Skip to content

What Do You Do After You Have Your Concealed Carry Permit?

November 27, 2015

Polite Societ banner

We have the human right to defend ourselves.  Let’s say you have met the all the legal requirements to carry a firearm in public. You’ve joined ranks with 12 million other US citizens who carry.  Now, let’s discuss the next steps.  What is morally required of you to be a responsible gun owner now that you have your permit?

Since concealed carry is a right, I’m not advocating for stricter legal requirements.  I want you to carry. I’m asking you to think about the practical responsibility you assume.  What comes next after you have the government permission slip?

Many states require a simple course in basic firearms safety to receive your license.  That means you were told how to safely handle a gun.. at least once.  I hope you remember those rules.  I want you to practice them because firearms handling is a perishable skill rather than an abstract idea.  Being safe with a firearm mean you have safe habits without thinking. Those safe habits take practice so you have to touch your gun often.

There are additional skills you should develop that go beyond safe handling of a firearm. That doesn’t mean that you ignore or “outgrow” the safety rules.  It means there are additional skills you need to effectively defend yourself and those you love.  I’m not saying this as some high speed ninja-competitor, but rather as an old, slow, self-defense dinosaur.  Here are a few of the skills you need, now that you carry concealed.

You need to be able to quickly and safely present your firearm from a concealed holster.  You don’t have to be up to competition standards, but you have to develop your skills so you can smoothly present a firearm without thinking.  You need to present from concealment even if you often carry off-body in a purse or bag.  Presenting from concealment is a very different activity than methodically shooting a gun from a bench at a shooting range.

You need professional training.Defensive Handgun Class

A professional instructor explains and demonstrates presenting a loaded firearm from concealment.  The instructor watches as you demonstrate the skill.  The instructor gives you feedback before you practice on your own.  Learning is easy IF you are willing to be corrected and learn from your mistakes.  “Presentation” is neither required for most carry licenses, nor should it be.  Then again, that license in your pocket isn’t much good if you can’t safely and quickly present a loaded gun.

Speed or Accuracy, or a Little of Both-
Experience shows that physical attacks happen quickly.  Most of us can shoot quickly or accurately, but not both at the same time.  Some shooting exercises push you to shoot accurately. Others, train you to shoot fast.  Developing your skills is only part of the purpose of these exercises.  More importantly, they should help you recognize when accuracy is paramount or when speed is most important.  Your answer in a particular situation might be different than mine.

Shooting in Close-Contact and on the Move-
Most self-defense incidents occur at a distance of under three yards, take less than three seconds, and involve several attackers.  That is far different from the target shooting we’re used to.  We should be moving as we draw.  If the distance is close enough, we should not need to align the sights of our handgun for the first close-in shots.  We didn’t learn about close-contact shooting in our concealed carry classes. But this is the typical situation we’re likely to see in a self-defense situation.

Shoot Under Pressure-
Using lethal force for self-defense will be stressful.  Unfortunately, stress turns all of us into fools. We can learn to handle measured amounts of stress as we shoot.  Forget the Hollywood or military idea of training with an instructor yelling at you.  At first the stress may be as simple as shooting while an instructor watches your performance.  Later, it will involve shooting under the pressure of a clock to record your time.

Move, Shoot, and Look Around-
Criminals don’t want a fair fight.  They don’t fight one-on-one.  That means we have to look for the other guys after we present a firearm. It sounds simple, but it is hard to take our eyes off a threat. That is why we practice moving to a safer position and looking around.  You have to look behind you without waving your gun around.

Make Simple Compromises and Shoot-
We don’t always get the fight we want, but we have to meet the challenges we’re given.  We have to learn to shoot the gun one handed because we might be holding onto a loved one with our other hand.  We might not have time to put a child into a safe place before we defend them.  Are we suddenly disarmed because we picked up a baby?

We normally practice shooting while we stand upright, but we’d really rather be crouched behind a concrete column or kneeling behind a planter.  We are likely to be attacked at night so it is important to learn how to hold and use a flashlight while we’re also holding our gun.  The advantage of these defensive positions might be enough to end the fight before it begins, so it is important to learn and practice them.

These are a few of the skills you want to have now that you have a license to carry concealed.  None of these skills take great athletic strength or speed.  All of them require that you dedicate some time to practice.  They are easy to learn from a good course.  One of the best things about taking a training courses is meeting other responsible firearms owners who take training and who practice.

Don’t you want to be one of them?10-tips-choosing-firearm-instructor

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 28, 2015 9:00 am

    There is a love/hate relationship between trainers and competition like IDPA and it’s brethren. Competitive shooting can introduce you to shooting under the pressure of a timer and some degree of stress. A great way to see this is to attend a match or informal shoot and spectate.

    I happened upon such a match at the local range while practicing with one of my rifles. I struck up a conversation with a competitor or 2 and watched a couple stages. Next thing I know, they invite me to shoot. I had nothing with me- ammo, gun, holster – nada. One guy says “hey, you can use my rig – all of it if you want to shoot”. This was, and I think still is the best representation of the shooting sports. The willingness to help a shooter out.

    Safely performing these skills in a match has real world benefit, still, it is not the same as a self defense oriented firearms class. There are sometimes rules for competition or reality defying “scenarios” that may seem outright silly. Professional trainers will be happy to jump on these and rightly so.

    I think besides the first professional class I took, the most I’ve learned in a firearms class has been a daylight to dusk to total darkness handgun class. It’s not something you jump into right away after basic marksmanship, but it’s part of what is essential curriculum.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. November 28, 2015 10:13 am

    Hi, Dave.
    I think IDPA competition helped me with the advanced carry class. IDPA competition is one of the few places I can move and shoot.


  3. November 29, 2015 2:07 pm

    Rob – Just a brief note of appreciation for taking the time to write out this very good advice. Maybe because I do not have alot of experience with firearms — i.e., they are not at all a “natural” part of my environment — I always feel an extremely profound sense of responsibility when carrying or handling them. So it’s odd to me that not all people do – like the guy in the movie theater in Kansas who put a gun in his pants pocket without a holster. And I am actually at least as nervous around “experienced” shooters as novices, because the experienced folks can get so complacent — like the guy in the movie theater in Kansas!

    Hope this gets read and practiced widely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 29, 2015 8:21 pm

      Thank you, David. There are 12 million of us with concealed carry licenses. We all need training and practice. Thank you for living up to your responsibilities. It honestly sets a standard for others.



  1. Episode 356 – With What, Harsh Words? | The Polite Society Podcast
  2. The Painless Ladder of Self-Defense Activism | SlowFacts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: