Thursday, June 28, 2012

Should You Tell?

There is a question that every concealed carrier is going to face as he goes about carrying a gun and that is the question of “Do I tell that I’m carrying a gun?”
Now, there are many schools of thought on this question and sometimes the discussion between the pupils of said schools can be pretty heated.
For instance there is the “Don’t ask, don’t tell. EVER! To ANYONE!” club.
These people won’t even let their spouses know that they carry a concealed weapon and insist on the strictest of anonymity when it comes to guns. Oft times they will even shy away from gun conversation so that the discussion of concealed carry does not come up and they are faced with the question of “Do you carry a gun?”
But, not to worry, if they are asked the question they will lie and say that they do not or give some vague answer like, “I don’t know. Do I?”
I’ll say right here and now that I don’t agree with this philosophy for a couple of different reasons:
  1. I hate liars. It’s never right to do the wrong thing and that includes lying about your carry status.
  2. Something as big as carrying a gun for self defense should never be kept from someone as intimate as your spouse (unless, of course, you are separated from your spouse, have a restraining order out against him and are in fear of him). If ever in a situation that requires you to act and your spouse is unaware of whether or not you are carrying they may be more of a hindrance in that situation by stepping in the way or panicking at the sight of a gun (even if it is in your hands).
  3. Finally, I don’t think it would look good when the police come to question your spouse on the events that just unfolded and your spouse has no idea what to say or think and is shocked that you even had a gun to begin with.
At very least, I think the spouse of a healthy, happily married couple should know that you carry a gun.
The second group of people are those who say that only close friends and family know that they carry and no one else.
They will tell their spouse and their children (when they feel they are mature enough to handle the news and not to go around school bragging that Daddy carries a gun). They may also tell some good friends who understand and have similar views.
However, when it comes to people outside that circle, under no circumstances will they discuss the issue.
I am perfectly fine and support this way of thinking and acting. It is healthy to have the people who are most intimate with your life privy to the decisions that you have made in terms of your own defense. It also is no one else’s business what you do for your own self defense. If you fall within this group of people, good for you!
The third group of people will discuss the subject with anyone if the subject is to surface in a conversation and may admit that they carry.
These people do not go about bragging about their guns or their rights and to the casual observer it may never be known that they carry a gun.
I fall into this category. I use good judgement, but if the conversation presents itself I have no problem with talking to people about guns and why I carry one for my own self defense and the defense of my family. Working at a gun shop has brought this out of me more than anywhere else, but that’s to be expected. One can’t answer a question like, “What kind of holster would you recommend?” without giving good reason as to why he would recommend that holster and the experience he has had carrying himself. You can’t be shy about your life as a carrier when people are asking you for advice.
Where it gets sticky is when you are out in the world and people ask and you don’t know whether they are going to be receptive or not. I have been in a couple sticky conversations but I’ve found that the more I show myself to be a reasonable, stable, happy individual, the more people see that carrying a gun does not make you a monster.
There is a fourth and a fifth group of people as well. The fourth are those individuals who tactfully and respectfully pursue ways to show the general populace that we are good guys. They go on campaigns and rallies and make their carry status known to all who will listen. They are, as I said, tactful about it and try their hardest to not be offensive though some will be offended.
Finally, there is the fifth group of people who give us regular carriers bad names. They wear their carry status on their sleeve and shove it in the face of anyone and everyone. Usually they don’t have their permits for long as they are soon charged with brandishing, or some other offense that gets their permit taken away. Then they stand on the hillside and cry, “SECOND AMENDMENT!” without giving any consideration to the situation that got them in trouble in the first place.
BAD idea.
When we, as carriers of weapons, talk about politics and our right to carry a weapon in our own defense, we understand that in order for our rights to flourish and to abound, we need more people who believe and understand like we do. We need more people to cast the same kind of votes that we will cast that will keep good people in office that will protect our rights to carry in self defense.
The only way to do this is to share the word.
The people in the first group aren’t helping at all. No one, not even a spouse, will understand and pass on a positive word for the right to keep and bear arms.
The people in the second group are at least doing their part to ingrain in their children and in their family and friends the importance of our Second Amendment rights. Bless them for passing on that tradition to the second generation.
People in group three go a step or two beyond and do all they can to impress upon people they meet within their circles to be proactive towards our rights.
Group four takes it even further still and gets the word into the eye of the general public. Sure there will be those who will balk and protest and not understand, but they may reach some who would previously never have even considered the issue.
Those in the fifth group hurt our cause because of their abrasive, conflicting and in some ways illegal, means of shoving guns in other’s faces.
If you do choose to share the news, be careful of how you do it. Careful, and patient.
