I've really learned a lot from all the comments that have been offered in response to the concealed carry article I wrote. I've tried to incorporate as much of the constructive criticism as I can and here is version two.
Let me know what you think.
Concealed Carry Considerations
With the boom in firearm ownership in recent years, there are a lot of new gun owners, taking advantage of their rights as citizens of the United States of America to “keep and bear arms.” But carrying a concealed firearm is an awesome responsibility. Let’s take a few minutes to consider some things you need to think through very carefully before you decide to carry a concealed weapon. There are legal, ethical, moral and competency implications.
Here are just some of the things you need to be aware of:
If you carry a gun, you need to be aware of, and prepared to accept the legal consequences, whatever they may be. Are you willing to go through the trouble and expense – both financially and emotionally – of being arrested, charged and tried if you have to use your firearm? If not, leave your firearm at home. Are you ready to deal with whatever might come your way when it comes to encounters with law enforcement officials who may or may not understand and respect your state and local carry laws? Keep in mind that when you carry a firearm you are doing so for defensive purposes. The very concept of defense is to do what is necessary to stop a threat to ones own life or the life of another.
When you take on the responsibility of being an armed citizen, you also assume a greater level of ethical responsibility for every aspect of your behavior while packing. You don’t pick fights. You don’t respond to aggressive comments or gestures by going for your gun. You never go looking for trouble. You don’t – ever – drink while armed. And you never brandish it or joke around about carrying concealed. Concealed means concealed…in every possible sense. If you can’t conceal it, do not carry it. You aren’t trying to impress anyone by carrying. Your ethical posture has to be above reproach when carrying. And, don’t get dragged into a conversation about “shooting to kill.” You do not shoot to kill, you shoot to stop the thread and to defend yourself or others in a true emergency.
Are you mentally prepared to defend yourself? If not, the gun should stay in your safe. If you think you are just going to pull the gun out and wave it around to scare somebody off, don’t carry. If the gun comes out of its holster, you must already have decided to stop a threat. You are using your gun defensively, that is, you are shooting to stop the threat of immanent bodily harm to you, to your loved ones, or an innocent party who is being attacked in danger of being killed. Are you prepared to do whatever it takes to stop a threat and to defend yourself? Have you thought long and hard about what that means? Are you willing to see what a bullet will do to a human body? People don’t always just fall over dead like in the movies. You have to prepare yourself for the emotional trauma of gravely wounding or killing another human being, but remember, your goal is never to kill anyone, it is to stop a threat. Drawing your weapon is the last resort in a truly life, or death, situation, where you must act to defend yourself, or others.
If you are going to carry a concealed weapon, you need to be rigorous about safe, competent gun handling. Your gun is always loaded – or it better be. That means you must never ever, under any circumstance, draw it while carrying unless you’re truly in a life or death situation.
You do not pull it out to show to your buddies. You never point the weapon at anyone, which is referred to as "covering" somebody. Your finger should not be on the trigger, but "indexed" or simply lying against the firearm, ready to move to the trigger, but not on the trigger or in the trigger guard. You simply do not “play around” with your concealed firearm. It goes in the holster and never comes out, unless absolutely necessary.
And you need to be fully trained in the use of your firearm. Find a competent instructor and take a class. Better yet, take several classes. Just as if you want to get to Carnegie hall, you need to practice, practice and practice some more. You owe it to yourself to get in as much range time with your carry gun as you possibly can. If you aren’t willing to master all aspects of handling your concealed carry firearm, don’t strap it on.
These are just some of the things you will need to consider before you take on the responsibility of concealed carry. Yes, it’s your right, but you need to exercise that right legally, ethically, morally and competently or you’ll hurt the cause of those that do.
And finally, here is a good “creed” for a person carrying concealed to live by:
If I draw my gun from it's holster, I have decided that lethal force is imminently necessary to prevent or end the use of force, which I reasonably believe will cause grave bodily harm or death against me. The ultimate fate of my adversary is not my goal, is not even my consideration. I must cause them to cease the actions that I believe are deadly to me. Nothing more. I do not shoot to kill. I shoot to make them stop.
Take care, and stay safe!