Firearms – Carrying by Dave Champion

Originally posted at

John Carpenter has asked me to write a few words about the carrying of personal arms within the context of having (or developing) the proper “mindset”. I hope John will indulge me a bit if I get there by way of a somewhat circuitous route.

Within the context of this book, John is talking about the “preparedness mindset”. But what does that actually mean? Is it possible that this mindset differs somewhat depending on what exactly is threatening your safety or survival?

I’ve known a lot of folks over the years who’ve taken the time and energy to get “prepared”. Often times they’ve planned ahead to deal with a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, a breakdown of basic public services, or some other form of societal disruption.

Most of these folks live in urban or suburban areas and they are typically quite methodical. They have stockpiled an inventory of all the items they imagine they will need and have devised a plan to move themselves and their supplies to a safer location in the event that a serious problem develops.

Unfortunately, in all too many cases I see their mindset more as being the “stock clerk inventory mindset” or the “get out of dodge when trouble strikes mindset”. Most are ill prepared for how events may truly unfold should any of the circumstances occur for which they have so diligently (but incompletely) prepared. A likely reality is that their carefully stockpiled supplies of food, medicine, fuel, etc. will, in short order, end up in the possession of others.

Why? Because they are missing a critical component of the preparedness mindset!

Many of the people I know who have prepared for a significant disruption in society own guns. However, I haven’t met too many who have the mindset that is necessary to do anything terribly effective with those guns.

Allow me to share an illustrative story with you.

Recently a friend called me and asked what my recommendation would be for a good personal defense handgun. His question piqued my curiosity because for a number of years I’d been gently encouraging him to acquire a pistol and learn how to use it. (I encourage everyone I care about to do so.) He’d always responded politely to my encouragement but my words had fallen on deaf ears.

When he asked me to recommend a good defensive pistol I knew something had happened. I told him that I’d be happy to share my thoughts with him concerning a good pistol, but I’d like to hear about the event that precipitated the call.

The short version is that the day before, while driving back to his office from lunch (in an upscale neighborhood), a series of unusual circumstances occurred that ended with him being accosted by a knife-wielding adversary in a parking lot. Fortunately, by the grace of God, he not only survived the encounter but was also completely unharmed. (For those of us who understand what it is like to be attacked with an edged weapon, we know exactly how blessed my friend was indeed!)

In the aftermath of his traumatic experience he decided to purchase, train with, and carry a gun. While I support his decision and have worked with him to find the handgun that is right for him, it is clear that his earlier complacency came dangerously close to costing him his life. (But for the grace of God….) And he is married with three beautiful young daughters; the oldest in 3rd grade. Can you imagine lying on the scalding hot parking-lot asphalt, unable to move, bleeding to death while you come to the realization that you will never see your children again? Not an attractive picture.

While my friend was accosted on a beautiful summer day while society was humming along just fine, most people have no inkling how bad things can get – and how fast they can get bad – when things start going to hell. I’ve witnessed first-hand how bad it can get and how fast it can get bad! When things go to hell, my friend’s encounter with a knife-wielding assailant might well seem like a walk in park!

If you are to be prepared, shouldn’t you be prepared for that too?

Using a firearm to defend yourself, your loved ones, or others, is not something you just suddenly do out of the blue when things get ugly. The skillful and effective use of a firearm under stress is not instinctive. If it were only that simple!

There’s a lot that goes into using a firearm effectively to save your life and thwart the vicious actions of those who are trying to harm you. Remember, in most cases the evildoer gets to act first – only then do we get to react. That means we’re already “behind the curve” by the time we are forced into action so we had better have an “ace in the hole” that will allow us to prevail.

That “ace” is mindset. Earlier I mentioned the “preparedness mindset”. That is made up of various sub-mindsets. I’ve commented on the “stock clerk inventory mindset” and the “get out of dodge when trouble strikes mindset”. Both of these are important for “preparedness” but they cannot be the end of it.

As much as we may not want to consider it, we must have a mindset that enables us to do instant and devastating violence in defense of self and/or loved ones.

On first blush that may be a disturbing thought. Do “instant and devastating violence” to another person! Hmmm. Not something that the average person is thrilled to consider, no less integrate into his worldview.

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to come to that mindset right now or even all at one time. There is a way to grow into it comfortably!

As odd as it may seem, the best way I know of to begin one’s transition to the needed mindset is to carry a pistol on your person on a daily basis!

For those of you who have never carried a pistol, this may seem backward. Instinct might tend to make you think that the proper order would be to acquire the mindset and then begin carrying the firearm. OK, then how/when/where, do you acquire the mindset?

Here’s the secret: The mindset is triggered by your conscious decision to carry a firearm and then it grows as you act on that decision.

Let me say right now that proper firearms training comes FIRST! And that’s OK because proper training is a part of “acting on your conscious decision to carry a gun”.

So what is “proper training”? Proper training is training that makes you highly proficient with your handgun. Proper training is not what is required to obtain a concealed carry permit (CCW) in most states. Most states require only that you are able to punch holes in a large stationary piece of paper on demand. How similar do imagine that is to fighting for your life against a living, thinking, moving, aggressive adversary? Exactly!

