Response of gun grabbers to Dark Knight shooting as predictable as it is wrong

It is inevitable that every tragedy involving a firearm will lead to an attempt by some to broaden gun control and disarm people who didn’t commit the crime. As soon as I heard about the tragic shooting at the Aurora movie theater screening “The Dark Knight Rises” I knew that this would be no exception.

Information is still coming in and the currently known facts of the case will likely change, but most reports indicate that soon after the movie began showing, a little after midnight, James Holmes, a 24-year-old doctoral student in neuroscience, opened fire in the crowded movie theater. Reports also claim that he detonated at least one device releasing tear gas, pepper spray, or smoke and that he was clothed in body armor. He had at least four guns including a shotgun, rifle, and multiple handguns. Some witnesses say he reloaded during the attack, others claim he did not.

How much traction it gains remains to be seen, but you can expect some attempt to revive the failed “Assault Weapons Ban” from the nineties. Since Holmes allegedly used an AR-15, aka an “evil black rifle” this will be Exhibit A for creating a new ban. It does not matter that only cosmetics make these rifles different from common deer rifles, except that deer rifles are more powerful.

Shotguns are too popular to be subject to a complete ban, but it has long been a dream of the gun ban movement to ban semi-automatic shotguns so they may make the attempt there. Regardless of the capacity of the magazines used in the pistols, there will be an attempt to ban “high-capacity” magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

There will likely also be an attempt to expand the locations where guns are banned to include theaters and any other place where large numbers of people congregate despite the fact that the Cinemark theater already bans guns on the premises.

There may also be efforts to make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to purchase firearms. Much has already been made of the fact that Holmes was able to buy these four guns over a period of several months, though the length of time would have negated two of the gun grabbers favorite throttles: one-gun-a-month schemes and mandatory waiting periods.

Of course, reality doesn’t come into play when attempting to further the agenda of the gun control movement. It doesn’t matter that none of these measures would have stopped Holmes, they only need the argument that they might stop someone else in the future. And if law abiding citizens lose gun rights in the process, all the better.

The mindset of situational awareness

Spend any significant amount of time with self-defense experts and the idea of situational awareness will come up. In its simplest form, situational awareness is nothing more than being aware of your surroundings; but even more than that is being able to correctly interpret what is going on around you to determine what threats might be present.

Many of us who choose to carry a gun for self-defense train regularly to increase our shooting skills. But skill is sometimes not enough. Every year, thousands of highly trained law enforcement officers are assaulted and dozens are killed in the line of duty showing a stark example that training is not always enough to survive. As civilians, we have a luxury they do not: avoiding the confrontation. The best way to avoid the confrontation is to see the threat before it becomes a confrontation. Yet, for all the time we spend training our physical skills with the gun, how much time do we spend training our minds for the mental aspect of situational awareness?

Just like we use repetition to build muscle memory shot shooting skills we can use awareness drills to shift situational awareness from a conscious action to an effortless state of mind. Some examples:

  • Note how many people in sight are wearing the same color shirt. This trains you to look for details and patterns.
  • Count how many rings people are wearing to get you used to watching hands for threats.
  • Watch how many people around you make eye contact with you. Criminals don’t like eye contact because they want their victims to be unaware of their approach.
  • Every time you walk into a room look for things that are different from the last time you were in there. This can help you spot things that are out of place.
  • As you walk up to a store, look through the door or window and try to guess who will be the first person to notice your arrival. This can lead to you identifying a dangerous situation before you enter the building.
  • Observe the faces and demeanor of passersby and try to guess what mood they’re in. This will get you used to reading emotions and can help determine who might be a threat for violent behavior.

These practice sessions will build the “muscle memory” for your brain to continue subconsciously observing your environment and raise your awareness. This projects an air of alertness that most criminals instinctively avoid. A potential victim who is paying attention means a lesser chance of success for an attack. It also helps you to spot potential trouble before it is too late or you are forced to employ deadly force so that you can take steps to avoid the encounter.

