One frequently overlooked aspect of concealed carry is adopting a whole new lifestyle. Seriously. If you are considering everyday carry, be prepared for significant changes to permeate even the most mundane parts of daily life.
Dress for Success — and Access
If you choose on-body carry for your new concealed carry lifestyle, you’ve got a lot to figure out as far as fashion goes. In warmer weather, you’ll need to be concerned with “printing” (that is, the bulge or outline of your weapon showing through your clothing). It never gets too terribly hot here in Wisconsin, so I can usually get away with wearing an unbuttoned overshirt and not looking out of place. If your summer wardrobe doesn’t support a good thick gun belt, you’ll need to find a belly band or some other option to secure and conceal your firearm.
In colder conditions, you’ll need to consider how quickly you can access your gun in an emergency. It won’t do you much good buried under several layers of clothing. And you should practice shooting and reloading with gloves on.
Off-body carry may seem like a good remedy, but are you prepared to never let your concealed carry bag out of your immediate control? You can’t leave it at the table and run to the restroom. What if someone snatches your bag? And you can’t hand it to a friend to hold for you, even for a few minutes, unless he or she has a concealed carry permit. Your friend would be in big trouble if caught in possession of a concealed firearm.
A few months ago, I sat in on a USCCA Concealed Carry and Home Defense Fundamentals class. During a break for Q&A, one student posed several questions pertaining to concealed carry and alcohol. His curiosity was not sated with the instructor’s blanket answer: “It is illegal to have even a single drop of alcohol [here in Wisconsin; laws vary by state] while carrying concealed. Furthermore, mixing firearms and alcohol is always a terrible idea.”
The student pressed on. He said he understood the law against carrying and drinking in public but wanted to know how it extended to his home. He posited questions along the lines of, “What if I’m drunk when someone tries to break into my house?” and, “What if I had a couple of beers while barbecuing and have to defend myself on my property?” The instructor reaffirmed the “drinking and guns are bad” line and added, “You won’t want to give a prosecutor or jury any reason to doubt your lucidity.” The man countered with, “Yeah, but I’m allowed to have a beer in my own house…” to which the instructor patiently and diplomatically answered that the role of a responsibly armed American comes with certain lifestyle trade-offs. In other words, your days of going hog wild should be behind you.
Similarly, someone recently told my fiancée that he was excited to have a few beers with me at an upcoming dinner party. Janelle demurred, offering a half-hearted explanation that I’m “not much of a beer guy.” (Not a complete lie … I prefer a good whiskey any day.) In reality, she knew that I’d be carrying at the restaurant and therefore not drinking. She didn’t feel comfortable outing me.
You will find yourself in similar situations.
Errands Become Chores
Let’s say you’re plotting out your busy day. Your errands will take you to the post office and the bank and to pick your child up from day care. You strap on your gun, grab your keys and head out the door.
Unfortunately, it’s a federal offense to possess a firearm anywhere on U.S. Postal Service property — including the parking lot! So you will need to disarm yourself and park on the street before you head in with an armful of packages. Hopefully, you have a secure place to lock up your gun and know the local statutes regarding storing a weapon in your vehicle.
Your trip to the bank offers a little more flexibility. There are no federal laws prohibiting guns in banks, but it’s a pretty safe bet that the local branch will have posted a “No Weapons” sign. Here again, you need to know your local laws regarding where you can carry. Thankfully, you may be able to do your banking at the drive-up window.
The last stop on your list includes your most precious cargo. But most states have laws against carrying weapons into schools and child care facilities. Once again, you’ll have to store your pistol in the vehicle and then hope no one panics when they see you re-arming yourself later while attempting to wrangle your offspring. You can choose not to strap your gun on, but then it’s even more important that your weapon is securely stored and out of reach of little hands.
The main takeaways here are to know your local laws and to have a secure means of storing your weapon in your vehicle (details with which you never had to bother before choosing to carry).
The Biggest Consideration When Adopting the Concealed Carry Lifestyle
We all have our reasons for choosing the concealed carry lifestyle. For the most part, we carry for protection. Whether to protect our homes, businesses, selves, families or all of the above, carrying a firearm imposes immense responsibility. You are responsible for every bullet that leaves the muzzle. Are you ready to fit practice and training into your weekly or daily routine?
And as morbid as it sounds, are you mentally prepared to press the trigger if a situation leaves you with no other choice? Really think about that. Hesitating at the wrong moment could cost you your life.
Welcome to the concealed carry lifestyle.
About Jason Braun
Jason Braun works as a proofreader and content assistant for Concealed Carry Magazine. He enjoys writing, illustration and the great outdoors. One of Jason’s favorite aspects of his position within the USCCA is his “duty” — pleasure, really — to read and learn about self-defense, home defense and the concealed carry lifestyle. His everyday carry is a .45 XD-S Mod.2 from Springfield Armory.