Old New Kentucky Home
I’m excited. For the first time in my life I live in a state that doesn’t foster an institutional hostility toward the Second Amendment. After growing up in Western New York, (Home of the SAFE Act, Michael Bloomberg, Chuck Schumer) and then moving to Southern California (The land of Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Leland Yee), I finally moved to a free state that doesn’t aggressively infringe on one’s right to keep and bear arms.
I now live in Jefferson County, Kentucky. I moved to KY back in February after my (sweet and loving) girlfriend got a job with the state police. What can I say, I love Kentucky. Within a matter of weeks, I got bit by the bourbon bug, subsumed by the college basketball scene (Go Cards!), and enchanted by the equestrian mecca that is Churchill Downs. Kentucky is a very welcoming place. There is a lot to do and a lot of great people to do stuff with. Plus, it’s a great place to be if you’re a gun owner, sportsmen, collector, enthusiast. Kentucky is an unabashedly and an unapologetically pro-gun state.
What’s cool about Kentucky is that I actually don’t need to get a permit to carry a firearm outside the home. I can’t carry concealed without one but I can carry openly. That’s correct, open carry in the Bluegrass State is perfectly legal for both handguns and long guns, provided you’re not a prohibited person. I’m not (a felon, mental defective, minor, drug addict, etc.), so I’m good to go. But due to the restrictive may-issue laws in my former places of residence I’ve never actually had a concealed-carry permit nor have I gone through the process, so I feel compelled now to get one. After all, I’m a gun writer and an advocate for the Second Amendment. It only makes sense for me to practice what I’ve been preaching for so long.
I know I’m not the only person out there embarking on this noble quest. For that reason, I’m going to document my experiences in several articles instead of trying to cram it all into one piece after the fact. The advantage of chronicling it this way is that folks who are also thinking about getting a concealed carry permit will have a soup-to-nuts reference for the entire process. Moreover, it will give me a chance to receive feedback from you, the readers, along the way. See, while I am confident in my knowledge of the law, my skill set as a shooter, my experience in writing about concealed carry issues, I’m not going to pretend I know it all. As with everything I write, it’s always a two-way street. I say my piece and you give me your feedback and we all learn something new, hopefully.
This is the first installment. For right now, I have the other articles scheduled out below as a sort of guideline of what you can expect. Though, the list is subject to change.
Ep. 1: Introduction Why Carry — Introspection on why I want to join the 12 million Americans who have taken the plunge and obtained a license to carry concealed.
Ep. 2: Choosing the Gun — A look at various options for concealed carry. What handgun I’m leaning toward, pricing, cost/benefit of each platform.
Ep. 3: Buying the Gun on GunsAmerica — Sure, a shameless plug for the GA retail site. But I’m going to go step-by-step to show how easy it is to purchase a gun on GunsAmerica.
Ep. 4: Accessorizing — Options for holsters, belts, magazines, etc., and a discussion of what type of carry works for me, e.g. appendix, behind the hip, shoulder harness.
Ep. 5: Kentucky State Law — What are the gun laws here in Kentucky. What are my rights as a concealed carry permit holder. What are the self-defense laws in the state, e.g. Stand Your Ground.
Ep. 6: Application Process — The paperwork, the background check, the fee, etc., all the stuff you need to get together in order to get the permit.
Ep. 7: Training Class — What does a concealed carry class in Kentucky entail? What are the shooting requirements? How many hours of training. How much does it cost. My experiences going through the class.
Ep. 8: Final Thoughts — After filling out the paperwork, completing the training and submitting the application, what are my final thoughts about the process. How does it compare with other states?
Concealed Carry General Information
What is concealed carry? Well, according to the dictionary, it is “the practice of carrying a concealed firearm on one’s person in public.” No, I didn’t need to look it up but I wanted to give you a definition from an official source.
Yes, carrying concealed means to carry a firearm out of sight on one’s person outside the home. For reference, open carry is to carry a firearm in plain view while in public. Pretty self explanatory. Laws vary from state to state and its critically important that you understand your state’s laws before practicing either open or concealed carry.
There are a bunch of different ways in which a concealed carry license is abbreviated. Courtesy of the people’s dictionary, Wikipedia, here are few: Concealed Handgun License/Permit (CHL/CHP), Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW), Concealed (Defensive/Deadly) Weapon Permit/License (CDWL/CWP/CWL), Concealed Carry Permit/License (CCP/CCL), License To Carry (Firearms) (LTC/LTCF), Carry of Concealed Deadly Weapon license (CCDW), Concealed Pistol License (CPL).
As it relates to concealed carry, Kentucky is a shall-issue state. For those newbies who may not be familiar with concealed carry nomenclature, let me explicate what ‘shall-issue’ means as well as what the other issuing standards are for concealed carry permits.
No-issue — Means that there is a ban on concealed carry. Thankfully, there are no more “no-issue” states in the country. Illinois was the last holdout but was forced by a federal court to remove it’s no-issue policy. Likewise, Washington, D.C. was compelled to do the same and scrap it’s ban on concealed carry.
May-issue — Is the new “no-issue” policy. Essentially, one’s right to carry is subject to the discretion of a chief law enforcement officer. In many cases, one needs to be well-connected or well-heeled to get the CLEO to sign off on the application. Most ‘may-issue’ policies also require a “good reason” or “good cause” standard, which means one’s natural right to self-defense isn’t enough to issue a permit. The state requires a special reason or justification, e.g. restraining order against an abusive spouse, documented death threats from a stalker, special employment such as working as a security guard.
