To Carry A Gun.

One of the great freedoms I can now exercise since leaving California is the right to own and carry firearms (keep and bear arms), which the Constitution guarantees the government will not even touch (infringe). Of course they do, especially in California and other liberal states. But in Florida, you can apply for a concealed carry weapons (CCW) permit, and if you meet the standard eligibility and criteria, take a class, pass a background check, and demonstrate a working knowledge of handguns including a practice shoot, you get a CCW. That was the easy part. What no one tells you, is that actually carrying a gun in practice is very different from the theoretical discussions we all have with ourselves and others before actually carrying a gun. And it has some amusing aspects.

The first question is which one are you going to carry? So you go to the gun safe and look around, and realize that in a predominately non-carry, communist state like California, the guns you can own are both limited in capacity, and design. Because California has a government approved list where most models are at least 10 years old or older, and they have not kept up with concealed carry trends. If you can only use guns at the range, then your guns tend to be larger target guns, rather than carry guns. Then you have to think of whether to carry a heavier and wider, steel, 5-6 shot revolver, or a double stack magazine, 10-15 shot, light polymer, semi-auto pistol. No brainer there. I’m using a pistol. Then you have to think which pistol is the most reliable, will save your life, that you can use quickly, and won’t weigh down the pants. Given this criteria, I go with the Glock. Don’t leave home without it, to quote an old advertising phrase.

Okay now here’s where it gets funny. In theoretical world you just put your gun in your holster and go. In reality you are going out into the world carrying a gun for the first time and you think EVERYONE will see your gun printing against your clothes, so everyone is going to know you have a gun, the police and SWAT teams will be called as you visit your local shops, and then you ask how did I get myself into this mess? That is California oppressive police state thinking. Back in the free world of Florida and most of the rest of the country, no one cares. Which is why the normalization of openly carried guns by citizens, or the accidental unintentional sight of guns against clothing, or a concealed gun revealed for a brief second when you reach for something, should bring the reaction “oh good, someone is carrying a gun so I’m safer now.” However the media and all the anti-gun rights groups have for years cultivated a culture of fear of the responsible citizen.

This is where classic lines come to mind with slight variations like, “is that a gun in your pants, or are you just glad to… oh, that IS a gun in your pants…”

Now you have to get a holster. The internet and gun shops are filled with tons of holsters, all of which are “the best!!!” Back in socialist California all my old holsters were outside the belt, competition holsters only worn at the range. Whereas for proper concealing you need to carry inside the pants to cover as much of the gun as possible. Which brings about the next dilemma. You are going to have to lose weight, or buy larger clothes. Most likely both. Now this would be a great ad campaign for Weight Watchers if they were progressive enough in our rights to think of it. Imagine Marie Osmond proclaiming “I lost weight so I could exercise my gun rights!” Okay, dreaming, I know.

Next you go out and buy longer shirts in the “tall” category to make sure you are concealed, and you waste a bunch of money on holsters that look great on the internet, but are uncomfortable and useless in actual practice. Next you go to the reviews and expert opinions for your ideal holster, or two, or three maybe, if they are all tailored for exactly one gun only. Which is better than a universal holster not tailored for any particular gun, usually better, but not always. So you wade through the forest of available holsters, find one you are comfortable with, and put on your “unloaded” gun at home to try all kinds of clothes variations to see what works, what works while drawing and re-holstering, and what will call the SWAT teams. Kidding… Florida allows for unintentional discovery or split second revealing of a gun. Even so, expect to spend a bunch of time in front of a mirror bending every which way to make sure you remain concealed.

So now you’ve got your gun, your holster, your “gun clothes,” and you are ready to go out in the world, but you feel like there is a huge sign over your head saying, “HE’S GOT A GUN!!!” So when you walk out the door the first time, several things happen. You walk differently. Then you notice that you are walking differently trying to hide that you have a gun. Then you try to cover for walking differently by trying to walk normally. This will mess with you.

