A few years ago, I wrote a piece entitled "Why I Carry Openly" (which I may include here someday) in which I explained why I chose to carry my weapon openly instead of concealed most of the time. It's a personal decision and is definitely NOT for everyone. In that article, I made several references to the importance of carrying every day. Looking back at a few events, I feel compelled to expound on that a little bit today.
I will summarize this very briefly here in the beginning. I carry every waking moment of every day of my life. To this, there are no exceptions except upon entry of a federal building, post office or one of the very rare occasions that I must grace a commercial airplane with my presence. I have done so for nearly 40 years. My wife does, my two oldest daughters do, my son-in-law does and the majority of my friends do. I strongly recommend that you do the same.
When I say you should carry ALL the time, I mean ALL the time! Parties, church, work, recreational activities, around the house, even in the bathroom. Wait, what? The bathroom? Where are you the most vulnerable during your daily routine? Most people will say while they are asleep but that's not true. Many gunowners sleep with a handgun on the nightstand or a shotgun in the corner by the bed and are likely to wake up when they hear something out of place and address that issue. Its a lot harder to hear with the shower running. If someone were intent on doing you harm or stealing something specific, all they need to do is wait until you go to the bathroom. Oh! You have an alarm system in your home? Of course you do. And how long does it take the police to respond? The old saying is, when seconds count, cops are only minutes away. Do a search and use the term, "Woman attacked in bathroom." At the time of this writing, I got 17,600,000 results. How about man attacked in bathroom? 34,700,000 results.
Anywhere that you are allowed by law to carry, carry. It doesn't make you paranoid, it makes you smart.
OK, let's look at the logic, or lack thereof, of choosing not to carry.
Do you get up some days and call your insurance company and tell them to cancel your insurance on your car? Makes sense, right? You're a good driver. You don't plan to have a wreck today, do you? Isn't it easy enough to just call State Farm and reinstate your policy on the day that you know you're going to need it? Of course it is! This is what you are doing each and every time you decide to leave your gun at home. You're saying to yourself, "This won't be the day. I have no enemies. I will not be attacked today." Makes sense, yes? NO!
You pay thousands of dollars each year for automobile insurance on a car that you never wreck, a boat that never sinks, a motorcycle that never gets stolen and a house that never burns down. THOUSANDS! Yet when I ask that you spend between $400 and $600 for a ONE-TIME life insurance policy in the form of a decent quality handgun, you cry, "Oh! That's too much!" You have a fire extinguisher in your house and your car, you wear helmets, and seat belts and we have air bags and car seats...but no gun? Think about it.
I did a presentation for a large church in New Mexico one time at the behest of the pastor who was desperately trying to convince his congregation of the wisdom of carrying a gun. I did a little research before I went and came up with some interesting facts. I researched police, fire and newspaper archives and came up with the number of both violent assaults and murders versus the number of homes that burned down during the same 90 day period prior to this presentation. Violent assaults-6, number of homes burned down-0. Zero. Zilch, none, nada, het. Do you know how many school children have been killed or injured by school fires in the United States since 1908? None that I can find yet we can't seem to get guns in schools either. That's a different story for another time. My point is, Americans spend tons of money and materials to prepare for the most unlikely things but pretend that the potentially most likely hazard won't ever happen to them.
I put my gun on every morning when I get dressed. Every morning. It's not a conscious decision that I make, it is something that I have done for so long and it is so important to me that it has become something that is an unconscious, reflexive action. No different than my shirt or shoes. I am to the point that it is utterly impossible for me to "forget" to don my weapon when I get dressed. Most of my gun-toting family members and friends have also reached that level of "unconscious competency" as it pertains to getting dressed properly. I don't put on a particular ensemble and then try to figure out where I am going to put my gun. I put my gun on the same way, in the same place every day. If my chosen clothing for the day will not accommodate that, I'll figure out something else to wear. In short, I dress around my gun.
The two most important factors in choosing how you will carry that gun are accessibility and comfort, with comfort being #1. Why? Why is it more important for your choice of carry methods to be comfortable rather than be lightning fast in accessibility? Well, quite obviously if it's not comfortable for you, you will eventually decide to leave it home one day instead of wearing it. One day, and then the next, followed by another one. It is infinitely better to spend an additional second or so getting your gun into action than to have to run home and get it or drag it out from under the seat of your vehicle when you need it. Few personal defense encounters actually require fast-draw anyway. Ideally, one should choose the means and position for their weapon which permits both a smooth, rapid presentation and comfortable, all day, uninterrupted carry. Another important consideration is discretion. Your weapon should not "print" or be discernible to the casual observer.
By the way, all of this really means very little without professional training. Having the gun is fine but the knowledge of the laws and knowing when, why and where to shoot can be more important than the actual act of shooting itself.
This is not intended to be a tutorial on how to carry but when to carry so let's change gears here.