You don’t need to be paranoid or constantly on high alert to be safe. In fact, trying to maintain the highest state of awareness at all times can lead to fatigue and burn out which can in turn cause you to miss the threat when the time comes. In contrast, a state of relaxed awareness where your subconscious mind does most of the work is easy to maintain.

It is also important to note that since you are training your subconscious, you might not always realize exactly what the threat it. You’ll just have a feeling that “something’s not right.” Trust your gut and go on conscious alert! You have to discipline yourself to listen to your intuition and not dismiss it as “nothing.” With a little practice, you’ll be much more aware of your surroundings and prepared to avoid threats if possible and less likely to be caught unawares if avoidance is not possible.

Testing Sellier & Bellot buckshot for home defense

As a pistol instructor, I tend to spend a lot of time on the issue of armed self defense with handguns. However, most experts will tell you that defending yourself with a handgun is what you’re stuck doing when you don’t have access to a better option: a long gun.

Whenever someone asks me what gun I recommend for home defense, I always first recommend a shotgun. Shotguns tend to be easy to use and maintain, plus they have far more stopping power than any handgun. However, they aren’t the universal threat eliminator some people think. I’ve heard many times shotguns extolled as having a wide field of shot that no threat can escape from. As you will soon see, simply pointing from the hip may not be enough to save your life.

To make sure I had some quality ammo for testing, I purchased some Sellier & Bellot 00 buckshot from LuckyGunner.com. I had never ordered from them before so I figured this would be a test of them as well as of the ammo. I found the site to be a bit odd looking with its bright green shamrock theme, but it was certainly easy to use. Three days after placing the order (really only two since I placed it in late evening), I had my ammo and was ready to go to the range.

The ammo itself was a bit different than what I was used to. The case is transparent plastic and the end of the shotshell is capped instead of crimped. I was a bit worried about performance based on a couple of negative reviews I read, but I had very good results.

I conducted the test at a local hunt club on a slightly windy late afternoon. I used a Benelli M1 Super 90 semi-automatic 12 gauge shotgun with improved cylinder choke. For the test patterning of the shot, I simply used white posterboard stapled to a stake.

Size 5 shot compared to 00 buckshot

To start the test, I fired with only 10 feet from the end of the barrel to the target, a typical self-defense range. Upon the initial shot I immediately noted the recoil was very light and manageable. As you can see in the image on the right, the spread from that first shot was merely 2-1/4″. The shot held a tight group even with the improved cylinder choke at this close range, similar to what you might encounter should you find an intruder in your house. Not much room for error and certainly debunks the myth of a vast cloud of shot negating the need to aim at the target!

For comparison, I also fired a Federal Hi-Power shotshell loaded with 5 shot. Even that gave just a hair less than a 3-1/2 group with the main part of the pattern roughly the same size as the 9 balls of buckshot.

In order to get a better look at the spread and check for consistency, I backed up to 21 feet. This is the generally accepted lethal force range even for an attacker armed with a knife or other impact weapon.

Buckshot on the left, 5 shot on the right patterned from 21 feet

In the next picture, you can again see the comparison between the buckshot and the 5 shot. At this greater distance, the pattern did indeed open up but still not enough to blindly point at the target. One interesting thing I did note was that the lower group for the buckshot was more open. I got 2-1/2″ with the buckshot and 7-3/4 inches with the 5 shot at just below level. With the slightly lower shots, the groupings were 4-1/4″ and 7″, respectively. So, the pattern was similar with the 5 shot but almost 2 inches bigger with the buckshot. I wondered if this was due to the different angle of the barrel or indicative of inconsistency in the shot pattern. So, I fired more rounds with just the buckshot.

Below you can see the results. With the first one, I had a 2-1/2″ and 2-3/4″ on the upper two and 2-1/2″ and 3-1/2″ for the bottom two. The second target yielded the top two both at 2-1/2″ and the bottom two came up 3″ and 3-1/2″.

