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“The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise they will win and the decent people will lose.”
– James Earl Jones
You don’t have to look very far to find tragedy in the news these days. Suffice to say that there is more division, angst and anger in the world now than what we’ve seen in a long, long time. The result? Terrorism boiling over from the Middle East and, on increasingly frequent basis, our own homegrown brand of violence. The policies espoused by those in positions of leadership from Washing D.C. to your local police mainly focus on two things: root causes of attacks and prevention of attacks. One focuses on the past while the other focuses on the future. In theory, the two should work in tandem to keep people safe in the present. The one hole in that theory is that these issues are exceedingly complicated. As hard working and well intentioned as those folks in leadership are, they have yet to find a perfect solution. If we could just think happy thoughts and make it all go away, we would. But, most are more pragmatic than that. We realize that for better or worse, this is the world we live in now. These are the cards we’ve been dealt and it’s the hand we have to play.
There are a few ways that we can react to these circumstances. First, we could bury our heads in the sand and pretend like this harsh reality doesn’t exist. Secondly, we could cower in fear and never leave home. Neither one of those options seem particularly productive. The third option is to be strong, resilient and self-reliant individuals. Odds are that if you are following T.A.G. you, already are that person or are interested in becoming that person. Perhaps you, like the author, have begun to ask yourself if it’s time to start carrying a firearm.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are well aware that personal ownership and concealed carry of firearms are hotly debated topics. The point of this article is not to influence your stance on either of those topics. In fact, there are a lot of things that this piece is NOT about. It’s not about peddling fear. You’re a strong, resilient and self-reliant individual, remember? It’s also not about promoting the brand of some #tacticool social media G.I. Joe wannabe either. No, we’ll assume that we are all intelligent, rational adults capable of thinking for ourselves and making our own decisions. What follows are simply some practical steps and some items to consider should you decided to start carrying a firearm.
First and foremost, become licensed to carrying a firearm. Laws from state to state vary so greatly that we won’t even try to dive into specifics here. Your local gun shop or sporting goods store should be able to provide you with some guidance on where to start. Most if not all states require the completion of a training course before they will issue a concealed carry permit. Those courses are available at a plethora of locations from gun ranges to law enforcement organizations to private organizations. There are even courses available online. A word of caution here. Training and education is not a place to cut corners. We are talking about something that could literally have life or death implications. Would you rather have a doctor that graduated from Harvard or a doctor that took an hour long online class? I think you get the point. Once a training course is completed, the administrators will issue you a certificate saying you completed the training and you are free to apply for a concealed carry permit.
With permit in hand, you are good to go for the fun part of this process. Shopping for that new gun that will be your trusty companion through thick and thin. Between the various styles of guns and caliber choices, there are as many concealed carry options as there are fish in the sea. Anyone who has tried to wade through the internet forums filled with self-proclaimed experts knows how overwhelming it can be. We can debate differences all day long but in the end, most of it boils down to personal preference. When it comes to selecting a concealed carry gun, the best thing that you can do is get your hands on a lot of different guns and go with what feels best to you. In the meantime, we’ll lay out some food for thought.
One the most basic level, we need few things from a concealed carry firearm. First of all, it needs to be reliable. When you’re in a situation that is desperate enough to warrant drawing a firearm, the last thing you want to worry about it whether or not it is going to function properly. Specifically ask the gun salesperson about quality and reliability. This is another key area where you don’t want to cut corners. How does the gun hold up over time? Will it still function with the presence of dust and debris? How often does this model gun come in for repairs? Do different types of ammo cause the gun to malfunction? Any gun from reputable manufactures such as Smith and Wesson, Ruger, Sig Sauer, Glock and others will be manufactured with reliability as a high priority. It will be up to you to keep it clean and in good working order though.
Next, it needs to be easily concealed and comfortable to carry. That means that we’ll most likely be looking at compact handguns. Depending on who you talk to, “compact” can mean different things. Regardless of the nuances though, it’s generally understood that compact guns are smallish, easy to carry, and easy to conceal guns. This means that most guns will have a barrel 2-3 inches long. Obviously the shorter the barrel, the more compact the gun but that is just one aspect of selecting a gun. There is also the weight of the gun, the grip length, gun thickness, type of sights, etc. As we’ve said before, this all just boils down to personal preference.
Another thing to consider is the type of gun you want to carry. By far the most popular type of concealed carry gun is the semi-automatic. For good reason too. The flat, smooth profile of the gun lends itself well to concealed carry. They can be fired more rapidly with lighter trigger pull. Even in a single stack magazine, most semi-autos are going to allow for one or two more rounds of ammo. Carry an extra magazine and reloading is fast and easy. That doesn’t mean that revolvers should be disregarded though. They may be a little bulkier, but there is beauty in simplicity. A firearm is a machine. The fewer moving parts a machine has, the fewer things there are to malfunction. There is no safety to fumble with or slide to rack. With a double action revolver, it’s as simple as pointing and pulling the trigger. Besides, if a revolver is good enough for Walter White, it’s good enough for all you Breaking Bad fans too. Apparently, Mr. White is a fan of the Ruger LCR and carries one in a number of episodes.
We’ll touch briefly on caliber’s. It is generally accepted that .38 Special or 9mm is the smallest caliber that should be carried. On the heavy end you could go all the way up to .45 ACP. Only you can decide what caliber you are comfortable with. If you are inexperienced or recoil sensitive, you’ll want to stay on the lighter end of the spectrum. If you’re an experienced and can handle recoil, feel free to venture into the larger calibers. Bear in mind that with light weight, compact guns, the felt recoil is amplified. That can have a huge impact on accuracy. Control and shot placement trumps power any day. What good is power if you can’t hit anything with it?
The last item of discussion is training and practice. While the two terms may seem like one in the same, we’ll draw a distinction between the two. Training is time spent studying under an experienced professional learning how to effectively deploy your firearm. Practice is how we incorporate newly learned skills and tactics into our lives to the point that they become second nature. This is where the rubber meets the road. In a real defensive situation your level competency will determine the outcome. In the case of an incompetent carrier we’re looking at a best-case scenario of being a complete non-factor. Worst-case scenario, innocent lives are harmed. Be honest about your skills and abilities with a firearm. If there’s room to improve, let’s seek out opportunities to for continued growth and development. Growth and development, after all, is part of becoming a strong, resilient, and self-reliant individual.
Written by Paul Anderson