By January 28, 2008

The secret life of carrying a concealed weapon

Folks who carry a concealed weapon do so to protect themselves or someone else. However, the vast majority of my time around my handguns is spent keeping them out of the view of others. When I first got my concealed carry permit in 1996 there weren’t the Web sites and forums we have today that talk about concealed carry. I was lucky enough to have a subscription to a few firearms magazines, and they ran some articles about keeping your concealed weapon concealed.

I ingested as much as I could from these articles, and learned some things that I still practice to this day. Little things, like always reaching above your head with your off-carry arm. If you’re a righty, you will take things off of the top shelf in the grocery store with your left hand. If you did so naturally, with your right, you may show your firearm. The inverse is true if you are picking something up below your waist. I used to just bend over and pick stuff up, now I squat as if I were wearing a skirt (there’s a scary image for you). I reach down with my right hand, as this helps your top cover your weapon better.

So, after the basics get squared away, you start learning to deal with stuff they don’t talk about in articles. My friend learned to not rock back and forth so much in movie theater seats. Rock rock rock rock rock CLANK. Scccrrrrrrtttttch. “Oh shit!” he whispered. “What?” the rest of us asked. “I dropped my piece!” His revolver slipped out of his pocket holster and slid down two aisles before coming to rest underneath another seat.

I learned to be extra-paranoid about making sure I put my pistol back in its holster after using the restroom. A college student put his Glock on the toilet tank, did his sit-down business, and got up and left. He went back for his handgun, but by that time someone else had found it and called the authorities. He was arrested, charged with carrying a concealed weapon on an academic property, and was kicked out of school.

Getting hugged is another danger. I told you, it’s random shit you have to start thinking about. Someone comes up and gives you a nice squeeze. If you’re like me, hugs are about as close as you’re going to get to another person, so I like to enjoy them. But you may have some explaining to do when a little chickie runs up to you, slaps her arms around your waist and squeezes your sidearm nice and tight. “What’s that?” I’ve been asked more than once. If it’s someone that I think can handle the idea of concealed carry, I tell them. Otherwise, I lie. I know it’s not the most forthright thing in the world, but you can’t change everyone’s minds about everything, and firearms are one of those things that make people lose their ability to think logically and rationally. I just avoid the issue.

There’s all sorts of other stuff, but the reason I decided to write this piece is because of something that happened to me last night. I was in the locker room of my gym. The lockers are on top of wooden benches. I usually sit down in front of an open locker, scoot my butt up as close as I can, and slip my main handgun inside so that no one can see. Yeah, it probably looks a little suspicious, but I think that’s better than whipping it out and waving it around. My gun, I mean.

Last night I went into the locker room to change and there was a man with a walker-cane sitting right in front of my locker. Normally I could have just slid my arm behind him and pulled my stuff out, but that would defeat my usual arm/disarm maneuver. I considered stalling, like using the restroom or washing my hands, or just doing five more minutes on the elliptical machine. He looked up at me and said, “do you need me to move?”

Now I torn between hiding my weapon from common sight, or being that asshole that makes a cripple move. “It’s okay,” I said, “you don’t need to move.” He started to scoot away from my locker towards the end of the bench. “Jerry,” he called, “when you’re done pulling your pants up I need you to help me move, please.” I felt like a douche bag, but Jerry came over and helped the fellow off to another part of the locker room. I put my clothes on, backed up to the locker, and secured my Glock. Off I went, no one else the wiser.

You have a lot to think about when you are unarmed. Remembering what you needed at the grocery store, moving around that lady and her twenty-seven kids in the bread aisle, answering that call on your mobile (or not), is it cheaper to buy two little cans or one big one, maybe keeping track of your own kids or family, and still keeping an eye out for lurking evil-doers everywhere. That’s a lot of stuff. Add to that the responsibility of carrying a loaded firearm on your person. Keeping it safe. Keeping it secure. Keeping it concealed. And added to that the heightened sense of awareness that probably led you to get a carry permit in the first place. No wonder I don’t like staying at the mall for more than a few hours at a time. It can be stressful to track all of that stuff at the same time. But for me, it’s worth it. I’ve held a permit for almost a dozen years, and I have never regretted it for a second.

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12 Comments on "The secret life of carrying a concealed weapon"

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  1. erik says:

    As someone who is generally uncomfortable with the thought of being around guns (yes, I know it’s an irrational belief), I just want to say thanks for thinking of people like me.

  2. drfaulken says:

    Hi Erik, thanks for the comment. I think a little unease is natural, and you shouldn’t feel the need to justify or apologize for it. I have grown up around firearms all my life and still get nervous when I am around weapons that are “open-carried,” even by law enforcement officers or well-minded citizens.

  3. Sharley says:

    It’s good to know that there are still people like you who carry concealed guns, and make it a point of really concealing them. As most people, like myself, are pretty uncomfortable with guns around.

  4. Bill Vincent says:

    Like you, I’ve been around guns, in some way, since I was old enough to know what they were, so I’m quite comfortable around them. It’s people I mistrust. I even find myself becoming leery of people with the irrational fear of guns, since I’m firm believer in the mindset that guns are only a tool, and any tool can be misused or abused. People who fear inanimate objects, at least in my mind, just might be prone to other irrational or even dangerous attitudes.

