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Rethinking Concealed Carry

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When Americans approach concealed carry, they typically begin within the framework of legality. This produces a form of feedback loop where the function is determined not by their circumstances, but by bureaucracy. In States that haven't yet adopted a constitutional approach to self-defense, the first step to carrying a firearm begins with information about paperwork instead of assessing the objectives and trajectory of one's environment. Outside of Pax Americana, a suburban approach to self-defense will get you killed, or worse. And while victory, when properly defined, includes the legal ramifications of our actions, to start and end there is to construct our understanding of the right to self-defense on the contradiction of treating a human right as if it were merely a civil liberty.

Rethinking concealed carry begins with considering what it is we're upholding. It isn't using the Second Amendment as merely a legal shield, but rather, living out the ideas that were distilled into the words, “The Right to keep and bear arms.” Instead of the passive possession of a tool, taking ownership of a firearm begins with what we value.

Independence and Community

Arms, and their use, are the last line of defense, and the first line of autonomy. We naturally make a distinction between offensive and defensive use. Concealed Carry is fundamentally a defensive concept, but it does not mean that it should be purely considered reactive. In 2020, many chose to purchase their first firearm as a reaction to political unrest as well as a loss of faith in institutions. As a result, the landscape of concealed carry has moved closer to its natural state of superseding political opinions.

Second Amendment Alive and Well 2.0

This opened the door to a plethora of new environments and solutions. For some, re-securing a sense of security meant moving away from the density of urban living, and for others, it meant finally getting to know their neighbors or participating in State and local elections. In both of these situations, the core value that informs the choice to carry a concealed firearm is independence: the ability to exist without depending on the government. Independence, however, is not absolute, for it remains in balance with community: the voluntary commitment to one's immediate surroundings, be it a church, a business, or a cul-de-sac.


Trends within the culture of concealed carry have shifted how and what we keep on or around our person. At the same time, we have communally distilled the expected tools down to a pocket dump consisting of a reliable firearm in a dependable holster, a folding pocket knife, and often a flashlight to accompany one's wallet, phone, and timepiece. The ultimate sin that we do not speak of is the attempt to define our threat to fit the gun we are packing instead of letting the environment and mission dictate our gear.

Concealed Carry

Still, a handgun remains one of the most versatile tools for personal self-defense. A proper pistol works when you need it to, and otherwise goes unnoticed, as, the fundamental purpose is to eliminate a threat, not wow them. The more mundane factors about carrying a firearm turn out to be the more important. There's nothing wrong about having a flashy pattern on your inside-the-waistband holster, but we inherently know that the flecktarn is for Instagram, and the holster is for our security.

A good concealed carry firearm needs to be something that we can enjoy shooting, even if it is only in small amounts, something we can trust to work when we need it to, and something that solves a problem, instead of complicating one. This is why firearms like the Glock 19, SIG P320, Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0, CZ P-10c, Walther PDP, FN 509, and similar firearms have become so popular. Between their individual quirks, each firearm can be expected to function when needed, carry enough rounds for most situations, are enjoyable to practice with, and are supported by enough holster makers that one is not forced into uncanny territory when fielding the firearm.

ryan cleckner edc

Acquisition will naturally play a part in the firearm that we choose and how we carry it. The cost of entry into carrying a firearm for self-defense is best considered in the long term. With some exceptions, most people will not shoot enough rounds to wear out handguns designed for carrying, and the expenses only start at the firearm itself. Additional magazines, a holster, and ammunition add up quickly, but that is not a valid excuse to cut corners on gun selection. We honestly believe it is better to have something that works that you can afford, instead of nothing at all, but call BS when it is used to cover up for poor impulse control.

Holsters take time to get used to and require a bit of wardrobe management. Thankfully flannels are still in style, but we're honest enough with ourselves to be able to point out who in the room is most likely carrying by their choice in clothing. Fundamentally, a holster functions as something like a safety itself by preventing the gun from going off when you're not holding it. After that, it is meant to carry the firearm throughout the day's activities. A solid trigger guard accomplishes the first, and a secure fit solves the second. Concealability is determined by your environment, as the pastor might not look down on you if your pistol peeks out, but the grocer probably will. And the fact is, you probably like your grocer as well.

The first consideration floats back to the top here: is your goal to merely be legal, or to improve your life and the lives of those around you? Trust us, the State doesn't care if you're happy.

Papers, Please

We're not advocating for breaking the law, when we say that Federal, State, and Local laws are not our first consideration. Rather, they are merely a piece of the concealed carry puzzle. Ultimately, the State cannot punish you for something it doesn't know about. But just because it's not a legal concern, so to speak, if you don't get caught, doesn't mean it's not immoral. Thus privacy is a necessary component of security.

