I’m tired of writing about the sad state of politics, so I’m going to shift gears a little, if you’ll indulge me. Most people that know me well know that I carry a concealed handgun most of the time. The number of people who are getting their permit to carry is on the rise as more states remember that we live in a free nation. With that in mind, I thought I’d do a series of blogs about my experiences as a permitted concealed carrier. We’ll talk about why I carry, what I carry, and how I carry it. I hope you’ll respond in kind so we can all learn something. Please keep in mind that I am no sort of professional when it comes to concealed carry or firearms in general, so everything presented here is my opinion based on many years of shooting and carrying handguns.
I decided in 2007 to get my concealed carry permit. In Tennessee, you are required to take an 8 hour class that consists of 4 hours of classroom instruction and 4 hours of range time. You are required to pass an exam in the classroom and on the range. I took the course at the Loudon County Sheriff’s office from a SWAT officer who was very serious about his job. My class was made up of men and women with very different levels of experience with firearms. The lady sitting next to me had a revolver that she had been given. I had to show her how it operated, including how to open the cylinder! The class was very well done, touching on most of the questions that I had coming in. The range session was pretty easy since I had experience with handguns already. Needless to say, I passed both exams.
With my class done, I got my fingerprints sent to the state and submitted my application and fee for a concealed carry permit late in 2007. Honestly, it was a while before I carried after I got the permit. It is an unnerving experience until you get used to it. I felt like the gun was standing out a foot and that everybody around me was looking at it. After a while, I realized that no one was paying any attention to me. The gun became part of my daily routine, part of my wardrobe. I’ve learned to dress to effectively hide it and have improved my rig over the years so that its more comfortable. Now, I feel awkward without it, kind of like when you forget your wristwatch and keep looking at your arm.
So, why go through all of that? Why incur the expense and put up with the discomfort and inconvenience? There isn’t a simple answer to those questions, and I think everyone that carries probably has different reasons. The most obvious reason is simply for safety. We all carry to protect ourselves and our loved ones. In my case, its not so much about my safety as it is that of my wife and daughter. They mean everything to me and I will do whatever I have to do to keep them safe. Obviously, we avoid places and situations where trouble is more likely to occur, but trouble has a way of sneaking up on you when and where you least expect it. Part of my job as a husband and father is to be ready if it does.
That leads me to another reason that I chose to carry, a sense of responsibility. I am responsible for my own safety, as well as that of my girls. I have nothing but respect for law enforcement and I am more than willing to let those brave men and women deal with the evil that lurks in the world. Unfortunately, though, when seconds count, the police are minutes away. That’s not criticism in any way, just the truth. They can’t be everywhere all the time and I personally don’t want them to be. That leaves me. At another level, I feel responsible as a citizen to be available if trouble comes calling on someone around me. I made the decision to get training and to make myself proficient in the use of my weapon. I feel like I almost owe it to society to be prepared. I’m not Matt Dillon and I’m not out looking for trouble in which to involve myself. I hope I never fire a round other than at the range. But I am going to be prepared.
One question that I’ve been asked is could you actually take a human life? My answer is yes. I don’t answer that way lightly or without considerable thought. If the choice was between the bad guy and either of my girls getting hurt, then there is no question. I know having to shoot somone comes with a heavy emotional toll, regardless of the circumstances. I sincerely hope that never happens. But, here’s the bottom line; I could live with shooting someone that was trying to hurt me, my girls, or someone else. I could not live with it if one of them got hurt because I couldn’t prevent it. That’s the real reason.
Next time I’ll tell you about my current carry gun, how I came to own it, and why I love it!