If you could give ONE piece of advice to someone just starting to think about concealed carry, what would you tell them? What ONE thing do you wish someone had told you when you were first getting started with concealed carry?
DON’T carry a concealed gun…unless you are committed to the following:
1. Learning about guns, self-defense and the law.
2. Frequent range practice, using your everyday carry gear, shooting at realistic, self-defense targets that closely depict the human silhouette. In a self-defense situation, you will be shooting at another human being—not a bulls-eye. Condition yourself to that fact.
3. Taking reasonable precautions to avoid putting yourself and your loved ones in a situation where you may have to use your gun.
— Jason from Michigan
The gun is always loaded. In other words, whenever you pick up a gun from a resting place or someone hands you a gun, always open it up to check for bullets in the weapon. Never, no never assume that it is empty! When you draw it out of your pocket, holster or belly band, remember that it is a loaded weapon. Any time you handle it, it is potentially loaded!
— Don Keepers
Select a good instructor, follow his or her advice, and don’t pay attention to all the other advice you get. There are as many opinions as there are grains of sand at the beach. Every gun owner has a personal opinion on what gun (revolver or semi-auto), what holster by brand and style, and what brand and type of ammo to buy.
— Dale Deming
Everyone who gets their concealed carry license needs to know the class they took was not the end of their training—it’s only the beginning. Shooting a handgun is a perishable skill. A person who chooses to carry a weapon needs to be fully committed to protecting him or herself. If they don’t continue to practice and train they likely will not be prepared for a life or death encounter, should it come.
— Steve Farmer
The single most important thing I wish someone would have told me is to do my own research. It’s also the first piece of advice I give anyone asking my opinion. Don’t listen to people only because they’re the “Gun Guy.” What works for them might not work for you. This is the only way you can make sure you’re happy with your first concealed carry purchase. Go to different stores or shows, find someone willing to let you test fire a variety of firearms, and I almost guarantee you won’t regret your choice.
— James Alderson
Since we are obviously built different, we have to conceal different. As a woman who had never shot before but who wanted to get a carry permit, I wish someone would have been in the “know” about this so I wouldn’t have had to buy so many darn holsters!
— Dana B in Ohio
Talking about concealed carry is way easier than living it. That is as it should be.
— Chuck in Northern California
Think very carefully about all the impacts it will have on your life: where and how you travel, recreation, clothes, work rules, societal rules, friends and family, expenses, purpose of concealed carry, practice time, safety, storage. All these things will come into play, and you should think very carefully about all of them. Personally, I believe carrying is a good thing, but some of these have certainly been surprises to me!
— Robert in New Hampshire
ONE piece of advice to someone just starting to think about concealed carry? Join USCCA. No, seriously. Every aspect of what is involved is explored in various issues of the magazine and for the highly motivated, one can download back issues to study up on it. There are far too many aspects for any one other piece of advice to begin to address.
— Mark Erewhon
The faster you get real, hands-on training, the faster you go from crawling to running. You will not waste time and ammo on bad habits.
— Uncle Dave in Bloomington
No one knows when they will need to protect themselves (it may be tomorrow). So get as much knowledge under your belt as soon as you can.
— Bill from Missouri
Always be aware of your surroundings, but do not have the macho “I have a gun” mentality. You are not Dirty Harry or John Wayne. No one needs to know you have a gun except yourself.
— Jeff in Iowa
Buy the biggest gun you can comfortably carry and vary the holster to conceal it. If a gun is too small, or too light to shoot comfortably, it may deter you from spending good quality range time with it, causing a dangerous lack of proficiency. A full-sized gun with the right holster can easily be concealed under even the lightest clothing. I have conceal carried full-sized handguns through several Arizona summers.
— Scott Willson
Choose your weapon(s) just like you do your shoes or other clothing. Do not choose or use anything that does not actually fit your body. If possible, get help from a knowledgeable person who is not trying to sell you products if you are not sure what this means.
— Dennis in Utah
Get training and more training. Good training will create the mindset required to carry and teach you the skills that will start your mental awareness and a good trainer will go into the legal ramifications of the use of deadly force. Never ever take your pistol out of the holster unless you intend to use it. I have seen too many people, rather than avoid a situation, think the sight of a pistol will make bad guys run in fear.
— Sam Jones
I had this exact conversation with a female business associate just a couple of months ago. She mentioned wanting to get a permit at the suggestion of her husband, who had not exactly been a patient or wise instructor. My comments to her complimented the concern he obviously had for her safety, and I added that usually spouses are not the ideal first-time instructor when it comes to guns. I strongly suggested she take a basic handgun safety class first and then go for the permit if she still wanted to. I was able to recommend local instructors who I know will take the time to provide careful and conscientious instruction.
— Steve in North Carolina
Get educated on the responsibility, safety and legal aspects of carrying a firearm, then get some training in using and proper gun handling. Rent one from the range while training. Learn how to choose a pistol that fits, then buy your gun and get your permit. A gun you can’t shoot and carry well will end up sitting at home where it is worthless.
— Dave Kyle
Your carry permit only gives you permission to carry a gun; it does not give you permission to use a gun. You get no free passes with the legal system if you ever shoot someone. You think you have a lot of responsibilities now? Just wait until you start carrying a gun. Using a firearm has to be your last possible defense option.
— Tom in Nevada
I’ve been carrying a concealed weapon as both a law enforcement officer and as a civilian for over 18 years. I practice drawing and dry-firing from my concealed rig at least four times a week. I also head to an outdoor shooting range to practice a variety of drills (including the Drill of the Month in my USCCA magazine) with live ammunition at least four times a month. I am driven to do this because my worst fear is firing my weapon at an attacker and missing my target. Injuring an innocent person due to lack of training or practice would be hard to live with. So practice with your concealed carry handgun! Practice seriously…and practice often!
— Gene in Southern Nevada
NEXT ISSUE’S QUESTION:
Oopsies! Did you do something embarrassing, related to concealed carry? What happened and how did you handle it? (In order to protect the really embarrassed folks, for this issue only, we will accept anonymous entries.)
Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Each entry must use fewer than 75 words, and must be signed either with a complete name or with a first name plus location. Due to volume received, not all submissions can be acknowledged. Entries may be edited for length and clarity.