Tag Archive for concealed carry

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.

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.

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.

Revolver vs. semi-automatic

One question that is always sure to spur a lot of debate is whether a revolver or semi-automatic pistol is the better choice for self-defense. While the pros and cons of each are many and provide far more material than can be covered in one article, I will lay out the primary arguments for each.

A revolver has fewer moving parts than a semi-automatic pistol. This tends to make them very reliable with very little maintenance required. There are simply fewer parts that can break on a revolver and fewer things that can go wrong while firing one. In most cases, if the pistol fails to fire when you pull the trigger (bad ammunition can cause this to happen) you simply pull the trigger again and a new cartridge rotates into place. That’s part of the reason why some call the revolver the original point and click device.

There are some drawbacks to revolvers, however. Since the ammunition is contained in the round cylinder, they tend to be fatter than a similarly sized semi-automatic. This can make them more difficult to conceal, though only slightly so, particularly with a smaller round like a .22.

Most revolvers only have six shots, though many ultra-compact semi-automatics don’t have many more than that. Revolvers are also slow to reload. Speed loaders (special tools that hold extra ammo for a revolver) can make reloading faster, but still not as fast as a semi-automatic.

One of the biggest drawbacks is that if a revolver does fail, it can do so spectacularly and completely lock up the gun. Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate this is very rare, but if it happens the gun is usually completely useless and requires a gun smith to make it function again.

Semi-automatic pistols try to make up for the deficiencies of a revolver, but add numerous shortcomings in the process.

They are often thinner, lighter, and can hold more ammunition (often twice as much or more). The removable magazines make them quicker to reload for most people. However, semi-automatic pistols also have some drawbacks.

The first of which is that they are more complicated to load. With a revolver, you load the cylinder, close it, and you’re ready to go. With a semi-automatic, you insert the magazine and must rack the slide. Not that much more complicated, but if you forget that all important second step (under stress while being attacked or simply because you forgot two years ago when you loaded the gun) nothing will happen no matter how many times you pull the trigger.

If a cartridge fails to fire, you must rack the slide to get rid of the bad cartridge and load a fresh one. A cartridge can also fail to extract when the slide cycles (moves back and forth) causing a jam. Jams in a semi-automatic are often easier to clear than with a revolver, but you still must know how to do it.

The slide itself can be a problem. You must have sufficient strength to pull back the slide, and I’ve witnessed many people who simply can’t do it if the internal springs are too strong. I’ve never seen anyone unable to close the cylinder on a revolver.

Many semi-automatic pistols have a safety that must be disengaged before firing. Again, failing to do so means the gun won’t fire. I’ve also heard stories of untrained individuals attempting to disengage the safety and instead hitting the magazine release button causing the pistol to unload.

More moving parts means there is more to break, though most quality semi-automatics tend to have long service lives. These moving parts do require more maintenance and also provide more opportunities for the gun to jam when dirty, something that rarely happens with a revolver.

In my opinion, revolvers are the better choice for a person who wants a reliable firearm and does not want to invest the time into proper practice. Though, for me, the semi-automatic is the better choice.

I practice regularly to be sure I’m familiar with the controls and have built muscle memory for dealing with malfunctions. I can also shoot a semi-automatic faster than a revolver. My pistol holds 11 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition, as opposed to the six rounds in a revolver. With one extra magazine, I have 21 shots versus the 12 I’d have with one speed loader for a revolver.

It all boils down to a matter of personal preference, and really any gun is going to be better than no gun. It is a decision you have to make for yourself.

Buying a gun

For many people who have never bought one before, buying a gun can be a daunting prospect. What laws do I need to know about? What do I need to bring? How do I go about picking one out? Can I buy one for my wife? How do I get it registered? All are common questions. In this article, I’ll try to cover the basics.

In Ohio, buying a gun is a pretty straight forward process, but there are two different sets of procedures. You do not need any kind of permit to buy a gun (but you do need one if you want to carry it concealed or in a motor vehicle).

For private sales, there is very little regulation. If you want to buy a gun from someone you know, they can sell it to you without all the red tape noted in the next paragraph, provided you’re not prohibited from owning the gun (we’ll come back to that).

Most people, though, buy their first gun from a gun shop or the sporting goods department of stores like Gander Mountain, Dick’s Sporting Goods, etc. For commercial sales of handguns, there are a few hoops to jump through.

Once you decide which gun to buy, there is paperwork to fill out. You’ll be given a Form 4473, which is a firearms transaction record published by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. It asks you to list information such as your name, address, date of birth, and some questions about your background (are you a fugitive from justice, have you been convicted of a felony, etc.). You will also need to produce identification, such as a driver’s license or state ID. Once you fill out this form, which takes about 5 minutes, the store clerk will call the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This system conducts a quick records check (usually less than a minute) to try to determine if you are disqualified from owning a firearm. Three things can happen, you can be approved, denied, or delayed. Approval is most common, denied means they found what seems to be a disqualification (you can appeal), and delayed means they need more time to conduct a more thorough check. The last one can sometimes happen if you have a name that is similar to someone who has committed a felony.

Once that is completed, you’re good to go. Ohio has no waiting periods on firearms purchases and does not require gun registration. Some local cities used to require guns to be registered, but those laws were overturned when the Ohio legislature passed “statewide preemption”, which means only the state and federal government can pass most types of gun laws.

Now, for both private and commercial sales, you still have to follow laws about who is allowed to own a firearm. While both the U.S. and Ohio constitutions guarantee a right to bear arms, you can lose those rights for certain things. Being convicted of a violent felony, assault on a police officer, many drug offenses, suffering from alcohol abuse, being adjudicated mentally incompetent, and you must be at least 18 years old for rifles and shotguns and 21 for handguns. Note that even if you meet those requirements, a gun shop can still make the decision to refuse a sale if they’re not comfortable with it. For example, someone who appears clearly agitated might be asked to leave.

When it comes to buying guns for someone else, that’s ok as long as that person meets the requirements in the preceding paragraph. If they’re allowed to own a gun, it is legal for you to buy one for them. This usually comes into play when guns are bought as gifts. However, if the person you are buying the gun for is not allowed to have one, that is called a “straw purchase” and is a felony.

As to the question of how to pick out a gun, well, that will require another article. Some things to keep in mind are your price range, how the gun feels in your hand, what you intend to use it for (different guns are used to hunt different animals and some self-defense handguns might be no good for hunting), how strong you are, etc. Most gun shops have friendly, knowledgeable clerks who will be more than happy to answer your questions and help you decide.

Please note that I only tried to cover the basics. For more information, please read this informative fact sheet from the NRA: http://www.nraila.org/statelawpdfs/OHSL.pdf