For most citizens the decision to start carrying a defensive handgun can be a life-changing event. At the outset, the concern is all about learning the law and learning enough about defensive shooting to qualify for the license. However, as time goes by, the average citizen begins to realize that this decision will cause major changes in his life and in his lifestyle. In most cases this is all for the good. The armed citizen must be conscious of his responsibilities 24/7. Here are a few areas to consider that may require you to alter your approach to carrying a defensive handgun.
1) Learn to avoid conflict whenever possible.
This not only means getting away from suspicious people; it also means avoiding serious conflict of any kind with friends and neighbors, as well as strangers. Better yet, take a course or do some reading about ways and techniques to de-escalate conflict. Using your head may mean that you don't have to use your gun.
2) The fact that you carry a concealed handgun should never be the topic of idle conversation.
Most other people have no need to know that you are armed. The fact that you might confide in a good friend doesn't prevent them from sharing that information with others. One person tells another and pretty soon the word gets back to the other one's sorry nephew who now begins planning the burglary of your house. In addition, if your anti-gun associates and co-workers don't know that you carry it can't affect the way you are treated socially and at work. In the end, if you are the subject of a criminal attack, it is not to your benefit if the crooks already expect you to be armed. Your armed response to their attack should be a total surprise to them because it can likely give you the winning edge.
3) Take a realistic look at your use of alcohol.
Carrying guns into bars, or while intoxicated, is just a really good way to end up in jail. You must keep in mind that lawyers don't do magic. In the real world, if you have done something stupid, you are probably going to have to pay for it and the best lawyer in the world may not be able to get you off scot free. As one old sheriff used to say, “If you think you need to carry your gun into a bar, maybe you ought to change where you do your drinking.”
4) Get professional training.
Seeking professional defensive training ought to be an equal part of the concealed-carry package. What you got in your short concealed-carry class, assuming that your state even requires one, was just the tip of the iceberg. You wouldn't just buy an airplane and start teaching yourself to fly it, would you? Far too many people claim that they would take defensive courses but they are just too expensive. Sorry, I don't buy that. A week at a good defensive school doesn't cost nearly as much as most people spend on a week's vacation and the end benefits are a good deal greater. Besides, if you like to shoot then a defensive shooting school can be one of the best and most fun vacations that you have taken in your life.
I believe that the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution gives us the inalienable right to be armed for our own protection. And I sure don't think that we need a bunch of laws interfering with that right. But it puts the burden upon us to act responsibly.