Become the protector you want to be with our free 20-Day Spring Training Challenge. We’ve developed four weeks of online content covering steps you can take to learn more about basic safety, self-defense preparedness and situational awareness.

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Below we’ve included excerpts from five articles covering gun laws, situational awareness, conflict avoidance, legal ramifications of deadly force and how to find the right permitting course. Packed with essential information, these excerpts (link to full articles included) are a great way to introduce you to the concealed carry lifestyle. For those of you already well-versed in concealed carry, use these articles as a refresher. Remember, training should never be static; you always need to refresh your skills. And that includes handling a gun and maintaining firearms knowledge too.

Monday, April 6: Research the Permit Laws in Your State

*Excerpt from the blog post “Concealed Carry Map: Know Your Rights” by the USCCA

Concealed carry legislation is young and constantly evolving.

Until 1934, guns were unregulated in the United States. That was the year the National Firearms Act made it illegal to possess a machine gun without paying a $200 excise tax to the U.S. Treasury. Why do it that way? Simply because, at that time, few people, including lawyers, judges and legal scholars, questioned that the Second Amendment meant what it said about the right of the people to keep and bear arms not being infringed.

That changed when the Gun Control Act of 1968 passed in the wake of the John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinations. To own a gun today, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident alien.

Concealed Carry in All 50 States

With Illinois being the final state in the nation to approve and enact concealed carry legislation, all 50 states now allow some form of concealed carry. Several states allow constitutional carry (concealed carry without a state-issued permit). Some of these states still allow citizens to voluntarily apply for a concealed carry permit.

Most of the states in our nation are officially shall-issue states. Unfortunately, several states practice may-issue permitting when it comes to concealed carry. Some states are shall-issue in practice but may-issue by law. That being said, legal wrangling in certain areas continues to make it difficult for law-abiding citizens to acquire the proper permits.

Getting Your Concealed Carry Permit

If you live in a state that is shall-issue, your task is simple: Find out the legal requirements for a concealed carry permit, meet them, apply for your permit and enjoy your new concealed carry privileges.

Shall-issue states typically have eligibility requirements pertaining to:

  • Age
  • Residency
  • Substance-abuse history
  • Criminal history (felonies are an automatic disqualifier, as are domestic-violence convictions)
  • Firearms possession
  • Training in the legal use of force, self-defense laws and marksmanship instruction
  • Firearms proficiency

If you live in a may-issue state, getting a concealed carry permit is more difficult, and the outcome is far from certain. Find out the requirements of your locality, try to meet them and hope you get your permit. If you don’t (and if your jurisdiction has an appeal process), appeal the adverse decision as far as the system (and your resources) allow.

Find all of the information you need on our Concealed Carry Reciprocity and Gun Laws Map.


Tuesday, April 7: Learn Situational Awareness

*Excerpt from the blog post “Situational Awareness Is Fundamental” by John Caile

Take a look at the plethora of police-involved-shooting videos on the internet to see how quickly things can go bad (often with deadly results). You seldom have time to carefully consider your options; you have to act — immediately and decisively. Situational awareness can help.

A Matter of Habit

Defensive firearms instructors focus so strongly on situational awareness for a reason. If you are paying attention, you can notice warning signs long before things go sideways.

Whether you are in your car, walking through a mall or traversing a parking garage, you know that you should be paying attention to who else is in your space. Unfortunately, our increasingly busy lifestyles conspire to prevent us from living in the now and paying attention to our surroundings.

The Technology Trap

Watch people as they go about their daily routines and you will see that too many of them are utterly oblivious. More often than not, they are absorbed in their cellphones.

We’ve all seen those videos of people who are so preoccupied with their phones that they walk into light poles or fall into water fountains. Sure, we laugh — until we see someone walk in front of a bus or cause a fatal crash because they were texting while driving.

Distraction in Many Forms

If you take situational awareness seriously, you are likely well-disciplined with your electronic devices. But other distractions exist. Being in a hurry and/or being preoccupied are the two most common distractions.

Rushing around can lead to all sorts of problems, from forgetting your wallet or purse as you bolt out the door to running a red light and getting a ticket … or worse. You can also lose focus and miss serious warning signs.

The term “inattentional blindness” is used to describe this phenomenon. When we focus so intently on internal matters, we literally do not see potential threats, such as a truck pulling out from a side road or the suspicious-looking group standing outside the convenience store.

The only real solution is to constantly monitor our emotional states of mind. If we find ourselves in a hurry or preoccupied, for whatever reason, we can stop for a moment to take a breath and remind ourselves how important it is to slow down and focus on the world around us.

Control your smartphone. Pay attention to your emotional state. Situational awareness is a habit that requires constant practice until it eventually becomes your default state of mind.

Find the USCCA’s library of virtual learning here!


Wednesday, April 8: Learn Conflict Avoidance

*Excerpt from the blog post “Conflict Avoidance Will Keep You Safe” by Kevin Michalowski

You’ve heard us say it before: The best fight is the one you are not in.

