Is it For You? Bob’s Blog July 17, 2021
I am always a little curious about handguns in America, both in general and, more specifically, about the topic of Concealed Carry. We’ve all heard the reports of the past 12-18 months about purchases, background checks, and owners new to the firearms lifestyle. I even read one post the other day that of the 20 million firearms sold in 2020, and about 20% of those were to 1st-time owners, meaning that we gun owners (buying the other 80%) should quit “hoarding” all the guns so more Americans can get armed! Not wanting to agree or disagree with that postulation, I do see more legally & responsibly armed Americans as a good thing.
These figures and an article in the June 25th edition of Shooting Illustrated1 led me to wonder even more about concealed carry. Just how many Americans have carry permits, and more importantly, of those, how many carry every day?
According to an article2 in the Washington Post in 2017, an estimated 3 million Americans carry a firearm daily for personal protection/self-defense. Update this a little to 2021, and it’s estimated there are in excess of 19 million issued concealed carry permits in the US3. That’s quite a jump!, That figure however does not include residents of the U.S. states which allow “permit-less carry” in their respective states (21 effective Sept. 1, 2021) meaning the total is probably considerably higher. That same source cites current data for the State of Virginia as having 638,458 active permits, representing roughly 7% of the population as of July 1, 2021.
When looking at firearms ownership in general, the Pew research center did a deep dive into the topic in 20174. Gun owners associate their 2nd Amendment right to own guns with their individual sense of freedom – 74% of gun owners say this right is essential, compared with only 35% of non-gun owners who say the same. Attempts to limit this right are looked upon as violations of the language as the 2A states it “shall not be infringed”.
- Pew surveyed 3,930 U.S. adults finding:
- 72% of respondents had shot a gun during their life.
- 59% responded they had friends that owned firearms.
- 48% grew up in a home having firearms.
- From this data, the authors surmised that nearly 40% of U.S. adults live in gun-owning households.
The reasons for gun ownership are varied, but no matter where one lives, the absolute #1 reason for ownership is personal protection.
Understandably, many that list “protection” as their primary reason for ownership also partake in hunting, sport shooting – including competition – or both.
Looking further into firearm ownership and concealed carry from this study, Pew started with the general question, “Do you carry a pistol/handgun outside of your home?” 43% responded that no, they did not.
While some responded they carry “some” or “most” of the time, only 11% responded they carry every day or “all of the time.” Some would consider that 11% are paranoid. I, however, was en-grained with a preparedness mentality at a young age and would classify this segment as being prepared.
While Pew found 1 in 6 permit holders have used their guns in self-defense, (shown at right) a 2013 CDC study commissioned by President Obama found that studies on defensive gun use reveal that Americans use their firearms defensively between 500,000 and 3 million times each year.5 (Note: this was via an executive order costing $10m in his quest to decrease “gun violence”)
The Heritage Foundation maintains a database6 of defensive use of firearms. So far in 2021, there have been 282 reported defensive use incidents in the U.S. (as of 7/15/21), with 757 in 2019 and 674 in 2020. This is evidence that defensive encounters are hugely more frequent than reported in the national press or by the “anti” pundits and far more numerous than those media reported “mass shootings”.
Now, recall the original article I referenced earlier. Sheriff Jim Wilson, a firearms author, instructor, former county sheriff in Texas, and a country-western musician, penned an article in the June issue of Shooting Illustrated titled “Why You Should Carry a Handgun Every Day”. The author expresses his inability to understand why one would go to the lengths of obtaining a concealed carry permit to arm themselves only when they plan to be in a threatening environment.
His postulation hit me in two respects: first as a concealed permit holder myself and as a proponent of and instructor in Situational Awareness and the Refuse To Be A Victim® program.
In the Victim class, we teach that most individuals live in “Condition White”, where-in they feel entirely secure in their environment and oblivious to potential criminal intent. In fact, we should live in “condition yellow” all day, every day.
