Monday, October 17, 2016

Concealed Carry? Questions I Am Asked... Part ll

As we move closer to the election, with terror attacks taking place and the uncertainty of the coming changes in the Supreme Court and thus, the Second Amendment, the questions about the concealed carry lifestyle keep on coming.

Here are a few more...

With the thought of carrying, many people want to know how to avoid the fight all together, or they are afraid of being surprised and being unable to defend themselves.  I talk to them about Condition Yellow and use this analogy.

This is NOT Condition Yellow:
You get up in the morning, shower, get dressed, make breakfast, help get the kids out the door, their smiling faces a nice send-off to your busy day at work.

You kiss your spouse good-bye, give them a hug and jump into the
car.  Starting it up, you put it into reverse and as you back up, you look back over your shoulder and have to hit the brakes as a car suddenly comes from behind a parked car.  Finally you swing into the street.

As you pull away your hand reaches out to the radio, changing the channel, turning up the volume.  You hear a yell and look up to see your neighbor waving at you as they jog down the street moving quickly up onto the curbing as you go by them.  You wave back with a smile, thinking 'why is he waving with his fist?'

At the stop sign you turn right, the sun shining in your eyes, and you wonder at the brilliance of the blue sky as "Hey Carrie Anne..." blares through the speakers.  A pothole shakes the steering wheel and you make a mental note to call the city when you get to the office.

As you come to the stoplight, which is green, you are in the right hand lane, tapping your hands to the wheel in time to the music. The car on your left slows to make the turn while you continue on through the intersecBAM!  CRASH!  A car has just crushed the drivers side door, slamming you to the left, the side airbag deploying, the front airbag deploying, smoke and the sound of twisting steel and a racing engine attack your ears as your car spins crazily across the road into a telephone pole.  The last thing you hear as blood flows into your eyes and you pass out is "Hey Carrie Anne, what's your game now, can anybody play..."

This IS Condition Yellow:
You get up in the morning, shower, get dressed, make breakfast, help get the kids out the door, their smiling faces a nice send-off to your busy day at work.

You kiss your spouse good-bye, give them a hug and jump into the car - looking behind it to make sure none of the neighborhood children are there.  Starting it up, you put it into reverse and as you back up, you look back over your shoulder watching not only the road, but the sidewalks for people walking.  You see a car just as it moves through some parked cars on the street and you gently brake, letting him go by before swinging into the street.

As you pull away you look into both side mirrors and then your rear view mirror to make sure everything is set correctly.  When you are comfortable you reach over to the radio and turn it down a little, so you can concentrate on your driving.  You notice your neighbor jogging next to the curb and move over a little to give him room, smiling and waving as you do.

At the stop sign you turn right, the sun shining in your eyes, and you wonder at the brilliance of the blue sky as you pull down the visor, cutting the glare and allowing you to see a child's ball in the roadway, going around it.  You laugh as you think of the next person who doesn't see it and runs over it with a bang - thinking it's going to feel like a pothole!

As you come to the stoplight, which is green, you are in the right hand lane, lightly tapping your hands to the wheel in time to the music on the radio. The car on your left slows to make a left... and you wonder why?  There is no oncoming traffic.  The road ahead is clear for him to turn left.  You lift off the gas pedal, allowing your car to slow as you look around, trying to see if there is a problem. And then on your left you see a car that is swerving, bearing down on the intersection, about to go through a red light! 

You easily stop your slowing car, watching as the idiot blasts through the intersection, a phone to his ear, completely unaware of the carnage he has avoided.  You shake your head, look at the car on your left and nod in commiseration with the driver at the idiot drivers stupidity, look both ways, check the light and go on your way to work. As you do, you realize your favorite song is playing gently through the speakers, "Hey Carrie Anne, what's your game now, can anybody play..."

Condition Yellow allows you to see everything coming before it gets to you.  

It allows you to make decisions ahead of time that can not only keep you out of the fight, but if a fight arrives, will allow you to be better prepared to work up a plan.

If you are not in Condition Yellow, it's as if you are standing in the middle of the expressway with cars roaring by at 60 mph, just inches from you, your hair and clothes flapping in the wind, going far to fast for you to react - so you stay there, frozen.

If you are in Condition Yellow, you are driving at 60 mph, right along with traffic, seeing everything as it happens in real time, slowly, allowing anticipation.

"What do you do with your gun when you use the restroom?"

It depends on where I carry.  In my shoulder holster?  It stays where it's at - Unless you're George Costanza.  If I pocket carry, I usually leave it in the pocket.  But if I carry on the belt, IWB or OWB, then it goes in the basket.