Continued testing showed good consistency

This confirmed that there was truly a variance caused by the angle of the shot which would be expected to be even greater at longer distances, though more difficult to simulate since the angle of the shot would be less since the target would appear smaller. Even more revealing was that the difference of the pattern from the different angle was even more pronounced than the increased distance for the buckshot. The test also showed that there was very good consistency between the shots so you know what to expect from your gun.

Of course, one of the most important things with any ammunition is that it is reliable. This is especially true for self-defense rounds. I did not experience a single malfunction nor did I have any problem with the ammo cycling the shotgun.

Overall, I was very happy with the ammo and would be comfortable relying on it to save my life. I also plan to do additional business with LuckyGunner.com.

Dry fire

Today we’re going to talk about a type of shooting practice called dry fire.

Dry firing is simply pulling the trigger on a gun that is not loaded with live ammunition. The gun can be empty or can be loaded with dummy rounds or snap caps. Both dummy rounds and snap caps look and may feel like real cartridges but are fake and cannot be fired. They are designed to reduce wear on a guns firing pin by giving it something to hit and transfer its energy to.

Dry firing guns can have many useful results. One benefit is that it helps you become familiar with a new gun. With dummy rounds, you can practice loading and unloading the gun safely. You can get used to the weight of the gun and the feel of it in your hand. And you can get used to the trigger pull (every gun is different!).

Dry firing can also be used to overcome common problems new shooters have, such as flinching. Flinching often happens when a shooter anticipates the recoil of the gun and tightens up their muscles right before the gun fires. This can result in a badly spoiled shot. Dry fire can be a cure for this problem as it allows the shooter to focus on the fundamentals of pistol shooting without worrying about the recoil. The body becomes accustomed to the process of firing a gun without flinching and that can translate to greater success on the gun range.

Dry fire is also far cheaper than going to the range and can be done from the comfort of your own home. This lets a shooter work on proper grip, stance, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger squeeze, and follow through on a more regular basis. It is also very useful for practicing drawing and reholstering a firearm.

I like using dry fire to help with target acquisition and decision making. A good monster movie or crime thriller is good for this. Because the camera jumps from person to person quickly, when the bad guy or monster appears on the screen you have to quickly recognize the threat and engage.

However, there are several serious safety issues requiring careful precautions to be taken before every dry fire session to reduce the possibility of an accident.

First, no live ammunition is to be present in any room where dry firing is taking place. Not in magazines, speed-loaders, pockets, bags, boxes, or lying around. This is a zero tolerance policy!

Second, you should always dry fire with the gun pointed at something that could stop a bullet should there be an accident. A bookcase, solid door, brick wall, gun safe, etc. are all good choices.

Third, keep distractions to a minimum. Don’t talk on the phone, surf the web, or carry on conversations with others. Keep your focus on what you are doing. If you set your gun down for any reason, check to be sure it is unloaded when you pick it up again.

Fourth, when dry fire is done it is done. I know of one person who after a dry fire session was putting his stuff away and decided to fire “one last shot.” Unfortunately, he had forgotten that he had reloaded his gun and the gun went “boom” instead of “click.” Luckily, nobody was injured.

Dry fire can be a great practice tool and can be done safely as long as those basic rules are followed religiously.

Improving accuracy

Many new shooters, and to be truthful many experienced shooters, get discouraged at the shooting range by targets that look like they were hit by a shotgun blast. The problem is, they don’t know what to do about it.

The best way to correct accuracy issues is to get help from a professional trainer. If you don’t know or can’t afford one, there are a few things you can do to improve your shot grouping.

Make sure the gun fits you

A gun that doesn’t fit your hand well is much more difficult to shoot well, particularly one that is too big. Not only the size of the grip is important, but the weight of the gun and the amount of recoil (kick) as well. A big, heavy gun that noticeably rises with ever shot can be very difficult to control. If this is a problem for you, consider downsizing. Shooting accurate groups is far more impressive than shooting a big, loud, magnum caliber.

