Intelligent Choices for Concealed Carry: Five Do’s and Don’ts

Take training with the best in the business.

Take training with the best in the business.

Concealed carry is not for folks who lack or do not exercise good judgment and restraint.

Even a right must be exercised responsibly, and carrying a gun is a grave responsibility. In previous articles, I have discussed my belief that carrying a gun is not for everyone. If you carry, you should do so intelligently. If you go armed and act stupidly, you may lose your right (or privilege) to carry. Make intelligent choices and carry responsibly.

Five Do’s of Intelligent Concealed Carry

Practice sound weapon retention.

Practice sound weapon retention.

1. Be A.W.A.R.E.

Being A.W.A.R.E. entails being Alert, being Willing, having a good Attitude, being Ready, and being Even tempered.

Be Alert. You need to watch your 360 so you can see trouble coming in advance. Action is faster than reaction, so if you see trouble coming, you can stack the deck in your favor. That might mean just leaving.

Be Willing. You need to be willing to do whatever you have to do to survive a lethal force confrontation. You need to be willing to use deadly force if you find yourself in the gravest of extremes. This would be when you believe your life, or that of someone under the mantle of your protection, is in imminent danger as a result of your being confronted by a person (or persons) presenting an immediate and unavoidable threat of death or grave bodily harm.

Have a good Attitude. Be thoughtful, willing to learn, humble, and reasonably friendly, although certainly not overly friendly. Lawful concealed carry is for the “good guys and gals.” Lawful concealed carry is for those who are pro-social, not anti-social.

Practice safe gun handling. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.

Practice safe gun handling. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.

Be Ready. A gun will do you no good if you are not ready. Being in a state of readiness entails being alert and aware so you can observe what is going on around you. You have to be observant to notice something out of the ordinary. Once you observe something is out of kilter, then you will orient to it in order to rapidly analyze the situation and decide what to do. Dithering means death. Once you decide, you must act.

Be Even tempered. You mustn’t be impulsive, angry, or rash. These qualities do not go together with carrying a gun. They do not go along with thinking clearly or rationally. Remember that we carry a gun for self defense, not to intimidate or punish.

2. Be invisible.

This means that you do not want to draw unwanted attention to yourself. It is best to go unnoticed. Be polite. It is better to dress plainly dull and boring than it is to dress spicy and exciting. “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” to quote President Teddy Roosevelt. Good people who go unnoticed are less likely to get in trouble. Also do your best to avoid “hot spots.” These are places where hot-tempered people butt heads, such as bars late at night and political rallies or confrontations.

Become intimately connected with your personal defense gun.

Become intimately connected with your personal defense gun.

3. Know your equipment and practice with it regularly.

If you are not intimately acquainted with your equipment (read gun, holster, and other accessories), how will you be able to operate your equipment smoothly and efficiently in an emergency? Do you get this bullet point? The idea is to drill and practice regularly with your equipment so that its deployment becomes second nature—that is, a habit. If you are a musician, you get to Carnegie Hall through practice. If you carry a gun, you get to survive through practice.

4. Practice safe gun handling.

Guns are dangerous. Always handle them with a focus on safety. That means you should (a) always handle all guns as if they are loaded, (b) never point a gun at anything you aren’t willing to destroy, (c) keep your finger off the trigger in a stable “register” position at all times, unless your gun is on target and you have made the decision to shoot at that moment, and (d) positively know your target and what is around and behind it.

5. Know the laws and always carry your license to carry.

Ignorance is no excuse before the law. Know and follow the law. Sure, the laws can be confusing, especially in anti gun rights, heavily gun controlled states such as New Jersey. But, as gun lawyer Kevin Jamison, says, “It’s just the law.” Many laws do not make sense. But you need to know what they are. If you break the law and are caught, you can lose your gun rights. Recognize that our hard won gun rights, unfortunately are very fragile; that is, they can be easily taken away though a stupid mistake.

Five Don’ts of Intelligent Concealed Carry

1. Don’t be impulsive.

Impulsiveness and guns do not mix. It’s like mixing guns, drugs, and alcohol. If you cannot control your aggressive impulses or your rage, you probably should not carry a gun. You need to keep a cool head. Hot heads get in trouble. Add a gun and you have the makings of a news flash. You must learn to stop, think, and act appropriately.

Don’t get into fights when you are packing heat if you can help it. When you are packing heat, wherever you go is hot. So, if you get into a fist fight, you are adding the potential for the introduction of deadly force into the mix. That is a bad thing. I have read about guns falling onto the floor in tussles (bad weapon retention), and guns being grabbed (also bad weapon retention). Nothing good will come of this.

