Thursday, October 1, 2015

8-and-a-half out of 10 ain't bad

10 Things You Learn by Carrying a Gun Every Day by Tom McHale - Monday, August 24, 2015

I've got no problems with most of the "lessons" he mentions. He's spot on with most of it. However, I do have to take exception to the phrasing on this one:

5. Bending over can get you in trouble—in more ways than one.

A number of carry methods can cause printing dysfunction if you’re not careful. Most belt holsters, inside or outside the waistband, can cause the gun grip to press against the back of your shorts or cover garment if you lean forward too much. If you carry a gun daily, you quickly learn how to reach low things by bending your knees and keeping your back straight.

Here's the thing. You are NOT going to "get in trouble" for "printing" or exposing your firearm.

Open Carry is perfectly legal in almost all states, although a handful do require that you have a (concealed)  permit to open carry. An incidental exposure of your firearm cannot be illegal, if blatantly, obviously open carrying your pistol is not illegal. It is absolutely AMAZING how many people get this wrong: well-intentioned, not-stupid people get this wrong ALL THE TIME. I just had one in my concealed class for Oregon and Utah a couple weeks ago insisting to me that it is illegal to open carry or accidentally expose your firearm while concealed carrying in Washington State. Fortunately, he was also open-minded enough to take in new information- we've had some who weren't.

On the other side, people automatically assume that Texas has had people open-carrying their 6-shooters everywhere. Couldn't be further from the truth. Texas will START to allow open carry in January of 2016. 

Bottom line: don't think you know, if you haven't checked a real source. Sometimes the problem is not what we know, it's what 'we know that ain't so'. To be fair, a LOT of trainers are still passing on this bad information (that once you get a concealed permit you are required to conceal), either because they don't know better or they believe their own preferences for how you carry are more important than factual correctness and open honesty. There's no good excuse for a trainer to include information that they have not verified in their courses, or to not know. Sometimes things change and we can be behind the times, but we have a duty to seek out updated information if we're representing ourselves as experts.

Now, opinions vary on whether it's a good idea to open carry. But I submit that police officers open carry for a reason, and it doesn't sacrifice a tactical advantage (concealing would be more of a strategy than a tactic). I think it varies with circumstances. A young lady wearing skimpy clothing absolutely has the right to be in a dark alley on the wrong side of the tracks at 2 am. Doesn't make it a good idea, or safe. 

6. How many other people carry concealed.

Once you start carrying, you tend to look for other people who are also carrying. Trying to spot other concealed carriers is a great way to pass time. Better yet, make this activity a self-improvement drill. If you can spot others carrying, consider what tipped you off to their armed status, and don’t make the same mistake yourself. For example, my daughter spotted a motorcyclist on the highway the other day using an inside the waistband holster covered by a long shirt. Cruising along with the wind in his face caused his shirt to ride up to his chest, leaving his gun exposed for all to see.

Half-right on this one. Yes, you certainly start to notice "tells" like a gambler looking for a bluff over a big pot. And this is a good thing- anything that helps you to be present and aware of your environment is a good exercise. But what problem precisely, do we have with the man on the motorcycle who is doing nothing illegal? Acting all shocked and titillated by it like someone who spotted some celebrity side-boob doesn't seem like a worthwhile expenditure of energy.

Brandishing a firearm is another thing. That's going to get you in trouble, sure. States have specific definitions for that, though. It typically has some element of objectively warranting alarm, not just someone getting a case of the vapours because they have a hoplophobic fear of firearms in general. Actions are not illegal just because the observer doesn't approve. There generally needs to be an actual harm to someone, and certainly real justice would require that element.

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