During the course of writing my book on concealed carry I interviewed almost a hundred CCW permit holders regarding the guns they preferred, how often they carried, and why they took the time to acquire a license. Invariably, everyone claimed to carry for the same reason—to protect themselves and their loved ones against violent attacks. Firearms of choice varied, but almost everyone carried a compact revolver or semiauto in one of the most popular defensive calibers. But when I asked how often they carried, many responded that they rarely or never carried.
I was baffled. While many permit holders carried daily, an equal number never carried at all. In fact, several had never carried a concealed firearm despite the fact that they had permits. Many had had those permits for years without ever actually toting a firearm. Here’s a look at the most common reasons why CCW holders don’t carry. If any of these hurdles are preventing you from protecting yourself, then perhaps it’s time to rethink your personal defense plan and remember the reason for obtaining a carry license in the first place.
1. I’ve Got A Permit If I Need It: This was a common theme. The response was usually something like, “I don’t feel like I need a gun day to day, but if I ever do need to carry I am allowed to do so.” The bad news, folks, is that a plastic card that allows you to carry isn’t nearly as effective at stopping a violent attacker as a real, functional firearm. Not carrying because you may not need a gun is the equivalent of not putting on a seatbelt because you don’t plan on having an accident.
2. My Neighborhood Isn’t Dangerous: Many respondents said that they carry a gun only when they’re not in their own neighborhood. The idea that crime only happens in certain environs and not in others is a falsehood. True, certain locations have higher rates of violent crime than others, but if there is only one vicious assault in your city per year that’s little comfort if you are the one who’s been assaulted. Criminals are looking for victims that make easy targets, and if you think that crime statistics ensure that a dangerous encounter won’t happen in your part of town, you’re much more likely to be caught unaware.
3. I Feel Like a Criminal When I Carry: I blame this attitude partly upon anti-gun agendas that paint gun owners—all gun owners—as violent threats to society. We are fortunate that we live in a country that, at least for the time being, allows us to carry firearms to protect our lives and the lives of our loved ones. If you have a permit you’re not, in fact, a criminal, but there’s a chance you will run into one...so you must be prepared. The more you carry, the more comfortable you’ll become with the idea of carrying.
4. I Don’t Like My Carry Gun: We all have different tastes in food, clothing, cars and, yes, guns. But the good news is there are lots of great carry guns on the market. Some will fit small hands well and some are ideal for larger hands. Some people prefer revolvers and others gravitate toward semiautos. A friend or gun dealer may tell you exactly the gun they believe will serve you best, but it’s important to take the time to find a gun that suits you. My advice? Attend the annual NRA convention which allows shooters to examine guns from almost every manufacturer in the country with experts from each brand on-site to help you. If you’re going to buy just one carry gun, you need to invest in the right carry gun. Once you get that gun, dedicate time to practice and work until you feel comfortable with it.
5. I Can’t Find a Carry Method I Like: I’m amazed by the growing list of innovative carry products available to shooters. There are quite literally hundreds of options for CCW permit holders, everything from belly bands to IWB (inside waistband) holsters, to laptop bags with hidden compartments and much, much more. The problem is that shooters, particularly new shooters, aren’t aware of what’s actually available to them. It may take some time and some homework, but if you persist you’ll find a carry method that works for you. As with guns, there isn’t one right answer for everyone.
6. I’m Not Familiar Enough with Guns to Carry: Sometimes novice shooters believe that they’ll be completely comfortable with a firearm after they complete their CCW course. With the right instructors and the right materials this may be true, but experience and coaching can go a long way toward helping new shooters improve. The best advice that I can offer is to invest in additional training and spend time at the range with ax experienced instructor. Even the best competitive shooters regularly seek out experts who can help them improve, and if you’re new to guns this is doubly important. If you’re an experienced shooter consider attending an NRA course to become an instructor so you can help coach novices.