7 Myths of Carrying a Concealed Gun

How many movie characters have been facing imminent death only to pull some large handgun from a previously hidden location in a quick draw to shoot their way to freedom? It seems that in almost every action movie the characters easily carry their concealed artillery in perfect comfort and with ease. Even when running, jumping, climbing or whatever action they have to face.

The reality is often much different. Carrying a concealed weapon can be a challenge in many ways. There are a number of different considerations and concerns when carrying concealed and comfort is certainly one of those. If you do or are thinking of carrying concealed, then be sure to do a reality check and not fall for some of the many myths regarding the carrying of a concealed weapon.

Myth # 1 – It’s cool to carry concealed so I should let others know I have it or it’s my right, I don’t have to keep it concealed.

If you are going to carry concealed, there is one key word - concealed. Your gun should be hidden and no one else should know that you are carrying a gun. It is not macho or cool to let others see it. Some gun owners feel strongly that open carry (not concealed) is a good way to go. This takes away the tactical advantage of surprise if you are attacked. More important is that it tends to be disruptive and upsets others around you. This is not the way to express your views on gun control, nor maintain the peace. Be sure to keep the gun concealed - completely. It should not print (show the outline through clothes). It should not create a bulge under your clothes and should not change during normal movement. Keep it concealed and keep it too yourself.

Myth # 2 – Carry the most powerful handgun you can. After all, that is what you would want in a gunfight.

If I knew I was going into a gunfight, I’d actually choose to wear a bullet-proof vest and have a long gun instead. Better yet, I’d avoid the whole situation. In reality, the gun should be as comfortable as possible. Trust me, you will notice it is there and it will take getting used. But it should be at least somewhat comfortable or you will not ever carry it. There is an old saying that a .22 on you is better than a .45 at home in a drawer. The real challenge here is finding a comfortable way to carry your gun. Good, quality holsters are expensive so it does not make it easy to test different ways to carry. Talk to other gun owners, read online reviews and ask at gun shows or gun stores. Everyone will have a different opinion; try to find the option that will most work best for you.

Myth # 3 – You dress in the way that best keeps your gun concealed.

If you like wearing odd-looking vests or baggy shirts that method may work for you. Of course, the clothes that you wear will have a huge impact on how you carry. If you normally wear a dress shirt and tie, then an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster will not work for you. To keep those concealed, your shirt needs to be un-tucked. Some male gun owners proudly pronounce that they dress in whatever way keeps the gun concealed, no matter how out of style or baggy the clothes are. I’m guessing that many of these are not married, at least not to a woman with any sense of style. It is better to fit the way you carry to your personal style and you may need several ways. Sometimes, you may be wearing a dress shirt and tie without a jacket so the IWB will not work and others an un-tucked t-shirt with jeans allowing a gun in a belt holster. The gun and holster need to fit you and your style or you will end up leaving it at home. 

 Myth # 4 – You have to be able to draw quickly from a concealed holster.

If you are attacked, you will certainly want to get your gun into action as quickly as possible. The reality is though, that you will be most likely reacting to an attack and already behind the curve. Concealment also means a trade off in speed. As a police officer, with a standard duty belt and holster, I could always draw much quicker than I could with any concealed carry mode. Even with a good IWB holster under a vest, the gun will be pushed in closer to your body making the initial grip a little harder to get when you start the draw. A better approach is to remain alert to what is going on around you and identify potential threats early and taking action to avoid trouble or even getting in a better defensive position before you have to try and ‘outdraw’ an attacker, possibly one with a gun or knife already out and threatening you.

Myth # 5 – Always carry your gun, everywhere. You never know when you could be attacked.

It is true that an attack could come at any time, no matter where you are. We’ve seen shooters at schools, churches, malls, hospitals, museums and so on. Nowhere could be considered a safe haven. However, there are other considerations. Some places have strict rules that do not allow concealed carry even with a permit. Schools, some private property, many work locations, many government buildings are key examples. If you are carrying a handgun, you are married to that handgun. I strongly oppose leaving it in a car where it can be easily stolen in a break-in. You could scoff at the rules and carry anyway. In that case, you must consider the risks of being involved in a deadly attack with the legal ramifications. You could do nothing wrong and happen to match the description of a suspect or otherwise come to police attention and end up being searched. If you are in violation of the state law, you will lose your permit and be charged with a crime. Plan ahead and decide whether or not it would be appropriate to carry or not. Ultimately, only you can make that decision.

Myth # 6 –You don’t need a holster. You can tuck the gun behind your belt or in your pocket.

That may look good on TV, but in reality is a dangerous and bad idea. There are many cases of someone accidentally shooting themselves when pulling out change or otherwise carrying a gun in a dangerous position. Always use a good holster. It will help prevent accidents and keep the gun more secure. Imagine the problems and potential embarrassment of having your gun fall out of your belt onto the floor in a restaurant or other public location. If you are not used to carrying, be prepared to learn how to do things differently. Some chairs with narrow armrests can actually dislodge your gun, even if holstered and knock it loose, so practice your carry method and get used to how the gun / holster work in different positions. I had a back-up gun in a vest holster as a police officer and was bending over to do some crime scene work and it slipped out and was loose under my uniform shirt. I had to try and adjust it as discreetly as possible as I did not want to advertise the fact that I carried a 2nd gun that way as the victim / complainant in that case was a registered sex offender.

Myth # 7 – With a concealed carry permit, the police will always see you as the ‘good’ guy.

When some people carry concealed, they may feel more emboldened to get into confrontations or situations that they would normally avoid. Sometimes, they may believe that since they went through the background process, police will see them as a ‘good’ guy. In general, police do support gun rights and in some surveys, large percentages support CCW laws for private citizens. However, any shooting will be closely investigated and reviewed. Courts will often look at options a gun owner might have had to end or escape from a dangerous situation before resorting to deadly force.

               Carrying a concealed gun is a fundamental right and vital as part of a self-protection plan. However, with this right comes responsibility and it is important to understand some of the misconceptions and different opinions on how to carry, when to carry and more importantly, when and how to use it to protect yourself and your loved ones. Be sure to separate the bad information and myths from reality when making that decision – and stay safe!


Eric Smith, CPP is the leading authority on organizational self-defense.  He has extensive experience in law enforcement as well as security management.  Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces.  To learn more email eric@businesskarate.com.


If you would like to reprint this post, please contact Eric at eric@businesskarate.com. 

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