Then you have to get into your car. Cars are a whole new world of carrying that you never suspected. You fall awkwardly into your car seat, your gun is now jammed between the seat and your ribs, you can’t get to it anyway in an emergency, and you wonder again why you ever started this project in the first place. Oh yeah, exercising my rights. I am carrying a powerful symbol of my freedom. Being there to save others in case of criminal or terrorist attack. And here you are wedging your gun into your car seat. This would be a lousy time to be stopped by the police for a burned out taillight. “Hello officer, I have a CCW permit and I’m carrying a gun I can’t get to.” I wonder how the police do it? Then again, they carry openly in big holsters. Although it’s probably not a good idea to walk up to an officer, show that you are carrying a gun, and ask, “Officer, can you show me how to carry this in my car please? How do you guys do it?”

Getting into the car is one thing. Getting out is another. What if the gun falls out? It won’t with a good holster, but you sure will think it will the first time. And then you are most likely going to be around PEOPLE. At your house it was rather easy to walk out to the car, even more so in a garage, but now you are out in the world. So now you have to think beforehand, “Where am I going today?” Is there any place you want to go that it is prohibited to carry? The standard ones are airports and other transit hubs, government especially law enforcement buildings, schools, places serving alcohol. all of which have been terrorist targets, and places posted against carrying, which you can now boycott. So you try it. You brave the world, try to look “normal,” go about your business, and pray that no one calls the SWAT team. What you find is that if you have done your part to conceal, nothing happens the first time out, or the second, or the third, and now you are getting used to it.

Work? What about your job? What if you can’t carry on the job, and want to leave your gun in the car? Is it secure at work? Can you ask your boss if it’s okay to carry on the job without you thinking they think you are dangerous or a nut case? Depends on the job, and the boss. Well, if you really were dangerous, you wouldn’t be asking. But that’s not how this works. Liability, insurance, and lawyers usually overrule rights. Fortunately I work for a conservative radio talk station, and we have a big sign on the door with a green circle around a handgun and the posting, “Firearms welcome. Please keep all weapons holstered unless need arises. In such a case judicious marksmanship appreciated.” I love my job.

Once you get used to carrying you cross an imaginary boundary of thought, where before you were uncomfortable and afraid going out with a gun because you didn’t want to be arrested for doing something wrong, to being uncomfortable and afraid NOT to have a gun because you realize what a helpless victim you were before, and how in any of the terrorist or criminal assassinations of our history, your only option was to be a victim. That all changes in your head after you exercise your rights awhile.

My bank!!! I have to go my bank. Okay this is big. We’ve all seen cowboy movie bank robberies, to present day robberies on the news, some with horrendous consequences. And here you are thinking of bringing a loaded gun into a bank. It’s perfectly legal in Florida, and every CCW/carry state, I think. But it’s really weird. You want to exercise your rights, but you don’t want to cause a panic if your gun butt sticks out against your shirt while you bend over to write a deposit or other slip. And you don’t want them to close your account if discovered you are carrying and you are thrown out. The ATM is an option, but then people are standing right behind you. It gets complicated. But soon you realize all the complications are within you. So I called the branch manager who knows me and said, “I have a rather different question for you…” The answer was that my bank has no policy regarding concealed carry because it is a legal activity if you have the CCW permit. Just make sure you conceal. The manager did add one thing saying, “If we are robbed or attacked — get ’em!” Love my bank!

The experience has been completely worth it, and I intend to continue being a responsible concealed carry practitioner. My CCW instructor will be on my radio talk show on 1330 AM WEBY at 8 am Central time, Friday, June 2nd. And you can ask him why he ever graduated me from a CCW class so I could carry a gun.

This is one of our sacred rights that so many have died to protect which we remember this Memorial Day Weekend. Where we are still free to protect ourselves against enemies to liberty, both foreign and domestic, and that the more people who exercise this right, the more free we will remain. In most countries the greatest danger a citizen faces is from their own government, and the agents, officers and bureaucrats who take liberty, and sometimes life. A right not exercised does not exist. Then again, that is the goal of so many. Stay free, stay strong, do your part for the civil defense, and we will have an ever increasing, responsibly armed citizenry against the forces of evil, and maintain our unique country, free in a world of oppression.

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