ASAA   Europe

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CONCEALED CARRY HINTS

With the ever-increasing number of states instituting concealed carry statutes these days, interest in the subject has burgeoned to perhaps its highest point in recent history. And, due to escalating concerns about home, vehicle and self-defense in our troubled times, record numbers of citizens are availing themselves of the concealed carry option.

Why? Easy. They do it because they realize that regardless of how hard the police try, they can't really protect anyone; only pursue and, hopefully, eventually apprehend the perpetrator.

Sheer numbers show this conclusively. There are just too many crimes being committed for the police to be able to effectively intervene at the time. And the best solution to the problem is the concealed weapon. With it, the element of surprise is on the side of the intended victim. Study after study shows that the perpetrators of violent felonies like murder, rape, armed robbery, et al, do not expect their victims to be armed. Instead, they expect their projection of force, often deadly force, to do the trick, to paralyze their intended victim into submission.

Many advise never to resist, but the facts show that this is highly dependent upon the crime and not a universally legitimate rule of thumb. For example, if you're a passenger on a commercial airliner being highjacked, then being passive and following the instructions of the high-jackers, at least initially, is a good idea. However, if you're a rape or armed robbery victim, the statistics show an extremely high probability of your being seriously injured or killed no matter what you do! In instances like this, passiveness is therefore no guarantee of personal safety.

Plainclothes police officers such as narcotics agents and detectives have long carried their weapons concealed, because they, too, realize that the element of surprise is important. They need to circulate unobtrusively among the citizenry to do their jobs and the visibility of the gun, along with the other tools of their trade, prevents this. In fact, although their life-styles are unquestionably different from the average citizen, they do share an important common denominator -- when the need for the weapon is evident, its need is extreme. In other words, when they need their concealed handgun, they need it bad!

There are quite a few ways to effectively conceal a handgun, but there is no one way which guarantees the best combination of concealment, weapon accessibility and resulting acquisition speed and wearer comfort. As the old saying goes, "there just isn't any such thing as a free lunch!" There is always a compromise involved in carrying any kind of concealed weapon. So, in order to give yourself the best possible combination of these critical elements, you should first consider carefully the following issues:

1. For what contingencies are you carrying your weapon? Under what circumstances will it be used? For example, are you primarily concerned with only personal defense or are your needs more widely based, as a plainclothes policeman's might be?

2. What is your life-style? Do you travel in an automobile much of the time? Do you remain seated most of the day? Do you spend most of your time in an air-conditioned environment?

3. Do you spend most of your time in a high-density personnel environment, e.g. crowds and so on, or do you go about your daily routines in a more rural setting?

Questions like these are important because they "set the ground rules" for the determination of what kind of concealed carry best fits your needs -- and, naturally, you can't determine this until you first define -- really, clearly -- define those needs. They also determine what kind of weapon and ammunition you use, as well as ancillary equipment like holster and spare ammunition/magazine carriers and, quite literally, the way in which you'll use it.

Generally speaking, shoulder holsters and crossdraw rigs are especially suited for those who spend much of their time sitting down. However, with the shoulder holster, there is a caveat -- due to its harness eliminating most of the air flow through your clothing, it tends to be somewhat uncomfortable in temperate climates and is thus at its best in an air-conditioned environment. Many who wear crossdraw holsters fail to place them sufficiently far back for them to clear the point of the hip, thus preventing the holster itself from remaining clear of the pelvic-thigh joint, which is not only a potential safety hazard (since the muzzle of the holstered gun is pointed directly at the joint) but results in a binding effect that makes sitting down a drudgery.

Ankle holsters remain perennially popular, but in truth offer limited utility in that they allow only limited access to the weapon and are, as a result, slow to utilize in comparison to most other holster designs. However, viewed realistically, we find that most of the time, they're used by police officers to carry a second gun, which would only be utilized in the event of them losing their primary firearm -- in short, in an act of desperation. Ankle rigs also have another drawback. Because of their very concept, they limit the size and weight of the weapon carried, which usually results in another problem -- the use of guns chambered for cartridges that lack sufficient stopping power.

Seldom do women carry firearms in holsters attached to their waistbands. In fact, the very shape of the female makes this an unpleasant task, because it causes the gun to point inward, toward the torso, making rapid weapon acquisition and presentation nearly impossible. Instead, the ladies carry their guns in other ways, the most common of which is the purse (surprised, guys?). Here, however, there's a very real need to insure that the purse is either intended by design to carry a firearm or, if not, at least exhibits a compartment within which it can be carried.

Moreover, having seen what the interior of most purses looks like (!), it should at this point be added with alacrity that, whichever is chosen, the compartment should be kept free of any items not directly related to the weapon itself. Scarves, car keys, compacts and other female paraphernalia absolutely must be kept in some other part of the purse to avoid interference with the weapon should it be needed!

Often, the issue of weapon security versus acquisition/presentation speed is discussed, and legitimately so because it's an important issue. However, before you can determine which type of holster is right for you or what specific design within a given type best fits your needs, be sure to consider the weapon you intend to carry -- a heavy-framed S&W .357 or .45 isn't much fun to cart around in an ankle holster or purse!

Above all, remember that they alone cannot "do the job" for you if, once the gun is presented, you don't hit what you shoot at or if you fail to operate within the criteria defined by law. Moreover, with the increased civil liability hazards we face these days, many seemingly insignificant issues like sights, ammo selection, trigger pull weights, holster security devices, et al, all require careful consideration. To provide yourself with the best possible self-defense "package," a clear understanding of tactical, criminal and civil liability is essential.

So, do yourself a favor and "go to school," a well-known, reputable school, taught by equally well-known, acknowledged expert instructors, and learn all you need to know to stay out of trouble. There is much, much more to the subject of self-defense handgunning than just weapon handling and shooting.

And, of course, as the old adage goes, "practice, practice...and practice some more." After all, your life and, nowadays, your assets as well, depend on it.

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chuck@chucktayloramericansmallarmsacademy.com

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PO Box 12111
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