Firearms|Conceal Carry

Working at a gun range as an Range Safety Officer (RSO) I get asked tons questions about firearms and concealed carry on a daily basis. The questions range from the mundane like, “Do you appendix or hip carry? Do you prefer to carry a compact or a subcompact handgun? Which caliber do you prefer for a conceal carry handgun?”

Then, I encounter questions that are very specific to the situation, user, and potential usage of a firearm.  It is basically those “what if” tactical questions that can go deep down the rabbit hole, if you let it. The best way to summarize them are as Murphy’s Law questions. 

Murphy Law states, “What can go wrong will go wrong.” 

As, you can see I encounter a gambit of questions and potential scenarios about handgun of choice and potential tactical situations you might encounter as a ccw practitioner. 

The vast majority of questions on conceal carry come from customers thinking about getting a conceal carry license. These customers are looking for a road map on where to start their concealed carry journey. For these shooters the idea and act of conceal carry can be a daunting one. Finding out where to start is difficult for new potential conceal carry users.

During my time working as an RSO I have created a road map for new conceal carry owners to follow. This article is here to give potential and new conceal carry users 6 things to consider before they conceal carrying. With this knowledge they can begin their conceal carry journey. Allowing you to take your safety and personal defense into your own hands.

The 7 Things to Consider Before You Conceal Carry. 

1. Understand your state’s gun laws, conceal carry laws, and the proper use of force. 

The first thing you need to navigate and understanding is your state’s gun laws and concealed carry laws. State gun laws and conceal carry laws vary from state to state. Sometimes those differences can be small in nature and in other less 2nd Amendment friendly states that difference can be vast. The most restrictive states when it comes to gun rights and conceal carry laws are California, New York, New Jersey, D.C. (District of Columbia), Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, Hawaii.

When it comes to gun laws you should have an understanding of the laws that pertain to rifles, shotguns, and handguns. It is best to have more knowledge than less.

As, G.I. Joe PSA used to tell us, “Knowing is half the battle.”

NRA-ILA State Law Gun Overview

The NRA-ILA has a great resource that gives you an overview of a state’s gun laws. It gives the information in an easy to understand format for users. In the NRA’s gun law overview it covers: permit to purchase, registration of firearms, licensing of gun owners, and permit to carry. As, a gun owner these are important things to know.

The NRA-ILA also covers each state status on: Castle Doctrine, No-Net Loss, Right to Carry Confidentiality, Right to Carry In Restaurants, Right to Carry Laws, State to State Reciprocity, and Right to Keep and Bear Arms State Constitutional Provisions. 

This NRA-ILA online gives you an overview and the status of these firearm and carry laws. To get a more in-depth look due your diligence on your state’s gun and carry laws.

Escalation of Force Laws/Doctrines

Escalation of force is an important aspect for conceal carry users to understand fully. Understanding your self-defense laws are important to you defending your safety properly and not ending up in legal trouble because of an improper use of force. The self-defense laws that are important to understand are: castle doctrine, stand your ground law, and duty to retreat. I will go over a brief summary of all these laws. If you want more information about this I will provide links in the article. For more nuanced questions I would get in contact with a local firearms instructor who is certified to teach conceal carry.

The Castle Doctrine

Castle doctrine, also known as a castle law or a defense of habitation law, is a legal doctrine that designates a person’s abode or any legally occupied place (for example, a vehicle or home) as a place in which that person has protections and immunity permitting one, in certain circumstances, to use force (up to and including deadly force) to defend oneself against an intruder, free from legal prosecution for the consequences of the force used.

Summary

The castle doctrine is not a blanket law that allows you to use force upon an intruder into your home or car. If an armed intruder entered your home with anything that can cause serious bodily harm or death you have a right to defend yourself. In those circumstances you are able to use force or potentially deadly force in self-defense to protect your safety. The castle doctrine gives you the right to defend yourself with a reasonable response of escalation of force. 

Click here for more on the Castle Doctrine

Stand Your Ground Law 

A stand-your-ground law (sometimes called “line in the sand” or “no duty to retreat” law) establishes a right by which a person may defend one’s self or others (right of self-defense) against threats or perceived threats, even to the point of applying lethal force, regardless of whether safely retreating from the situation might have been possible. Such a law typically states that an individual has no duty to retreat from any place where they have a lawful right to be (though this varies from state to state) and that they may use any level of force if they reasonably believe the threat rises to the level of being an imminent and immediate threat of serious bodily harm and/or death.

Summary

What the stand your ground law allows for you to essential stand your ground during a escalated situation. So, if someone is attempting to commit grand theft auto or rob you at an ATM. You have a right to stand your ground and defend yourself. You are able to potential escalate that force if the assailant continues to escalate his/her acts of violence, only enough force should be used to subdue the threat.

