Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Concealed Carry: Changing Your Clothes

This is story told to me about a friend of mine had before he was in law enforcement.
“I accepted an offer at a new place of employment. Meeting new people, learning different office guidelines and entering a fresh environment brought me an opportunity to make conscious decisions about how much of my personal life I would reveal to my new acquaintances. Because I assume the responsibility of providing for my own safety, I chose to be armed.
I am persuaded that carrying a weapon is an intimate, private decision and should not be revealed to others flippantly or carelessly, if even at all. Facilitating this choice dictates attire that permits the carry of my effects discretely. I would prefer a business suit but formal wear deviates from the decorum of my office. In my environment, a suit jacket would look just as out of place as a blaze orange hunting vest. My challenge was to find a discreet cover garment that allowed me to blend in with my coworkers. I work amongst scientists and field engineers who wear either slacks or clothing suitable for field work.

I spent months searching retail clothing stores, browsing the internet, and turning over rocks with no success. So many of the products I’ve seen on the market produced for like-minded individuals in our community look like a piece of gear. They might look great at a firearms class but they don’t blend in with casual office attire. A great variety of manufacturers offer concealment vests and they all look very much the same. They obscure our tools but they don’t mask that we have them. With the increasing number of individuals obtaining permits and the popularity of that type of vest among these people, I believe they draw rapid attention to anyone schooled in what someone uses that vest to accomplish. I came to the decision that if I wanted this garment, I would have to fabricate it myself.

Basically, I wanted a flat vest of neutral color – no bulky pockets, no “D-rings”, nothing to make it look like gear. I wanted something that looked casual, like clothing attire. None existed. Not to be denied, I acquired a sewing machine and set to work. I selected some nice wool and pure cotton materials in basic prints and neutral colors. I began with a McCall’s pattern, altered it for appearance, added 2 inside pockets and through about 4 trial and error runs, developed it into a final product which satisfied my tastes. What I ended up with was a lined, waist length vest that looks enough like a fashion accessory that I feel doesn’t compromise its intended use.

I believe I have successfully achieved my desired goal. I have carefully chosen my entire wardrobe to achieve as much obscurity as reasonable. Although in my capacity I don’t do field work for my employer, my coworkers have commented that I appear as if I do. And no one has ever pried deeply into why I continually wear vests!”

This was told to me some time ago and the friend is now a federal officer. He has commented to me about this experience throughout the years several times. We’ve discussed the commitment that we should have as concealed carry participants. Carrying a concealed weapon requires many changes in your life. You think different because you know you can’t just lose your temper. You spend the required money to get and maintain training and licensing. You buy the required gear and safety equipment. You spend the time practicing. You may even change your dress. The commitment is great and not for everyone. I’ve seen many people buy a gun, get a license and then never or seldom carry. They also seldom practice. The partial commitment is there but I feel it should be all or nothing. Otherwise you put more on those who are committed because by virtue of your friendship, the committed carrier has the burden of protecting you also.

When you decide to carry there may be a wardrobe change in your future. Do what you have to do to not be a sheep, but to be a sheepdog.
Changing your clothes to conceal your weapon and “blend in” is something that we must do to continue to take our own defense into our hands.

Semper Paratus
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