When moving about in your daily life, you encounter many people. If you are a CCW-holder, or constitutional carry practitioner and carrier, there are a few things you should keep in mind about who and how you let people know.
In the course of your travels, odds are you will go inside a business while armed. You have to eat, buy things, get gas, and so forth. At all times, make sure you respect any signage that is displayed about carrying firearms on their premises. Several states require that you respect the rights of any business that does not allow firearms on their premises even with a proper permit. If there is no placard, remember to be the gray man in the room and do not draw overt attention to yourself. For instance, some clowns perform security checks on their firearm every few minutes by feeling and adjusting their holster through their clothes in an obvious way. While you should check it occasionally, if you feel the need to do this excessively then you may need to buy a more secure or comfortable holster.
When paying with a debit or credit card many establishments ask for verification of your identification. Do not use your CCW as identification, instead present your driver's license or other state issued ID. The fact that you are carrying is really a 'need to know' in most cases so do not advertise. I have seen cashiers loudly ask 'what is this about a firearm' while holding up a customer's CCW for the rest of the staff and those in line to see. If you are a Gray Man, why put a disco ball on your head?
In some states, legal concealed carry is allowed in courthouses, schools, and local government buildings even where weapons are not generally allowed. When encountering a security control point where x-rays, magnetometers and/or baggage searches are being done, advise the security officer or bailiff that you are legally carrying before you are searched. Do not display your weapon at any time unless specifically asked to and even then keep it in the holster with your hands away from it. If the local policy is to allow legal concealed carry holders to remain armed, you will be allowed to proceed. If not, you will not and quietly return your weapon to your vehicle without excessive argument.
- Carrying concealed should usually remain just that, only expose your firearm when specifically asked to (unless you responding to or are in a high-threat situation.) If asked to exhibit your firearm such as at a security checkpoint, do so like the above picture from Raven Holsters.
Remember, Federal buildings to include Social Security Offices, Federal Courthouses, US Attorney's Offices, military bases, and most museums, have a zero weapons policy. A state-issued CCW permit or law does not void this policy in federal buildings in any state. Do not feel singled out, in most cases, local law enforcement officers are not allowed to carry inside these facilities either.
In some states, you are not required to advise a law enforcement officer who is conducting a Terry Stop that you are carrying a concealed weapon. However, it is best to always supply that information if you are stopped. In most situations, this will be during a traffic stop. Should you be pulled over, the proper place in the interaction with a peace officer to advise them you are legally armed is when you are asked for your identification. Simply hand over both your driver's license and your CCW while calmly stating that you are a permit holder and are/are not carrying. Be sure you have both hands in plain sight at all times, typically on the top of the steering wheel. If the officer asks for further information, supply it, but refrain from using your hands while you talk unless it is to retrieve other documentation if asked such as proof of insurance.
In most occasions, this will satisfy the officer's concern over his or her own personal safety. If you are asked to step from your vehicle, comply, but if you are not then stay put with your hands in sight. Remember in most states CCWs are issued by the same agency that issues driver's licenses and when your car tag or driver's license number is ran on traffic stop for wants and warrants, the fact that you have a CCW will simultaneously come up.
If the peace officer gets this information from dispatch and not you, it could be awkward.
- Walter, while very funny at times, is a perfect example of a concealed carry holder that gives the rest of the community a bad image. Don't be Walter...
Put yourself in that officer's shoes. Now they have to figure out why you did not tell them you might be armed. To say this can amp up the stress of the situation is an understatement. Remember, with the exception of the occasional bad apple that is eventually found out, law enforcement officers are guardians of the public good and are not 'looking to give you a hard time'. I should know-- I have held a commission since 1998.
If you are a concealed carry practitioner, you really should carry every day as much as possible. Remember the first line of the Warriors Creed, "Wherever I go, everyone is a little bit safer because I am there." Nevertheless, you need to be respectful of how other people perceive you and the CCW community overall because of your actions.