7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Carried Concealed

What piqued your interest in getting your permit to concealed carry?

Are you freaking out about riots springing up and want to have a fighting chance to defend yourself?

Or are you traveling for work and want to protect yourself no matter where you are?

For me, I like to camp and backpack.  Some of the areas I camp are prone to bears and other big things that might try to eat me.

Bear in Campsite, Howcast
Bear in Campsite, Howcast

My motivation to get my concealed carry permit was to carry my Glock 27 only when I was in God’s country and needed the protection.  

That changed when I actually took the course and had the permission of the great state of Wisconsin to concealed carry.

Below are some situations you might not have thought of that you should definitely keep in mind if you are thinking about getting your concealed carry permit.

1. Feeling Like Everyone is Looking at You

When you legally carry your for the first time, you’re going to feel like everyone is looking at you.  Remember that big zit you had in high school and everyone was looking at you?  Yeah, it’s not that bad, but it’s the same sort of feeling.

Everyone Looking At You
Everyone Looking At You

You’ll realize almost everyone doesn’t know.  However, you will have to modify some of the ways you do things depending on where your holster is.

For example, if you carry your gun at the 4 or 5 O’Clock position (behind your right hip), your gun may print (how the outline or imprint of your weapon) when you bend over to get something off the bottom shelf at the grocery store.

Gun Printing With Different Holsters, LuckyGunner
Gun Printing With Different Holsters, LuckyGunner

To remedy this, you can either stop buying the cheap cereal in the bags on the bottom shelf and get real Fruit Loops, or you can squat with your back straighter to minimize the bulge.

Or check out our Best Holsters Any Way You Carry article to get the least printing one possible.

2. The Responsibility

This may seem like a given, but now situations require you to have a zen-like calm about you.  

Think about those times you’ve been cut off when driving and your blood pressure skyrockets.  If you get into an argument and someone sees you have a gun, they could feel threatened.

Accidents
Accidents

You can’t flash your gun to win an argument.

If you remove your gun from your holster, you need to genuinely fear for your life.  It needs to be a scenario where it’s a you or them outcome.

If it’s not, there are other consequences you may face like assault with a deadly weapon, or at a minimum, brandishing a firearm.

Neither of these are things you don’t want to deal with, ever.

One way to get SOME piece of mind is with CCW insurance.  It’s one of those things you’ll really wish you had if you ever have to use your weapon…even if it was a righteous shoot you’re still going to need help.

3. All of the Places You Can’t Go When You are Carrying

When you aren’t carrying a weapon, you can pretty much go anywhere you want.  When carrying, you need to be a little more cautious.  Those no gun signs are your Kryptonite.

You will learn pretty quickly there are a lot of places with a no gun policy.  A religious building like a church, any state or federal building, pretty much any place that has anything that has to do with children, movie theaters, a lot of stores, bars, and event venues are all no-go places when you legally have a gun on your person.

Gun Free School Zone, Breitbart
Gun Free School Zone, Breitbart

Some states have laws like, if a business makes more than 50% of their business from alcohol on any given day, then it is illegal to carry inside the building.

This is a tough one, and you need to assume.  It’s not like you’re going peek your head in the door to ask the owner to see his books for the last year so you know whether you can bring your gun inside.  You need to err on the side of caution; avoid the business or don’t carry inside.

4. What Do I Do With My Gun When I Can’t Take Inside a Store With Me?

This happens a lot.  You’re out running errands, and you come to a store with a no guns allowed sign on the door.

What do you do?

You have a few options.

First, you can choose another establishment.  As you can tell by watching the news, spineless bad guys love to target gun free zones.  Going inside leaves you unable to protect yourself.  Many uneducated business owners believe the sign will keep the bad guys out.

Gun In Car
Gun In Car

The second option is to lock your gun in the car.  This is the go-to option most of the time because, unless someone who wants to steal your gun knows you have it in the car, it should be secure.

Making sure your weapon is secure in your vehicle isn’t as easy.  Sure you can put it in your glove compartment or center console.  More and more, car manufacturers are removing the locks.

A good alternative would be a personal safe that installs in your vehicle.  You’ll have a metal structure with a lock and peace of mind for the times you can’t take your gun with you.

The third choice is not to bring your weapon with you if you know you can’t have it on your person.  

If you’re taking your kids to the waterpark, it’s a pretty good bet you can’t carry it with you.  Situations like these put you in a predicament where you need to decide whether to take it with you when you leave the house or not.