Click here for more on the Stand Your Ground Law 

Duty to Retreat 

In law, the duty to retreat, or requirement of safe retreat, is a legal requirement in some jurisdictions that a threatened person cannot harm another in self-defense (especially lethal force) when it is possible to instead retreat to a place of safety. 

Summary

This is a simple contrast between the castle doctrine and stand your ground. That you have a duty to retreat or de-escalate a encounter and head to a place of safety. From there you can call the police about the potential crime committed to you. If you do not engage in your duty to retreat and defend yourself you could be prosecuted with criminal charges. 

Click here for more on Duty to Retreat 

It is important to know your state’s gun laws and conceal carry laws to know who to defend yourself within the confines of the law. Ignorance is not an excuse.

2. Understand all that comes with owning a firearm and conceal carrying. 

To be blunt owning firearms and conceal carrying is an expensive proposition. Yet, sometimes the price of doing business is expensive. At, the end of the day it doesn’t matter the price you pay to preserve your life and safety. 

When it comes to conceal carry it is a big initial investment. You have to buy the firearm, ammunition, and a holster. That initial investment of the firearm, holster, conceal carry style belt, and ammunition can easily be up to and over a $1,000 dollars. For price analysis purpose let’s put together a quick conceal carry build to see how much it could potentially cost. Pistol is a Sig Sauer P365 XL priced at $579, Tier 1 Holster for $129, belt for $85, and Speer Gold Dot $25 for 20 rounds. Which gives you a grand total of $818 dollars. That’s not including basic pistol classes or 8-hour conceal carry class to receive your permit.

From there you have to get proper firearms instruction and take your concealed carry course.  Introductory pistol courses can run anywhere from $150-$200 bucks depending on the instructor and course. While, the 8-hour conceal carry course can cost anywhere from $150-250. Now, we are easily into the $1,500 dollar plus range for your initial investment into your ccw. 

Lastly, but still very important you need to know how you plan on safely storing your firearm. Security of your weapon in your home is very important. When you have variables such as a significant other, children, or elderly family member living with you. 

First, you will need to have them educated on proper gun safety. Teaching them the 4 safety rules, explaining how dangerous firearms can be, and how to load, unload, and check if a firearm is loaded.

Second, I would secure the firearm in a place that you or significant other know about and only a combination you two know. I personally prefer biometric locks with backup keypad as my preferred gun safe of choice. 

When it comes to firearm storage and safety you have to be proactive and reactionary. If you are doing the latter something dangerous and deadly has potentially occurred for you to make a change.

I tell customers, “You need a healthy paranoia when it comes down to the safe storage of your firearms.”

Also, that you should always teach and practice proper weapon safety handling with family members. Again the price of safety is expensive but the lives of your loved ones are priceless. 

3. Do Your Research on Handguns and Gear 

Do your research, do your research, do your research people. Before you buy a firearm look into the different types of conceal carry handguns that are on the market. Read about the popular choices so you can get a understanding on where to start. Here are a few good articles to start with Best Conceal Carry Handguns by Pew Pew Tactical, 11 Top Picks For Concealed Carry Handguns by Gun Digest, and 50 Best Conceal Carry Guns by Clinger Holster.  

See what type of handgun will fit your needs. Are you looking for a compact or subcompact? Do you have a small, medium or large body type? How do you plan on carrying? On your body or in a bag? Are you going to appendix or hip carry? 

Find out about popular conceal carry holsters for conceal carry. With conceal carry you have to take into consideration if you want to go inside the waistband, outside the waist band, ankle, or if you are going to be carrying in a bag? It will be completely up to user discretion but, it’s something you have to figure out.

Three good companies to start your search with for conceal carry holsters are G-Code Holsters, Tier 1 Concealed, and Bravo Concealment. Check out ReFactor Tactical Reader’s Choice Best Conceal Carry Holsters.

Questions like these are ones you need to research now to give yourself a baseline of what to expect and what things you need to consider before conceal carrying. I always encourage people to have first hand knowledge about everything on firearms. Always take the power of knowledge in your hands. Take the time. Do the research. Be informed and empowered.

4. Test Drive Your Potential Handgun Purchase

Question: Would you buy a car before test driving it?

The answer to that question is a resounding, “No!” Neither should you when it comes to a firearm. Do your research find a few options you believe will fit your conceal carry needs. Once that is complete go take those handguns out for a test drive. 

Find a local range that allows for handgun rentals and put some rounds down range with the potential firearm you want to purchase. If you never shot a handgun before ask if the range gives an introductory class on pistol basics that you can take. To become more familiarize with proper handgun safely and handling. If all the guns you thought you would like but don’t, it’s okay. Go back to the drawing board. 