Conversely, a very small gun is inherently less accurate because of the shorter barrel. This gives less time for the bullet to develop a stable flight path as well as making for a shorter sight radius. A medium sized gun in a small caliber (.22, .38 or 9mm) is often the best choice for a newer shooter.

Take your time

The vast majority of shooters have accuracy problems while shooting quickly. Take your time and be sure to aim carefully with each shot.

Proper grip

I see a lot of shooters who hold a pistol incorrectly. A proper, consistent grip can go a long way towards improving accuracy. Your hand should be high on the grip in order to line the gun up as closely as possible with the bones in your arm as well as providing maximum grip surface area for your second hand. For a semi-automatic, the top of your hand should press against the beavertail (a small projection at the top of the grip below the hammer) if your gun has one. Be careful on a semi-automatic to not hold too high or your hand will be cut by the slide (slide-bite).

Take a firm grip with your shooting hand and then add your non-shooting hand getting as much contact between your hands and the grip as possible. You want your non-shooting hand to have considerable contact with the grip as opposed to simply closing around your shooting hand.

Grip pressure is important as well. You want firm pressure, but not so much that you get muscle tremors. You also want a little less grip strength with the fingers of your shooting hand so there is not too much tension interfering with a smooth trigger squeeze. A good rule is to apply 40% of the grip pressure with your shooting hand and 60% with your non-shooting hand.

Trigger squeeze

Proper trigger control is one of the most common problems shooters face. The trigger should be smoothly “rolled” to the rear in a continuous motion while disturbing the sight alignment and sight picture as little as possible. For the proper motion, it is helpful to think of a medicine dropper. If you squeeze a medicine dropper hard and fast, it sprays all over the place. However, if you squeeze it slowly and smoothly a perfectly formed drop will fall.

Be careful to not anticipate the shot. You should not know the exact moment the shot will break. Again, a medicine dropper is a good example. The drop slowly gets bigger and bigger until it falls, but you do not know exactly when it will do so. Anticipating the shot (mentally telling yourself to FIRE!) leads to flinching which will ruin your aim.

I also see a lot of people “slapping” the trigger. After each shot their finger flies off the trigger and outside the trigger guard, returning with force to take a swing at the trigger. This leads to a jerky shot.

Don’t forget your follow through! After the gun fires, continue depressing the trigger those last few millimeters until it stops. Like in many other sports, correct follow through will help you be successful because it minimizes unnecessary movements.

Sight alignment and sight picture

This can be a difficult concept for some people.

Proper sight alignment means the top of the front sight is aligned with the top of the rear sight. It should also be centered in the rear sight with an equal amount of light visible on both sides.

Sight picture is aligning the sights with the target. Some people shoot better with the sights splitting the target like a pie, others shoot better with the target sitting on top of the sight alignment like a pumpkin on a fence. Use whichever works best for you.

The front sight is the most important part of the sight picture. The front sight should be in crisp focus with the rear sight and target slightly blurry. Think of it as looking through the rear sight at the front sight.

Shooting stance

Like a building,  it is important to have a good foundation for your shooting position. You feet should be about shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent. You should lean forward slightly and resist the urge to lean backwards to counterbalance your gun. You want to be stable and balanced. Some people find it more stable to have one foot ahead of the other and their body turned at an angle to the target, similar to a boxing stance. Whichever works best for you is fine as long as you are stable and balanced.

Breath control

Proper breathing is essential for good accuracy. At an extreme, gasping for breath creates a lot of muscle movement which will disturb your sight alignment and sight picture. You should take slow, controlled breaths. Breath in, let it out slightly, and then hold your breath while squeezing the trigger as you try to minimize the arc of movement of the sights over the target (the movement of the gun). If your trigger squeeze is taking too long and you need to breath simply stop squeezing the trigger, take a few seconds to breath, and then start the process over again.