If you can avoid a fight, you should make every effort to do so. But the question is often asked, “How can I avoid a fight while still exercising my rights?”

You have the right to keep and bear arms. You have the right to travel unmolested within or through a public place. In some states, you even have the right to stand your ground in the face of a threat when you are in a place where you have the right to be.

None of those rights should encourage you to engage in a fight. Fighting should be your last resort, and here’s why.

To Fight Is to Risk Death

Yes, it is a dangerous world, and you may feel you are a dangerous person, ready to handle anything. But the truth of the matter is that during close-quarters engagement, anyone can get lucky. If the person who gets lucky is your assailant, well, that makes you the unlucky one … and suddenly someone is making a death notification to your stunned family.

Any fight, no matter how minor, could escalate into a deadly force encounter. What if you land that punch and the person with whom you are fighting falls, hitting his head on the curb, and dies? Anything could happen.

What About the Investigation?

Are you ready for the investigation that will surely follow any use of deadly force? If you think the “stand your ground” ruling will be made by the responding officer, you are sorely mistaken.

Any use of force will involve an investigation to see if that use of force was legal. Do you have an attorney? The legal system is complicated, and the end results can be devastating. It would be in your best interest to have representation throughout the investigation.

Even if you have an attorney, do you want to endure that stress and subject your family to that stress when you could have avoided all of it by simply not engaging in the fight?

The point of all this is that self-defense is not always active. Passive defense through effective conflict avoidance is an excellent way to stay safe. Fighting is sometimes the right thing to do, but stepping away from the fight ensures you get to walk free another day.

Thursday, April 9: Legal Ramifications of Using Deadly Force

*Excerpt from the blog post “Deadly Force: Is It Worth It?” by John Caile

Whether or not to use deadly force is likely the most serious decision that any of us will ever have to make in our lives. Thankfully, it is simply a statistical fact that only a tiny percentage of people will actually be faced with it.

Some violent encounters happen suddenly, with little time to react, let alone think. However, in many cases where self-defense is claimed, the situation is one that evolves less rapidly. As a result, the jury sees the victim as having more than enough time to make a choice that easily could have allowed him or her to avoid the threatening situation before it became necessary to use deadly force.

The numerous “road rage” cases we’ve seen over the years are excellent examples. I am always astonished at how anyone who legally carries a gun could possibly let himself or herself get involved in a road rage incident. What positive outcome does he or she actually expect?

Then there are the recent cases of homeowners leaving the safety of their homes to confront suspected intruders in their garages. These are additional examples of making bad choices long before any threat to them or their loved ones existed.

Honestly, I don’t care what your state law says about using deadly force to protect property. A hard-nosed veteran criminal attorney once told me, “Before you do anything risky, ask yourself three questions. Is this worth dying for? Is it worth killing for? Is it worth going to prison for?”

The bad decisions that we make can turn what should have been a simple matter of filling out a police report into a long and expensive criminal trial, with potential prison time as a result.

So before leaning on your horn or walking out that door, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”

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Friday, April 10: Find a CCW Class

*Excerpt from the blog post “How to Find the Right Concealed Carry Class by Tom McHale

Finding a concealed carry class is easy. Finding a good one? Not so much.

The internet is full of concealed carry training nightmares. You’ll hear about schools where the instructors have knowledge but no teaching skills. Others claim to have knowledge and experience but don’t. Still others are outright dangerous. So, how do you go about finding a reputable class? Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Go National

There are good instructors in most cities, but it takes a bit more research to sort out the great ones. If you want top-notch instruction, you can always go to a name-brand school.

Local Gun Stores and Clubs

Try talking to staff at a retail store that doesn’t operate its own range. They’re likely to know of good training programs and instructors and won’t be motivated to sell their own services. Members of local gun clubs can also provide quality referrals.

Some ranges will offer training of their own, but that’s precisely what subjected me to the two horror stories mentioned previously. There are plenty of ranges that offer excellent instruction … just be sure to ask around first.

Ask Your Local Police

In most places, the local officers on the street aren’t hostile to concealed carry and generally welcome a citizen’s commitment to obtaining quality training. If you don’t know any local officers directly, ask your friends to see if they do. If that doesn’t get you a connection, you can always walk into a local station and ask if anyone has knowledge in that area.

Look for a USCCA Certified Instructor

The USCCA operates a certified instructor network. A teacher with USCCA certifications has to attend and pass an instructor class to get those credentials, so you know that experts have vetted the person. You can search for USCCA Certified Instructors in your area.

References … With a Catch      

No matter which method you choose to research a concealed carry class, always, always, always check references from previous students. If none of your friends or acquaintances have taken the course, ask the instructor to provide references to you.

Here’s the catch: When you talk to someone about the quality of the class, be sure to ask him or her what other training he or she has had. Talk to multiple official or unofficial references before making your decision. It’s your life on the line, after all, so you have every right to vet your instructor and the class content carefully.

The USCCA has a great page for finding training classes near you.



Check back next week for another full five days of tips!