I am fortunate to live in a state where I am able to legally carry a concealed firearm. I have possessed a permit for just a touch over twelve years, and I have carried daily the vast majority of that time.
I have written about living with a concealed handgun here before. Part of the phrase is concealed handgun, and daily life presents challenges in our endeavor to keep our weapons out of sight. These challenges may be minor or significant, but they can be overcome with preparation and experience. I would like to talk about a few things I’ve learned or tried to embody these last dozen years, and hope you may consider living by them, regardless if you carry a weapon for defense.
- Above all things, remember you have been entrusted by society to be a responsible person. The Commonwealth of Virginia has taken faith in my ability to not only be proficient with a firearm, and to be knowledgeable of her laws, but also in my ability to govern my own behavior. A concealed carry permit is not a license to kill, but it is a license to carry a tool that may be used to exert lethal force.
- Think to yourself: is this worth someone potentially dying over? You are now in the big leagues. Gone are the days that you could honk your horn and flip someone the bird if they cut you off. That dude in front of you with fifteen items in the “10 Items or Less” line? Let it slide. You may never know what will set someone off, and when you carry a weapon, things may get ugly very quickly. As Samuel Colt wrote, “an armed society is a polite society.”
- Please don’t drink and drive. Don’t drink and carry, either.
- Be kind, because one day you may be called upon to be violent. Be polite. Be gentle. Hold the door open for people. Say “please” and “thank you.” Be friendly. My nod or smile has disarmed a suspicious face more than pointing my gun at them through my coat ever has. If I should ever have to use my firearm in self-defense, I want to know that I have lived my life as responsibly as possible. Carry your dignity and politeness as close to you as you do your sidearm.
- Use your awareness to help others. You may have heard about (or experienced) living in “condition orange,” the state of readiness just slightly lax of a fighting situation. You will learn to see things most do not. You will sense things that people ignore. As you remain vigilant for bad guys in ski masks, please use your new-found awareness to keep pedestrians safe from cars that don’t stop. Shepherd people who round corners too sharply so they will not bump into someone. When your friend drives, point out the car that is about to pull in front of them.
- Be an ambassador. In my experience, most people hate guns because they don’t know anything about them. People fear that which they do not understand. Please take the time to educate those who are curious about firearms, firearm safety, and the laws which govern them. I have taken many people to the shooting range who swore they would never touch a gun — and they have always had a positive experience.
Please remember that often, the public’s only experience with firearms is on the news. Unfortunately guns are on the news because something bad has happened. A shooting at a mall, or a robbery, or a murder-suicide. Live and act as if you were the sole person by which future gun opinions were formulated.
Train. Practice. Be vigilant. May you never have to use your firearm in self-defense. Be safe.