Carrying a firearm for personal protection is a big responsibility. Knowing how to concealed carry a firearm on your person could save the life of you or a loved one, but proper care must be taken at all times to avoid the potential for bad things to happen.
Here are 5 important things to consider when carrying a concealed handgun to help keep things safe and legal:
1. Consider where you are going
Will you be visiting a “gun free” zone? If you are picking up your kids from school or stopping by the post office, depending on your state, you may be violating the law carrying on or near school or federal government property.
Are you going to the gym? Consider what you are going to do with your gun when you change into your workout clothes. Stowing your gun in a lock box or in your trunk is a good option, preferably unloaded.
2. Have the proper gear
The only safe way to carry a handgun is in a proper holster. Be sure that the holster completely covers the trigger and trigger guard. It is best if the holster is made specifically for the exact make and model of your firearm. If you use a belt as the mounting point for your holster, be sure it is a “gun belt” designed for this purpose. A gun belt is stiffer and more secure than a standard belt and will securely hold your firearm so it will not flop or slide around.
3. Perform a chamber check and magazine check daily
Always do a chamber check before holstering your gun. You need to be certain that a round is chambered (if that is how you carry). You need to know the condition of your weapon at all times. You should always carry the same way so there is never a question as to what will happen when you press that trigger!
You should perform the check EACH time you holster your gun and EACH time you remove the gun from your holster.
In addition to checking the chamber, you should also remove the magazine and look at it. Make sure it is full and free of foreign objects or anything else that may interfere with the proper functioning of the magazine. replace the magazine and be sure it is seated in the gun.
When you carry every day, there is a lot of gun handling, and it is possible that the mag release button may have accidentally been pressed.
If you do not check this and the magazine is not properly seated, at the very least you may embarrassingly drop a mag in the Walmart paint department (I know first hand), or at worst, if you need to draw your gun for self defense, you will only have a single shot!
4. Clean & lube the gun regularly
Having your gun constantly under your clothing, against your skin, in and out of the gun safe, it is going to get dirty. Clothing fibers and sweat and general grime will build up and possibly cause problems with proper function of your gun. Be sure to clean and lube at least once per month, even if it is never fired.
5. Be on your best behavior.
The fact that you are carrying concealed means you are bringing a gun into every interaction you have with others during the day. You need to take the high road if any disagreement or altercation occurs.
You must never start or escalate a situation.
If you have an issue with someone, right or wrong, walk away. If you must continue the discussion (auto accident, for example) you must do everything in your power to de-escalate the situation, or get back in you car and wait for Police to arrive and handle it.
If a witness sees you as aggressive in any way and the gun comes out, you are no longer a victim defending yourself and you will have a hard time explaining your actions to the police or in court.
Here are some thing you should NOT do when carrying concealed:
Don’t allow the gun to be seen by others.
Concealed means concealed. There are some states where it is actually a violation if your “concealed” firearm is visible. Check your state’s laws.
There are people who will call the police if they see you “hiding” a gun in Walmart and you can end up in an embarrassing and potentially bad situation if you are mistaken for a “bad” guy or gal.
Don’t allow your gun to leave your sight or your control.
If you go into a restroom and need to remove your gun in order to properly do your business, be sure to place the gun where you can see it at all times so that you do not forget to take it with you when you leave. Many seasoned police officers have left their firearms in a public restroom much to their embarrassment and punishment.
Don’t show your gun in order to scare somebody.
Showing or pointing your gun at somebody in order to intimidate or scare them is called “brandishing“. This will be seen by others as a threatening gesture. This is illegal in most states. Your gun needs to stay concealed unless you feel justified in using it, meaning when your life or someone else’s life is in imminent danger.
I highly recommend Massad Ayoob’s book, Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense. This book will teach you all you need to know about the law and self defense with deadly force. quite frankly, I recommend anything written by this gentleman as he is the recognized expert in using firearms for self defense.
Don’t drink alcohol when you are carrying concealed.
While this may be legal in some states, it is always a bad idea. Alcohol and guns do not mix. At all. Ever.
I hope this post has you thinking about your responsibility when carrying a firearm. If you use common sense and think before you act, you should not have any issues. When you have been carrying concealed for a while, these things become second nature and routine.