Do you remember the last time you were in a large crowd of people? Unless you were strolling around in an area that has an outright ban on concealed carry, there’s a good possibility that you walked by more than one person who was carrying a gun, and you didn’t even know it. In fact, for every 20 people you pass (on average) in the United States, one of them is legally carrying a gun,** and the number of carry permits being issued is on the rise.
This brings to mind a question that most permit holders have been asked at some point: Why do you even want to carry a gun?
These permit holders aren’t all security guards, police officers, and pizza delivery guys who frequent bad neighborhoods. They’re moms, college students, office workers, and school bus drivers…people from every race, religion, economic class, and walk of life. If you want to see what a concealed carry permit holder looks like, just watch these poignant “And I Carry” videos from Crucible Arms with TCGO and from VCDL, an organization with which we work closely. These two short videos focus on Minnesota and Virginia, but they illustrate beautifully that the stereotype of the paranoid, redneck white male with a gun rack in his lifted pickup is not your typical gun owner. Update: This third video features one of our very own, Pat of Gadsden Guns…as well as Kitty’s hand in the opening scene!
So why ARE these people carrying guns on a regular basis?
There are some myths and misconceptions about concealed (and open) carry that the media loves to blow out of proportion. Remember, news programs have to make a profit to stay on the air. They make that profit by getting ratings, competing with other channels for the most viewers…and real, unbiased reporting is way too boring to hold the average American’s interest. So, to keep you tuning in, the news media capitalizes on fear and controversy, NOT facts. They do a really good job at selling you on being “informed” with the latest “important issues” to get good ratings, but in truth, they’re dressing up mundane, uninteresting events and ideas to make them flashier, more sensational, more emotionally charged.
That’s definitely the case when it comes to average Americans carrying guns, isn’t it? In reality, it’s a rather mundane thing to strap on a holster and secure a sidearm before going out for the day, but that’s not what you’d think if you were getting your information from the news…or from the people who think they’re informed about guns because they watch the news.
Of course, you know better. You know that the real reason people carry guns isn’t because they’re scared or because they go through bad neighborhoods a lot.
You know that people carry guns for the same reason they have airbags in their cars, and for the same reason they teach their children about internet safety. Unfortunately, these things can be hard to explain to someone who is certain that only the only people who would think to carry guns are paranoid, hysterical basket-cases who see false threats around every corner. With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of common myths and misunderstandings as a way to help you answer that all-too-common question: Why do you even want to carry a gun?
Myth 1: People who carry guns do so because they are scared. Now, this might be difficult to understand, but carrying a firearm as a precaution against violence is NOT the same thing as being scared of violence. Whether carrying concealed or open, gun owners aren’t walking around scared…because they don’t actually expect anything bad to happen. Think about all the safety features in your car – if you’re like most people, you buckle your seatbelt before pulling out of your driveway, you make sure small children are in the back seat and secured properly so that they’re safe from airbags and other risks, but you’re not scared. You’re not actually expecting a situation where that seatbelt will save your life, but you’re prepared nonetheless. That’s what it’s like to carry a gun. And that brings us to the next point…
Myth 2: People who carry guns are looking for a chance to use them. Especially now that zombies are trendy, gun owners are regularly portrayed as ignorant rednecks or maladjusted kids eager to apply their first-person-shooter videogame skills in a real life situation. Open carry in particular seems to give some people the impression that the carrier is actually looking for trouble, like they’re hoping to walk in on a robbery or shootout at any second. This just isn’t the case. Maybe there are some nut-jobs out there with a hero complex that actually do want a chance to save the day, but this type of insanity isn’t particularly common (and isn’t limited to gun owners). There’s not a single responsible gun owner that wants to ever use one of their guns in an emergency situation. In fact, most firearm self-defense training courses include as much information about avoiding bad situations as they do about responding with deadly force for exactly that reason. The intention is for that gun to stay in the holster unless there’s absolutely no chance of diffusing a bad situation by other means.
Myth 3: Concealing a gun is sneaky, and it can only mean that the person intends to do harm. Seriously, there are people that believe that anyone who has a gun anywhere on their person, especially when it’s not openly visible, is a mugger or thug. Ideas like this come from the way guns are shown in television and movies, and brings to mind that all-too-common image of a gangster with a Glock stuffed into the waistband of sagging jeans. People who believe this tend to believe that guns are instruments of death and destruction and conveniently ignore the fact that law enforcement and private security (like bodyguards) also carry guns, and they do so for the purpose of protection and safety. In truth, concealing an everyday carry gun is done for reasons of security and practicality. For one, there are uninformed people who might literally panic at the sight of a gun in its holster, so carrying under a jacket or in a specially designed purse prevents hysteria. (Hysteria, by the way, is far more dangerous than an armed shooter.) The wide use of concealed carry has also been proven to be a deterrent for crime on a massive scale: if criminals can’t tell who is armed and who isn’t, it increases the perceived risk in committing a violent crime, because anybody might be able to defend themselves with a firearm. Concealed carry can also be safer than open carry in large crowds, because it reduces the (admittedly already small) chance that someone with harmful intentions can see and grab an exposed sidearm.