Shall-issue — Means that one can obtain a concealed carry permit if they satisfy certain non-arbitrary requirements: pass a background check, pay a fee, complete a certain number of training hours (each state varies on the number of required training hours). There is no CLEO sign off required or mandate to show a “good cause.” Over 40 states have permissive shall-issue concealed carry laws.
Unrestricted — No permit required. If you’re not a prohibited person, you’re free to carry concealed. Unrestricted is also known as “permitless” and “Constitutional” carry. This seems to be the next frontier of the concealed carry movement. Currently, there are seven unrestricted states: Arizona, Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Vermont and Wyoming.
The chart below will give you an idea of how concealed carry rights have been expanded over the past 30 years or so.
I remember someone once telling me that he rigorously trained in the martial arts because he never wanted to get into a fight. For this person, the point of learning how to fight was to avoid ever getting involved in one. At the time, I thought that was a bit of an odd philosophy, like the nonsense one would hear Kwai Chang Caine tell his son on the television show “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues.” After all, why would one spend hours each day learning how to fight if one was not anticipating a rumble at some point down the road.
But I think the point the person was trying to make was that when one learns how to fight, one becomes intimately familiar with what’s at stake when one fights. The potential legal repercussions, mortal/physical repercussions, financial repercussions, etc., are at the forefront of the trained fighter’s mind. Will I break the law by punching this drunk douche bag who yelled at my GF? What’s the likelihood that this drunk idiot is armed? Will he sue me if I kick his butt? Etc.
Consequently, the trained fighter is extremely judicious about throwing down. He finds ways to avoid dangerous situations in the first place, ways to resolve or de-escalate conflict when it transpires and when he does fight, he is absolutely certain that there was no other option available. Since the vast majority of physical altercations are wholly unnecessary, the trained fighter rarely — if ever — needs to fight because he is so cognizant of how to avoid or stop trouble before it starts.
The same mindset can be applied to concealed carry. When one has a gun on one’s hip, the world looks a lot different. Given that one has the capacity to not only take one life, but multiple lives, one’s first instinct isn’t I’m going to shoot up all the bad guys I come across, it’s more like how do I avoid situations where I may need to use my gun or how to I calm tensions so a situation doesn’t turn violent. This may come as a shock to many gun-grabbers, but it’s true. The concealed carry lifestyle doesn’t create more gunslingers, it creates more civic-minded and socially responsible citizens. People who are willing to go out of their way to quell violence, not perpetrate it.
It’s no wonder then, to quote the popular phrase, an armed society is a polite society. But to be clear it’s not solely because everyone is armed that they are so polite (most criminals are armed and that doesn’t stop them from shooting one another), it’s also because they are keenly aware of all that comes with removing that Springfield or Glock or Smith & Wesson from its holster. When one knows what goes into using deadly force — that is they have trained extensively to and thought seriously about taking a life — the are inclined to find another option as shooting someone is a messy business — personally, legally, financially — anyway one looks at it.
I guess what I’m getting at is carrying concealed doesn’t just make one an armed person, it makes one a more vigilant and engaged person. One has to pay attention (threat assessment). One has to be aware of one’s surroundings (locating exists, vulnerable positions within a room, knowing gun-free zones from gun-friendly zones). One has to be rational, disciplined and equanimous in one’s interactions with others. In short, one has to become a better citizen.
I think that’s the main appeal for me. As mentioned, as a gun rights advocate and a gun writer it makes sense professionally for me to get a permit. But beyond that, and I guess this sounds a bit idealistic, I think it’s vocation. It’s a lifestyle that I firmly believe in but have yet to officially adopt. So, it’s about time.
With that said, I’d have to address the big, hulking elephant in the room. Evil. Yes, evil exists in the world. It’s part of our reality. To quote the immortal words of Col. Jeff Cooper, author and gun-rights advocate, “Some people prey upon other people. Whether we like it or not, this is one of the facts of life… the peril of physical assault does exist, and it exists everywhere and at all times.”
There is a chance, regardless of how statistically improbable it is, that one day I cross paths with an individual who can’t be placated, who can’t be avoided, who won’t be apprehended by police in time, who has no other desire than to inflict harm on myself, those I care about or those innocents in the surrounding area.
Ultimately, this is why one carries every day. For many of us, myself include, the fear of not having the means to stop a deranged killer dead in his tracks is worse than the fear of being shot or even killed. To be utterly helpless in the face of evil is a real nightmare and, consequently, a real motivating factor to ensure that one’s agency — one’s ability to control or influence a situation — is never imperiled.
Put another way, if some S.O.B. wants to try and shoot up my neighborhood, my local grocery store (I shop at Kroger, a pro-gun supermarket), my favorite restaurant, I’m not going to go gently into that good night. I’m going to resist. I’m going to have a say in the matter. I’m going to draw my gun and open fire on that individual, come what may.
So, that’s my opinion on why I want to carry. I’m sure you have some thoughts on this subject, so by all means weigh in.
Also, if you have any comments about the series as a whole, I’d love to hear them as well. My goal is to inform and (hopefully) inspire those who are on the outside looking in, to win over some hearts and minds of those who may be gun agnostic or anti-gun, and to overall spread the gospel of guns.