Corinne Mosher, a shooting instructor and competitor, shares some thoughts around the responsibility and compromises that come with the decision to carry a concealed weapon.
In a world where dangerous people feed off of those they deem weak and vulnerable, the goal of a daily defense plan is twofold: to carry oneself in a way that is uninviting to criminals, and when that isn’t enough, to deploy physical tactics designed to create an opportunity to escape with your life. It takes vigilance and practice to understand criminal behaviors and recognize what they look like in real life. Being prepared to defend yourself requires developing a heightened sense of awareness which increases your ability to hone in on potentially dangerous situations before they become active attacks.
Simply put, if you can “see it coming” you give yourself time to prepare an appropriate response. Then, a good physical defense requires studying the strengths and limitations of a variety of defensive tools and training yourself to use them effectively. Here’s the punchline: practicing a daily defense plan requires changes in your mindset and lifestyle. Unfortunately, everyone has a limit to how much personal comfort they are willing to sacrifice in order to give themselves the best mental and physical defense against criminal interference.
Carrying a firearm every day can be a figurative, and literal, pain. In the few years in which I have been a Concealed Carry Permit holder and instructor I have developed the opinion that concealed carry isn’t and shouldn’t be for everyone. Understand me. While I fervently believe in the constitutional right to own and carry firearms in the United States, the realities of every day carry can be complicated, uncomfortable and sometimes socially awkward — if you’re doing it right, that is. In order to adopt this lifestyle, a responsible concealed carrier will spend time, effort and money navigating the ethical, legal, moral and physical realities concerning the use of deadly force, concealed carry methods and the sometimes complicated maze of carry/no carry zones.
I am writing this article for those who, like myself, have made the choice to carry a firearm every day. We call it Every Day Carry, or EDC. This does not mean, however, that we don’t make every day compromises in our defense plan. Each day we choose how and what to carry based on how we perceive risk in our environment, then balance what we should do in order to be the most prepared with what we are willing to do without making too many uncomfortable adjustments.
While we should be spending more time and effort in learning how to stop a dangerous situation from occurring by practicing good self-awareness, many well-meaning people skip over mental preparedness all together and head straight to the personal protection products. To most people “self-defense” means buying a gun, pepper spray or stun gun and calling it good. As an instructor I have met with many individuals who are looking to purchase a gun for concealed carry in order to feel safer. Instead of working towards increasing their personal awareness and seeking advanced training in the use of the firearm for concealed carry, they treat the firearm as if it has magic power to ward off evil simply by being in their environment.
Concealing a firearm can be a challenge. The fact is that no matter what super-tuckable-invisible-no print holster you can find, it is never truly comfortable to wear a gun and dress around it. So, one compromise that is easy to make is to carry a tiny gun. If you ask the clerk at any gun shop to show you the most popular concealed carry guns he or she will start pulling out the smallest guns in the case. I really do believe and preach that the gun you’ll practice with and carry every day is the gun you should buy, no matter what its size or caliber. However, if there were no limitations and I had to choose one firearm to take to the fight for my life I wouldn’t take a pistol, I’d grab my rifle.
The only reason we conceal pistols is that it’s legal, easier and less socially awkward than slinging your rifle up and walking around with it. The only benefit to carrying a small gun is that it is easy to hide. Everything else about that gun becomes more difficult. Less mass in the gun and shorter grips means that we feel more recoil while having less surface area to achieve good hold control. Smaller magazines mean fewer rounds. A shorter sight radius means more of a chance of missing your target through even slight sight misalignment. But, at least we don’t have to change the way we dress… . The end result is maintaining a certain standard of comfort by limiting our ability to defend ourselves with the best tools. We all do it…myself included.
Too often we develop a false sense of security in the simple knowledge that we have a gun and could use it if we needed to. We become complacent during practice sessions and lazy about how and when we carry. Your defensive tool will only be as effective as you are. You are the weapon, the gun is the tool. If you have not prepared mentally to use a weapon against another human being, have not physically trained yourself to be safe, effective and efficient with that weapon, and DO NOT HAVE IT ON YOU…you may not live to regret it.
There is no such thing as one tool that is right for every job. If your physical defense plan includes the use of a lethal force multiplier such as a firearm, then you should also have at least one less-lethal tool as well, such as pepper spray or a Taser. The firearm is not the solution for everything. It is the tool of last resort. Any time you press the trigger on a firearm there is the potential for death or great bodily harm and therefore can only be used in justified self-defense if and ONLY IF there is an immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or great bodily harm to the innocent. Not every situation in which you may need to use force to defend yourself will be justified in the use of deadly force. Give yourself multiple options to use given any number of scenarios.
Ask yourself, if my environment turns hostile, what items would I want immediately on hand to use in my fight and flight to a safer location? While on-body forms of carry may be preferable, an enormous benefit to carrying inside a purse or bag is the freedom to carry a variety of essential items at all times! In my carry purse I have room for a double stack gun, extra magazine, flashlight, knife, pepper spray, emergency phone charger, wallet, snacks and a water bottle. What I have is essentially a mini bug out bag, and no one would know by looking at it!
Without a carry bag, there is the issue of where to put these other items. Are we willing to dress around so many extra essentials or do we just pick three, or two, or one? We know we should carry a spare magazine, but adding a mag holder is just one more thing to cover up. Is it worth it? Once again, every day we choose how and what to carry based on how we perceive risk in our environment. Here are a few examples from my life.
Example: July 4, 2015. My environment is a public venue with crowds of people watching fireworks and celebrating. I am several hours from home in an unfamiliar city and I am alone with my daughter. I recognize that 4th of July gatherings have recently been announced as the target of terrorist attacks. Based on the known dangers in my environment, my risk perception is high. On a humid, 90 degree Missouri evening I am dressed in long pants, wool socks, closed-toed shoes and a medium weight, long sleeve shirt. I’m wearing a Kahr CM9 on my left ankle (hence the thick socks and long pants) and a Glock 43 under my shirt. In my carry purse I have a Glock 27 along with other EDC items like a flashlight, extra Glock magazine and a knife. Why? Because I can. I don’t ride the carnival rides and I don’t join in the celebratory drinking. My risk perception is high enough to justify making marked compromises in my personal comfort and enjoyment of my surroundings in order to be able to defend myself and my daughter if the absolute worst happened.
Example: My environment is my home. I’m sitting on my bed typing on my laptop. I understand that while we should be able to feel safe in our homes no matter the time of day or night that is simply not the world we live in. Based on the known dangers in my environment, my risk perception is lowered, but not eliminated. I have locked all windows and doors to my 2nd floor apartment. Because I have taken these precautions, I have taken my gun off and put it in my Hornady Rapid Safe on the night stand next to me. I wear a bracelet that opens the safe with a simple touch of the RFID chip. My gun is within arm’s length from me while I work from home but I do not feel enough risk to wear it while I work.
While compromise is not a bad thing, we can’t pretend that we don’t do it. Every once in a while we need to take a good, hard look at our choices and make changes where needed. We should make it a goal to expand our EDC to include less-lethal options and other useful items. This might mean adopting a new carry method or improving the one you have. Then, we need to learn how to fight, whether with our fists, a firearm, or any other personal protection product we choose to carry and then carry every day. Most importantly, we need to recognize our mental preparedness for what it is….our shield. The stronger your shield, the less likely it is that you’ll have to go for your sword.
About Corinne Mosher
Corinne is an avid shooting competitor with an impressive list of wins. See where she’s been competing and winning lately on her Facebook page.