What is the basket?  Well, you take off your gun (preferably with the holster attached, though in many instances this may not be possible or realistic) and put it in the crotch of your pants.

Why this guy on the left is not wearing underwear is beyond me, but carefully placing the gun here assures two things.  The gun is safe from others and you won't forget it.

What you don't do with your gun while you're in the bathroom is more important.

Don't leave it on the back of the toilet.  Don't put it on the sink. Don't hang it on the back of the door.  Don't place it on the floor at your feet. Don't leave it in your holster without making sure it won't fall out, clattering on the floor or possibly outside the stall.

Some people leave it in the waistband holster, but re-fasten their belt at their knees, keeping the pant taut, the holster perpendicular to the ground.  But in the end, the bottom line is - You are responsible for your gun at all times.  Don't be the guy who leaves it on the commode "just this one time" and then realizes twenty minutes later that his gun isn't with him.  

Not only do you hurt Second Amendment supporters everywhere with your stupidity, but immeasurably worse, you could cause injury or death to an innocent, for which you would be held responsible - both with jail time and with lawsuits.  As gun owners we claim to be trustworthy and responsible, and there you are doing your best Barney Fife impersonation.

"What's the best piece of advice you can give me about concealed carry?"

Get a good carry belt.  You will hear this over and over, but until you buy one, you can't understand the true concept of concealed carry comfort.

What makes a carry belt different than a good, thick, heavy leather belt?  A carry belt is made with two pieces of leather - or nylon type synthetics - stitched together to make one rigid belt. Some belts are two pieces plus a steel core reinforcement that adds to the rigidity while extending the life of the belt.

Rigidity is the key.  You don't want a belt that can twist, sag or stretch.  You want the gun tight to your body and to safely hold its position while you carry.  You don't want to constantly tug at your pants, or feel like you have to check to see if your gun is falling out away from your body.  Anyone who has had a belt roll over on them, twisting so the inside is now the outside, will understand the need for rigidity.

The most common reason that people stop carrying or only carry occasionally is comfort.  Get a good belt.  Be comfortable. Be safe.

Open carry vs concealed carry

I live in Illinois, so it's only concealed carry here unless you're on your own property or have the permission of the property owner to open carry.

If you are in a State that allows both, this is truly a personal decision.  There are many factors that should be taken into consideration when deciding between the two forms of carry.

  • Do you want to give up the anonymity of concealment? There is something to be said for the ease and unobtrusiveness of concealment.  
  • If you open carry, will you be a target for those trying to steal a gun? With open carry, close quarters hand to hand tactics should be practiced to thwart an attempted theft of your weapon. Living in Condition Yellow needs to be sharpened to a fine edge.  You will need at least a level II retention holster while a level III is better.  These kinds of holsters require several movements to allow your sidearm to come free. This cuts down the odds on the bad guy grabbing your pistol from you. Not only will the bad guy have a much tougher time snatching your piece, but this type of holster will require you to be well practiced in un-holstering should the need arise in an emergency.  
  • If a bad guy enters, will you be his first target because he can see you have the ability to shoot him?  This is a real concern. Many say the very fact they can see the gun, may cause the bad guy to go elsewhere.  Others say you may be the first person shot.
  • Do you want to give up the element of surprise? There are those who feel carrying concealed gives you an edge in a situation that suddenly goes south.  You have a gun and the bad guy doesn't know it? Check.  Surprise counts.
  • If you open carry are you prepared for the attention?  The 'man with a gun' calls?  Some will say the very act of open carrying should be done to desensitize people to guns.  If people see normal citizens walking around heeled, their Hoplophobic brains would retrain themselves.  Others say they don't want the attention, the looks, the fear, the cops showing up with guns drawn because someone called in a MWAG - or worse yet, someone swatting you.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to think about when you make the decision to carry open or concealed.  Think it through and do what's best for you and yours.

If you came home and realized someone might be in your house, do you know how to clear it?

While I know people who practice clearing their homes, the reality is that I don't.  The two scenarios that play out are - Coming home to a house that might have a stranger in it, or being at home and someone breaking in.

Lets look at the first one. You come home, open the garage door and realize the inner door is standing wide open - or the front door is ajar as you walk up to it.  You look at your spouse and you wonder... Is someone in our home?

At this point, your best and safest play is to move away from the home and call the professionals - the Police.  This is what they do. This is what they train for. This is the job they've taken on.

