When Wisconsin first permitted concealed carry, thousands of permit applications flooded the Department of Justice within the first year, my own included. As you may have guessed, the DOJ was unprepared for the tidal wave of response, and sending out permits was backed up for several weeks. While I waited anxiously, checking the mail every day (sometimes twice – just in case… I’m not so good at the whole “patience” thing), I carried my holstered pistol around the house. My idea was to allow myself to adjust to the changes for which my previous concealed carry research hadn’t prepared me. This experimenting allowed me to find the ideal holster position on my hip, my preferred cant, and how to dress for concealed carry. By the time my government mailer, containing some information on the Wisconsin CCW permit, and my permit itself, I felt ready step out into the “real world,” with my trusty Kimber SIS Pro 1911 tucked out of sight, nestled into the holster on my hip.
Although the time spent adjusting to the weight of the pistol in my jeans, and learning what shirts weren’t long enough to cover my 1911’s full size grip if I had to reach upward, as well as in what pants my pistol’s 4″ barrel printed, it still took me time to adjust to the idea of carrying a loaded firearm out into public on my person. Whenever I stepped out of my car, or entered a new room, I was perpetually tugging at my shirt, making sure my handgun’s grip wasn’t peeking out from under my clothing. Sometimes I fussed with the holster, making sure it sat “just right” on my hip. Other times, I felt compelled to touch my hand to my pistol, as though it might leap from its kydex-and-leather resting place if I didn’t give it an occasional reassuring pat. I was always worried that someone might notice me printing and what could happen if they did (although, open carry has been legal in WI much longer than concealed carry). I was forever pondering the responsibility of my actions while carrying in those first couple of months (I was a most grave and somber grocery shopper for the first few trips to the supermarket with my permit).
After several months of concealed carry, I have become comfortable with having my gun on me wherever I am and am no longer victim to the odd, fidgety behaviors that manifested in the first few weeks of carrying concealed. In fact, in the rare occasion that I do not concealed carry, the sensation of not having the familiar weight of my solid little 1911 on my hip is now bizarre, and even a little awkward, like leaving the house without my cell phone or wallet. However, I always remember the responsibility I carry when I put on my holster and pistol every day. One of the things I now ponder is: what would I do if I found myself in a self defense situation that I couldn’t avoid and had to draw my firearm? In a thread of discussion on the YouTube video I’ve included with this post, there are some commentors who feel that if they’re making the decision to draw their firearm, they are going to shoot. Others have responded saying that they would first brandish in an effort to demotivate their attacker with a display of force before resorting to firing their concealed carry pistols. I don’t think there’s any one “right” answer, but, nevertheless it is a question everyone who plans to concealed carry must ask themselves, and one I will revisit in future posts. I’d like to start the discussion with you here; if you found yourself or a loved one in mortal danger, how would you respond?