It’s estimated that more than 17 million Americans hold a concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit and carry guns on them. I personally trust the passage from Robert A. Heinlein’s book, Beyond This Horizon: “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.” This means that more people with guns means a more polite society with less crime and less stupidity. When you hold people accountable for their actions, they think twice about them. However, you also need to exercise common-sense when you carry concealed.
Common-Sense Rules for Concealed Carry
Obviously, the hope is that all gun-carrying Americans have the common sense to do things properly when carrying a gun. But the reality is that people sometimes just make bad choices. That is why I chose to make a guide for the do’s and don’ts of concealed carry. Kind of a “Concealed Carry for Dummies.”
Before you get your panties in a bunch, I am not directly calling anyone a dummy. We all make mistakes, and we all overlook details at some point in our lives. To err is human. However, sometimes people just need a good slap upside the head to remind them not to do these dumb things. That is where I come in with this list, I guess.
Keep It Concealed
Okay, we are going to start at the top. The key word here is “concealed.” Let’s keep it that way.
Do keep that gun hidden from everyone.
Don’t go around showing the world your new gun and holster. Trust me, no one wants to see your stomach hanging over your holster or that you have on a fresh pair of Calvin Klein underwear. We seriously don’t care. There is a time and place to lift your shirt and show your friends your belly, and it isn’t at the mall or the grocery store.
I have had people walk up to a table at an event in a park where I was a vendor advertising my firearms classes and lift their shirts to show me, they already carry and don’t need to take my class. I usually answer by handing them a card and telling them they should probably give me a call before they get themselves shot or end up in jail.
Do carry in a holster that is designed for your particular firearm.
Don’t just shove that Glock down the front of your pants and tighten your belt. This is not your favorite rapper’s music video—this is real life. You can and probably will eventually shoot your junk off. God gave you a set number of holes, so don’t go trying to make more. A properly fitting holster that covers your entire triggerguard is a must. Then, the only way that gun is going off is if you actively pull the trigger.
Do wear properly fitting shirts.
Don’t wear tight little crop tops that don’t conceal a damned thing. I know those shirts you buy from Walmart with a funny saying or a play on a company logo on them might make you laugh, but they are made in China using cheap materials that will shrink after the first wash. It will be just about impossible to conceal your gun under that tight little shirt.
Make sure your shirts fit properly and actually cover up your gun while you are carrying. Plus, just save the world from having to witness that hairy gut sticking out. Not even your spouse wants to see that.
Do choose pants that also fit properly with a belt that is suitable to hold a holster.
Don’t be caught with your pants down. Seriously, your pants are supposed to sit on your hips, not under your ass or around your knees. Buy pants that fit properly and tighten that belt. I can’t tell you how many nasty, hairy ass cracks I have unfortunately witnessed out in public places because of people wearing pants that don’t fit properly.
I buy my pants about a size bigger than what I should wear to account for the holster I keep in my waistband 99 percent of the time. On that rare occasion a holster is not in my waistband, I have a belt that gets tightened to account for the extra space, so my pants stay securely on my waist.
Don’t try to carry concealed in your waistband while wearing gym shorts. Sure, with a proper holster, such as a belly band or something similar to secure it, it could be done, but not with a holster that is designed to clip onto your belt and rest inside your jeans.
Do bend at the knees while reaching for something on the bottom shelf.
Likewise, use the arm on your weak side to reach for something on the top shelf.
Don’t bend at the hips while grabbing something on the bottom shelf. Unless you are at a nightclub dancing, there is really no reason to be bending at the hips shaking your butt around. No one wants that thing in their face while they are trying to grab a box of Cheerios, and obviously this is going to expose your gun, which should be concealed.
Don’t use your strong-side arm to reach something on that top shelf, which will obviously then cause even a well-fitting shirt to ride up and expose your firearm.
Do make sure your gun is out of sight while you’re driving your car.
Don’t throw your gun up on the dashboard or hang it from your rearview mirror like a set of fuzzy dice while you’re heading down the highway. I live in Michigan, where inside your vehicle technically conceals your pistol. Therefore, you can posses a loaded pistol inside your vehicle as long as you have your carry license.
Yes, I can throw it on my dash and still be legal according to the law in Michigan. That does not mean it is a great idea. Any passerby in traffic could see that gun and perceive it as a threat, or if an officer walking up on your car when you get pulled over sees a gun, he is instantly on edge. You don’t want anyone to know you have it.
Concealed carry is about much more than just strapping that gun to your hip and leaving the house. You need to consider training, maintenance and storage as well.
Do make sure you have a proper way to safely store your gun when you are not carrying it on you. Don’t just throw your gun on your counter or leave it in your car when you get home. I always recommend a proper storage method for all your guns, but storing your daily carry gun is even more important. This is the gun you trust your life with and many people have only one gun they carry.
It would be terrible to lose that gun to theft. Or what if your kid decided to touch it and ended up shooting himself or someone else. A simple safe of any kind will be better than nothing at all. I am not saying that leaving a gun out is wrong all the time because, trust me, I do it myself. My daily carry sits on my nightstand most of the time, when it leaves my hip. My son knows not to touch it, and I trust him.
However, when he has friends coming over, that gun gets tucked safely inside my bedside safe to insure no unauthorized curious hands get a hold of it. Don’t forget the number one law of firearms ownership and responsibility: Your gun is always somewhere. It is your responsibility to know where that is, and who can access it.
Keep it Clean
Do clean your gun often, using the proper cleaners and tools. This is the gun you trust your life with. Make sure to clean it, oil it and keep it ready to go into battle. Don’t go throwing your carry gun in a puddle to rinse it off, and—I don’t care what anyone says—the dishwasher is not the way to clean your gun properly. Again, remember that this is a tool that could one day save your life. Treat it that way.
Get yourself a proper gun cleaning kit, and make sure you learn and understand how to take your gun completely apart. I am not talking about just taking off the slide, but learning how the slide’s internals come out and how they function so you can properly maintain them. And, just like a good mechanic, you should always clean your tools up after each use.
With all these commonsense points I have touched on, there is one aspect that is the single most important thing to remember. Do get yourself proper training. With that training comes the knowledge to avoid all the other don’ts every day. Don’t go get your CCW license, purchase your gun and throw it in a drawer in your nightstand, never touching it again.
Very importantly, Don’t go carrying a gun without good training. Don’t stop that training. Get out every chance you can and train. There are no excuses for not training. If you can’t get ammo, do dry fire or get a laser cartridge to train with. If you can’t get to the range, get yourself an airsoft gun to use at home. Work on all the essential skills you need to protect yourself properly.
Training is the single best way to ensure you don’t end up being classified as one of the carry dummies we have highlighted here. Remember, carrying a gun is a responsibility that should be taken seriously. You should plan ahead and be responsible. It really isn’t that hard once you start. Always stay safe, keep alert and carry every day.
This article was originally published in the Personal Defense World Gun Buyer’s Guide December/January 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.