2. Don’t advertise for your favorite gun manufacturer.

Don’t let people know what you are carrying, where you are toting it, or even that you are carrying. You don’t want anyone to have the drop on you. You want to retain the element of surprise—your trump card. If you want to advertise for your favorite gun manufacturer, apply for a PR job in the firearms industry.

Be alert, be willing, have a good attitude and be ready.

Be alert, be willing, have a good attitude and be ready.

3. Don’t develop “gun courage.”

Have you ever heard of “canned courage?” Have you ever heard of anything good coming of it? No and no. Similarly, gun courage is destructive. Never think you should go anywhere with a gun (unless you have no other choice), where you would not dare to go without one. We do not carry to intimidate, except to intimidate a violent criminal into finding something to do other than preying on us.

4. Don’t ever lose your gun!

Hold onto your gun. Practice sound weapon retention. You cannot afford to lose your gun. If anyone other than someone you authorize gets their mitts on your gun, you are in for big trouble! So, carry in a secure retention holster. Keep your roscoe accessible but at the same time well concealed and out of sight. If you have trouble with this, consider pocket carry. It is the easiest way to securely tote a concealed handgun out of sight. Last but not least, don’t become complacent

5. Don’t become complacent.

I have written about the dangers of complacency in a previous issue. It bears repeating. Complacency and false confidence can spell R-I-P. Don’t rest on your laurels. Shooting is a perishable skill, so practice regularly. Do not neglect to maintain your carry guns. Inspect and clean them regularly. Don’t be the guy whose carry pistol accumulates several ounces of lint and greasy mush. Don’t develop false confidence because you are armed. If you are caught in Condition White, that is, unaware, what will your gun do for you when you are way behind the reactionary gap?


We have examined five key dos and don’ts of intelligent concealed carry. The major point is that concealed carry of defensive handguns is not for folks who lack, or do not exercise, good judgment and restraint. Carrying a gun is a grave responsibility. Carry intelligently and retain your precious right to keep and bear arms.


[ Bruce N. Eimer, Ph.D., psychologist, NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, and founder of the online forum, teaches concealed carry classes for the Florida, Virginia, and Utah carry permits. Bruce provides private firearm instruction and co-authored the book, Essential Guide to Handguns. Visit his website at ]


Don Hume Leather Goods
(800) 331-2686
(770) 432-1202
Massad Ayoob Group
Smith and Wesson
(800) 331-0852


16 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. If you have contact with Police Officer while you are armed, I suggest that you inform him or her as soon as possible. Something like; Officer I want you to know that I am lawfully carryng a firearm, (in my waist band or whatever) with your permission I will be most happy to show you my permit / license. WHATEVER YOU DO DO NOT MAKE ANY move toward your weapon unless specifically directed to do so by the officer.

  2. A friend of the family, who is a police homicide detective, was talking about people involved in violent crimes. He said most of the time these people are with people they shouldn’t be with, doing things they shouldn’t be doing, at places they should be avoiding. While we can’t always control our environment and the people within it, we can use some common sense and caution to avoid potentially dangerous situations. Stay invisible and hang out with nice people.


    My interstate entrance ramp was only a couple hundred yards ahead, so I was almost out of “The Hood”. But I needed to “Go” so I pulled in to the last named station. Quick look around, no-one in sight. Into the john out back. 1minute maybe. But the door was broken and the place a stinking mess. When I went to open the door to leave – I thought, hmmm, how many are out there? Open the door guardedly and ok no one on me – BUT.
    But as I went to my car I saw two of them( at a tactical spacing), not pumping gas but near the pumps looking 1/2 away from me. From their looks, dress, etc. I instantly knew what was about to go down and my gun is in the car – crap. I 1/2 sprinted to the door, quick opened it and in, shut and lock. I knew they were coming, I could feel it. Just as the lock closed they were at my door. I gave them a (if you try it you will regret it look) and took off. Point is this whole thing lasted 2-3max minutes. If I had not been in such good shape and had keys handy and stayed cool I would have been in trouble. Would have had to fight to get “into”!! my car and at 65yo my Krav Maga is a little rusty.

    While I was vary alert, I also just got lucky they did not come at me in the john – and me with no gun.

    Point 2 –

    I could have pulled my gun once I got in the car but glad I did not have too. Better to just leave.