These are just a few general tips to help improve your accuracy. There is far more to it than just these and as I said earlier, the best solution for poor accuracy is to get help from an experienced trainer.

Wearing a belt holster

Wearing a belt holster seems like a pretty straightforward process. Take a holster, stick your belt thought it, put the belt on. In reality, just attaching the holster to your belt is the easy part. You also have to decide where on your belt to put the holster.

Most people have seen police officers wearing a gun on their strong side hip (right side if they’re right handed). This works great for open carry, but not as much for concealed carry. With your gun protruding from your hip, you are more likely to print (show the outline of your gun through the cover garment).

To keep the gun as close to your body as possible, it is recommended to instead carry in front of your hip (appendix carry) or behind the hip.

In front of your hip can be a good strategy if you are wearing a cover garment that closes in the front, a t-shirt, buttoned shirt, sweater, zipped jacket, etc. Having the gun at the front of your waist tends to allow for a faster draw. Whether you wear it on your strong side or weak side (cross draw) is a matter of personal preference.

If you’re like me and wear an open cover garment (unbuttoned shirt, vest, or unzipped jacket) this is a less desirable position. The gun can easily become visible if your movement or the wind opens the cover garment even slightly. It also can be very uncomfortable if you have a few extra pounds around the midsection.

My preferred position is right behind my strong side hip bone. As illustrated in the picture above, this does keep your gun tight against your body, aiding in concealment. It is also close enough to the front of your body that you don’t have to reach too far around to draw the gun, a particular concern if you need to draw quickly.

It does bring up the question of exactly where to position the gun, a question that can only be answered by what feels most comfortable for you. For me, it works best if the rear sight of my gun is lined up with the seam in my pants. The picture above (click on it to enlarge) shows this position.

Some people like to carry their gun all the way around to the small of their back (SOB). This natural indention does make for a convenient place to carry, however there are several drawbacks.

First, it can be very uncomfortable to sit down and your gun tends to dig into your back because you’re leaning directly on it. It is also much more difficult to draw the gun quickly because you have to reach all the way around. The most important reason I recommend against this method of carry, though, is that if you happen to fall on your back your gun could be smashed into your spine and cause serious damage. For this last reason, some holster manufacturers won’t even make holsters designed for SOB carry.

Regardless of which location on your belt to place the holster, there is one additional consideration: which cant to use.

Cant refers to the tilt of the holster on your belt, and can be in varying degrees. This is best illustrated in the following pictures.

Backward or Rear cant
Vertical cant
Forward cant

The location of the holster and how you prefer to perform the motion for drawing the firearm all determine which cant to use. Most holsters have a fixed cant, but some are adjustable. The cant could eliminate certain positions on your belt. For example, if you want to carry weak side in front of the hip, it would be very difficult to draw from a rear canting holster.

My recommendation is to try several different positions on your belt until you find the one that works best for you, and then stick with it. You always want to carry your gun in the same place whenever possible so that you know exactly where it is and can rely on muscle memory to draw it quickly if you are suddenly attacked.

Protecting against home invasion

There have been several stories in the news lately regarding home invasions. A home invasion occurs when whether intentionally or unintentionally a criminal enters your home while you are present; as opposed to a burglary where they do so when the house is empty.

Many times during accidental home invasions the criminal is not expecting to encounter anyone and will quickly flee when confronted. Intentional home invasions are much more dangerous as the criminal is expecting to confront someone (or is at least prepared for the possibility should they attempt a theft at night without waking the occupants) and will already have a plan for dealing with the residents. This may be as simple as threatening them with a weapon, restraining them, forcing them to assist with the robbery by leading the criminal to valuables or the confrontation could lead to rape or murder.

One such home invasion occurred in Elyria, Ohio in the morning of Thursday, January 5th. According to her account, she was in bed watching television when she heard a suspicious noise. She armed herself and was creeping down the stairs when a 31 year old drug addict kicked down her door and entered her home. She kept yelling for him to stop and when he succeeded in getting inside she fired three shots at him and he fled before later being arrested.