The originator of these color codes is Col. Jeff Cooper, a former USMC (United States Marine Corps) officer, firearms trainer, and founder of The Gun-site Training Academy in Paulidan, AZ., a premier training resource since its creation (by Cooper) in 1976.
- In Condition White, you are unprepared and unaware of potential threats.
- In Condition Yellow, you are well relaxed yet vigilant of threats.
- In Condition Orange, you’re under an immediate threat and on full alert.
- In Condition Red, you’re under personal threat and must fight or flight (F or F)!
Applying these conditions to a concealed carry lifestyle, one should NEVER live in the White zone! If you carry, do so with a purpose (hopefully) other than ego and intimidation. In condition Orange, your firearm is loaded and secured yet ready for imminent use and secure in your holster – some referring to this state as “cocked & locked”. Condition Red is applicable whichever course of action (ForF) you take, with the mantra of armed self-defense being “the best fight you can have is the one you can avoid”.
With this understanding, then, what about that “Yellow” condition? I’ve never really seen printed references, but my take on it is that Yellow & Orange kind of merge together. If you have that gun in its holster or concealment device and unloaded, it will be as effective as having it locked in that gun safe at home!
The three rules of gun safety (NRA) include that one that says, “ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use”. Now, compare that to the old saying – “where are the police when you need them?” Having a concealed firearm, unloaded, and not ready to use, is equivalent to living in that White condition and wondering where the nearest cop is!
Moreover, and relative to society today, we have come to see criminal activity and use-of-force attacks on civilians occurring with significantly increased frequency. Dangerous and life-threatening encounters can happen anywhere, anytime, and completely without warning. While we usually focus on the obvious, wisely staying away from dangerous environments, the fact is that, generally speaking, evil and dangerous events happen as a surprise, with little to no warning, and frequently in an environment we consider safe and secure.
In today’s world, we can never predict when criminal intent may rear its head. A carjacker could confront you while at a stoplight; a criminal could hold up the coffee shop just when you stop for your morning brew; a mugger could accost you while loading groceries into your trunk at the local market; or worst of all, a criminal(s) could execute a home invasion while you are sleeping soundly in your own home!
Please, it is my intent you do not take this as admonishment, but instead as encouragement to lead a life of preparedness as opposed to fear. I am an Eagle Scout. Like the motto I learned in my youth, I strive to always “Be Prepared.” Even so, I have no guarantee I will never be a victim of criminal intent. I can only strive to live my life in condition Yellow, adopt the Japanese concept of kaizen7, and practice routinely to keep my defensive skills in tune.
So, all that said, what is my answer to that question I started with in the title? It depends. It depends upon your attitude towards protecting your self and those around you. It depends on your moral and religious beliefs. It depends on your physical capabilities. And most importantly, it depends on your training and adopting a “kaizen” mentality of continual improvement of the necessary skills to perform as you deem necessary. After all these considerations have been made it is a simple do or do not decision!
As Col. Jeff Cooper once said, “If you are reading this and cannot put your hand on your defensive firearm, all of your training has been wasted.”
Like these concepts and want to learn more? Look on the Personal Safety Training pages of this website and sign up for any of our classes.
Stay safe & be well,
1. “Why You Should Carry A Handgun Every Day”, by Sheriff Jim Wilson in the June 25, 2021, edition of Shooting Illustrated.
2. Cited from the Washington Post October 2017: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/10/19/3-million-americans-carry-loaded-handguns-with-them-every-single-day-study-finds/
3. 2017 data on carry permits obtained from Guns to Carry.com website; 7/15.21; https://www.gunstocarry.com/concealed-carry-statistics/
4. Data from “America’s Complex Relationship With Guns – An in-depth look at the attitudes and experiences of U.S”; Pew Research Center March/April 2017. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2017/06/22/americas-complex-relationship-with-guns/
5. Media Research Center, July 17, 2013; https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/cdc-study-use-firearms-self-defense-important-crime-deterrent
6. Heritage Foundation compilation, 7/16/2021 https://datavisualizations.heritage.org/firearms/defensive-gun-uses-in-the-us/