My day off this week found me erranding, of all places, to the county sheriff's office to renew my concealed carry permit. I'm glad I called first, because it turns out that the office had moved since the last time I was there five years ago. (I suppose it's a good thing that I didn't know this, as it means that I don't usually have reason to hang out at the sheriff's office! LOL)
I confess that I have had the permit for five years, yet can count on one hand the occasions where I have actually carried a concealed pistol. I admit that this is something that is still a bit of a "work in progress" for me, for various reasons.
I feel like I'm making a secret traitorous confession here, because honestly, I'm a little uncomfortable with carrying. I figure I must not be alone, so that's why I'm coming out of the closet (or should I be coming out of the gun safe instead? LOL). I'd like to tell you about it, because I hope to find some solutions for myself, (and maybe help some other hesitant women like myself along the way).
As I said, I've had the permit to carry concealed for five years. I originally applied for the permit just so I would have a paper trail to back me up if I was ever stopped while travelling to and from the range and out-of-state matches. (No paranoia on my part...LOL) I have actually carried a pistol several times - but it has been less than five times in the five years that I've had the permit. Mostly, those occasions have been when I was alone at the deer camp, where there is no cell service, and the nearest state police barracks is probably 20 miles away.
It's not that I'm uncomfortable with firearms. If you are masochistic enough to be a regular reader of this blog, you know that I've spent the best part of the past five years continually challenging myself with guns - first pistol, and now rifle and shotgun. I'm not anywhere close to being an expert, but I consider myself to be at least competent. I have reached low-level C class in USPSA Production Pistol, and mid-level Markman in Stock Service Pistol in IDPA. A friend who is a former cop informs me that at my level, I shoot better than many police officers currently on duty - at least as far as accuracy goes. That's actually kind of sad, but it at least reassures me that I AM competent.
Honestly, I think the main problem is that I am a control freak. I want to control for every variable. I want to feel prepared for every eventuality. But in the real world that just isn't going to happen. I am a methodical person, and a creature of habit. But those methodical firearms habits that have heretofore made me feel in control, are now coming back to bite me, because I have become conditioned to the "cold range" match mentality. I realize that I am so conditioned, that it is now difficult for me to function outside of those controlled parameters. I am so used to only loading the firearm when I am on the firing line and ready to shoot, that it feels really "wrong" to do it anywhere else.
How do I "load and make ready" in the real world? Where is the "180" in my day-to-day life? Where is the "backstop" in the grocery store parking lot? Where is the "safe area" to unholster my gun in the ladies room? These are the things that cause me to hesitate about daily carry. It really is "paralysis by analysis" - there are so many variables to account for that I don't know what to do.
I suppose that I need to invest in some good self-defense training. I don't think my match training will help me much with this part. Much as I love pistol matches, the reality is that I won't be taking on 5 cardboard thugs at an ATM in the real world. I would more likely be fending off a single attacker in a dark parking lot, or a home invader in my bedroom. And that attacker will not be standing still on wooden stakes, waiting for me to shoot him. In the dreaded event that such a thing happens, I also will not have my match pistol and six magazines on my belt. Therefore, I think I need to get some training with my actual carry gun and the two small magazines it came with.
Even after I get all that taken care of, there is still the matter of where and how to carry. There are so many barriers to carrying in the real world - from my clothing, to my child's school (even just the school parking lot is off limits). Then there is the post office, the mall, even my hospital. So even if I choose to carry regularly, there are going to be an awful lot of times where the gun bides its time locked in my car -- if it is permitted to be "there" either. It makes me wonder if this is worth all the hassle.
I suppose that means that I don't feel threatened enough - that I don't have enough fear/concern for my safety to drive me to overcome the barriers. That's probably true. I also recognize that this is a subjective (and deceptive) feeling -- just because I "feel" safe, doesn't me that I "am" safe. And human nature dictates that often one continues to blithely feel safe - right up until the point that you aren't. Whereupon, it's too late.
But I don't want it to be all about fear. I really want it to be about being prepared. I want it to be about the very same reasons that I carry a trauma kit in my car and also in my range bag. Because you never know. I was called upon last year to actually use my trauma kit. I never in a million years thought I would need those pressure dressings when I bought them. Yet, need them I did. Life does that to you. I'm not an ER or trauma doc - but I was the one who was there.
I think it's the same thing with carrying a gun. I'm not a cop, and I'm not Rambo - but what if I'm the only one who's there?
If I do decide to carry a concealed hangun regularly, I want it to be not just about "carrying" it. I want to be prepared for handling what happens if I am called upon to actually USE it.
Thus begins my next training journey... Wanna come along for the ride? :-)