A few years ago, my wife and I were invited to a neighbor’s barbecue. My neighbor had invited a number of people, including his brother-in-law. There were people of all ages including children and it seemed like a nice group. The first thing I noticed when we arrived was that my neighbor’s brother-in-law was walking around with a holstered pistol on his hip, with no shirt or jacket covering the firearm. He seemed to want everyone to know that he was “packin’.” I felt this was in poor taste due to the variety of guests and the fact that it was not his party.
I think we all need to be extremely discreet with our concealed carry. The common question among many people is why would anyone carry a firearm? These are not only the liberal politically correct set, but also many people who simply are not firearms enthusiasts. Many people think that personal protection is something the police do, not realizing that the police are usually reactive.
Discretion Is An Option
Non-firearms people would be shocked by some of the people that carry. Many successful, refined, sophisticated, licensed-to-carry folks are very careful and aware that they could be the focus of some miscreant.
Take, for example, a grandfatherly retired man who is always very calm and laid back. He is also the head usher at his church, and his parish priest recently asked him why he always stands at the back of the church with his back against the wall? He replied that due to the terrorism threat, he feels it might be prudent for him to be in a position to observe the entry. The priest asked if he was armed, and he replied “absolutely.” Then the priest just nodded.
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Even some people that are around guns and concealed carry individuals sometimes question firearms carry. A retired law enforcement friend and I were talking one evening about concealed carry and the wives were listening in. My friend’s wife said she didn’t mind him carrying but didn’t know why he had to carry to church. They frequently go to a restaurant after church, and then sometimes go shopping, etc. We pointed out to her that if he didn’t carry to church he wouldn’t have a firearm with him later.
Once, I was driving my oldest grandson to a basketball camp. He, of course, is aware that I work as a private investigator. He asked if I carry a gun. I answered that I did. He then asked, “Does grandma know?” His mother (my daughter) was raised around guns, but being a little princess never had any interest in firearms. She and her husband do not have an anti-gun philosophy, but apparently through society, school, friends or the media, my grandson developed the idea that carrying a firearm might not be acceptable to his grandmother.
I feel considerable attention should be given to properly concealing your firearm both for security and for social sensitivity. Some feel that it is next to impossible to carry in some situations without telling half the world you’re armed, and they may be correct, but let me discuss some ideas.
Customize Your Carry
In my business, having a firearm on my person or at least available is a comfort level I desire. Most of the people I am in contact with are benign, but you never know when an encounter can turn ugly.
A .45 ACP is generally my choice and I can usually conceal one very well, but extremely warm weather can be a challenge. Thank the Lord for Tommy Bahama, Ocean Pacific and the other manufacturers of Hawaiian-type shirts. Shorts or jeans and a tee shirt are great attire in the summer. A tee shirt that is not tucked in will hide a firearm very well. Shorts with a belt help to prevent the shorts and firearm from ending up at the knees. Elastic waistband shorts with a cord tie can also work well if the waist cord is tied tightly. If the particular tee shirt isn’t as loose as I would hope, due to my ever-expanding waistline, I carry a smaller, thinner gun. It’s nice to have several to choose from. At times, a casual vest works well. Some carry in a fanny pack, but I have never been enamored with this type of carry—it’s obvious when some wearing fanny packs carry, because they sag. The assumption that they are probably packing is always confirmed when they are carrying their wallet in their rear pocket and keys bulge from their side pants pocket.
Some would wear an ankle holster when having to tuck a shirt into pants but I’m not an ankle holster fan. I carry a .380 in a pocket holster. By selecting pants with deep pockets, a small .380 is not noticeable. If you carry on a daily basis and you wear slacks, you might consider having your slacks tailored to accommodate your firearm. This aids concealment and comfort.
You will need to advise the tailor that you are armed before he or she begins to measure. A few years ago, I was purchasing a pair of slacks and was starting to advise the salesman that I was intentionally armed to have the slacks fitted. As I was beginning to prepare him, he lifted my shirt to check the fit and was face to face with a .45. He jumped back and my wife was with me and explained (I was laughing too hard to talk) that I was a PI and wanted the pants tailored for concealed carry. He too began laughing and was very receptive to the problem of tailoring the slacks to accommodate a .45.
Some social occasions are extremely challenging for concealed carry. Weddings can be tough. Most weddings are in low-threat environments. However, I recently attended a wedding at a country club and the wedding presents from the church had been placed in a Suburban that was parked in the lot in view of the reception attendees. During the reception, the rear window of the Suburban was shattered and the presents stolen. If someone had observed this (they didn’t) it might have become a serious situation. It’s our responsibility to know when any venues are in an area of frequent crimes or be aware when driving through higher crime areas to get to functions.