5. Reciprocity

One thing I did look into before I took my CCW class was where my Wisconsin permit would be valid.  What I found out was, if I go to Minnesota, they do not accept my state’s permit, and therefore I can’t carry there.

In this situation, you have a couple of choices.  If you frequent a state, you can get get a permit for that state.  Some states offer non-resident CCW permits.  The other option is to take the class for a Utah non-resident permit.  Utah, if you didn’t know has one of the most widely accepted concealed carry permits.

Nevada Non-Resident Reciprocity, USA Carry
Nevada Non-Resident Reciprocity, USA Carry

If you decide to go the route of a Utah non-resident permit, keep an eye on which states accept it.  In my case, Minnesota no longer accepts carry permits from Utah or Wisconsin.  There are many easy to use reciprocity maps to help you check which states accept your state’s permit.

6. How Much of a Pain It Is to Travel

Traveling while carrying, at least initially, adds some inconvenience to your trip.  Most states allow you to keep your weapon on you while you drive as long as you stay in the vehicle.  Others require you to have it locked up and unloaded.

TSA Lock Box
TSA Lock Box…Don’t Use This

Make sure you know the transportation rules of the State’s you are driving through.  It will help you avoid incident if you have an unexpected meeting with law enforcement.  You won’t have to rely on the “I didn’t know that wasn’t legal here, it is in my State.” plea.

These days, flying is the worst.  Take an inconvenient situation and make it more time consuming… no thank you.  The TSA has been a little better with things like guns on a plane.  Follow some simple TSA rules for flying with a gun.

No matter how you travel, when you don’t have your gun on you, make sure it is in a hard sided case with a lock that only you have the key to (No TSA locks!).  

You don’t want someone to be able to pry the case open and slide your gun out.  

That sort of defeats the purpose, right?

7. Training and Practice

While these are not mandatory, the thing is, if you aren’t an accurate shot or freeze when the time comes to defend your life, there is no real reason to carry a weapon.

A lot of sites talk about going to the range and practicing.  The thing is, they have access to a really cool range with all sorts of equipment and targets.  Most people can’t train this way.

Most cities have an area where you can shoot.  You may need to drive 30 minutes to get there, but you should be able to find one. 

Handgun Training
Handgun Training

What you are trying to do is create good muscle memory.  You want to be able to draw your gun from your holster and bring it to the exact same shooting position every time.

You need to do this over and over and over again.  You can practice at home with an empty weapon.

Going to the range regularly will let you get a feel for your trigger, the recoil, reacquiring your target after you fire a round and more.  There is no real substitution for live fire training.

You might be one hell of a shot in video games, but it’s very different squeezing a real trigger.  The better you practice, the less you will need to think about it in the heat of the moment.

Be A Responsible Gun Owner

Overall, your life will change when you decide it’s time to exercise your right to bear arms and carry every day.

You will find yourself being more observant and aware of your surroundings.  You will also find yourself avoiding more potential drama than you did before you carried.

What were some things you found out after you started concealed carrying regularly?

29 Comments

  1. “You will learn pretty quickly there are a lot of places with a no gun policy. A religious building like a church, any state or federal building, pretty much any place that has anything that has to do with children, movie theaters, a lot of stores, bars, and event venues are all no-go places when you legally have a gun on your person.” Yes, learn where you can/can’t carry in your state BUT (for example) in WA you can carry in a church, in a movie theater, most stores (but no bars) and some event venues. IF a place like a mall or store has a “no guns” sign, it doesn’t make it illegal to carry there unless you are spotted and asked to leave but don’t. Then it’s a trespassing charge only. Concealed means concealed. BTW, you can carry in an Oregon bar, but not in a Washington bar or area of a restaurant off limits to minors. Check your state’s laws!

    1. Hi Steve, thanks for highlighting a couple of the intricate laws so our readers understand they really do need to check their individual state laws!

  2. Great points made on the ccw. I’ve noticed almost all of these already, but only after I’ve found myself in the situation. Many if not all of these points were not discussed during class. I found myself confronting a driver that had clearly endangered my safety and I was ready to come unglued on him. Followed him and started to get out of my car to ask what he was thinking putting myself and my family at risk. I suddenly realized if things escalated, the fact I’m armed may be enough to land me in trouble. Also I still feel people can see me print, when in fact they would have to be trying to notice. All in all I like my ccw, but it doesn’t come without some life adjustments. Be safe!

