If you’re new to firearms, shooting, and the consciousness of self-reliance and self-sufficiency about personal safety, you’ll probably need to make a decision at some point about whether, when, and how you want to carry a firearm for self-defense. Close to 40 states are “shall-issue” jurisdictions for concealed carry permits; that is, their laws mandate that the authorities MUST issue a permit to any law-abiding citizen who applies and meets their requirements. The lone holdout state with no provision for permitting at all (Illinois) has just been ordered by a court to create a permitting process.
This post isn’t going to be about the “how” of carrying a concealed weapon. Rather, it’s going to be about one of the decisions we make when we decide to carry. When, we have to decide, will we carry our firearm? I’m going to advocate a simple answer, and then explain why I feel that way: Once you have a concealed weapons permit, you should carry your firearm everywhere you legally can do so.
Why do I advocate such a blanket rule? Here are some reasons:
- Your firearm is safest when it’s under your direct control. One of my Facebook followers wrote, “I have 3 sons aged 7,6 and 19months. I am extremely worried about one of them getting access to firearms.” This is absolutely a valid concern, and it might seem that locking up our firearm would be the best way to keep it out of the hands of children who aren’t equipped to handle it. But, anyone who’s ever been a parent knows that childproof things aren’t in fact childproof, and that kids can and do get into everything. So, in my view, the safest place for my gun to be is on my body and under my direct control at all times. If I know my gun is in a holster on my belt, then I know my daughter isn’t playing with it in the bedroom when my back is turned.
- Trouble doesn’t make appointments.Sometimes people think we should only carry our firearm when we’re expecting trouble. The problem is, trouble can find us anywhere, anytime, and if we’re doing our job of being aware of our surroundings, we’ll get out of harm’s way if we know trouble is coming. And that’s the rub – since we’re always cultivating our situational awareness, if trouble finds us it’ll be because we failed to see it coming. So, how will we know that we need to go load up our guns? If we want to have our weapons available when danger arrives, the only way to do that is to have our gun available always.
- Being armed encourages awareness and responsibility. I recognize this is probably not universally true, but most law abiding armed citizens I know say that when they’re lawfully armed, they feel an extra responsibility to be aware of their surroundings, to be cautious and judicious in their behavior, to be measured in their responses and interactions. They say things like, “when I’m carrying my gun, I have to hold myself to a higher standard.” So, if that’s true for you, why not hold yourself to that higher standard all the time?
Now, it’s true there are some places where you simply cannot carry. In many states, you can’t legally carry a gun on a school campus, for example, or into a courtroom. In some states, “no guns” signs on private property have the force of law. Some of us may have family members or friends who ask us not to carry in their houses. In those circumstances, we might not be able to carry our firearms. But my personal feeling is that once we’ve made the choice to be armed, we should always be armed – or, at least, as close to “always” as our local laws allow us.
What do you think? If you have a CCW permit, when do you carry your firearm, and when do you choose not to?
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