Estimates indicate nearly 13 million Americans have concealed-carry permits. Why each of those armed citizens chose to go through whatever process was necessary in their jurisdictions was a personal decision, but one that reflects making up their minds to be responsible for their own personal safety. In light of terrorist attacks at home and around the world, more and more Americans are choosing to arm themselves—note the record number of NICS checks on “Black Friday” this year. And lines to apply for a CCW have been out the door at sheriffs' offices and courthouses around the country.
But when I have asked many armed citizens over the years specifically, “Why do you carry?” the answer boiled down to being prepared in the event of criminal attack outside the home. Let's face it, there are some seriously evil people in this world. The explosion in popularity of small, light, thin concealable .380 ACP pistols—guns in the Ruger LCP class—indicates that many armed citizens were concerned principally with a close encounter with a criminal attacker. Such guns can be fired at arm’s length, obviously, but they are not intended for the 50-yard X-ring at Camp Perry. Generally, they are suited to engaging a threat at close-quarters-battle distances.
But recent attacks by homicidal maniacs have changed the psychology of why many citizens choose to arm themselves for their personal safety. No longer is it simply a matter of your money or your life. Frankly, I am not concerned all that much about money. I can always make more of it tomorrow. But my life is a different matter. As are the lives of those I love.
Defending oneself from a thug who wants your wallet at the ATM is a different matter altogether defending yourself from an attack from a mass murderer, whether motivated by a deranged mind or flawed, perverted interpretation of faith. Simply put, that pocket .380 may not be enough gun. That is why we are seeing increased interest in slightly larger 9 mm or .45 ACP pistols with better triggers, better sights and, sometimes, slightly more sight radius amongst firearm buyers.
Anecdotally, more Americans are moving to larger defensive handguns, guns in the Glock 19 class for double stacks and Colt Lightweight Commanders in single stacks. One friend who used to carry a pocket Walther, only occasionally despite having had a CCW for decades, now goes about with a full-sized Glock 17—and a spare magazine—any time he goes out. The role of the lawfully armed citizen in the event of an attack by murderous maniacs bent on the maximum mayhem, destruction and loss of life they can possibly inflict is very different from that of a law-enforcement officer. The armed citizen is under no obligation to rush toward the threat. But if the threat comes to him or her, that person needs to have the right defensive tool. I know a guy that can double-tap a silhouette target at 25 yards with his .32 Seecamp. I'm not that guy.
A gun with sufficient power to stop a threat and with sights and a trigger good enough to accurately place rounds on target across a courtyard or room is requisite. With possible engagement distances opening up and the potential need to stop multiple attackers, what's in your holster?