The wedding isn’t the problem because you are in a suit and the jacket will easily conceal your firearm. Receptions start off a little formal but usually become fairly casual in very short order. The coats come off and the dancing begins. It really doesn’t look good to be dancing with your shirttail out in an attempt to cover your weapon.
What’s the answer? I wish I knew. Here are a few thoughts. A small pistol in a suit coat inside pocket would probably work well, but I’m not totally comfortable with this, as I’m afraid the coat will be knocked off the chair while I’m dancing, getting food, etc. and I don’t want this to happen, as it might be an embarrassment to the family that invited us. An ankle holster might work but you would have to have loose-fitting pant legs, and this wouldn’t be my choice for a nice suit.
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Another problem at social events is hugging. Most women want to hug upon arrival and again when you leave. This is fine, except when they hug your .45. I usually attempt to have my elbow cover my weapon and do a one-and-a-half-arm hug.Vacation can also be a challenge for concealed carry or even having a weapon available. There is reciprocity to a limited degree, as some states recognize other states permits, but all do not, of course. In the states that do not honor your state’s carry permit, you might be able to have a weapon in your vehicle and/or your luggage. Some states are more stringent than others for weapons.
Of course, if you are traveling by air, you will have to conform to all FAA and airline regulations to transport a firearm, then conform to the arriving state’s regulation. Each state’s regulations can be found by going to the NRA-ILA website for concealed carry and transporting firearms with vehicular travel. Note the State Firearms Laws, Airline Transportation of Firearms, Federal Firearms Laws and a Guide to Interstate Transportation of Firearms, as well as other information. Print two copies of each state’s regulations from the NRA-ILA website and carry them in the glove box to review the regulations when entering each state.
If you are traveling in a motor home, camper or pulling a trailer, you may have more leeway than in a private passenger car, since your motor home etc. may be considered your residence in some areas while parked in a permanent or semi-permanent location. The same motor home, camper or trailer may not provide protection while you’re on the road or parked at a shopping center. The laws vary from state to state and it’s best to check with each state before your trip. The best way to get up-to-the-minute information on what you can and cannot do with regards to having a weapon in your vehicle is to call that state’s state police agency before you go. Be sure that you obtain the name and rank of the person you talk to or, better yet, have them fax a copy of their statutes.
When carrying on the predominant hand side, I make sure the firearm is far enough to the rear to be reached by my other hand. This is to be able to access from either side. The common thinking, and rightfully so, is if your dominant hand becomes unavailable or injured, your weak hand must take over. There is a possibility that a person that feigns being friendly can shake your hand and hold on while pulling a weapon or assaulting you with the other hand. This is a real argument in favor of ambidextrous safeties.
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Shoulder holsters can be accessed with either hand, although it is a little awkward with the non-dominant hand, it will work pretty well with a little practice. Crossdraw holsters also work well with either hand.
I think most people that carry are very discreet. I frequently observe people that I think might be carrying but seldom see any indicators, such as printing.
I’m not well acquainted with many women that carry. One lady PI I know carries a .25 Auto either in her purse or her car’s glove compartment. She is often with her husband, who is also a PI. He is a weight lifter who looks the part and he carries a serious handgun.
One of our friends is in real estate sales and talks about obtaining a permit. She meets prospective home purchasers, often unknown to her, and visits homes that aren’t all that familiar to her. She is attractive, and her picture is on various real estate advertisements. Having your picture available to the general public can present problems. She is uncomfortable because of this, and although she hasn’t experienced any, she has heard of problems with others in her industry.
There are various occupations that require one to meet strangers. This presents a potential for problems. I will occasionally have a new or potential client contact me and want to meet with me. Since I do not permit clients to come to my home, I will either go to their location or meet at designated location. I always advise my wife of the location, and if the location is other than a residential address, I may arrive early to see if I recognize anyone.
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A lady can easily conceal a handgun in a purse or attache and there are a number of specialty products manufactured for concealed carry. There are some great purses that offer access to the firearm from the outside, allowing for the purse to be carried over a shoulder.
For women that will not consider a firearm and for those who do carry, a cell phone is the best weapon. In my business, I sometimes need to canvass a neighborhood to determine if there are witnesses to an incident that were not listed in police or other reports. Frequently, a woman will answer the door with a portable or cell phone and will appear to be talking to someone. Whether they are actually talking to someone, I don’t know, but this is a great idea for anyone answering the door to a stranger.
Be smart, be safe, be ready.