Voices of the USCCA | How Did You Decide to Carry?

How did you decide that carrying a firearm was right for you?

After my stint in the United States Marine Corps was over and I entered the civilian world I have grown to love so much, it was a natural transition for me. In fact the few months after I got out, I did not carry due to financially trying to get my new life started, getting a job and a new place to call my own. I felt kind of like you do when you reach back throughout the day to make sure you’ve got your wallet with you and it is not there. Panic! Once I got my concealed carry permit I had my wallet, my carry weapon, and my peace of mind back. It just felt right again.
Mark in Camas, Washington

1962 I was 15 years old. I had a Farm to Market driver’s license and drove stock and produce to town for sale. When it was late, I would stay in town with friends. Being a teenager, I made sure I was always late.

On one occasion I got to drinking beer and fooling around on the wrong side of town. Several of us got to be braver than we should have and started making snotty comments to some braceros who were in to harvest crops. One thing led to another and we (myself and two friends) got into a beef with three guys. A knife got pulled and my friends took off and I didn’t get away in time but got trapped between these three guys.

In short order I was robbed ($7 and change), beaten (176 stitches) and raped. I never told my friends—frankly I never spoke to them again because they didn’t even call the city police or sheriff. I ended up in the hospital for four days and suffered a broken zygoma and a broken mandible and got 176 stitches from blows with fists, feet, and clubs.

My resolve in the hospital afterwards was that I would never, ever allow myself to be a subject of such brutality again. In fact, I would rather die than to subject myself to such abuse.

For years I carried concealed, rather than to allow myself to be defenseless, regardless of whether or not it was legal to do so. For years I held the opinion that it was stupid for a state (such as Texas) to require me to bow and scrape and beg in order to be given a piece of plastic that says it is okay for me to carry concealed. Dammit! It is my right to carry concealed or open, and the 2nd Amendment says so. Still, that is not reality, so I finally went legal to please my wife.

Even now I choke up just typing this. I haven’t spoken of this (or written of it) for several years, yet it is still as fresh as if it had happened yesterday. I avoid going by the neighborhood where it all happened, just so I don’t have to remember all of it. When I do remember it, though, I remember ALL of it, including the pain and the humiliation. In fact, I’m drizzling tears down onto my shirt right how and can’t breathe through my nose because of the snot build up. It is hard to swallow and I’ve got a knot the size of a fat squirrel in my chest.

I’ll get over it, but I’ll never forget it. Also, I will never, ever be unarmed again.

I was raised in Wisconsin where there is no concealed carry. My liberal teachers drilled “guns are bad for ordinary citizens” into my head. Then I moved to a concealed carry state (Utah). I talked to many people who had their permits, and also to many police officers who explained that it really was true that crime is reduced when citizens are armed. I even talked to some petty criminals who admitted that they did not molest ordinary citizens who might be armed. I then got my training and my permit. That was about 8 years ago. Today, I feel naked without my handgun. I feel so strongly about the 2nd Amendment that I now have gone on to earn my NRA Instructor Ratings and my Utah Concealed Carry Instructor credentials to help my fellow citizens become qualified to apply for and receive a permit.
Jim in Salt Lake City, Utah

My daughter had just graduated from college and was preparing to move to Dallas. That is when I started considering having her and me take a CCW course. What sealed the deal was a situation in Albuquerque. I had come in late to my hotel after an evening with family. I had to get up early the next morning to take a family member to the airport. My vehicle was at the farthest point from the building, and as I was walking towards it in a dimly lit and unguarded parking lot, I heard gunshots from two vehicles right across the sidewalk from where my vehicle was parked. As I ducked into my vehicle, I thought how sad it would be for me to be killed and not even have a chance to protect myself. A few days later, my daughter and I took the course.
Bruce Combs

I have always had firearms. However, just recently I realized that I am responsible for my family’s defense. A lot can go bad in the 10-15 minutes (or longer) it takes for a policeman to respond. I decided to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights and carry a firearm full time.
Mike in Georgia

