In this guide, we will detail the concealed carry responsibilities that you should know before you start carrying.
When you carry a concealed weapon, many don’t fully understand that you are making a choice that comes with certain responsibilities.
Even if you have been carrying for some time, these responsibilities should be reviewed regularly. I try to keep these responsibilities at the forefront of my mind.
As discussed in our Benefits of Concealed Carry Guide (go back and read it if you have not), the benefits outweigh the liability. But only if you understand your responsibilities.
Keep reading to discover one responsibility that is often overlooked but is just as important.
Concealed Carry Responsibilities
1 – Liability
Choosing to carry concealed comes with liability, not just legal but financial. Even if you are innocent, lawyer fees and court costs can rack up quickly.
While this shouldn’t be scary (driving has liability as well), it is an important responsibility to understand.
Know the concealed carry laws of your state.
We already mentioned this in the Concealed Carry Tips for Beginners guide, but it is so important. Does your state allow concealed carry? Is a permit required? What are all the qualifications? Are there places where you can’t carry?
When you decide to start carrying concealed, the legal aspect is very important. While we can not give legal advise, we recommend that you get a lawyer if you do not already have one.
Pay them a small $50 retainer fee and keep their card in your wallet and their number in your phone.
Check the laws with your lawyer, state website, or the USCCA’s Gun Laws page. If you carry your firearm where you shouldn’t, “I didn’t know” will not keep the state from charging you with a crime. You could lose your gun license, incur big fines, and pay lawyer fees as well.
If you are ever involved in a self defense incident, once it is safe, call 911 first. Say “I was attacked and forced to defend myself.” Give them your location and ask for the police and an ambulance, nothing more.
Next, call your lawyer and follow their instructions. Anything you say to the police can be used as evidence. It is best to remain calm, cooperate, and say the minimum without your lawyer present.
Also, keep in mind that when you travel to a different state, the laws change as well. While some states honor permits from other states, some do not. This is called reciprocity, and it is your responsibility to understand what it means (see the USCCA for more on reciprocity.)
You are responsible for every bullet.
It doesn’t matter what happened, who did what, or said what. You are responsible for every bullet that leaves the barrel of your gun.
This means that even if you are attacked and stop your attacker with a shot, a second misplaced shot that hurts someone else is still your fault.
If you accidentally discharge your gun while in a public restroom because you don’t have a proper holster, it is your fault.
Controlling the gun, the trigger, and where the bullets go is your responsibility. You are liable for any damage they cause.
2 – Safety
Once you make the choice to carry a firearm concealed, knowing your firearm inside and out and how to safely own it is your responsibility.
Notice I said to own it.
This is not just knowing how to safely put your firearm in your holster or unload it. You must commit to gun safety through all aspects of your life.
There will undoubtedly be times when you can’t carry your handgun and must leave it in your car. What do you do with it then?
When you are at home, you must store it safely when it is not in your holster. Our guide on the best gun safes covers everything from large safes to nightstands and car safes.
When you are training at the range, do you keep your finger off of the trigger? Do you always keep the muzzle pointed down range?
Check out our full guide on gun safety (coming soon!) to ensure you fully understand this responsibility. It includes all of the tips from our experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
3 – Understand your Equipment
While this is the more exciting aspect for most people, it is still a responsibility that sometimes gets neglected over time.
In order to be a responsible gun owner and concealed carry a firearm, you must understand your firearm, how you carry it, and the clothing you wear when you carry it.
If your gun won’t function because it is too dirty, it is your responsibility to know how often you should clean you gun.
If the clip on your holster becomes loose and your gun falls to the ground in the middle of public, it was your responsibility to regularly check your holster.
If your shirt is too tight and everyone can tell you are carrying a gun, it is your responsibility to check your clothing before you go out into public.
If your holster fell off of your pants because you didn’t have a proper gun belt, it was your responsibility to know what type of belt you needed before you carried concealed in public.
Luckily, our concealed carry guides will help you understand what you need to know about your equipment.
4 – Situational Awareness
When carrying a concealed firearm, maintaining situational awareness is even more important than before.
Just because you are now carrying a firearm doesn’t mean that you can sit back in public and not pay any attention to your surroundings at all. It is the opposite.
You should avoid conflict at all times.
For the most part, situational awareness is using your instincts and recognizing what is abnormal in a situation. For individuals, you can often tell by their demeanor or facial expressions. If they avoid eye contact or look angry or upset in what should be a typically happy environment, pay attention.