Since a neighbor reported hearing him yell “Oh My God!” as he ran away, it is likely he expected nobody to be home; or at the least not an armed response. The man was suspected to have broken in several weeks earlier when the woman’s daughter and granddaughter were home but they stayed upstairs and did not encouter the robber.

This is contrasted with another incident in Elyria on the same day. This time, the resident woke up to find a man with a gun in his bedroom. The robber forced the man to help him load up two garbage bags full of loot before escaping. Since this victim was taken by surprise while sleeping, being armed might not have led to a better outcome.

In both of these cases, there would have been warning if the resident had an alarm system. Even if you can’t afford a monitored service, an inexpensive stand-alone system can sound an audio alert to warn you of intrusion and possibly even cause the criminal to flee without a confrontation. At the very least it will give you more warning that awaking to find the intruder already in your bedroom giving you time to arm yourself and possibly lock your bedroom door or get to your children.

A common thing a criminal will try is to see if your doors or windows are unlocked to allow for easy entry. To prevent this, you should keep your doors and windows locked whenever practical, even if you are home.

Another frequent ploy is for the home invader to summon the victim to the door and press an attack when the door is opened. The best defense against this is to not open the door to someone you don’t know to keep a physical barrier between you. A door chain can be of use here if it is of high quality and properly installed so a simple push won’t break it. Likewise a good, solid door can help keep an intruder at bay.

Not only should you have a strong door at all entrances to your home, but having a good door and strong locks on your bedroom can allow you to use it as a safe room. Losing your possessions is much preferable to losing your life or becoming seriously injured.

Arming yourself before answering the door can also be an option, though a sudden rush by the invader can render you unable to bring your weapon into play. If there is more than one person home it might be better to arm the second person instead. If attacked, the first person can create separation either by running, shoving the attacker, or going to the ground allowing the second person to enact an armed response.

In addition to an alarm, there are several other things you can do to make your home a less attractive target. Keeping shrubbery trimmed back can prevent an attacker from hiding himself or an accomplice. A well-lit exterior, particularly with motion activated lights, can help make the criminal less comfortable. Owning a dog, particularly a large one, can be a strong deterrent.

One dangerous situation that can occur is surprising a burglar when you come home. Always be aware of your surroundings so you can take notice if things seem out of place or there are signs of forced entry. Don’t get lulled into a false sense of security when you enter your home, either. Glance around for things to be out of place and you also might catch a glimpse of the invader. If you do see someone as you enter, get out immediately. Even if armed you do not want the risk of confronting a possibly armed criminal. Discretion is definitely the better part of valor.

If you do manage to successfully enact an armed response you should attempt to verbally repel the intruder before firing if safe to do so. Most criminals will take an available escape route which is preferable to needing to win a gunfight or risk a round from your gun striking a neighbor or passerby. Attempting to apprehend the intruder can be dangerous as well, giving him opportunity to counter attack or forcing an accomplice to attempt a rescue.

These are just a few suggestions to help protect yourself against a home invasion. There is a lot of good information on the internet, and the NRA offers several good courses covering these topics including Refuse to Be a Victim and Personal Protection in the Home.

How to get a concealed handgun license in Ohio


Obtaining a concealed handgun license (CHL)  in Ohio is a fairly straightforward process, but does require some time and commitment.

First of all, you have to get gun safety training. Ohio requires 12 hours of instruction, including a minimum of two hours of live-fire gun range training. This training must be conducted by a certified instructor. The two most common are Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission trainers and instructors certified by the National Rifle Association. As part of this training, you are required to take a written test as well as demonstrate that you’ve learned how to safely handle a gun. Certain other forms of proof of training are also acceptable, such as military training or police training. You can find instructors by visiting many local gunshops, the NRA training website, or OhioCCWTraining.org. Of course, Northcoast Firearms Training provides certified training for both students and those persons wanting to be concealed carry instructors.

