By Mark V. Lonsdale, Director, STTU
With all these psycho mass shooters and active shooting events in public places, more and more people are opting to carry concealed, or are looking into the process. This paper will look at the responsibilities that come with carrying a concealed weapon (CCW).
First, learn the local laws and the laws of any states you plan on visiting. Some states have reciprocity and some do not. Some states allow open carry or concealed carry, but only for residents. Others allow open carry but only for individuals holding a concealed weapons permit. Some require that you tell a law enforcement officer immediately if pulled over for a traffic violation. Then, states like CA do not allow open carry, even if you have a state CCW. Conclusion – do your homework.
These would be considered concealed carry fails.
Next, get training, and more than just the 8 to 16 hours required by the state. Get basic, intermediate, and advanced reality-based handgun training from a professional. Not from some retail assistant who has never trained professionally; and even prior military does not make someone a competent weapons instructor (he may have been an admin type who shot once every few years, and only when he had to). I have worked with Army officers who had not shot their M9 Berettas in 4 years. Even an NRA instructor certificate means the individual has had only 5 days training but probably no real world skills or experience. If he or she is an NRA instructor and former law enforcement, that carries more credibility. Certificates are close to meaningless but real-world experience and years of teaching are what you are looking for. Solution – do your homework, talk to people who know, and check the instructor’s credentials – your life may depend on it.
The few public State CCW classes that I have attended in various States were seriously lacking and only designed to make sure the participants don’t shoot themselves, the person standing to their right and left, and to hit a man-sized target at 3 to 5 yards. These programs usually shoot one box of ammo, are not designed to improve your shooting, definitely do not address tactics in the home, workplace or parking lot, and not one taught drawing from concealed carry. In fact, most did not utilize holsters and had participants beginning with the gun on the bench or in the hand. In two classes there were individuals who needed assistance loading and unloading their pistols, but no one ever failed the course. Scary!! You still need the State approved certificate, but this is why you need to look elsewhere for professional training including how to carry concealed and shooting from concealed carry under stress.
More on Concealed Carry:
If you can legally carry concealed in a State that does not have an open carry provision, you need to keep that handgun concealed. This can be a challenge for people who have never had professional training and have not perfected concealed carry through years of practice.
The problem arises when a member of the public sees your handgun because your shirt rode up or hooked on the grips getting out of the car. And this doesn’t even address all the times permitted guns have been dropped in public because of poor holster design, or left in public bathrooms because of inexperience. If someone reports seeing your gun, you could be arrested for anything up to an including brandishing a firearm. (A CCW does not cover you for open carry in some States).
As an example of how serious this is – a guy working at a local gun shop wanted to see one of my heavy competition rifles so I invited him to walk out to my truck to see it. He was carrying openly in the gun shop but told me he could not walk out to the parking lot, even though my truck was only 7 yards from the front door. So I suggested he untuck his shirt to cover his Glock. He said he couldn’t do that either since he didn’t have a CCW. The lesson learned is that he knew the law and was sticking to it. He was only able to legally carry on private property.
Also be sure that anti-gun liberals would like nothing better than to cause a scene and ruin your day. So be sure to invest in quality concealment (IWB) holsters specifically molded for your handgun, and then adjust your clothing choices when carrying concealed. For example, if you wear an XL shirt, purchase XXL or even XXXL to ensure no “printing” of the gun.
Outside the waist band holsters can be more comfortable to carry, but they require a loose jacket or shirt for successful concealment. Left is a SIG 228/229 in a Safariland paddle holster; right is a Wilson CQB .45 in a leather pancake holster.
For women, there are lots of purses and handbags designed specifically for concealed carry, but that same purse or handbag is also the target of purse snatches. If they grab the bag, they have not only disarmed you, they have also armed themselves.
Inside the belt or waistband holsters offer better concealment since they mold closer to the body. Left is a Wilson CQB .45 in a Blackhawk holster; right is a SIG 228 in a Galco holster. Both guns have rust proof finishes to protect them from sweat.
Glock 19 with a light mount in a Kydex holster set up for outside the belt. This holster can be worn outside the belt or inside the belt by unscrewing the belt loops and switching them to the other side.
More important than having a CCW and going strapped, is getting training, practicing regularly (monthly), and constantly practicing situational awareness for potential threats. All too many CCW permit holders have little to no training apart from the minimal State requirements. They not only have no law enforcement or military training, but they may have never been in a stressful situation, survived a mugging, or taken full-contact martial arts training. This leaves them prone to freezing in a deadly encounter.
There are four parts to defensive firearms training:
- Basic safety and manipulation which usually takes at least 1-2 days of training. The more repetitions of safely loading, unloading, shooting, and drawing from a holster, the better the participant will retain what they learn. Most training should be on man-sized targets, IPSC/IDPA type targets, but “dot drills” are also useful when working on accuracy and trigger control. Remember, the goal is not to turn out a combat shooter but a safe gun owner who is not a hazard to himself or the community. The participants should leave the class confident in their safe gun handling and not afraid of the pistol. If a participant is so stressed that he or she is struggling to follow even simple instructions after 2 days, then they should be recycled for more training and individual attention. (Round count: at least 300 to 400 for the 2 days)
- Basic tactical handgun training with a big focus on trigger finger and muzzle control while moving, drawing, engaging multiple targets, reloading, and reholstering. This is still low speed training following the crawl, walk, run principals – with the running being more of a quick, balanced walk. But stress can be added through time limits, ball and dummy drills, shoot / no shoot targets, verbal commands, and targets hidden behind barricades. The ideal for this type of training is 4 days, shooting 400 – 600 rounds. As the drills become more advanced, the shooters usually shoot less and focus more on tactics and use of cover. They will also be running shooting drills one at a time, as opposed to all on a line of 10 to 20 shooters. This gives them the opportunity to learn from watch other individuals run the drills.
- Reality-based training is tailored to the participants, law enforcement, military, security, or the general public. It can also be modified to suit the work environment of the participants, for example, at home, at work, retail sales, working at night, backpacking and rural encounters, boat owners and maritime, etc. The key thing is that the participants recognize situations that they could be in and learn to negotiate the situational challenges. These could include recognizing the threat, creating space, reacting to a lunge, blocking, drawing, firing at close quarters; or it may involve being carjacked, robbed at knife or gunpoint, being in a store or bank when it is being robbed, or reacting to a mass shooter in a school, workplace, or supermarket.
- Periodic refresher training is usually a one or two day program designed to maintain and reinforce perishable skills. Graduates could also attend one or two days of the previous programs so that they can cherry pick what they want to work on.
- Learn the State CCW laws
- Get the required State training certificate
- Get professional defensive handgun training
- Train periodically to maintain perishable skills
- Support the 2nd Amendment and Right to Carry
The author carrying openly (left) and concealed (right) in Iraq in 2004. A loose fitting shirt worked well to conceal a full sized handgun and two extra magazines.