The NRA’s three rules for safe gun handling are:
- Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
- Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
- Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
These rules are never to be broken and the operative word in each of them is Always. I implore my students to not only commit them to memory, but most importantly to practice; every time you handle a firearm, it is imperative that you follow these rules.
When handling guns at home, on the range, in the field, or while engaged in open carry these rules are fairly simple to practice. Carrying a concealed firearm in public requires great diligence and care. One must always be alert to everything and everyone around them. So how do these rules apply to those who carry a concealed firearm? Let’s take a quick look at each.
Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction when it is in the holster, being drawn, in a ready position, when you are moving to cover, during a stoppage or reloading, and being reholstered. Some carry modes offer greater safety than others. For example, carrying and drawing from a strong side holster is safer and faster than an offside shoulder holster. With a strong side holster there is less likelihood that an innocent will be swept by the muzzle when the gun is drawn. Techniques for safely drawing a pistol from concealment come from proper instruction and lots of practice.
Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot when drawing, clearing a stoppage or reloading, moving, and very importantly when reholstering your gun. For CWP holders, regular practice of these skills is critical to safe carry.
Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use takes on new meaning when carrying a concealed handgun. A self-defense concealed handgun is “ready to use” when in your holster, perhaps your glove compartment, or your hand; in other words, in your direct possession or control. If your gun is out of arm’s reach, it most likely is not “ready to use.”
Concealed carry of a firearm in public requires mature judgment and vigilance. Ambiguity surrounds us; threats are not as easily recognized outside our homes as they are inside. With proper instruction and dedicated practice and training, the law-abiding citizen can carry a concealed handgun confidently and safely.
Next post, I’ll suggest criteria for good concealed carry courses and instruction.
Be safe and good shooting.