There are a number of things that anyone who is considering getting a license to carry a concealed gun should be aware of. Some considerations are practical like what kind of weapon do I want to carry and what style of holster do I prefer. Other considerations are not so mundane. One of the most serious questions a person needs to consider is if they are prepared to act in a life-or-death situation. Stemming from that, I’d say that everyone needs to know how to conceal carry.
At the point that you make the decision to concealed carry, you are about to make a change. With that permit in your pocket and a firearm nestled next to you, it’s no longer a decision. You have now made a commitment, not a choice.
Choice or Commitment
Let’s think first about what you are doing. Are you making a choice or a commitment? You first need to understand the difference. According to the Oxford dictionary, a choice is
“An act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities; a course of action, thing, or person that is selected or decided upon.”
Oxford defines commitment in this way:
“The state of quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.; an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.”
The decision or choice to become a concealed carry license holder once acted upon becomes a commitment. The act of assuming the responsibility of holding that license puts on you a commitment to some very basic and fundamental obligations to yourself, to your family, and to your community.
The commitment is not simple, nor is it narrow. The sort of commitment that is involved in becoming a concealed carry license holder covers the way you think, the way you act, and the way you train. Putting that license in your wallet can be a life-altering event almost as much as having to draw and use your firearm.
What Kind of Commitments
I number the basic commitments as a concealed carry license holder at four. They are simple enough. The simplicity of the statements belies the seriousness that they envelop.
- Commit yourself to Readiness
- Commit yourself to Acting
- Commit yourself to Training
- Commit yourself to Education
Those are four very short, very simple statements that sum up the obligations that you assume with the acceptance of that concealed carry permit. Not everyone is ready or willing to make the sort of commitment that being a concealed carry license holder entail. To understand more what these four statements entail, let’s look at them in more detail.
Readiness covers a lot of ground and encompasses aspects of the other three parts of my list and breaks down into several categories. Readiness is as much a state of mind as it is a physical state. Preparing yourself involves a way of thinking and reacting to events around, being aware of your surroundings, and mentally rehearsing reactions to events.
Before anyone puts on a gun and steps out the door, they should have thought about the consequences of their decision. The simple act of putting that gun in your holster and stepping out the door is an acknowledgment that you are assuming the responsibility for your safety, the safety of your family, and possibly even strangers.
Being mentally ready requires that you know and understand that you may be called upon to defend yourself and those around you. That knowledge comes with the understanding that the actions you take may radically change your life and the lives of your family. You must prepare mentally to be in a constant state of readiness.
Jeff Cooper, the founder of the famous Gunsite Training Academy, put it quite succinctly. He often told his students that “Men fight with their minds. The weapons they use are incidental.” Your mental readiness is crucial to the outcome of any situation.
When was the last time you ran a mile? Can you sprint a hundred yards and then get off three good shots that will hit a man-size target at 7 yards? More important than that kind of physical readiness is the kind that allows you to remain in control during a stressful situation.
Being fit and prepared is as important as having the proper equipment or education. The situations you should anticipate are high stress. Elevated blood pressure and heart rate, adrenaline rush, and fear put an enormous strain on your body and your brain. Keeping yourself fit gives you an advantage when those kinds of situations arise.
When thinking about physical readiness and training, I try to remember a quote from Mark Rippetoe, noted fitness instructor, coach, and author. He said, “Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.”
Carrying that concealed weapon is a silent witness to your readiness and willingness to act when the time comes. There are many arguments and reasons that may have drawn you to become a concealed carry license holder. In truth, all those arguments all boil down to your decision that you are not going to react to bad situations. You have made the decision to be proactive in your response to situations that may endanger you or your family.
Being ready to act in a bad situation is the confluence of everything else you do to be ready to act. Mental readiness, physical readiness, training, and education are what you do to prepare to act. It all adds up to your readiness to act in the proper manner with the best possible outcome.
In my office hangs a small sign inscribed with just a few words from an anonymous source. The sign simply says “If you don’t make things happen, then things happen to you.”
Intertwined with mental readiness and physical readiness is the concept of training. You cannot be mentally ready for a bad situation if your skill sets are honed and perfected. You cannot be physically ready if you must stop and think when it comes time to do a magazine change or shoot with your offhand.
If you are going to be a concealed carry license holder, you must make a commitment to regular and effective training. The operative word is effective. To be honest, standing at the range line and pumping round after round downrange at a paper target is not training. You are burning ammunition.
Training involves replicating the real world that helps you develop skills that eventually become so ingrained that they become automatic and unthinking. Some people call it muscle memory. Whatever you call it, it equates to being able to perform when a situation needs your entire attention without having to stop and think about performing basic movements and evolutions.
One of my instructors was adamant about training. Over and over, he would look at new students wearing shiny new equipment and brandishing the latest and greatest in firearms, shake his head and mutter to himself. I asked him one day what he was saying. He smiled and gave me a line that I still use to this day. “Training Trumps Equipment.”
Once leaving the classroom where they took their concealed carry course, many concealed carry license holders never bother to update their knowledge of laws, best practices, and new innovations. The world is a constantly evolving place. Laws change, new techniques are developed, and new equipment and technology enter the market constantly.
From a personal liability standpoint, every concealed carry holder should constantly be refreshing their knowledge of the laws and regulations in their state that cover concealed carry. This is an area that is in a constant state of flux, and what was proper yesterday may not be acceptable tomorrow. Study is an essential part of being a committed concealed carry holder.
In the interest of being an effective concealed carry holder, staying abreast of the newest innovations and technological advancements in guns, gear, and accessories is important. I am a traditionalist at heart, but I also realize that new may be better and may allow me to be a better-concealed carry actor.
So How Do You R.A.T.E?
As you consider whether you are ready to make the commitment to becoming a concealed carry license holder, how do you R.A.T.E? In other words
- How is your Readiness?
- Are you prepared to Act?
- Will you continue to Train effectively?
- Is Education important to you?
You need to assess yourself more accurately and more intensely than you assess your choices of firearms or accessories. Your gun and your holster will be a very small part of the overall equation when and if you must draw that gun in defense of yourself or your family. How you R.A.T.E could very well be the difference in the outcome of that situation.
How to Conceal Carry – Making The Assessment
As you begin to check your R.A.T.E, do it carefully, thoroughly, and in an unbiased manner. Be honest in your approach to these aspects of carrying concealed. You don’t have to be perfect. What you do need is a clear and consciously made assessment of your R.A.T.E. Find your strengths and build them. Find your weaknesses and improve them. Understanding both will be to your advantage in many more ways than just as a concealed carry license holder.