The Concealed Carry Commitment
By Bob O’Connor – November 26th, 2018
The concealed carry COMMITMENT is a pledge to yourself and those around you to be a responsible carrier of your firearm. I believe that commitment for concealed carriers can be broken down into four principles, being MINDSET, EDUCATION, TRAINING and JUDGEMENT. In the coming weeks I will present my perspective of these principles, but first I wanted to discuss what the concealed carry commitment means to me.
Often over the past several years, when I have been in social settings and people around me learn I am a career investigator and firearms instructor, the conversation inevitably turns to concealed carry. I always like to talk about how people approach their own reasons to carry, but I have become frustrated and concerned with the overall lack of understanding even those who have a concealed carry permit have about their personal responsibilities relative to this important privilege.
Let me be clear here. I know I am writing for an “audience” of folks who already carry concealed (and in some states, carry open), hence, you already have a license if required in your state. Good for you for exercising your Constitutional right to own and carry. Nonetheless, like anything else, it’s always good to review the circumstances under which you carry, know why you carry and under which you might give advice to someone who asks about it. Now, back to the social setting.
Typically, the first question I get is something like, “I am thinking about getting my CCW permit. Should I?”. My almost immediate reply is, if you have to ask me, you have not made your mind up to be a responsible concealed carry permit holder and you are not ready for concealed carry. No one can answer that question except the individual him- or herself. There is so much that goes into the decision to carry concealed, and to do so for the RIGHT reasons. I tell them it is not just a decision to carry, it’s a COMMITMENT to carry. That is what I want to discuss in this essay.
As I was thinking about what to write for CCWSAFE, I thought “start at the beginning”, go to the basics. Why do we carry concealed? What are the essential elements for concealed carry? Yes, gun ownership is one aspect of the question, but concealed carry goes beyond mere gun ownership, and there are aspects of concealed carry that must be addressed beyond the hunter, the competitive shooting sportsman or the collector.
I focused on what I would tell anyone who asked about carrying concealed. I looked at my inner self and the reasons I stayed in my career for 40 years, and why I became a law enforcement firearms instructor. I looked at the dozens of LEO-involved shooting investigations I had participated in over the years and how those officers acted and reacted. I looked at my own use of force situation in 1991. I looked at the investigations of civilian use of force I had conducted. I looked at why I carry.
After much reflection, I determined that concealed carry is a COMMITMENT. Now, sometimes I can be old school. I like the feel of a book rather than an electronic device, so I went to my old paperback Webster’s. Yellowing, dog-eared pages. Well-worn from being leafed through over the years. I bought it when I first entered law enforcement. It’s something I have carried in my patrol car or had on my desk for over 40 years for guidance (that’s a hint, dear readers- a COMMITMENT to use that book whenever I needed it. Like a good partner, it’s never failed me). My Webster’s provides a simple definition of “COMMITMENT”: …to bind, as by a promise. To pledge. We bind to one another in marriage. We pledge to love, honor and stay COMMITTED to one another. We pledge allegiance to our flag. To live up to the laws, morals and values of a nation. A solemn bond to one’s self or another.
Concealed carry, as we shall discuss throughout in this series, requires so much more than a mere decision to carry and meet your state’s requirements to do so. So many things can go wrong if you aren’t prepared with the proper set of values as you embark upon or continue your right to carry. Your state permit process doesn’t teach you the subtleties of what type of mindset you need to be safe and make proper use of force decisions. Government doesn’t show you how to train. The license vendor doesn’t teach you about laws from places you might want to travel to, and in some cases may not address your own state laws of use of force and self-defense. And merely possessing your state’s concealed carry license certainly does not automatically bestow upon you a higher level of maturity and good judgement.
The Principles of Gun Safety
These are all principles we will review in the upcoming installments. I hope you’ll keep reading. For some of you, this will be old news. If so, make it available to someone you know who is just starting out and thinking about concealed carry. Be a friend. Concealed carry is not for everyone. Let them know it’s ok not to carry if they aren’t prepared to live with the COMMITMENT to do so. For some, I hope it opens a door to the mind and makes you think about why you carry and how you act when you do. When you carry concealed, you have made a COMMITMENT, a social compact to do so safely and maturely, to stay trained and educated, and to be the best ambassador you can be for concealed carry.
Remember, the concealed carry COMMITMENT is a pledge to yourself and to those around you that should revolve around these four core principles. In our next installment we’ll examine the element MINDSET and why it is important for concealed carriers to adopt to prepare themselves for the worst-case scenario.
Author: BOB O’CONNOR
Bob O’Connor is a highly experienced criminal investigator, and has had the opportunity to be involved at both the investigator and major case supervisory/management roles in multiple high profile, media-intensive investigations during his career. Those cases and the various assignments over a 40 year career provide Bob with a unique perspective of the criminal justice system and the interaction between the police and the public. He has worked at the local, county, state and federal levels successfully, using multiagency cooperation as the basis for mutual accomplishments.
Retired FDLE Special Agent Supervisor
Former Florida RDSTF/5 Intel & Investigative coordinator, 4.5 yrs
Involved in establishment of CFIX, Orlando regional intel fusion center
Former Support Services/Investigative Captain at Sanford Police Department, Sanford,FL.
JTTF/ state/local supervisory role, Orlando
DEA Task Force, Orlando
Multiple other Federal/State/Local Task Force Ops