At each level, there are laws to consider. On the Federal and State level: acquisition, background checks, regional bans on certain guns. On the local level, we should also take into consideration the people part of the law. Not all prosecutors honor the right to self-defense.

concealed carry application

With exceptions, the federal government requires a NICS background check each time you purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer. Instead of being a registry, where your information is stored to record what you have, this background check runs your information against a database of prohibiting factors.

Some States require that you have either a permit to purchase or a permit to carry before you can buy certain firearms from a licensed dealer such as an AR-15 or a handgun. This process varies from state-to-state, where some require a class to be taken, fingerprint identification, or shooting qualifications. While this is often a person's first step into carrying a firearm, we're okay with shaming people who think that it is all they need when it comes to what they know. Continued education is key.

Since not all States or cities treat firearms ownership the same, it is important to know how you will be treated by locations you travel through or visit. Some States share reciprocity, where the permit to carry from your home State is honored by the location you are visiting. While what they don't know won't harm them, we are hardly omniscient either, and if you're going to carry a firearm somewhere it is prohibited, you will also need to acknowledge that you are willing to carry that risk as well.

Concealed Carry Insurance and Similar Solutions

Over the past decade, the concept of having some kind of insurance or service specifically attentive to the nuances of the use of force in self-defense has entered Gun Culture. Recently, extremely public cases, such as the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse reinforced support for this proactive consideration. At the same time, an elephant remains in the room: If our right to self-defense is enshrined in the Constitution, why do we need to pay for insurance?

Unfortunately, this phrase gets thrown around often: “You pay for car insurance, and you're thankful for it if your vehicle is damaged in a hit and run. So why wouldn't you do the same if, heaven forbid, you have to defend yourself or your family?”

concealed carry insurance arrested

It certainly sounds like something that came from a marketing white-board meeting, not something genuine.

The problem is in the phrasing, for most of us don't beam with excitement every time we have to call the car insurance company, whether it is to negotiate a rate or report an event. Also, we're required to have it, by law. If we approach self-defense and concealed carry from merely a legalistic angle, proactively having a policy for the events which are nearly certain to take place after using a firearm to defend one's self sounds like a responsible decision. When rethinking concealed carry from what we value, programs like these point to the long game.

One does not need to use physical force to cause harm, and history shows that, regardless of the circumstances, some people will use others' misfortune to try to make a name for themselves. We volunteer to carry a firearm, so likewise, related insurance should remain voluntary as well.

Beyond the Gun

A positive change that we can, in part, blame on the internet, is the proliferation of training. Having a firearm and not knowing how to use it will never be cool. Although we live in an increasingly abstract world, where information is used as a weapon, neglecting to become proficient with a firearm we choose to carry is fundamentally dishonest.

We lie to ourselves when we only consider the situations we may face through the lens of the tools we carry. Thankfully most of us live in a world where, unless we seek it out, we are unlikely to face real violence. If you're concerned about microaggressions, this applies doubly to you.

Knife to a Gunfight
This is what’s far more likely to happen on the street: A thug will get within arm’s length before grabbing you with his support-side hand while thrusting with his hidden knife. Even if you’re carrying a concealed pistol, your first priority must be dealing with the incoming attack.

Being able to shoot effectively makes up a very small though necessary part of what it takes to succeed in Special Operations. Stepping off to perform a raid on a high-value target is very different than heading to the grocery store or pumping gas in a dangerous neighborhood. Being proficient with your concealed carry choice opens up more mental space to assess your surroundings and remain attentive without drawing attention.

Social skills, hand-to-hand fighting, and the ability to respond to common medical emergencies change the way we evaluate our decisions. There is a distinct difference between people who own firearms, and people who are able to use them.

Gun Culture

One defining element of the current state of the culture around firearms ownership is the value we place behind how we think about topics like Concealed Carry. Whereat one time intellectual approaches were met with suspicion, Gun Culture is now engaging in the thought behind our choices. The idea of reducing concealed carry to a matter of aesthetics is fading, and being replaced by a culture of ownership.

By rethinking concealed carry as built on a foundation of our values, we align ourselves towards a more honest approach to self-defense, and impact our communities for the better.

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1 Comment

  • Greg Vermeychuk says:

    Concealed carry is an entire lifestyle which inculcates your values. It requires total commitment to the maintenance and improvement of your skills, as well as a recognition of the fact that the concealed pistol is but one element in the continuum of force used to defend our lives and property

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  • Concealed carry is an entire lifestyle which inculcates your values. It requires total commitment to the maintenance and improvement of your skills, as well as a recognition of the fact that the concealed pistol is but one element in the continuum of force used to defend our lives and property

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