All too often I hear people calling your average citizens “sheep” or idiots or any number of condescending and rude comments.
I made an analogy in a post on a forum that I frequent and I compared the CCWer to a man in a watchtower looking at the weather. The rest of the people in the court are your average citizens who can’t see what we see.
We understand that their ideology can be flawed when it comes to self defense, but I believe it takes patience and tender probing to get people like this thinking they way that they should.
It can be VERY frustrating to see and hear the kinds of comments that people say about shooting for the leg because they don't want to kill anyone, or about bringing a knife to a knife fight to be "fair."
We (the general CCW population) see that as ridiculous because we have already considered those situations and see them in an entire different light than others do.
They still see the world as being a fair place. They go about their lives under the rule of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and believe that as long as they don't hurt anyone and are friendly and kind, no one will ever hurt them in return. When they think of confrontations (which they hardly ever do) they think of being able to discuss their way out of things and being fair. They think about confrontations like they think about fighting with a spouse or a dear friend. They would never pull cheap shots and they would try to be reasonable.
These are good rules to apply in a civil world, but there is a big wide world out there that is furthest from civil and takes advantage of just how fair one is trying to be.
Also, the people who go around in this condition white think of people who arm themselves as paranoid, perhaps a bit flaky, and they associate them with their weird uncle who came back from combat and always carried a knife with him because he was still afraid the enemy would get him.
It takes them meeting someone (like you or me) to show them that there are people who do have a balance. They are fair, polite and courteous in their civil dealings, but ruthless when it comes to their own self-defense.
They aren't crazy, weird, paranoid or jumping at shadows. They are just average people who look on life at a different angle.
The trick is showing other people our angle.
Before they can start to truly grasp why it is we arm ourselves the way we do, they have to stand in our shoes and see what we see. Until they do, they will continue to walk around, unaware and unprepared.
It's like a man in a watchtower over a court of people.
The man in the watchtower sees the storm clouds and gets his rain coat on early. The people in the court look up and all they see is clear skies. They think the guy in the watch tower is paranoid. Then the man in the watchtower invites the people in the court up to the tower. Those who go up and see the storm clouds go, "Wow. Yeah, we need to get ready."
Few get ready, and the rest of the people in the court learn the truth only when its pouring on their heads.
My goal was not to make people uncomfortable, it was to invite them up to the watchtower (so to speak), and show them what I see.
A man in the watchtower who's been doing it for awhile has more experience reading the clouds. He can pick up on things that someone else may not. Even if he invites someone up, they may not entirely understand what they are seeing and he has to explain.
The people you are trying to talk to may agreed to see what you are seeing, but they still don’t understand what it id you really see.
They didn't understand if you are seeing sprinkles, a heavy rain or a hurricane.
You can give them a scenario and ask them to interpret the situation in their own minds and tell you what they think the level of danger is and therefor the level of response. They may look at the clouds and say it looked like rain. And you may point out how it looked like a hurricane. They may still not see exactly what you are seeing, but they will go away with a better understanding.
It takes time and many trips up into the tower before someone can pinpoint exactly what situation calls for what kind of response. It takes experience. Experience that they don't have yet. Instead of them finding that experience through trial and error, I'd rather they had a gentle guide to point out some trouble spots and how they can be avoided.
And yet, when someone comes down from the watch tower and takes a look around and sees nothing but green fields and blue skies they look back at the person in the watchtower and think, "Man, he is way too obsessed with this. Those clouds are so far away I doubt they will ever make it here."
They saw a glimpse of the danger and they may have understood, but they don't see the threat to themselves yet.
It takes time, patience and understanding but with the right approach and gentle guidance, you might be surprised at the lives you can influence.


  1. Very well written. I too think that people use "sheep" in a derogatory way (I've been guilty of it a couple of times), but I don't believe that's the way it was intended in Col Grossman's essay. In there, he says that sheep are generally goodhearted and can't see evil for what it is - what's wrong (as a general rule) with people who only want to see the good in everyone else? Normally, it's not an issue, unless there's a wolf in the vacinity.

    I like your anecdote about the watchtower; it puts everything into a perspective that all should be able to understand.

    1. I agree. I don't think it was intended as a derogatory comment but so many people have made it such. Then again, calling some people sheep would be an insult to sheep. lol

  2. I open carry, guess that's it's own group! Honestly I have had several very nice conversations with people about guns and carrying and shooting as a result of open carrying. Very few people reacting to it negatively and no "OMG he has a gun!" reactions.

  3. Very well-written article, Lima. As someone who has lawfully carried for almost 5 years, I fall into the fort category. Your watchman analogy is spot-on! As people who carry, we are in the unenviable position of recognizing that the world is not as safe as we'd like it to be. With that, we have a great opportunity to act as ambassadors the ccw community. We may not change everyone's mind, but even one strengthens our numbers.