  3. All really good points. It definitely makes you more aware of your surroundings. It’s a huge responsibility and I wish the cpl class I took here in MI would’ve covered these real world scenario’s more in depth. I’m now looking into some more advanced training. Great article!

    1. I’m with ya! I just finished a class in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and my class was a complete JOKE! I am seriously worried that some people are getting their permit and know absolutely NOTHING about guns and/or have the basic training required to even hold and fire one. Our class met at someone’s home out in the countryside, and we ended up firing .22 cal handguns to train with, which would not have been bad if we weren’t shooting at hand drawn targets that were actual paper plates and they were even mounted on a crooked and torn up pallet that this guy had as a makeshift place to catch the rounds that we shot. The whole ordeal was just really bad and the instructor should be ashamed that he is taking people’s money and just putting unprepared people out there like that. I really hope there will be some more firm rules of how and who can teach these classes and what needs to be taught to even be able to get your permit. This is only my opinion of course, but I really do hope things change for the better.

  4. Great article! I have a CCP in my state and Utah. I went through some of the same processes. I can remember worrying about printing. I’ve carried my PPQ for about two years now, it’s not a little gun but I modified my holsters fit lower behind my belt and for abdomen carry. I’m wearing mostly shorts and tee shirts, and even if there is some printing I realized that no one pays attention enough to care, not even the police, just act normal! I’ve gotten so comfortable wearing it, a good holster and belt helps, that honestly, when I’m out and about, I don’t un holster it, and that’s all I’m saying on that! It was my first striker fired weapon, so I think the first few weeks I carried without it being chambered but after putting 7500 rounds through it, i know it ain’t gonna fire unless I pull the trigger so it’s always ready to go! One last point, I have carry coverage with CCWSafe! I hope its is wasted money and I never need it!

  5. Good points, I forget once to leave the gun home when I went to a concert and the detectors were in use. Had to walk about 4 blocks back to the car to disarm myself. Another is reaching for things on the top shelf, if your shirt lifts to much you will be exposed and high enough the shirt could hang up as well.

  6. In Alabama “no gun” signs have no force of law. You can walk right past them as long as you’re concealed carry. If they see the gun they can ask you to leave. Only if you refuse does this become a problem and even then it’s just simple trespass. There are also no laws restricting carrying in a church or state park, etc.

    In my daughters state of New York they require a lot of jumping through hoops and in her area they have laws such as “you cannot shoot at a silhouette at the range”. Seriously…a paper target silhouette is not ok. It boggles the mind.

    Each state is so different (thankfully this still remains within the rights of the states) that one article really can’t cover the bases for all.

  7. I have lupus and after I got my CPL and started to carry, I was struck by how many well-meaning pieces of advice I had to ignore. A lot of gun owners and carriers will offer advice on where to carry, how to stand, how to hold your gun, how to store it when you aren’t carrying but in the end; they’re not you. Find what works for you and your specific situation (within the law). If you have a disability, you’ll need to get creative about where you carry and make adaptations based on your individual needs. Then, as the author stated, practice – a lot!!!

  8. I’m curious. What’s so great about Wisconsin if you have to ask permission to carry your firearm concealed? I know, Minnesota isn’t much better. Last I checked, Wisconsin has a good open carry policy.

    1. Hi Heather, that’s a great potential article. We’re adding more stuff to our CCW section and we’ll be sure to have something about planning outfits for both men and women.

  9. I obtained my CCW in California (yes there are places where this is still possible!) as well as in Arizona, which allows me to carry in a number of other states. When I was first certified, I remember the feeling that everyone knew I was carrying and thus, I did the “gun check” often. Now that I have carried for awhile, I am much more comfortable with my weapon and I notice I am also much more of an observer of other people.

  10. One thing that also changes is the way FAMILY treats you; some will understand and just want information from you and others will actually shun you. Think twice about which ones you tell and which ones you just let find out if they can…

    1. My wife and 3 daughters and my three oldest grandchildren know, that’s where it ends. I have told them that no one needs to know!

  11. There is a really great CCW app (CCW-concealed carry 50 state) that gives reciprocity and law info for each state. It isn’t free but is pretty cheap and a great reference tool. I learned about it while taking my class in Oklahoma.

  12. Great article, and great comments, as usual.

    This is the best gun blog I’ve found, by huge margin. It treats guns as a tool, which makes the most sense. There’s virtually no attitude here, and that’s almost unheard of in this genre of blog.

    Keep up the stellar work, folks.

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