Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Concealed Carry Options

For my 100th post, I'm going to show you the new concealed carry options I've gotten for myself.

The usual caveats apply - I am not a firearms "expert", I am not an instructor, and I am not a self-defense expert. I'm just Jane Q Public, learning my way through this like everybody else. I know what MY needs/problems/concerns are, and I know what I like and what I don't like. You will obviously need to find what works for "you", but I hope this might give you some more ideas to look at.

Following, are two options I found while poking around the NRAAM this past spring. These options fit my Glock 42. It is still my favorite gun, and at the time, I didn't have a 43 yet, as it had only been released that weekend. During that event I was carrying my Glock 42 in my Ava IWB holster from Flashbang.

I have looked at (and even bought) other bellybands in the past, but I was just not satisfied with them. The main reason for this is that I am completely paranoid about retention. I just could not be sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that the gun was not going to squish up out of the elastic. I do not have a young toothpick body type, and rolls of flesh tend to appear when I sit down, bend over, and perform the various routines of everyday life. That's just the reality, and I did not want one of these random rolls to force the gun to slide upwards out of its designated pocket in the elastic. I also did not want to deal with any retention straps or anything else getting in the way of my grip and draw in an emergency.  Plus, all of my match holsters are kydex. It's what I know. It's what I trust, and I know it works for me. I like the positive "click" sound, reassuring me that the gun is properly seated, and I like that kydex stays open and ready for reholstering.

So, imagine my delight when I saw at the Crossbreed booth, a bellyband WITH a Velcro-backed kydex holster. I ordered the size large band, so that I had the option of wearing it at hip level, and ordered the separate kydex holster, sized for my Glock 42.

Unlike other belly bands which have lingerie-type hooks and eyes (which I find tedious), this band is almost infinitely adjustable with wide swaths of velcro. I have worn this rig all day, driving the car, shopping for groceries, cooking, and lounging on the couch, and like it VERY much. I find it very comfortable. The only drawback I can find so far is that you can occasionally hear the Velcro noise. That seemed to occur more with yoga pants though, than with jeans, and may have only been noticeable to "me".

One huge advantage for me has been the kydex retention, while also not requiring a belt. I do often wear a belt anyway, but they are sometimes dressier belts which are not enhanced by the obvious outside clips of an IWB holster. And some days are just yoga pant days (not that I actually DO yoga or anything - I'm just a lazy comfort freak LOL) 

The other big "plus" to this rig, is that it stays on me when I (as we women do) need to drop trou to take care of business. No need for a gun peg in the bathroom, (like I saw at Gunsite), and no worries about the gun showing below the bathroom stall door as it can do with an IWB holster. Also no chance of leaving the gun behind in the bathroom, as you hear about in the news from time to time. The gun stays in the holster, which stays attached to the bellyband, which stays right where it is, around my waist.

Obviously your mileage may vary if you carry a larger gun, but for my G42 and my needs, I am a new fan. I think I found my new favorite carry method!

The second option I found, is a fallback for when a baggy outer layer to cover the grip of the gun is not viable - as with lightweight and sheerer summer fabrics. I also found this option at the NRAAM - this time at the Tuff Products booth.

Although this "looks" like purse carry, it's not. It's more of a holster pouch, which has the stability of a belt clip. The model I bought, is an iridescent red rip stop nylon, which does not scream "gun", like I feel the black and coyote versions do. And with my addition of a cross-body shoulder strap, the bag "camouflages" nicely as a small cross body purse. Ta-da! Gun hiding in plain sight. This bag has zippers up both sides, and Velcro at the top, with a grab and "rip" handle. You pull vigorously down on the handle, and whole thing peels down, exposing the gun.

I'm not a fan of the Velcro elastic loop that came with the bag, which was supposed to hold the gun inside (see my retention and control issues above). But, by happy coincidence, the kydex holster with Velcro backing which goes on my Crossbreed bellyband, also adheres nicely inside this bag.

I like the belt clip that is attached to the back of the bag. This gives me more stability and retention than say a fanny pack or a carry purse, and makes it more like an on-body holster. As you can see, comparing the photos, the addition of the strap makes the bag a little less "obvious". The belt clip worked with yoga pants too, and the strap gave it a little more support when wearing with belt-less pants.

I haven't yet become a dedicated EVERY day carrier - mostly because of convenience and clothing issues. My paranoia about control and retention have added to my "barriers" and frustration. I am hoping the addition of these two options for me will help change that situation for the better. And I hope by sharing these options, that it may help someone else's search as well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Brutal Reality vs Smug Isolation

I'm going to go on a bit of a mental journey today. It does all fit together eventually, and does have a point, (sort of). So bear with me. These are some new realizations for me, and getting them down on paper (pixels?) helps me hash them out for myself.  So this is less of a declarative post, than a personal intellectual exercise. Or perhaps it's all gibberish, and I'm just flattering myself - LOL Here we go ...

In case you missed it about a month ago, I went hunting for the first time. It was challenging, and also empowering and enlightening, because it was a successful hunt for me. I killed three game birds that day, for the purpose of eating them. This is something that I hadn't done before, but it was something that I had wanted to do for a long time. I wanted to have that experience, and to understand the most basic reality of human existence - killing for food. 

This experience got me to thinking about other realities in life. Yes, I killed another creature. I took a life. But when it comes down to it, this is what human existence is all about. Unless one practices Jainism, and sweeps even insects from one's path lest they be crushed underfoot, we human beings take life. It's part of our existence at the top of the food chain, and also part of life amongst the predators of our own species. Yet the majority of people refuse to acknowledge this fundamental fact of life.

