So you got your concealed carry license, now what?
In the United States today, there is little doubt concealed carry is one of the hottest topics, at least for gun owners. Sales figures for compact, concealable handguns bear out this argument as they have skyrocketed. Furthermore, the majority of states have shall-issue laws on the books to allow their citizens to carry a concealed handgun. But obtaining your license to carry a concealed handgun is only one part of the equation.
There are over 709,000 concealed handgun licensees in the state of Texas today. Over 5,000 additional licenses to carry will be issued this month alone. Being a firearms instructor I carry everyday, everywhere that I can. I learned pretty quickly, as many people do, that being licensed is just the beginning of the journey as an armed citizen. The reality is that many of the over 700,000 concealed carry license holders in the state of Texas don't even carry their gun after they are licensed. Most don't carry because they don't feel comfortable or capable of actually using a gun for personal protection. The reasons vary, but they generally boil down to a lack of training and/or misunderstanding what it means to be an armed citizen. According to Massad Ayoob their are ten commandments for concealed license holders to follow. Below you'll find the first two commandments excerpted from his article.
I Carry Only When Needed! Really?
I am certain my face shows distress when I hear someone say they have a CCW permit but they “…only carry it when I think I might need it.” My patent answer to that statement is, “If you think you are going to need a gun, don’t go there.” Or more aptly, “If you know you need a gun you should take a rifle or a shotgun, not a concealed handgun.”
The Smith & Wesson J-frame is easy to carry and extremely reliable, but requires dedicated effort to master. If I knew I was going to a fight I’d prefer to take the USS Missouri, but battleships are tough to conceal.
Carrying only once in a while, when you think you might need it, is akin to purchasing car insurance that only covers you on Friday nights from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and every other Saturday. Certainly, you wouldn’t buy an insurance policy that only covered you on random dates or occasions.
When you obtain a carry permit, you are essentially purchasing life assurance—life insurance only kicks in once you are at room temperature. When you’ve decided to arm yourself against unknown, unanticipated threats, you need to do it as often as humanly possible.
Carrying a lethal weapon in public confers a grave power that carries with it great responsibilities. Those who lawfully engage in the practice realize that. Those who are considering “carrying” need to know what those experienced people know:
1. If You Carry, Always Carry . . .
The criminal is the actor, and the armed citizen is the reactor. The typical violent criminal arms himself only when he intends to do something with it. He picks the time and place of the assault, and initiates the attack. Therefore, he doesn’t need to worry about self-defense.
The armed citizen, the intended victim, does not know when or where that attack will come. Therefore, he or she must be constantly prepared and constantly vigilant.
The “pistol-packer” learns to pick a comfortable holster and an appropriately sized handgun, and “dress around the firearm.” After a few days, or a few weeks, it becomes second nature to wear it.
When the defender does not know when the attack will come, the only reasonable expectation of safety lies in being always armed.
2. Don’t Carry If You Aren’t Prepared To Use It . . .
There is a great irony that attaches to the defensive firearm. When you analyze a great many defensive gun usages you discover that the great majority of the time, the protection weapon does its job with no blood being shed. Usually, the offender who is confronted with the prospect of being shot in self-defense either breaks off and runs or surrenders at gunpoint.
Its most important asset turns out to be its power to deter. The irony comes from the fact that its power to deter is drawn directly from its power to kill.
Understand that criminals do not fear guns. They are, after all, an armed subculture themselves. What they fear is the resolutely armed man or woman who points that gun at them.
Criminals are predators, and their stock in trade is their ability to read people and recognize victims. They are very, very good at reading “body language” and determining another’s intent to fight, or lack thereof. In short, you’re not likely to bluff them.
If you carry a gun, you must be absolutely certain that you can use deadly force. The person who is hesitant or unwilling to do so will, in the moment of truth, communicate that vacillation to the hardened criminal they are attempting to hold at gunpoint. In such a case, it is quite likely that the offender will jump them, disarm them, and use the hesitant defenders’ own weapons against them.
If, however, that same criminal realizes that he is facing a resolute person who will, in fact, shoot him if he takes one more transgressive step, he is most unlikely to take that step.
The irony: The person who is prepared to kill if he or she must, is the person who is least likely to have to do so.