which we should all examine a bit more closely prior to carrying. A lot of “problem areas” for gun owners clear up with just a bit of patience and applied training.
The Right Reasons For Concealed Carry
This is a tricky subject, at first glance. What reasons does someone need to carry a pistol? Well, certainly first and foremost – it's a right afforded to any American citizen provided he or she meets their state's requirements. The ethical, moral implication to this is your latent right to defend your family's lives, your life, and your property.
CCW Permit Eligibility
Depending upon the state you live in, the application process could be clear-cut or it could involve multiple flaming hoops to jump through. New Jersey, for instance, is a “may permit” state which can (and often does) refuse its citizens the right to carry. Other states have a much more permissible “shall permit” process. A “shall permit” application process usually means that if you meet a state's criteria for eligibility, they will issue the permit on that basis and not require silly things like “justifiable need” (Hawaii).
Things that can disqualify you may be brought up during the application process. It's best to address these matters early on because trying to withhold potentially disqualifying information can be interpreted real poorly by law enforcement.
- Prior domestic violence disputes
- Prior convictions
- Being under indictment
- Being underage*
*Note: Some states don't have a minimum age requirement, like New Hampshire.
Each state will have its own requirements and its own stances on things like prior felonies or the status of a particular conviction. It's always best to check with your state's issuing authority to find out if there's anything you feel would hinder you in the application process.
Practice Is A Must
Let's be honest – some people like to run tight schedules. Be somewhere in 10 minutes, eat lunch at precisely 11:30 am, and make sure to get a 5K knocked out before supper time. For those people, they will naturally find a place where they can squeeze in a quick round of target practice at the local range. For the rest of us – we have to find a place to squeeze in a dedicated training time. It doesn't have to be every week or even every month. Though, more concealed carry training is generally better, the most important piece is that you do train and you do so at a regular interval.
Being honest with your capacity to carry a concealed pistol is important. Everyone should have the right to protect themselves and a handgun can be a great tool in aiding that. Just remember that being a daily concealed carrier is more than just the pride of carrying around a gun: it's the ability to safely use it and the discretion to know when to do so.
Owning a pistol is an American right bestowed upon all law-abiding citizens. The ability to carry one openly or concealed largely depends on the rules set forth by state jurisdiction. Let's tackle whether or not you're up for the job of carrying a concealed handgun every day.
Concealed Carry Is A Commitment
This is a big one. Only you can answer. Do you want to wake up every morning, make a fresh cup of coffee with a handgun on your hip? How about picking up your dog from the veterinarian? Funerals? Weddings?
If the thought of carrying a gun through every major turn and event doesn't phase you, you're probably ready to commit to carrying a concealed handgun everyday. If the thought of attending your daughter's high school graduation with a pistol in your inside the waistband concealed carry holster doesn't sit well, then you may have an answer, too. The concept of becoming an everyday concealed carrier starts with the right ccw mentality – something we've discussed and plan on discussing further in a future article.
Are you a 'penny wise, pound foolish' type of person?
For those who many be unfamiliar with the phrase, it refers to someone who is extremely frugal to the point where it winds up costing him money, time, and effort. The reason why this question comes up is because if you plan on spending the time and assuming the costs for getting a concealed carry permit, you may as well jump into these costs as investments:
- A comfortable, reliable concealed carry handgun
- 1-2 additional magazines
- High retention IWB or OWB holster
- Sturdy gun belt
Just because you spent a lot or a little on your handgun doesn't mean the holster and gun belt set up do, too. That said, stick to high quality products that have a proven record of durability and performance.
Training For Self Defensive Situations
A lot of gun owners train in “lane mentality”. “Lane mentality” refers to when you line up a target that is positioned directly in front of you. The target, like bowling, is in a lane. It's convenient, extremely safe, and prioritizes lane availability for other shooters. It's great for practicing the essentials of marksmanship. Unfortunately, concealed carriers rarely have the convenience of lining up perfect 12 o'clock shots. Our perspective is 360 degrees and our training ought to reflect that.
While it may be impossible to change the rules at your local gun range, definitely check out advanced handgun courses being offered in your area. Many of these will offer training specifically geared to breaking the “lane mentality”.
Do You Flinch When You Shoot?
There's nothing to be embarrassed about – everyone jumps their first time pulling a trigger. Now that we know it happens, let's go ahead and address it – it's a habit that needs to go. There's only one way to make it disappear: practice and repetition. Inevitably, as a concealed carrier, you will observe different behaviors or habits you have that interfere with how fast or accurate you are. These behaviors need to be verbally identified and then purposely fixed.
Answering “yes” or “no” to these questions isn't as important as asking why you answered the way you did. Is it something that can be used to help you become a better daily concealed carrier? We hope so.
