Why Aren’t You Carrying? Here Are the Four Most Common Excuses

Editor’s Note: The following is a syndicated article by author Michael Martin that first appeared in USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine Volume 12, Issue 7, October 2015 under the title, “Why Aren’t You Carrying?” 

When I became a member of my local fire department a few years back, I have to admit that I didn’t openly advertise the fact that I was a concealed carry instructor until I had a chance to gauge the attitudes of the men and women with whom I’d be working. Imagine my pleasant surprise when firefighter after firefighter approached me over time, indicating that they’d heard I was an instructor (or they’d read my book), and they were hoping that I could fit them into a class, teach a renewal class for them or teach their spouses/friends/families, etc. Five years later, it would be fair to say that at least 80 percent of my department (and their spouses) have their concealed carry permits.

But, not too long ago I noticed something odd. When I’d run into a fellow firefighter off duty at the local Target or Home Depot, I began asking, “Are you carrying today?” More often than not, I’d get an embarrassed look and an answer of, “Umm, not today,” usually followed by an excuse of something like, “It was too hot today,” “I was just running out for some quick errands” or “I haven’t found a carry gun I really like.” While I can’t necessarily translate my unscientific study to the nation as a whole, I’d have to estimate that at least 80 to 90 percent of the permit holders that I know personally don’t carry regularly or even carry at all. The question is, “Why?”

I recently had a chance to sit down with a dozen of my fellow firefighters, where I asked the question, “Why aren’t you carrying?” There was no universal answer, but after some back-and-forth dialogue, I’d categorize the reasons for not carrying into four general excuses.

Excuse No. 1: Carrying can be a pain.

Let’s face it: There is nothing inherently comfortable about sticking a piece of steel on our side or in our pocket. If carrying a firearm was as comfortable as slipping a credit card into a wallet, we’d see the percentage of permit holders actually carrying their firearms skyrocket. (Editor’s note: Funny, but maybe that’s why Trailblazer Firearms have sold more than 6,000 “Credit Card” Pistols.)

A close second to the “comfort” issue is the problem that can occur when the permit holder’s routine for the day might require them to enter a location that bans firearms by state statute or federal law, when a business has chosen to “post” their location as banning firearms or when the permit holder’s own employer bans firearms while at work.

If you’re not carrying because of the “comfort” problem, I’d suggest that you’re probably suffering from excuse No. 4, and you haven’t found a carry gun that works for you.

If you’re neglecting to carry because your daily routine includes entering places that ban firearms, then you need to invest in a trustworthy lockbox that is securely mounted in your vehicle, rather than leave your gun at home. A vehicle-mounted lockbox can be as simple as a steel box mounted by a cable to the base of your driver or passenger seat, or it can be as innovative as a Console Vault, whose creators custom design vaults by vehicle make and model to fit snugly into the vehicle’s center console. Pop open your center console and instead of seeing cough drops covered in lint and last week’s French fries, you’ll see the top of a vault perfectly fitted for the space in 12-gauge cold-rolled steel secured by a keyed or a three- or four-tumbler lock. While the vault can still store your cough drops, it can also secure your firearm while you run into a “banned” location or head into work.

The simple advice I offer to my new students who have never carried a gun before is that their initial investment must include three things — a carry gun that works for them, a good holster that also works for them and a good vehicle safe.

Excuse No. 2: The novelty has worn off, and I’m just not thinking about it when I leave the house.

With over 11 million permit holders in the U.S. and even after three decades of history behind the concealed carry movement, as a culture, we still don’t view carrying firearms for personal protection the same way we view buckling our seatbelts or maintaining smoke alarms in our homes. Seat belts and smoke alarms have been with us for so long that they no longer seem like “active” methods of protecting us from risk, and they’ve now moved into the background of our thinking and are just always there and always ready. When is the last time you got into your car and thought, “I am going to buckle my seatbelt today, because today there is a risk that I might get into a car crash”? For me, when I slide into the driver’s seat, it’s an automated process to reach over my left shoulder, grab the seatbelt and click it just before I start the car. I no longer think about it. It just happens. Is wearing a seatbelt comfortable? If I had to be honest, I’d probably say “no,” but I’ve done it for so long that I no longer notice.

The same thing is true with my gun. Putting it on my side in the morning is as automated as putting my wallet and cell phone in my pockets and putting my seatbelt on before I hit the road. So how did I get to that point? Like any other task that you want to make automated, repetition matters. That “automated” feeling won’t occur after a week, but it will occur after a month or two, and carrying your firearm won’t just become the new “normal,” it will feel abnormal if you’re forced to leave it behind. As a comparison, how uncomfortable would you feel if you were forced to take a cross-country (or even cross-town) trip without wearing your seatbelt? For me, I’d have a feeling of discomfort until the moment I pulled safely back into my garage.