Your intuition will usually tell you something is out of the ordinary if you listen to it. If you are staring at your phone and looking at TikTok, you are turning your intuition off and ignoring your surroundings. This should be avoided at all times.
Situational awareness is a combination of instincts, mindset, and a learned skill. There are multiple methods to help you improve, from the OODA loop first coined by Colonel John Boyd, to Jeff Cooper’s Color Code.
While these are great methods, they are a little abstract for someone just starting out. We listed some easy and practical tips that you can follow coming up in our situational awareness training guide.
5 – Discipline
I find that this concealed carry responsibility is often the most difficult.
When you decide to carry, you must maintain the discipline to do these things:
- Train – Without training regularly, you won’t be able to safely handle your handgun, especially under pressure.
- Carry Regularly – Everything we do in life is a learned skill. The more you carry, the more you learn.
- Continue to Learn – Keep learning the latest laws, training drills, improve your mindset and situational awareness.
- Maintain your mindset – Make sure you are maintaining a proper concealed carry mindset.
The stoics would regularly reflect on life in general and say, “Keep the most important things to you the most important.”
When you find that you aren’t training or learning more, reflect on why you decided to carry concealed. Is protecting your family still important to you? Don’t be distracted by the small things that are not important to you.
When I struggle with focusing on what is important, I find it beneficial to use the stoic exercise of journaling and write about what is holding me back. I then split it into two categories: what I can control and what I can’t control. It is helpful to not get bogged down in the things I can’t control and focus my energy inward instead.
Maybe I can’t afford ammo this month, or the range is closed? I could reload my own ammo or do dry fire practice at home instead.
Maybe I am not carrying my gun because my holster is uncomfortable. I could do more research into the different carry positions that may work better for me (or read our concealed carry holster guide).
You may find it easier to schedule time every month to do each of these things. Train every other Saturday morning, take a training class, journal, and read a mindset book.
6 – Concealed Carry Mindset
Having the proper mindset is perhaps one of the most important responsibilities of concealed carry that many people often overlook. After all, we should spend our lives in happiness and strive to help others, not harm them.
There are certain aspects of your overall thought process that you should deeply consider before you start to carry a firearm. These can affect your decision-making, and in an emergency, you won’t have time to think about the best thing to do.
Check Your Ego.
Carrying a gun does not make you an invincible juggernaut, in control of everyone, or a justice-serving superhero. Your handgun is just a tool. It is not some magical force that will protect you from all evil…or lawyers.
Keep a defensive mindset.
When you carry a firearm, you must avoid conflict and confrontations at all costs. After all, the main reason to carry that we discussed in our benefits of concealed carry is for self-defense. If you are looking for trouble, it is no longer defensive.
With cameras everywhere nowadays, courts and juries will be able to tell if you are on the offensive or defensive. If there is any hint of an offensive movement or gesture, you will face serious charges.
Even if there is no video or witnesses, the attacker’s testimony can reveal that you were not being defensive. Your defensive attitude and actions have to be convincing and without a doubt.
Once you start to concealed carry, don’t talk about concealed carry.
A concealed carry firearm is not for solving arguments. No matter what someone says or does, you cannot mention it, touch it, or even hint that you have a firearm. Threatening someone with a firearm is called aggravated assault and is a serious charge.
If you have a disagreement with someone, all it takes is for them to call the police and say that you threatened them with your gun. Even if you didn’t, it is your word against theirs, and you are the one with the gun.
Be prepared mentally to defend yourself.
If you do find yourself in a position where you fear for your life, you must be prepared mentally to point your firearm at someone to stop the threat.
Really think about what this means. If you think you will have a hard time injuring or even killing someone to protect yourself from harm, then don’t carry. The consequences are too high, and the tables could be turned on you.
For example, an attacker comes at you, and you fire a warning shot instead of stopping them. They injure you, take your gun, and then kill you with it. They can then argue that they defended themselves after you shot at them. And you say that…well, nothing….you are dead.
Never Stop Learning
Next, we will dive deeper into the concealed carry mindset. As you know, we are big on mindset here at Survival Stoic and have put a lot of time into reflecting on the proper mindset.
Yes, we know you may want to skip right to the gear and training guides. But stay with us. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of concealed carry that no one covers.
After all, survival (in any situation) starts in the mind. If you don’t start there, as well, your training won’t be as effective.
Next: Concealed Carry Mindset
Go back to the main Concealed Carry Guide