Once you have the training, you need to fill out an application for the license. These are available from your local sheriff or you can download them online. The application must include, to the best of your knowledge, every address you’ve lived at since you turned 18 (note that you must be at least 21 years old to apply and be a legal resident of Ohio for at least 45 days). It is recommended to fill out the application at home unless you want to sit in the sheriffs office for a long time working on it.

Once you have the application filled out, you can turn it in. You have to apply for a CHL with a county sheriff, either of the county you live in or a neighboring (adjacent) county. You’ll need to bring with you your proof of training (a photocopy of your training certificate or affidavit), a color photograph (the kind used for passports are best) taken within 30 days and a fee of $67 if you’ve lived in Ohio for at least five years or $91 if you have not. Note that some sheriffs are very specific about the forms of payment they will accept, so you are advised to call ahead. Some also require you to make an appointment to drop off your application.

You will also need to have read the concealed carry laws booklet published by the Ohio Attorney General (available for download from their website). When you apply, you will be fingerprinted (electronically at most sheriff’s offices) and they will conduct a background check. If you have any felonies, drug offenses, or certain violent misdemeanors or were put into a mental health facility by a court you may be declined for the license.

Ohio law specifies that a sheriff has 45 days to issue or deny the license. Once you have it, it is good for five years. The renewal fee is currently $50.

It is also important to note that there is a Temporary Emergency License available in Ohio. You can obtain this license if you have reasonable proof of a threat against you and it is intended to allow you to carry a concealed handgun while you are going through the training and waiting process to obtain a regular CHL.

More information is available by reading the Ohio Revised Code section 2923.125.

Holsters

Anytime you carry a gun on your person, you should use a holster for it.

Any decent holster will cover the trigger on the gun, decreasing the chance of an accidental discharge from something bumping the trigger.

Another important advantage is that the holster will keep the gun in the same place so you know exactly where it was at. Where this really comes into play is when dropping a gun into a purse, briefcase, or pocket.

There are companies that make purses, briefcases, backpacks, etc. that are designed for carrying a gun. These have built-in holsters for holding the gun securely. Anyone who has ever fumbled for keys in a purse or briefcase knows how important it would be for the gun to be exactly where you know it to be if you need to get at it quickly.

There are also special holster made for pocket carry. These slip into a pocket, keep the trigger clear, and hold the gun securely. They are usually equipped with small hooks or tacky material to keep them in your pocket when you draw the gun.

The most common holsters are belt holsters and shoulder holsters. Anyone who has seen a detective show or movie has seen shoulder holsters. These are worn slung over your shoulders and secure to your belt on each side. The gun can be held with the barrel facing down (vertical) or behind you (horizontal). These holsters are easy to conceal under a coat or jacket. The opposite side from the gun will often have a pouch for holding spare magazines or speed loaders.

Belt holsters are worn on your belt and come in two categories, inside-the-waistband (IWB) and outside-the-waistband (OWB). An OWB holster is like what you see police wearing. They can be more difficult to conceal because the entire holster must be covered.

They attach to your belt via belt loops, straps, slots, or sometimes a “paddle.” Paddle holsters have a piece of metal or plastic that slide inside your pants behind your belt while the rest of the holster is on the outside. This makes it easy to remove the holster without taking your belt off.

An IWB holster is similar, but is designed to slide inside your pants partway. This puts the lower half of the holster, the section below the belt, inside your pants so it is easier to conceal. It will have straps, loops, or plastic clips that go over your belt for stability. Sometimes the straps holding the gun to your belt have snaps so that it can be unsnapped and removed without taking your belt off. This type of holster tends to keep the gun very close to your body further aiding in concealment.

It is very important to use a holster instead of just tucking the gun into your waistband. A gun carried in such a manner is prone to slipping and being dropped as well as increasing the possibility the trigger could snag on something and fire the gun, a bad proposition since it will likely be pointed at some part of your body.

