Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:
- Top Five Fixed-Blade Knives
- Top Five Modern Ways to Protect Hearing
- Top Five Reasons to Carry a 1911
- Top Five Concealed Carry Handguns
- Top Five Folding Knives
Most of us have probably experienced, engaged or endured the many questions of others who find out what we think about guns in general or the details behind our carrying them concealed in particular. These conversations, of course, can be described as anything from truly helpful to truly antagonistic.
I don’t usually volunteer the fact that I am carrying concealed, but if the conversation goes there and I’m comfortable with the person I’m talking to, I might reveal that I am indeed a responsibly armed American: licensed, trained, practiced and an all-around nice guy who’s doing what he can to help ensure the safety and well-being of those around me. Here then, are the top five questions people ask me and how I answer them.
Interestingly enough, people ask this question less than they did 10 years ago. Credit the USCCA and other like-minded organizations for helping the general populace better understand and appreciate the 2nd Amendment, pro-gun/pro-carry legislation and the firearms industry.
Nonetheless, when people ask, “Why?” depending on other nuances of the conversation, they’ll get answers from me along the following lines: “Because I can.” “I enjoy exercising my 2nd Amendment right.” “My local police encourage me to do so.” “Because the best way to deal with a bad guy with a gun is usually a good guy with a gun.” As some of the rationality of this thinking hopefully sinks in, I might turn the question around on them: “Why don’t you carry?” Almost always, there’s a collision of worldviews that are worth exploring, such as the nature of man, the reality of evil and so forth. Just keep in mind that people can genuinely ask “Why?” and you might be the one who carefully guides their thinking and helps them see the matter with more clarity.
2. How often?
After the initial philosophical wrangling, the next question explores some practical implications. The questioner might now be seeing the issue in a new light but won’t be sure how it works out in daily life. How often do I carry? “Whenever and wherever I can,” is usually my response. To the bank, yes. To the grocery store, yes. To the gas station, yes. To the office, yes. And so on. And then, in my own house? Yep.
While some places might indeed be more “safe” than others and might demand some changes in how I carry, the idea is to get the questioner to consider some key points: Taking responsibility for one’s safety (and for the care of a handgun) is a full-time, full-orbed consideration. Carrying a handgun for self-defense requires a different mindset, one that not only leaves naive assumptions about life in the past but also one that elevates awareness about events that could transpire (but probably won’t) while still maintaining a friendly, caring demeanor and some semblance of being “comfortable” while carrying a gun. Carrying a concealed handgun is not an all-or-nothing proposition — as in, you either carry it everywhere or you carry it nowhere — but rather actively choosing not to carry at certain times or in certain places.
3. Are you carrying now?
This question is usually followed by a quick scan of my body and sometimes a step back as the matter sinks into the right here and right now. At this point, the question, scan and step back are not the result of doubt or fear — the conversation would have ended long ago were that the case — but of intrigue. Depending on the circumstances, I might answer the question with something like, “Well, remember that ‘concealed’ means ‘concealed.’ Nobody but me should know, right?” Or I might just admit that I am and that I would appreciate them not divulging that information to anyone.
If the questioner is demonstrating true intrigue, genuine interest and would be helped in their understanding by a few more details, I might reveal a bit more information about how I am carrying or what gun I happen to have on me. As a general rule, I’ll never show the location of carry on my body nor will I show them my gun.
4. Do you carry while you’re at ______?
This is related to how often you carry, but here you can insert whatever the questioner perceives as the most unlikely place or circumstance for carrying a concealed handgun. While you’re at church? At Aunt Betty’s? At your workplace? While shopping in suburbia? And the list goes on. It’s up to you to know your state and local laws about where its and is not legal to carry and how you’ll answer such a query. But what the questioner is probably exploring in this question is how pervasive your self-defense mindset actually is and whether there’s actually a place or time where carrying a handgun would simply be regarded as inappropriate or outside some boundary. The better question is whether there’s a place where you will not carry — and why.
5. Who else do you know that carries?
After the matter resolves in terms of the immediate relationship, it’s natural for the questioner to consider who else might think this way and actually follow through. I don’t recommend you reveal the names or otherwise indicate who else you know who carries — it’s “concealed carry,” right? — so it’s best to help the questioner understand that, in a general sense, there are millions from all walks of life who think the same things and exercise their right to carry, probably more than the questioner has ever considered.
At this point, depending on the nuances of the conversation and your perception of how this person thinks, it might be appropriate to turn this question around on him or her and ask about his or her level of interest in self-defense or shooting in general. Don’t try to win the person over to daily concealed carry right away, but be willing to help him or her explore the matter further. Offer to provide helpful resources, offer to take him or her to a range, and so on. Your patient and careful handling of questions might be what that person needs to consider how he or she will take the next step in taking responsibility for his or her safety.
What are the most common questions you hear?
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