As of 2016, an estimated 14.5 million people are legally permitted under concealed carry laws to carry a concealed handgun.
While it is great to see so many people making good use of our hard-won Second Amendment rights, sometimes it is worth wondering how many of those people know how carry a weapon responsibly.
In this article, learn 10 of the best conceal and carry tips to be a responsible gun owner.
Tip 1: Get a holster that you feel very comfortable wearing.
When you are carrying a concealed weapon, the most important part of your self defense system isn’t actually the gun itself. It is the holster. How easy or difficult your holster makes it to get to your gun safely as needed will make the difference between whether your gun helps you or harms you.
What to do: Wear your holster system around the house and outside first. When you find the right holster that fits well and gives you easy access to your gun, then you are ready to carry it out in public.
Tip 2: Practice awareness.
Here, the word “aware” is actually an acronym used often in the conceal and carry community to denote responsible gun ownership. The “A” stands for “Alert.” The “W” stands for “Willing (to use it).” The second “A” stands for “(positive) Attitude.” The “R” stands for “Ready.” And the “E” stands for “Even-tempered.”
What to do: Just as some of the most highly trained martial arts fighters are also those least reactive in high intensity situations, so too must you as a gun owner with a conceal and carry weapon always remain calm. By staying aware at all times, you uphold the responsible gun owner’s code of honor.
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Tip 3: Practice as often as possible.
Sure it would be wonderful to be able to carry your gun out in the open in a holster on your hip like they did in the old Wild West. But today, that would just be a recipe for disaster.
So your only option is to conceal your handgun and the fact you have it. This also means you need to get used to retrieving it smoothly from its concealed location.
What to do: Practice daily at home with the gun unloaded. Just practice – without looking in a mirror or looking down at your clothes – retrieving your gun and readying it to aim and fire.
Tip 4: When out in public, it is hands-off unless you need it for defense.
If you’ve ever traveled with sensitive documents stowed away in a waist pack, you probably know all too well how tempting it is to continually check to make sure they are still safely hidden.
But when what you are checking for is a concealed handgun, this is as much as sending out a memo to those nearby that you have a gun. You don’t want anyone to know you have a gun unless you need to use it.
What to do: Resist, resist, resist the urge to “check” and make sure it is still there. If for some reason it does shift around while you’re out and about, nip into a private area like a restroom and adjust it there.
Tip 5: Keep your carry gun clean and loaded.
There just truly isn’t much point to carrying a concealed handgun if it could become a danger to you. A gun that isn’t cleaned and fired regularly or a gun whose ammo has become corrupt due to moisture or heat can be more dangerous than having no gun at all.
What to do: Make sure you clean your gun according to the manufacturer’s instructions and regularly rotate your ammo. Carrying a spare loaded magazine won’t hurt either!
Tip 6: Don’t “fancy up” your carry gun.
It is all well and good to add on bells and whistles for your hunting gun, your home gun, your shooting range guns….but when it comes to your carry gun, simple is the word you are looking for. You just don’t want to be fiddling with a new gizmo when you need a reliable gun ASAP.
What to do: Choose any add-ons to your conceal and carry gun with care. Remember, this is your “save my life” gun. It has one job to do and it needs to do it to perfection.
Tip 7: Always let your family know you are carrying.
If you are going to carry a concealed handgun, this should not be a surprise to your family, especially if your family includes kids or even pets. Telling your family will protect them from ending up on the wrong end of your weapon in a crisis.
What to do: Make sure you set up firm rules around any gun that is stored or concealed and worn around family.
Tip 8: Do not rely on your gun.
Sure, it is great to have a concealed gun as a source of protection. But there is always an outside chance it won’t work as you expect it to when the time comes.
What to do: Gun owners call “gun courage” what happens when a gun owner thinks the gun makes him or her invincible. You don’t want this kind of courage, so monitor yourself and always remember the gun is only part of your safety plan.
Related Article: 15 Simple Self Defense Techniques Everyone Needs to Learn
Tip 9: Always demonstrate safe gun handling.
So many preventable accidents occur each year because people forget guns are lethal. Pointing even an empty gun at someone is a no-no. So is keeping your finger on the trigger. Be sure if you do fire that innocents are not in the line of fire. And safety checks are a must.
What to do: If you need to, memorize and recite the gun safety basics to yourself daily before you strap on your holster. These are too important to ever forget!
Tip 10: Never misplace your gun.
“Accidents happen” is not a phrase you ever want to use in the same sentence with “concealed handgun.” In service to this goal, if you decide to carry your gun with you, you must know where it is at all times.
What to do: Train yourself not to ever take the gun off, put it down, or put it in a different location while you are carrying it.
Importance of Being a Responsible Gun Owner
Learning how to safely carry a concealed gun and feel confident while doing so is not something you should expect to come to you overnight. It will take time, finding the right gear and practicing until wearing it out and about feels natural.
But you can totally do this! Just take it day by day. Challenge yourself to try one new thing each day until that day comes when wearing your conceal and carry holster with gun feels like a second skin. When you started feeling naked without it, that is when you will know all your hard work has paid off!