Monday, August 1, 2016

Concealed carry: Ins and Outs

CCW, CP, CWP, PP, CCP, CFP, CPL, CHL, CWL*. What does all this alphabet have in common? They are different concealed licenses or permits from different states. This is a growing practice throughout the United States.
Concealed carry is the form of personal weapons carry that the courts have more or less agreed upon; unanimously. Courts prefer that if Americans carry, they do so concealed. There are several reasons for this, the chief among them being that both law enforcement and the courts feel that exposed weapons represent too much of a threat to law and order and would potentially create too much panic should exposed carry be allowed. In fact, in places where exposed (open) carry is allowed, it’s simply not that big of a deal and people learn to accept it.
Carrying a concealed weapon represents a major compromise in the weapon’s functionality. If you doubt this statement, then a simple look at law enforcement or military units is in order. Overwhelmingly, they carry weapons exposed – not surprisingly, because exposed weapons are the easiest to get to when you need them. Concealed carry adds a measure of difficulty in accessing the weapon depending on where you carry the weapon – and how. You want the weapon totally hidden, yet you want instant access to it, both of which can be mutually exclusive of each other. Think of concealment as happening in stages or levels, and you will see how the dynamic changes:
Level 1: Concealed by coat or jacket: The easiest and most natural way to conceal a weapon is by using a conventional waist holster (preferably a high riding holster) and then slipping on a jacket or coat.
If the coat has any weight to it at all, the weapon will be almost totally concealed and virtually impossible to detect.
Access is fast; push aside the coat, and your holster is right there, allowing for a draw almost as quick as if there was no coat at all, and a firm master grip upon the weapon.
This only works where the weather permits the wearing of a coat. You don’t want to be the guy that’s wearing a parka on an 80 degree day because you are trying to conceal a pistol, which by the way, law enforcement is looking for.
Level 2: Concealed by a loose-fitting, untucked shirt: The next best thing to using a coat or jacket, the loose-fitting, button-down shirt is a popular way to carry when coats can’t be worn.
This has easy access to the weapon; although not as easy as the coat carry since you usually have to lift the shirt up to grab the weapon.
Almost always this way dictates the use of an inside-the-waistband holster on thinner shirts since the gun will print if it’s sitting out there on an exposed hip holster. The closer you bring the weapon to your body, the harder it is to get a firm grip on the butt of the weapon without wiggling the gun around.
Level 2: Concealed with a tucked-in dress shirt: This is about as concealed as it gets, but accessibility really suffers with this mode of carry.
If the weapon is sized accordingly (i.e. some compacts, or subcompact pistol) this is perhaps the lowest profile method of carry out there.
Since the weapon lives inside the waistband, it is accessed by untucking your shirt, then yanking the gun out. Slow, laborious, and not instantly accessible. Almost always requires the use of a subcompact pistol or at least a compact. Although, there are some who successfully conceal a 1911.
Basically, the less clothing you wear and the more you hide the gun, the harder it is to get to, and the more compromises you need to make in order to carry it. Make no mistake: an inside-the-waistband holster is a big compromise compared to a conventional hip holster, just as a subcompact pistol is a huge compromise compared to a full-size pistol.
Finally, the issue of weapons retention needs to be discussed. Your main defense against losing your weapon by way of someone yanking it out of your holster is concealment – they can’t steal your gun if they can’t tell you’re carrying one! If you think weapons retention isn’t a concern, then you need to acquaint yourself with the skills that many criminals possess – the immediate ability to spot a concealed weapon upon someone’s person. With a loose untucked shirt, for example, it’s an elementary task for someone who knows how to handle a gun to reach in behind you and relieve you of that weapon. Few concealment holsters offer a retention mechanism, so for the best chance at retaining your weapon, make certain that it can’t be seen. This might mean photographing or even videoing yourself sitting, standing, and walking with the weapon concealed, and then carefully looking for clues that you are carrying such as awkward printing or bulges. Concealed carry means just that – concealed. As always, practice drawing the weapon from its concealment.
Concealed carry is an art. But also know that there is a limited amount of people looking for someone who is armed. That may be criminals, and always law enforcement. Most people are just concerned about how they are looking to worry about how someone else is dressed. Stay away from “tactical” or “military” looking clothing, even though camouflage and some military clothing is in style, by avoiding it you are avoiding scrutinizing by someone else. I wear my hair short. My days in the military seem to drive that. Also, I’m going gray some and that hair is funky! Keeping it short keeps me sane. Maybe a happy medium would be better. I know I can spot law enforcement and military just by their hair-cuts. If you go with medium hair length, jeans and a t-shirt you will be more average. Average is good for not bringing attention to yourself. The less attention, the less likely you will be “made”, or someone will suspect you of carrying a weapon.
*CCW – Concealed carry weapon, CP – Concealed permit, CWP – Concealed weapons permit, PP – Pistol permit, CCP – Concealed carry permit, CFP – Concealed firearms permit, CPL – Concealed pistol license, CHL – Concealed handgun license, CWL – Concealed weapons license.
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