When it comes to buying a handgun it is completely user preference. Some people prefer Glock vs Sig Sauer or Smith and Wesson vs Glock and etc. You have to find the gun that you are comfortable with and shoot well with. At the end of the day, it’s about you being able to aim and hit your target because your life may depend on it. Your opinion is the one that matters, no one else’s.

5. Receive proper instruction firearms instruction

One of the biggest things I tell new shooters and people looking to get their conceal carry permit is to get proper training. Take the time and the money to get proper training there is no substitute for it. I sometimes help a local conceal carry instructor as a range safety. During that time I don’t know how often I see improper hand positioning, sight alignment and picture, and many other things from his students. 

When, I ask them, “Have you taken a basic pistol or defensive pistol class before?” The resounding answer is, “No.”

Customers give me excuses like, “I have not but, I have experience. I am planning to take a class after I get my ccw.”

Sometimes I also hear, “This is my first time ever shooting.” Which blows my mind. Before you take a class to receive your conceal carry permit you need to take a basic pistol class at minimum.

Those responses I receive from shooters are the  wrong answers. You are trying run before you walk or crawl. You are putting the horse before the carriage or any other analogy you can use here for being ass backwards. When it comes to shooting you need a solid foundation basis on which to build. So, you need to have solid fundamentals when it comes down to proper grip, recoil management, sight picture and alignment, trigger discipline and control, and body position. Those are the building blocks for any good shooter without those you are behind the 8-ball ladies and gentleman. 

It is important to take the time and learn proper fundamentals of pistol and take a defensive pistol course to know how to engage assailant properly. You have to master the basics before you can move onto the advance skill sets you will need to properly defend yourself. 

Deadly Encounter

Here is a scenario. It is late and you are walking back to you car from an event. You have the sense someone is following you. The potential attacker is across the street blending in with other people. He slowly crosses the street behind you and beings to follow you all the way down the street. You turn the corner down the street. You can see your car about a half a block down. You look back he is still following in the distance behind you. He has just turned the corner. He follows maybe two car lengths behind.

You arrive at your car. You being to unlock the door and the grab the handle. You see him pull a balisong (butterfly knife) from his pocket. He demands your wallet. If not he will viciously assault you and take the wallet and the car. 

Do you believe you are ready with limited skills and knowledge to confront that attacker?

Honestly, when that moment arises you will crumble in fear. Or potentially mishandle your handgun and negligently discharge that handgun. Potentially hurting yourself or losing the firearm to your attacker. 

Only through repeated training and practice will you be able to handle high stress situation. As, a conceal carry practitioner you should always be looking to improve your skills as a shooter and self defense tactics. As, a conceal carry practitioner you should always be looking to evolve your skill sets.

It is vital that you take the time and money and take the pistol and defensive pistol classes. Proper training is the key defending your safety and of the safety of your loved ones. 

6. Do Not Trust The Word Of Family and Friends 

As, an RSO I come into contact with a lot of customers with misinformation about gun laws and conceal carry laws. I have gotten statements from customers telling me they can shoot anyone that breaks into their house. I can conceal carry anywhere but in federal buildings and casinos. The list goes on and on.

My first question when I hear an off the wall comments like this is, “Who told you that?” The answer I usually get is a family member. Either husband/wife, friend or relative. 

Then, I ask, “Are they a firearms instructor?” The answer is always, “No.” 

I usually take a deep breath and say, “Then you don’t need to trust anything they say in regards to firearms because they don’t know.”

When it comes to firearms there is extensive misinformation about them in the media, news, and video games we consume. There are a lot of half truths out their or information being misconstrued. Your family members who might mean well and believe they are giving advice to assist us. From my experience they are usually misinformed.

Never, take someone advice advice blindly when it comes to firearms. I believe as Ronald Regan told Mikhail Gorbachev, “Trust but, verify.” Always verify the information you are receiving from other sources. 

The best way to make sure you have proper firearms knowledge is to take pistol and defensive pistol classes or to talk to a local conceal carry instructor.

Conclusion

When it comes to where to start for your conceal carry journey it can be a daunting task. At the beginning of the journey will be filled with more questions than answers, which is okay. You have to start somewhere. The best place to start is by asking questions and doing some research. This article is here as a tool to assist you and point you in the right direction to becoming a responsible conceal carry practitioner.

The 6 steps in this article are a road map to guide you along this process. Find out about your state’s gun and conceal carry laws. Do the homework and use these tools to help you make an informed decision when it comes to conceal carrying. Conceal carrying is about empowering you to take an active role in your safety and the safety of the ones you love.

Did this article provide any useful insight or search tools? What do you think about the castle doctrine and stand your ground law? What is your favorite conceal carry pistol and holster? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for Reading

If you enjoyed this post, hit that like button, subscribe, and tag a friend. If you have any suggestions, ideas, or comments. Please feel free to drop a comment. Be Humble. Be Savage. Have a great day!

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