Next you will want to find a holster that works well for you. You will find that if you are planning to carry concealed [“open carry” is legal in some states] your wardrobe will suddenly shrink dramatically! Why? Because you did not buy your clothes with the intention of carry a concealed firearm and when you wear them with your handgun you will find that quite a lot of your wardrobe is unsuitable for wearing a firearm, no less concealing it! Just wait until you try to support your handgun with that nice slim attractive belt you’ve been wearing! You’ll get the point quickly enough!

So now you’ve got your pistol; you’ve got your holster; you’ve got your training; you’ve found some clothes that do a decent job of supporting the pistol and concealing it (if necessary) – so you’re ready to go!

If you are like most of people I know, you will experience a new and rather unusual feeling the first time you venture out into public wearing a loaded firearm. I say “unusual” because it will be a feeling you’ve never felt before. It feels good – or does it? You’ll be saying to yourself, “I’ve got the training. I feel confident in my ability. This is what I’ve trained for. Why do I feel so odd? What’s that weird feeling?”

Welcome to the world of true personal responsibility for your own safety and possibly the safety of others (depending on your temperament).

But that’s only a part of what is causing your odd feeling. The larger reason for that odd feeling is that there’s a thought hiding at the back of your consciousness. You feel it but you don’t immediately recognize it.

So what is it?

It is the realization that you now possess the power to do great harm to others. It is the reality that you have an entirely new level of power that can be quickly and easily exerted. It is the reality that with that power comes responsibility. It is the realization that you truly have the choice of acting morally or acting immorally – but either way, you have this awesome new power. It is a sobering moment.

One might imagine the feeling passes after a bit. It doesn’t – and that’s the point! That “sobering moment” continues as long as you wear the gun. It is the driving force behind the development of a new mindset! That sense of power – mated to your sense of personal responsibility – starts to change the way you look at everything and everyone. Some people might imagine that I’m describing something negative. Not at all. It’s a very positive and beneficial metamorphosis.

You’ll be amazed at the difference that starts to develop in you very quickly. Almost involuntarily you will feel yourself rising to this new level of responsibility! When you step out of your car in a parking lot you’ll find yourself glancing around; taking in your surroundings. When you enter a local restaurant the first thing you’ll do upon crossing the threshold is scan the patrons for anyone who might end up being a problem. You’ll find yourself choosing a seat from which you can watch the main door or keep an eye on any folks you may have identified as a potential problem.

People who haven’t yet experienced this new awareness may jump to the conclusion that this is somehow a burden and wonder why anyone would want to do those things. I can assure you that it is not a burden. In fact, these new behavior patterns seem to emerge without any effort at all!

It is actually a very liberating feeling. It is liberating because every person on Earth has an innate desire to feel free from the vile and immoral act of others. Who is that wants to be raped? Who is it that wants to be beaten up and robbed? Who is it that wants to be murdered or watch a loved one murdered? No one wants that, but despite this ingrained desire to be safe millions of Americans have been socialized to believe that somehow they cannot do the job on their own or that only a “professional” (i.e. someone from the government) can stand up successfully to those who would do violence to the innocent. While millions of Americans have been socialized to think that way, the concept remains utter nonsense and very destructive.

Once you have trained with your pistol and begin to carry it routinely you will feel that you are now – possibly for the first time – free from the threat of violence. That’s LIBERATING! You no longer need to simply accept being a victim if something unpleasant comes your way. You have options!

Interestingly, this new mindset is not about doing violence at all, even though you know you can if need be. Once you start carrying a firearm you will discover in short order that it is about not doing violence (unless someone else makes that an absolute necessity). In fact, every single person I know who carries a gun goes out of his/her way now to avoid potentially dangerous situations. An interesting aspect of the “responsibility” that attaches itself to the “power” is a heightened desire not to use it if it can be avoided. Consequently you’ll find yourself avoiding situations that you may not have avoided if you were unarmed. Strange but true!

And you can never “un-ring the bell”. Once you’ve experienced the liberation of carrying a handgun for moral and lawful purposes, you can never “un-know” that feeling. Interestingly, the heightened awareness of your surroundings will dissipate if you stop carrying the firearm. Common sense would cause most people to think that you’d be more cautious, and more alert, without a firearm on your person, but that isn’t the case. As that heightened sense of awareness and responsibility comes upon you when you begin carry a firearm, it dissipates over time if you stop carrying a firearm.

Clearly not everyone will experience the exact same feelings when carrying a firearm. As an example, women may have a somewhat different experience than men because God simply builds men and women different. Nevertheless, what I have described here is an accurate outline of what you can expect when you begin carrying a gun.

The act of carrying a firearm will create a new and important aspect of your “preparedness mindset”. It is an invaluable part of your preparedness plan. To believe that your Coleman lanterns, dehydrated foods, iodine tablets, etc., will result in your survival during a crisis, absent the mindset I have described to you here, is simply foolhardy. If you wish to live through a crisis situation you must not only prepare yourself for mere circumstance, but also for the evil that men do.

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