There's a significant difference between serving the military carrying and concealed carrying as a veteran. Making that transition is something that a lot of service personnel will experience after they leave the armed forces and rejoin the ranks of the general public, but opt to carry every day for their personal protection.
There are a few things to know about doing so.
Military Pistol Qualification Can Satisfy Concealed Carry Training Requirements
One of the things to know about getting a concealed carry permit is that most jurisdictions require some sort of concealed carry training. In many cases, proof of military training with a sidearm (like the Beretta M9) will actually satisfy those requirements.
Some states - the constitutional carry states - don't require any training at all, but most of the constitutional carry states do offer a permit that will get you reciprocity with other states, where states other than the one you live in will recognize and honor your permit.
While there are other courses that will also satisfy training requirements (civilians usually take NRA's Basic Pistol, though there are other courses that satisfy the requirements as well) but military training does satisfy most state requirements for training.
However, most states don't have an annual qualification requirement. At most, you'll just have to renew your permit every few years or so.
Carrying A Gun Is Different In The Civilian World
There's a big difference between carrying a gun in the line of duty and concealed carrying a gun as a civilian veteran. In the armed services, some personnel go after the bad guys because it's their job. In the civilian world, you're encouraged to do your best to avoid them.
The rules of engagement are also different.
Granted, they are easy enough to learn. Every state has laws about the use of deadly force, which will more or less spell out what situations you can shoot in and which you can't.
However, shootings often are subject to extensive review by legal authorities whose interpretations of those rules can vary wildly. People who believed they acted completely within the letter and spirit of the law still found themselves incarcerated.
Also, while the goal is to carry for your own protection, concealment is the name of the game. While plenty of people are perfectly fine with other people carrying guns, some civilians are very, very nervous around them. Staying concealed can avoid any unpleasant interactions. By keeping concealed, you also don't make yourself a target, which open carrying can in some circumstances.
There also is no longer a standard-issue anything. The choice of handgun is entirely up to you, as is the choice of holster. You can opt for any gun you want (or can afford!) and any type of holster you want, from old-school leather pancakes to ultra-modern hybrid concealed carry holsters.
Concealed Carry Training And Military Training Are Very Different
If you take any concealed carry training, you're going to find a lot of things in common but also a lot of things that aren't. You'll definitely find the mechanics and techniques in shooting are the same, or at least similar, and you'll also find that gun safety is stressed a lot in the training environment.
But you're also going to find a lot that's different. Concealed carry training for civilians puts a lot more emphasis on the proper draw technique.
There will also be a bit less weapon familiarization, as civilians don't have a standard sidearm. Instead, courses will go over how a particular class of pistol works like revolvers and the various types of semi-automatic.
You're also going to notice just how much civilians vary in their experience with guns. Some of them are pretty well versed, and others don't know a thing.
Veteran Support Services Are Available For Those Struggling: Remember To Pay It Forward
Something else to know about the military to civilian transition, including anything related to concealed carry, is to pay it forward. Some people are able to switch easily into civilian life without much trouble. Some people have a very hard time. Some people never really get the hang of it.
If you can pay it forward and help someone make that transition, or with any struggles in civilian life, that's one of the best things a person can do after leaving the service.
Additionally, there are a number of great organizations dedicated to helping veterans, whether with the transition or anything else. For those capable of giving it, they need support. For those in in need of it, they can be a great help for those who deserve it the most.
Here are a few such organizations, dedicated to assisting veterans:
- Make The Connection
- The Veterans Administration
- Idaho Division Of Veterans Services
- Hope For The Warriors
- Swords Into Plowshares
What helped you transition from active duty to veteran concealed carry?
Let us know in the comments below.
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.