In an overwhelming expression of the liberty we enjoy in America, every state now allows an individual to carry a firearm for his or her own personal protection.
Perhaps nowhere in the world is such a right so embraced as the individual right to keep – and bear – firearms. Many Americans have chosen to carry a pistol for their own protection, but this practice hasn’t been entirely trouble free. Many concealed carriers, due to lack of experience carrying or even because of just plain carelessness, broadcast the fact that they are carrying a weapon, which ultimately results in more law enforcement contact and even attention from criminals – the wrong kind of attention. Here are some of the most common problems:
1. SLOPPY CARRY
Failing to dress appropriately for the carry is the number one way that concealed carriers lose the “concealed” part. Don’t be the guy in line at Starbucks with the butt of your pistol poking out underneath your shirt. To avoid sloppy concealed carry:
- Select garments that properly cover the weapon in a range of positions. Videotape yourself to make sure – try sitting, standing and even kneeling to see if the weapon is still covered and concealed.
- Make sure the weapon remains concealed when entering or exiting a vehicle. Seatbelts, armrests and other potential snag points can unknowingly expose your weapon. Check it before you go further!
- Ensure your method of carry (inside the waistband, outside the waistband) matches your clothing. Remember, the less clothing you have on, the closer the gun is going to need to be to your body.
Alright, the gun is properly covered by clothing, yet its outline can clearly be seen to even the most casual, untrained observer. It’s like sticking a banana in a manila envelope! Printing is the classic gun bulge, and will be totally obvious to anyone in the know about firearms. Usually, printing happens because of the following conditions:
- Carrying too large of a handgun for the user’s body type. You can’t always carry a full-sized automatic with an extended magazine, and you need to come to grips with the fact that you may need to invest in a compact framed concealable handgun. Even for a large adult male, some pistols are just too big to be concealed properly on the person, which causes printing.
- Carrying the gun in an improper holster for concealed carry. An outside-the-waistband holster with a simple t-shirt over top will usually print, regardless of how small the handgun is. The lighter the covering garment, the more the weapon needs to be inside the waistband.
- Carrying the gun in the wrong spot on your body. First and foremost, understand that there is no wrong spot to carry concealed – there is only the wrong spot for you. People have successfully carried concealed weapons on all areas around their waist, under either arm with a shoulder holster, and on both ankles with ankle holsters to name but a few; still you need to carry to suit your body type. Everyone is built differently and thus will be able to carry weapons in different positions.
3. DRAWING ATTENTION TO THE CARRY
The way you move, adjust yourself, walk, sit or even stand can inadvertently draw attention to the fact you are carrying. This is especially true of new concealed carriers. Here are some of the most common ways to reveal you are carrying:
- Overt adjustment: Amateur concealed carriers will often constantly adjust the weapon. Trust your holster system here – once the weapon is in the holster and the holster is secured on your body, leave it alone. It does not need your help to hold it there – and if it does, you need a new holster.
- Checking to see if it’s still there: That light pat or brush with your elbow that you do every 30 seconds is easily noticed. Learn to discern the position of your weapon by feel of your body alone – don’t pat it or brush it with your hands.
- Favoring the gun side: Amateurs will often take shorter strides on the side they are carrying the weapon on, and they do this subconsciously to avoid dislodging it. Another method of favoring the weapon side is to blade your body away from a threat, placing your weapon side away from the person you perceive as a threat. This is all fine and good when there actually is a threat, but if you keep blading your body every time you speak with someone it will be obvious that you are carrying.
- Wearing clothing that’s too heavy for the conditions: If you throw on a parka, for example, you can practically conceal a rifle under it. The point is, your clothing needs to be selected for the weather, not the carry. You will absolutely stand out if you are wearing garments too heavy for the weather conditions.
So why the big deal on keeping the weapon concealed? After all, you are doing it legally, and in most states, with a permit. The answer is simple – even with a permit, you will face extra scrutiny with a concealed weapon on your person should you be discovered. Why even bother with the trouble? Just conceal the weapon properly in the first place.