There are also ankle holster which strap around the lower portion of your leg. These are commonly used for carrying a small gun, especially a back up gun. As long as the gun isn’t too bulky, they can easily hide a gun. However, your pants leg must be pulled up to draw the gun, which can be a problem.

Other holster types include fanny packs, belly bands (wide elastic bands which wrap around your body like a girdle), and even some that are built into shirt, pants, vests, or other clothing items.

Only you can say which one is right for you, and I recommend you try different ones until you get the one that works best for your needs and fits your gun well.

Concealed carry

After being a gun rights activist for over eight years now, I find it easy to forget that not everyone thinks about guns when they hear the words “concealed carry.” Every so often I’ll mention it and get a quizzical look while the person tries to figure out what I’m talking about carrying concealed.

Concealed carry is simply carrying a weapon, usually a firearm in this context, that cannot easily be seen (like a plain clothes police detective), as opposed to “open carry” which is carrying one in plain sight like you see uniformed police do. You’ll often see it referred to as CCW (Carrying a Concealed Weapon).

There are many ways to carry concealed, but the easiest way to do so while carrying a gun on your person is to simply wear what’s called a cover garment, which is generally a loose outer shirt, jacket, or vest. In the picture to the right, you can see a shirt being used as a cover garment. When carrying like this it is helpful to have a holster that holds the gun close to your body (we’ll talk about holsters another time) because otherwise there will be an obvious bulge (called “printing”) if you’re wearing a thin cover garment.

It is for this reason that some people carry a smaller gun in the summer than in the winter. In the winter, you can wear a heavier shirt or a sweater which hides the gun better because it is thicker. You’ll also be wearing a heavier coat while outdoors.

One important thing is to not put yourself in a position where you’d want to remove your cover garment if you want to stay concealed. If, for example, you’re relying on a jacket for concealment and you go into a warm room where a jacket makes you too hot you could end up uncomfortable or look out of place.

Another simple way to carry concealed is to put the gun into a purse, briefcase, backpack, fanny pack, or other similar container. Purse carry is very popular with women. One thing to keep in mind if you’re going to do that is how fast you can get to your gun if you need it. It is advisable to use a container made for carrying a gun.

A quick search in the internet will reveal a wide variety of purses, bags, etc. that are made for doing so. The reason for this is that these containers hold the gun in a very specific place where you’ll know right where it is at. Anyone who has ever dug through a purse or briefcase looking for something knows that is not what you want to have happen when being confronted by a mugger.

Another concern with “off body carry” is that these bags, purses, etc. can be set down, which opens a whole new can of worms. It could be stolen, forgotten, rummaged through by a kid, or any other variety of things when the gun is beyond your immediate control. Purse snatching is a common crime and if you’re not careful the thief will have your purse and your gun. Not to mention the fact that you have to then go to your container in order to retrieve your gun if you need it.

Speaking of that, there is another thing to keep in mind when carrying concealed versus openly, and that is getting to your gun. If it is in a container, you usually have to first open that container. While a lot of containers designed for carrying a gun usually have a quick opening mechanism like velcro pull tabs, that still slows you down.

If carrying on your person, you have to “clear” your cover garment first, meaning move it out of the way. This can be done with your shooting hand or your opposite hand, but does require practice to do it smoothly. You can also have a problem with your gun snagging on the cover garment, such as if an exposed hammer catches in the material. For this reason, many guns designed for concealed carry have rounded edges, bobbed (shortened) hammers, or hammers that are shrouded (covered) or not there at all (hammerless).

It is important to remember that in Ohio, like most states, a license or permit is required to carry concealed. Each state varies in their procedures and we’ll talk about getting one in Ohio in a future article. Basically, you have to take a class and apply for a license at your local sheriff’s office.

For more information about concealed carry, a great resource is the Ohio CCW forums.