Besides the standard spiders in the house and bugs on the windshield, most Americans are isolated from the actual act of killing. They let the exterminator take care of the mice in the attic, and don't even want to know where their steak or chicken comes from. Their meat arrives in front of them as non-descript slabs of protein, on trays in the supermarket. And if those slabs have already been flash frozen and bulk packaged into bags, there isn't even any blood. People don't even have to get their hands dirty.

And yet those people with "clean hands" often have the nerve to be smug - smug and particular about "how" that slab of protein was killed or caught - while they sit on their hands, waiting to be fed.  They can even be smug and particular about what kind of life their food lead while it was on the hoof or wing. (feed lot or free range, "cage free", etc) Yet the actual bloody business of the killing and cleaning/butchering, is something that most of those people don't want anything to do with. They are isolated from the brutal reality of obtaining the food they need to survive.

It's the same way with the reality of death in general. People mostly don't die at home anymore, they die in the hospital. Families neither care for their loved ones in their last moments, nor do they prepare the bodies for burial at home. We have entire medical and funerary industries to take care of that bit of unpleasantness for us. 

Thus, most people in our society are completely isolated from the brutal physical reality of death in all of its forms - both human and across species.

Most Americans are protected from the day-to-day brutal reality of defense of home and hearth as well. No one here in the US has to personally protect their village and crops from invasion anymore. Nor must they worry about being murdered in their beds by marauding bands from neighboring tribes. We have a military to do that "for" us. We are isolated from that brutality - at least in this country - and at least for most of the last 150 years. 

But then there is random evil. Not accidents, not invasions, not natural disasters, but true evil - generated in the human heart, and carried out by individual human beings who we thought were like us - simply for evil intent. Like providing our food, and dealing with our defense and our dead, we have "farmed out" defense from this type of criminal evil to others as well.  By making laws and hiring police, people have attempted to insulate themselves from this form of brutal reality too. They might even naively think that because they haven't personally experienced it, that evil doesn't still exist. Or they might - like the cleaned-handed meat-eaters mentioned above - become smug and particular. They might think they shouldn't HAVE to lift a finger to defend themselves or to even make smart choices - that's "victim-blaming" they whine. And yet they feel they have the right to dictate how the police and others, who are less insulated than they, DO make choices to defend both themselves and other citizens.

These types of people have become so successful at insulating themselves from the uncomfortable, brutal realities of the world, that when presented with danger or actual evil,  they find themselves completely unable to function or confront it. They have stripped themselves of every tool and skill that humanity used to have at its disposal to deal with danger and defense. They have nothing left but impotently attempting to reason with a bear.

This is where many Americans have brought themselves. And it is not only ineffective, it is pathetically childish and irrational.

These are the kinds of people who are so divorced from reality, that they think that a bear "cares" what you have to say to it. These kinds of people think we should use "contraception" to control deer populations. These are the kinds of people who thought that Officer Wilson should have let Michael Brown beat him to death. These are the kinds of people who think that a Gun Free Zone sign protects our children. These are the people who think that evil responds to pleas for mercy. It is  beyond childish and irrational - it's  a fantasy world.

These are people who live in a very tiny, insulated bubble of perceived security. They cannot conceive of personally shedding animal blood even to save themselves from starvation - let alone shedding human blood to save themselves from a mass murderer. They are helpless and impotent when faced with brutal reality. Yet, to help assuage their own feelings of impotence, they want to dictate to those who DO have those skills. They want to make everyone as helpless and dependent as they are. I know there is a psychiatric term for this, but it's escaping me at the moment.

Then there are the people who emotionally transfer their fear of a situation into fear of an inanimate object. Often the two of these mental short-circuits go hand-in-hand --skipping merrily down the path to fantasyland. These helpless, impotent people, apparently are unable to acknowledge human will, and the capacity for evil in the human heart, because they instead ascribe that will, and capacity for evil to the inanimate object - which is the firearm.

In order to make themselves feel more secure and "in control" - even though they are actually impotent - these types of people attempt to exert control over evil by exerting control over what they fear. And thus, we have gun-grabbers.

We have created in this country, such a good and secure society, that it is now being threatened because of that very security. Our present societal safety and isolation from brutal reality has now bred contempt for the very methods and means which provided that security. 

As a physician, I need to point out that this is not unlike the vaccine situation currently. Vaccines have been so successful at shielding people from the previous horrors of polio, diphtheria , pertussis, etc, that some people now attack the very vaccines which enabled them to survive their own childhood. They have no concept of what existed before, and no concept of accepting tiny risk in order to avoid tremendous risk.

Not only do we now have antivaxxers, but thanks to general societal affluence and "food security", we now have people who are annoyed by the noises and smells coming from the farm adjacent to their new subdivision. (God forbid you should have to smell the manure that comes from the cattle which provide your meat and milk.) 

We now have people who protest against hunting not only deer, but also the coyotes and cougars which kill livestock - and your little dog too. We now have people who believe that the Police are the violence problem. These people throw armed, on-duty, uniformed police officers out of their restaurants - because of their irrational fear of "guns". To them, it doesn't matter WHO is using the gun, it is the gun itself which is the root evil.

By extension of that, we now have people who want to control and get rid of the very right to firearms which created this secure society in the first place. It's another symptom of this same disease that I've been describing - the disease of Smug, Clean-handed Isolation.

This disease turns grown adults into irrational, dependent, children. And they want to turn "you" into one too - because they are threatened by people who are not insecure and dependent like they are.  Even though they are actually powerless and impotent, they want to feel as if they have "done something" to assuage their own fears. Thus instead of stepping up to take responsibility for their own defense, they work to make you as powerless as they are.

These are the kinds of people we are up against as gun-owners - the irrational, the impotent, and the fearful. And the galling thing, is that all the while they work to make "you" powerless, they sit happily in their Smug Isolation - sitting primly on their clean hands, waiting for "someone" to feed and protect them.