Daily carrying is a very difficult concept for most to grasp. As a result, their apathy is very difficult concept for me to grasp. In this day of so very much turbulence and strife and violence, carrying a gun seems like a no-brainer to many of us. It seems to often take a neighbor or loved one getting injured or robbed to encourage one to take that giant leap and consider getting a gun. The fact of the matter is, the criminal element that we face today is more cunning, brutal and savage than at any point in America's history. The lack of values and the absolute, total disregard for human life by so many people these days is stunning. Why some folks think they are immune from the effects of this degradation of society is a mystery to me.
Let's look at some of the top reasons that people come up with not to carry the means to protect themselves on a daily basis...
[I don't go places where I feel I will need a gun]
Neither does anyone else. This is my hands-down favorite and one of the stupidest things a human being can say. I submit to you that not a single victim of violent assault has chosen to go to the place where they were injured thinking they were going to get injured or killed while they were there. Um, if you feel that you may be attacked if you go to a particular place, don't go there, whether you are carrying or not!
[There's no need for me to carry a gun because I couldn't shoot someone anyway]
I would like to be gentle, understanding and diplomatic and say that this is a personal decision that is your choice and your choice alone. However, I am neither gentle or diplomatic so I will be blunt and tell you this is a very close second to the stupidest response to this seemingly simple question. There are a few things to consider here in your choices.
#1. In our classes we emphasize the fact that you are not taking a life, you are saving one (or more). The choice that you have been forced to make is in response to a choice that your assailant made voluntarily. To him or her, this is an acceptable hazard of employment. You should feel no guilt for protecting yourself or someone else. There will likely be a reasonable degree of remorse as no normal person enjoys taking a life but, again, it wasn't your choice so don't let it consume you.
#2. There is no Atheist in a foxhole. This isn't exactly the same but the concept is similar. For those that are against guns or against shooting someone, let me tell you how it's likely to play out. Ladies, you will wake up one night with a naked man or men with a knife or a gun standing over you about to have his way with you. Men, maybe you will be forced to sit in your favorite chair and watch as this happens to your wife or daughter. Maybe you will be tied up while they ransack the house and then set it on fire (this actually happened to a man a few years ago. He was the only one that survived. I wonder what he would have given for a gun that night?) Or maybe you will be attacked by a mindless junkie in a dark parking lot in his effort to score enough cash for another fix.
If you will imagine any of these scenarios happening to you personally, what's the first thing that comes to your mind? One of two things...I wish I had a gun or I wish someone with a gun were here to help me.
#3. You may not be the only one to consider. What about an innocent family member, maybe your child. So you won't shoot someone to save yourself but would you shoot to save your child? I would certainly hope so.
[I'm not paranoid]
I'm not either. I carry a gun
[It's too heavy to carry all the time]
Trade it in and get another one. Better yet, if finances allow, keep it for a spare or a house gun and get something more suitable for everyday carry. A gun is much easier to carry than a cop.
[What would my friends/spouse think?]
Who cares? It's your life. If they can't get over it, get new friends and you made a poor choice in a spouse.
[It's not legal in my city/state]
MOVE! Go where the freedom is! There is no job or house so important (to me) that you cannot start over where freedom exists.
There is no excuse for not carrying a gun unless you are a prohibited possessor. If you can legally buy one, you can legally carry one as long as you live in a relatively free state. There is some facsimile of carry law in all 50 states now although a few of them are horribly restrictive.
Considering all that I have relayed to you so far, think back about what happened in Moore, Oklahoma on 24 September 2014...
A man was fired from a food packing facility and promptly attacked a lady co-worker, beheaded her then proceeded to stab another lady co-worker. Listening to the 911 call, we hear a man making the call and both men and women screaming and hollering in the background. The man that made the call had knowledge of what was going on but apparently wasn't actually at the scene. All the people screaming were obviously there or were exiting the area. One man, all by himself, had the time to stab and cut the head off of a person with no significant interference from the several people that were there. If anyone had a gun, they were unwilling to use it. No one was willing to grab a chair or a telephone or a keyboard or a coffee pot or pen or a letter opener or a briefcase or any one of the dozens of other expedient weapons that are present in virtually any workplace or home in existence and try to stop this man from killing one person and injuring another. Why? Because we have been conditioned to rely on the authorities to save us. We're soft and vulnerable. Call 911. Don't fight back. Finally, an off-duty sheriff's deputy who happened to be the beheader's former boss, shot and wounded him and stopped the attack. He carried a gun. Oklahoma has pretty darned good gun laws and there is no excuse not to be carrying a gun.
Similar scenarios have taken place in theaters, schools, churches and workplaces across the Nation for years. But it always happens to someone else, right? There are people in Moore, Oklahoma that would disagree.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Cope has been a defensive firearms instructor since 1995. He is also a gunsmith and lifetime shooter, hunter and reloader and hosts an internet radio show called The Shooting Bench. He currently lives in northern Arizona and is running Apache County Sheriff.