    Nice article. I’m applying for my CC license this fall. Chalk up one less unarmed potential victim amongst the masses.

  5. Greg says:

    Drfaulken, I also have a ccw and arm myself in public. Your statement of the difficulty here is very accurate! Everything everyone else does without thinking we have to do with purpose. Even a violent sneeze can cause body movement that may expose your weapon to the public, but constant checking of a single spot on the body can also look suspicious.

    I can also understand the feeling of people that are fearful of guns, but I’d like to point out that it’s not the gun you need to worry about per se, it’s the person. People constantly ignore workman everyday that carry huge wrenches or pliers just because they are wearing work clothes, and all of these tools can be considered deadly weapons, implements of torture or burglary tools in certain situations. Generally speaking, a person carrying a gun in a holster has been trained to work WITH law enforcement and will conceivably protect you in a bad situation. Try to look beyond the tool and see the person and the situation.

    Personal defense, with or without a gun, is about awareness. Don’t just walk through your day blindly – ask yourself WHY that person is standing on the corner of the bank, seemingly doing nothing. Or what the moving van is doing in your neighbors driveway when they left yesterday looking like they were going on a trip. Your awareness is like every other muscle – if you don’t use it, it won’t grow stronger. And as always, the best defense is not being anyplace that you know you shouldn’t. That alley may make the trip shorter, but is it the safest way to go? Your brain is your BEST self-defense tool and can’t be substituted by firepower.

    Keep yourselves safe and exercise your minds!

  6. Joe says:

    Dr. Faulken, first off, thank you for being one of the many responsible individuals that carry for your, and our, protection. Your vigilence is appreciated.

    Your friend’s experience at the movie theatre is wild. I imagine his heart sank when he realized what had happened.

    I am one of those people who keep saying someday I’ll get a carry permit and will carry, yet I just never get around to it. This is a lazy attitude and I should be more appreciative of my rights. I have been taught to shoot and am very safe with a firearm; however, Greg makes a great point about awareness in public, a big weak area of mine. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t even look at others or what they do, mostly out of disinterest and because I live in a small safe town. I’ll change my ways in this respect, as it is a safety issue no matter where I live.

    Also, there is a heavy responsibility to keep track of the laws of carrying and transporting firearms. As you know, every state has many different laws and those laws change. Plus society in American generally makes gun owners uncomfortable at least, and out to be criminals in many cases. People seem to want responsible citizens ostracized while they turn a blind eye towards real hatred and gun violence because it’s PC. I actually feel more paranoid about following gun laws than I do about the remote, but potential loss of my or my family’s life, which is insane.

    You probably hear this all the time though. I’m sorry to write such a long comment. Take care and thank you again.

  7. drfaulken says:

    Hi Joe,

    Thank you for writing. I am glad you liked the article, and I hope you at least attend whatever training is necessary in your state to apply for a license. It never hurts to have the license, even if you don’t intend to carry all the time. A very good friend of mine and Gibberish reader has a permit but only really carries when he travels on the interstate in case of a breakdown. Depending on where you live, getting a permit is a long process — don’t wait until you need it to apply 🙂



  8. Ryan says:

    Another great article Dr.! One tip I’ve found in regards to the hugging, if you get your arms below her’s (or his depending on the person), youll keep their hands away from your waist line, where I usually carry.

    This works two fold, smaller girls I generally pick up (being a bigger/taller guy), so not only does it keep my firearm out of mind, but gives a more affectionate hug!


  9. Christopher says:

    Found your articles by accident today – and have enjoyed reading them. Quite informative, and things I haven’t completely thought about (the grocery store for example.)

    I’m currently awaiting my CCW, and hope you don’t mind that I plan on continuing to read your insightful commentary.



  10. drfaulken says:

    Hi Richard,

    Thanks for your comments. The paragraph you mentioned is poorly worded — what I meant to convey is that even without a firearm you have a lot to think about, like groceries, comparison shopping, keeping track of your kids, etc. Add a weapon into the mix, and things get even more complicated.

    My writing often sounds better in my head than when I come back and read it almost a year later. 🙂

    Warm regards and happy new year.

  11. Richard says:

    In the last paragraph, you said: “You have a lot to think about when you are unarmed.” I think you meant “when you are armed.”

    Otherwise great insight. I’ve been carrying daily for a number of years, and the comments about reaching with your carry hand or non-carry hand were very helpful for those who carry on their belt.

    I carry in my front pocket, and am very careful how and where I sit when dining out. Preferably with the carry side to the inside of the booth. I have used a cloth handkerchief over the butt in case it might show as I most often wear dress slacks. The handkerchief is easy to explain and doesn’t get in the way.

  12. mayer says:

    its nice to hear words from a responsible gun owner… very disciplined and professional. protection is really a very serious matter.. its just like preparing from coming typhoon.. always ready… just be rightful when u pull that trigger.. goodluck …