The Concealed Carry Permit Process
We've discussed all the issues surrounding getting a concealed carry handgun license and carrying everyday. Now it's time for the much more practical side – the application process. If you live in a state that requires a permit to carry a concealed firearm, there is an application process for getting that permit. There is also what is known as an issuing authority. That's some group identified by your state as being fit to make the determination whether or not you get a permit. In some cases, like Michigan, it can be a decision made by the county clerk once all the eligibility criteria have been met. In other instances, like the Hawaii ccw permit application, it can be a time-intensive and invasive process.
If you're unable to find out who your issuing authority is, you can always ask your state police and they will point you in the right direction.
Once you've determined who the issuing authority is, find out all documentation you need to bring with you to fill out the application. You may be required to submit fingerprints and photographs with your application alongside a payment made by money order or similar. Different states have different requirements, so it is important for you to check with your state's requirements prior to going to the issuing authority.
- Address and Hours of Operation of your Issuing Authority
- Determined eligibility to apply for concealed carry permit (or prepared questions)
- All documentation gathered for the application
- Cost of the application fee (if applicable)
Special Training Requirements And Extras
Some states require you bring certification of your completion of a concealed carry handgun course that meets that's state's requirements. Before you begin the application process, find out if a training course you have in mind meets the eligibility requirements for mandatory training.
Not all states have the same requirements and one course may not fulfill that state's requirements or, in some cases, not even be certified by that state's issuing authority.
Additional requirements, such as fingerprints and passport-sized photographs will change on a state-by-state basis. Just do what is required on your state's concealed handgun application process – no more, no less.
If you are required to complete some form of state-certified training, make sure to pick up an inside the waistband concealed carry holster that fits your handgun. Not only is it an added bonus when practicing or attending your concealed carry handgun course, it means you're able to transition from applicant to permit holder with the minimal amount of confusion.
Keep An Eye On The Mail
Once the training requirements are all satisfied and your application has been submitted to the issuing authority alongside the fee, the ccw permit wait begins. Wait times for concealed carry permits vary wildly from state-to-state and even county-to-county. It's important to be patient and also keep a look out for any letters from the issuing authority.
In Utah, for example, the issuing authority, the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) realized they had records with bad, unreadable, or smudged fingerprints and had to send out letters requesting new fingerprints be taken. It's events like this – or omitting a question on the application – which can delay the application process by weeks and sometimes months.
Setting Up Your Concealed Carry Essentials
While you're patiently waiting for that concealed carry weapons permit to arrive in the mail, let's discuss some of the finer details of how to set yourself up for concealed carry success. It's pretty logical – you're going to need a gun, a holster for the gun, a belt for the holster, your permit, and it's advisable to carry along at least one additional magazine. We'll go into how you can make this a super simple process.
Selecting Your CCW
It's quite simple: select the gun you shoot best and conforms best in your inside the waistband concealed carry holster. If you can hide it and it feels natural shooting, that's your gun. This is going to take experimentation. For the first part, selecting a gun you shoot best, you're going to need to shoot a lot of guns. Go to a gun range that lets you rent guns and experiment around. That way, you're not selecting a gun because it looks pretty or feels comfortable in your hand – you're choosing it because it does everything you need it to do.
The second part is about fitting that gun onto your body. In order to discuss that, we're going to need to discuss...
Selecting Your CCW Holster
If you're worried about the gun discharging itself or falling out of the holster and sliding all across the floor, you're working with the wrong holster. Your concealed carry handgun holster should have tight retention over the gun and protect the trigger guard from any accidents. Ideally, it will also have a backpad to distribute the pressure of having a gun beneath the waistline.
You know you have the right gun with the right holster if you feel confident drawing and reholstering safely and nobody notices it when it's holstered properly.
Selecting Your CCW Belt
To increase your confidence that your gun and holster will be right where you trained for them to be, consider getting a concealed carry gun belt with a reinforcing layer. That means the belt retains it's straight shape and keeps upright – so if you said 3 o'clock, it's 3 o'clock draw all day, every day.
Bring Your Permit Everywhere
Welcome to the wide world of concealed carry! We hope you have a fun, responsible, and safe ride for the duration of your trip. While roaming around, do be sure to bring your concealed carry permit with you. This helps law enforcement verify that you are indeed licensed to carry a gun. Different states have rules about where you can and cannot go with that gun strapped within your waistline. Make sure to know the rules and bring your permit to clear up any issues.
...Also great ideas
There's items that we know we'll need in an emergency. Items like a flashlight, an extra magazine in a quality mag carrier, or even a first aid kit are all items that we will guaranteeably call upon in a life-or-death situation. Why not bring those items with you? If it's not practical to keep them on your body, consider storing them in your vehicle instead.
What To Do After Getting Your Concealed Carry Permit
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.
In previous articles, we talked about good habits to develop and we'll go on to discuss more about having the proper mentality and reinforcing good behavior – but for now, let's discuss five essential things every concealed carrier should do after getting his permit.
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.
Make Sure Your Pistol 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.
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?
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.
Concealed Carry Around The House
We prepare for the extravagant scenarios where we must defend our lives out in public. In truth, violence waits for no man. 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 home is one of the most important things you can do for your own safety.
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.