Myth 4: Openly carrying a gun is an intimidation tactic. This is very similar to the argument above, and the sentiment comes largely from that same mistaken belief that guns are inherently violent and anyone who owns one must also be violent. We already know that’s not true, but even avid shooters often express strong negative opinions of open carry. There can be an intense emotional reaction from seeing a person carrying a gun without in any way trying to hide it. Honestly, though, there’s really not that much difference in open and concealed carry, and there are lots of reasons to choose a non-concealed carry option that have nothing to do with the perceived image or intimidation. Comfort, for one thing, plays a huge role in choosing a holster and, therefore, a carry method. Often, outside-the-waistband holsters, though harder to conceal, can be easier to draw from and more comfortable to wear than other styles. Refer to the picture above for an example of an uncomfortable carry situation – see how the gun digs into my…uhm…fluff? The type of clothing being worn on any given day also plays a part in deciding whether or not to conceal a sidearm, and local and state laws often have different rules for open and concealed carry, so openly carrying might be legal where concealment is not. We’ll talk more about carry options in another blog post, but for now, let’s stay on topic.
Myth 5: Carrying your gun with you increases your risk of accidentally injury. The thinking here is that carrying a loaded gun presents an extra danger, and perhaps even the temptation to handle a loaded weapon because it’s in close proximity. We don’t deny that accidental injuries occur, and we advocate accessible and affordable firearm training in order to help prevent some of these injuries. It’s also worth noting that accidental firearm injuries and fatalities are currently at their lowest levels in history,*** decreasing rapidly as firearm education becomes more common and easier to find. As to the assumption that accidents are more likely when carrying a gun, this certainly doesn’t seem to be the case. Most injuries are actually caused by carelessness during cleaning, or by reckless behavior. The safety features on modern guns make most of them very unlikely to discharge automatically, and as a rule, the people who make a conscious decision to carry a firearm have at least a basic understanding of firearm safety. A gun in a holster is infinitely safer than a gun in a glove compartment or nightstand drawer, which are the two places where most stolen weapons are obtained by criminals. By the way, we recommend installing a small safe in your car for situations where your gun must be removed from your holster while you’re out. Again, that’s another blog post.
Myth 6: The only reason you’d need to carry a gun is because you’re regularly in a higher risk situation than most people. Average Americans have no business carrying guns. Who gets to decide who is worthy of the privilege of self defense? Who decides what constitutes a high risk situation? Why are some people’s children more deserving of protection than others? Why do you feel ‘safe’ when a cop with minimal training carries a gun, and unsafe when someone else carries one? Whether or not we want to acknowledge it, violent crime can happen to anybody, anywhere. Armed robberies aren’t limited to dark, scary places near poor neighborhoods or back alleys in big cities. People have been assaulted in broad daylight, just strolling the sidewalk in a “nice” neighborhood. Movie theater parking lots are common targets of thieves and rapists because they’re often very big, aren’t recorded by security cameras, and most movie theaters forbid firearms on the premises. Living life on a daily basis involves some element of risk, but that’s not even the real issue here. The issue is that nobody should be able to hand down decrees about your personal safety and your right to defend your family with every tool at your disposal. You had better believe that senators’ kids are protected by people with guns. Why are their kids more important than yours?
Rights come with responsibilities. It’s part of being a grownup. Of course Americans like you and me have the right to own and carry guns, and with that right comes the responsibility to respect the risks and educate ourselves on proper handling technique. Part of that responsibility, too, is being educated on issues like these so that we can answer when someone else tries to argue that we shouldn’t be allowed to exercise those rights. We’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth pointing out again that the first gun control laws (and many current ones, like may-issue concealed carry permit policies in some states) were written for the express purpose of discrimination. The government wanted to keep guns out of the hands of blacks after slavery was abolished, and gun control came into existence using the same fear-based arguments you hear over and over again still today. At Gadsden Guns, it’s part of our mission to stand up and speak out, saying what a lot of people are scared to say. We’re taking a stand for your rights, and we hope you stand with us.
If you stand with us, we invite you to subscribe to this blog by using the box on the right side of your screen. It’s people like you, just living your life, that represent gun owners everywhere, and the more we show people the truth about firearm ownership, the less fear and ignorance will rule.
**about 5% of the overall population of the United States hold concealed carry permits, but since state laws differ greatly, that percentage varies widely from state to state…and in several states, no permit is required at all for concealed carry.
***source: The National Shooting Sports Foundation, information available at http://www.nssf.org/pdf/research/iir_injurystatistics2013.pdf