Twenty years of my life were wasted, an hour or so at a time, just trying to get my hands on the application forms for a concealed carry permit. During those twenty plus years, I discovered only those with money, or friends in high places, are allowed to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights in the high population areas of this state. A little over fifteen years ago, I semiretired and relocated to a rural county in northern California. That’s when I learned not all California sheriffs are cut from the same cloth. Shortly after my move to this county I received my CCW permit, good in every county of the state, and a hearty handshake from my new sheriff, who thanked me for being a responsible citizen of my newly adopted county. For that, and other reasons, I love rural America.
JR in Tehama County, California

My time spent in Memphis as a student is a big part of what convinced me to become an armed citizen. It’s a relatively safe campus (as “safe” as any gun-free zone can be….) with its own police department, but hearing all the stories of crime in the city made me start thinking about arming myself. Then my vehicle got burglarized in broad daylight in a department store parking lot; and then my sister and brother-in-law’s house was burglarized while they were away on their honeymoon (and tried again while they were home); and then a couple of thugs armed with shotguns started robbing people on campus; and then a friend of a friend of mine got stabbed at a night club in downtown Memphis. Finally, I made the decision to check out a local shooting range, Range USA (awesome place, filled with awesome people), and my journey officially began. Shortly after, I became a gun owner in earnest and got my concealed carry permit.
Brandon in Arkansas
Area Coordinator for Arkansas Carry

I grew up carrying guns for protection from animals and bad guys, and anytime I was in the mountains on horseback I had a gun on me. Years ago, I started carrying in a shoulder holster which was concealed when I wore a vest or jacket. I was unaware at the time that it might be illegal to carry this way; it was simply a matter of convenience. One day I went into the bank in town and while inside I realized that I still had my gun on me. At that point I decided it would be a good idea to have a permit so I could legally carry everywhere I went. I found out while getting the permit that I still couldn’t carry everywhere, but it was that one incident that initiated my application for a permit.
Bob in Wyoming

After several home invasions were in the news, I realized that where we live is so isolated that someone could break in and only the nearby cows could hear us. That tells you how far away any response from 911 would be. The incident that really sealed the deal for me and my wife to get our CCW permits happened in a gas station right next to a restaurant we go to often. Two 15-year-olds held up the store and made a customer get on his knees. They shot him in the back. He was very lucky because he lived. I decided I will never be put in a situation like that and not have a way to defend myself and my family!
Joe in Alabama

I bought this house 13 years ago, and one day when I was in the garage (door down), I stopped what I was doing and broke for lunch, only to be confronted by the gas meter reader in my side yard. He asked me if I had been home all morning, and I replied yes. He then proceeded to tell me how he observed a man attempting to gain entry to my front door! Fortunately for me, he didn’t. He was subsequently apprehended down the street trying the same tactics on other homes. That pretty much ruined my day. I couldn’t stop thinking about what might have happened if he had gotten in and surprised me. I wore my snubby the rest of that day and contemplated various ways to fortify my house thereafter. At that time, Ohio didn’t have CCW. So I just took my chances and prayed for the day I could carry and defend myself legally. The older I get, the more I value my training and have done my best to encourage people I know to go after their licenses. I only hope we can preserve it for future generations.
Phil in Cleveland, Ohio

I grew up with guns. As far back as I can remember, my grandfather carried one and later my father did, too, and everyone always had one in their vehicle. Wasn’t so much about breaking the law, but was just the way the rural folks did. I know all the older men had always carried and it seemed natural for me to carry. After I had gotten to the point in my life that I was disabled and not able to defend myself or my family as I once had been able to, and the state went to Shall Issue, I knew was time to get a carry permit. The world has grown so much more hostile than when I came up that it seemed a very good choice. Before when I was carrying a weapon, I never thought the same as I do now; with CCW your mindset changes. I have always had natural instincts to watch and be aware of my surroundings and never sit with my back to the door in public, but now I truly realize the responsibility that carrying a weapon places on a citizen exercising his 2nd Amendment rights and his God-given right to protect himself and his family. CCW is what a normal citizen has to do in these troubled times.
Michael in Mississippi

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