  4. A family member was on an industrial machine delivery job about 90 miles from home pulling a flatbed with a pickup truck. There were five lanes with semis coming up the ramp to enter the road so he elected to jump over to the next lane so as not to get in their way. A car in the lane he wanted was far enuf away that he judged there to be room to get over, but upon putting on his signal, the car decided not to let him in and sped up. When he tried to recover his lane, a truck had already headed for it so he had to stay the course, understandably angering the driver of the car, even though the next lane was available to him. Trying to convey his regret to the driver of the car wasn’t accepted and so the car pulled up alongside his truck, trapping him with trucks on all sides and his female passenger hanging out the window raging at family member with both middle fingers in the air. Suddenly she started gathering things up in the car and throwing them at his truck, including coffee cups and pop cans full of liquid. When she ran out of things to throw, she went for the glove box and he sensed imminent danger, judging by the way this woman had gone off. Before family member had left that morning, he had hurriedly gathered up his gun, clip board, some other papers, and log and threw it all on the dashboard. He failed to put the gun in its proper and usual place under the seat!! When he reached up for it to get it down to his side “just in case”, it must have been seen by the freaked-out woman in the car. After they dropped back he thought the danger was over and so deposited the gun in its rightful place under the seat. Fast forwarding to what happened next, he was taken to jail for 48 hours until charges were filed–“intimidation with a deadly weapon” (the car driver said my family member pointed the gun at them–not true) with a possible 3-8 year prison sentence, loss of his CCW and the word “felon” beside his credit report plus ruination of the business he built up since losing his job to the economy four years ago. He will find out next week where things stand, but when you realize how fragile our right to carry really is and that you can lose your freedom by our liberal-minded laws now on the books, take all these warnings seriously because it can happen to anyone if it can happen to a conscientious and responsible gunowner. To reiterate other posters’ warning: IT’S BETTER NOT TO LET ANYONE SEE WHAT YOU’VE GOT!

  5. A while baack I was pulled over on the highway by a state trooper,who somehow noticed my seat belt wasn’t locked ?? when he approached my truck I was sitting with both hands on my steering wheel. when asked for my license and registration,I also handed him my carry permit. I told him I had a weapon in the vehicle. I noticed he was looking at my USCCA sticker on my rear window. He said “If you don’t use it on me ” No problem I still believe he was more interested in my USCCA decal than he was in giving me a citation, just sayin’

  6. I have ‘nt any war story’s yet ,and hope I don’t.
    Been carying for around 8 years ,and keep a low profile.

  7. Ive been carrying for thirty plus years and never got into a situation to use it.
    I do keep my eyes open and listening to surrounding sounds all the time and always unguard.

  8. I now carry a SW 38 revolver because I am always worried about jams with the automatics. Is jamming a problem today? The advantage of the smaller automatics is size and weight, but I don’t want my life to depend on a jammed pistol. Inputs?

    1. americanpulse

      I havn’t ever had a jamb or miss-feed with my Beretta. I carry a 92fs 9mm

      1. i have a beretta 92 fs also it is a great gun but it is a little big for concealed carry. you should look at the colt new agent 9mm or 45 cal it has trench sights.

    2. Jeffrey Lambrecht

      Jaming can be an issue if you carry your small automatic inside of a sweater, jacket pocket or hoodie. Stick with the hammerless revolver and you can carry and shoot through your pocket if necessary.

    3. autos are super, the ammo is the problem, purchase quality and brand name ammo and you will prevail.

  9. Some have mentioned it can be safer to alert an officer, if pulled over, to CC by saying that you have a concealed carry permit and you are indeed carrying (omitting the word gun, firearm, etc) and ask for the LEO’s directions (of course keep hands on steering wheel so LEO can have clear sight).

    The avoidance of the word “Gun,” “Firearm,” “Pistol,” etc can cause immediate and unnecessary alarm, especially if the rear covering officer hears the words, “GUN?!?!?” or he/she has a GUN!!!

    Hope this is helpful :o)

    Warm regards,

  10. You must ALWAYS remember, just use plain ol’ “COMMON SENSE”. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s time to be on FULL ALERT! Never let your guard down.

  11. Train, train, train. Practice, practice, practice. Be safe. You can never learn too much. Please help defend our Second Amendment rights however you can. Just some thoughts for today.

  12. If insults have been hurled, fingers extended, or in the case of traffic, lanes cut off, better to remain calm and not even consider use of your weapon.

    Someone blocking your path demanding your money…reason to draw. That same someone reaching for anything at all…reason to shoot.

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