Today, we’re kicking off another series about concealed carry. My intent is to push these out on a weekly basis and cover two points per installment. Today, I’ll be covering two of the most important things new concealed carriers need to know: Know the laws where you are and concealed means concealed.
Know the Laws Where You Are
Notice I didn’t say “where you live.” I live in Northern VA so on any given day I might be in DC, Maryland or even West Virginia. The concealed carry laws in Virginia don’t matter in the least if I’m in MD or DC. Literally. My VA Concealed Handgun Carry Permit (CHCP) isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on in those locales. You know have to know what the law is where you are.
In Virginia, for example, I could carry my gun to, say, a play at my local community center where I had to pay for an admission ticket. Not so in neighboring North Carolina, a state that recognizes VA’s CHCP and extends the right to concealed carry in NC to VA permit holders, a term known as reciprocity. In NC, §14-269.3 stipulates that guns are prohibited in “assemblies and establishments where admission was charged.” Silly law? Absolutely. But if I were in NC, as I frequently am, I could end up with firearms paper. Not good.
Luckily, these laws are easy to find on the Google machine, usually on the individual state police website. But I a solutions type guy and I don’t want ANYONE to end up in trouble with the police which, best case, is a hassle and worst case might result in a felony firearms charge which will prohibit you from concealed carrying in the future. There’s an easier way… There’s an app for that!
A few years ago, when I was preparing for a cross-country drive, I discovered an iPhone app called Legal Heat. It’s available here for iOS-platform devices and here for Android. It’s $0.99 in both cases. It’s worth every cent.
This app breaks down, state-by-state: concealed carry laws, reciprocity, open carry laws and more. It’s easy to use and frequently updated, which, in today’s day and age, where gun laws are changing on an almost weekly basis, is critical.
Concealed Means Concealed
I put this above other things, like training, for a few reasons. Number one, I think it’s important that the “Don’t Tread on Me” crowd (to which I subscribe, by the way) recognize that not everyone is like us. Some people aren’t comfortable around guns, some are flat out terrified of them, and it’s not our right to hold it in their faces. This is America and people have the right to chose not to be around guns just as much as we have the right to be around guns. Their rights are just as valid as ours. If you’re carrying concealed, they shouldn’t have your gun in their face on-line at Chipotle. Open carry is a different story, but we’re talking about concealed carry.
Wear a holster and a belt that support the weight of the gun, if you’re carrying at your waist, and a pair of pants and a shirt that don’t show the outline of your firearm, also known as printing. If you’re carrying with a shoulder holster, wear a shirt that covers it, Dirty Harry.
To that end, select a gun that is concealable. This might be the time to bring out the Beretta Nano instead of the Desert Eagle.
Consider also that a criminal that is determined to commit a crime will likely try to determine where resistance will come from and address that “threat” first. Yes – to a bad guy, we are the threat.
Which brings me to my final point to consider: you don’t have to dress like you’re an off-duty cop when you’re carrying. Try this exercise: next time you’re at the mall, try to make the people who might be carrying guns based only on what they’re wearing. It’s remarkably effective. Look for guys wearing khaki, cargo pants (5.11 is a favorite brand), “technical” fleece-style shirts or even T-shirts with firearm manufacturer logos on them! I’ve actually asked some of these guys, who favor dress that is commonly referred to as “tacti-cool”, what they’re carrying. Most of these guys are all to willing to not only tell me, but show me. In public! I love guns and carrying as much as the next guy, but concealed means concealed.
An inexplicably popular concealed carry garment is the photographer’s vest. You know the one I’m talking about:
These are popularly called “Shoot Me First” vests. I don’t have to explain why. Don’t wear one of these unless you’re on assignment for National Geographic.
Remember that you can’t protect your family if you’re bleeding out on the pavement. Opt for normal jeans or slacks as appropriate, sized up a size or two if you’re carrying inside the waistband, and a polo over an appropriate belt and holster.
Check out Part II of Principles of Concealed Carry.