Just recently, renowned firearms instructor Rob Pincus, of I.C.E. training went to his sisters house, only to realize squatters may have taken over the property.  Pincus has the skills and training to handle this himself, but what did he do?

He drove to the end of the block and called Denver P.D.  They arrived and removed the squatters.  This was the smart play.  You never know what or who you will meet in those circumstances - so why go from safely outside, to putting yourself in danger?

The second scenario is someone breaking in while you're at home.  In this instance the practice should be to take up a defensive position, call 9-1-1, loudly inform the intruder the Police have been called and that you are armed and will use force if necessary.

Then sit back and wait for the good guys with guns to arrive.

If you have children in the house, there should be a plan in place to retrieve them whenever possible and if not, they should be taught how to barricade themselves in their rooms until help arrives.

This is the simple and safe way to handle the situation.  Certainly these are just two scenarios, but in the end, staying safe is all the matters.  Staying out of the fray is the easiest way to do this.

Would you be the hero during a rampage shooting?

This appears to be one of the most talked about situations, as far as concealed carry is concerned.  For this, I don't believe there is a simple answer.  But this is what I tell those who ask.

My job, my one and only job, the only thing I'm worrying about is to keep me and mine safe.  That's it.  Nothing more, nothing less.  If shooting starts, living in Condition Yellow I know where exits are. I know where elevators, staircases and escalators are. And I'm getting me and mine out.  Period.

Now that may sound crass to many.  It may sound cold and detached, but that's it in a nutshell - and I don't owe anyone an explanation.

Everyone has the ability to defend themselves.  As a matter of fact, it's your personal responsibility to defend yourself - not mine, not the Police, not the Governments - it's yours. 

Now with that being said, after my family and friends are safe, then the decision to take on a shooter would depend on the circumstances at that time - and at that time they may be undefinable.

It is possible that an active shooter / rampage shooter situation could break out right in front of you and there may be an opportunity to end it right there - but what if you miss and are shot, how will your spouse, your children, your grandchildren make it to safety?  Or will they be mowed down with the others?

The only situation I believe I would run into headlong, is an active shooter at a school (or anyplace children were present) where I know the Police have not arrived. Then?  

I'm in.  Devil be damned.

How often do you practice?

This is another one that is different for everybody.  In the beginning, I went to the range every two weeks and put a couple hundred rounds at paper targets.  I practiced dry fire in my house (with no one home, because, you know, it feels kind of silly - even though it isn't) at least twice a week. 

This was mainly drawing, firing and firing while moving either backwards or quartering away from the target.  Later my Son bought a SIRT training pistol - a full weight replica of a Glock 19, with a removable mag and a two stage laser trigger - and I practiced with that the same way.

Beyond practice, you need to read, Read, READ!  So many books that help you to understand concealed carry, guns, tactics and practice.  

Books like - 

  • The Gun Digest Book Of Concealed Carry, In the Gravest Extreme, Deadly Force - Understanding Your Right to Self Defense, and StressFire - all written by the guru of all things guns, Massad Ayoob
  • Concealed Carry and Home Defense Fundamentals, USCCA Edition by Michael Martin
  • Armed Response by David Kenik

Read them.  Study them. Practice them.  When you've read a book, sign the inside of the cover and date it.  Why?  Because if you ever have to defend yourself at trial, what you know and don't know may be the difference between going home to he family and living in a hell called prison for the rest of your life.

At trial, you are able to give evidence only to what you knew at the time, and how it may have affected your lethal force response. If you shot a man who had a knife and was 18' feet away, being able to explain to a jury what the Tueler Drill is and the part it plays in JOA - Jeopardy Opportunity and Ability - will go a long way to helping yourself.  If you didn't know this information in advance, you would not be able to bring it up at trial.  Keeping records of what you read can be a great help to yourself and your attorneys, should the need arise.

Join gun forums and take classes when you can.  Holster drill classes, shooting classes, self defense classes.  Subscribe to magazines.  You can never learn or know too much.

In the end, one fact is always clear to me - What I know, isn't enough.  You can never sit back and think you've got it covered. You must practice.  You must read.  You must advance your skills whenever possible.

Stay Safe and Carry Responsibly

My new book -Concealed Carry and the War on the Second Amendment, a collection from the New Gunner Journal - is now available at Lulu.comAmazon and Barnes and Noble.  If you have any questions about Concealed Carry or are sitting on the fence, this would make a nice Christmas present to learn about the lifestyle and those who live it.

Order now... "Concealed Carry and the War on the Second Amendment"