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.