Personal defense and concealed carry are definitely hot topics today. More and more citizens are realizing that they are responsible for their own safety and they are taking steps to protect themselves and their families. All of this is good, but in many cases folks are getting bad information (“Well, Uncle Charlie says...”), or they are not thinking the process through in a rational manner. In no particular order, here are five of the biggest mistakes that concealed carriers can make.
#1...CARRYING TOO SMALL A HANDGUN: Many people are attracted to small defensive handguns simply because they can be more easily concealed. What they fail to realize is that the smaller the handgun, the more difficult it is to shoot accurately.
Small handguns increase the felt recoil from a particular cartridge. Simply put, that little 9mm that fits so nicely in the pocket is going to kick more than a larger service pistol in the same caliber. Recoil may be so sharp that it causes the shooter to start flinching, that is, anticipating the gun firing and the resultant recoil. When we flinch, we have trouble hitting the target in an accurate manner.
Taking the 9mm as an example, it is possible to find defensive handguns in small, medium and large. The shooter is well advised to select the handgun that is most comfortable to shoot. Comfort leads to accuracy, and accuracy leads to confidence in the gun and one's ability to deliver shots that will stop a criminal attack.
#2...FAILURE TO DRESS AROUND THE HANDGUN: One of the main reasons that people end up with a gun that is so small they can't use it effectively is because it is easier to conceal with the clothes that they are used to wearing. In short, they haven't learned to dress around the gun.
Dressing around the gun is not as difficult as it may sound at first. It may just entail buying pants that are one size larger in the waist. It may involve wearing shirts or blouses without tucking them into the pants. It may involve wearing a lightweight fleece vest, although one should stay away from the khaki photographer's vests that were once so popular for concealed carry that they should have a sign across the back that says, “I have a gun!”.
An excellent idea is to get concealment advice from people who have been carrying for a while. Find out how they manage to conceal during the various seasons of the year, what holsters they use and what other holsters might be available. In most cases, changes to the wardrobe are not all that severe. Use your imagination and learn to dress around the gun.
#3...OFF-BODY CARRY: Many women solve the concealment problem by carrying in a purse. And, nowadays, it is not uncommon to see men using shoulder bags as well. Although it is certainly better to have a firearm in a bag than no firearm at all, there are two problems with this type of concealed carry.
The first is that it takes much longer to get the gun into action from a bag than it does a holster on the body. And it takes two hands to get the gun into action, one to draw the gun and the other to hold the bag still. Considering that the crook has to make his move before you can draw on him, time is the one thing you can't afford to waste.
The second problem with off-body carry is that people tend to lay their off-body devices down while they go about other tasks. The minute that bag is off your shoulder, you have lost control over it. It becomes more accessible to crooks, unauthorized people and children.
The defensive handgun is more quickly brought into action when it is holstered on the person. It is also easier to control who sees it and who touches it. Learning to dress around the gun makes carrying in a purse or bag unnecessary.
#4...LACK OF TRAINING: We often hear people say that they have been shooting guns all their lives. While this may be true, in most cases, they have never learned to fight with a gun. And folks, there is a big difference between those two.
Whether they want to admit it or not, what most people know about gunfighting is what they have gotten from movies or television. I don't think I need to go into any great detail about how faulty that sort of information is to real-world criminal attacks. If you wanted to learn to scuba dive or fly an airplane, a smart person would realize the importance of getting training. It is no different with personal defense: It only makes sense to get good professional training.
We are fortunate to have numerous, well-qualified defensive instructors working today. Some of these instructors will even travel to your home shooting range to put on classes. Get the training...and then get more training. And, after you have absorbed that, book another school. When your life depends on it, there is not much chance of getting too much training.
#5...NOT TAKING GUN SAFETY SERIOUSLY ENOUGH: When you carry a gun you have the obligation to not place your fellow citizens in danger. Gun safety is a 24/7 proposition. It must be in effect whenever you handle a firearm. It must become second nature. It must be something that you are rabidly serious about any time, every time, and all the time. And you must demand it from your friends and family. When guns go off unintentionally it is rarely due to an accident; most often it is due to negligence. Here are four easy-to-understand safety rules that will help avoid all sorts of grief:
ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED
NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING THAT YOU AREN'T WILLING TO DESTROY
KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET
BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET AND WHAT IS BEHIND IT
Carrying a concealed handgun is a way of life. In many ways, it changes the way we dress, the way we act and the way we think. It changes our priorities to the point that we pass on a vacation in order to spend time and money on training. Taking it seriously will help a person avoid these five pitfalls to concealed carry.