Excuse No. 3: I’m just not comfortable carrying a gun in public.

This is an excuse I can relate to, because the very first time I carried a concealed firearm in public, I swore that everyone knew I was carrying. I really couldn’t think of anything else other than, “Oh my God, I’m carrying a gun!” At one point at a local mall, I bent down to tie my son’s shoe, and I realized that my jacket had hitched up and had (shock!) exposed the bottom of my holster. I turned three shades of red and was sure that a mall security guard would tackle me at any moment (OK, I’m exaggerating a little bit). Today, if I find that my covering garment has hitched up and exposed my firearm, I simply readjust my shirt or jacket and carry on.

If your discomfort at carrying is based upon your belief that having a concealed carry permit still puts you on the fringe of society, you can put your mind at ease. There are [at the time this article was written] an estimated 12 million permit holders in the United States (Editor’s note: There are as many as 17.25 million now, in 2018). That means that approximately six percent of the eligible population in the U.S. are card-carrying permit holders, just like you. While that might not sound like a lot, think about this: Let’s say you work at a large manufacturing plant with 10,000 employees. That means that on average, 600 of your fellow employees will have a concealed carry permit. If you work at Walmart and have a concealed carry permit, you’re in good company. With 1.3 million U.S. employees, that means that about 78,000 other Walmart employees also have their permits.

I’ve seen the evolution myself. When I first got my permit, someone mentioned that fact at a social event I was attending. It was instantly apparent that even among the generally conservative crowd, my permit was considered an “oddity,” and I had no fewer than 10 people ask to see my permit or ask me if they could see my gun. More than a dozen years later, having a permit is considered mainstream among my social circles, including other parents at my sons’ school, our friends at church, the leaders and parents within my sons’ Boy Scout troop and among my pals at the fire department.

Excuse No. 4: I haven’t found a good carry gun.

The gun industry is going through a great evolution, and it isn’t to make larger guns in higher calibers. Instead, it’s to make guns smaller and in more moderate calibers. In other words, they are now building more guns that are more likely to be carried. While there are plenty of local and national instructors who will turn their noses up at the thought of carrying anything smaller than a 9mm, I’m not one of them. While I am a huge fan of the 9mm, I’m a bigger fan of actually carrying. If that larger caliber/larger frame firearm is keeping you from carrying, its threat-stopping ability is zero.

If the carry gun that works for you is a Walther P22 chambered in the diminutive .22 Long Rifle, then I applaud your choice. That’s the choice my mother happened to make. She’s in her 70s, and the P22 allows her to easily rack the slide and manage the recoil, which leads to much more time on the range. The ammunition is also cheap enough that she fires more rounds during a single practice session than plenty of high-speed, low-drag operators whose carry gun caliber starts with a “4.”

I’ve heard time and time again about how lower calibers have no stopping power, but I have yet to hear a single story of a responsibly armed American who was killed because his or her attacker fought his way through a hail of .22- or .380-caliber slugs. Remember that violent predators by their very nature are cowards, and the sign of any gun in the hands of their potential victims will make them change their plans in the blink of an eye. I feel sorry for any potential attacker targeting my mother because she will not miss.

If you haven’t browsed your local gun shop lately, take the time to check out the latest compact guns from SIG, Smith & Wesson, Glock or Springfield, to name a few.

Can’t afford one? My suggestion is that if you’re not carrying your full-sized gun because it’s “too big,” then it’s worthless to you. Trade it in for something you’ll actually carry.

Why should we care?

So, I mentioned that about six percent of all eligible Americans have their concealed carry licenses, but based upon my own informal surveys, less than 10 percent of those permit holders regularly carry (Editor’s note: A 2017 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that 3 million Americans carry a firearm every single day, so the percent that carries regularly is likely higher than the author’s 10 percent estimate but the fact remains that too few permit holders carry every day). Why is that important? Well, that six percent might be all that stands between us and the next rapid mass murderer.

On July 22, 2012, when James Holmes opened fire at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, there were 421 men, women and children packed into the midnight screening of The Dark Night Rises. If you figure half of those were adults over the age of 21, we should have had 12 to 13 responsibly armed Americans in that theater, ready to drop Holmes in his tracks. Instead, Holmes got nine long minutes to methodically shoot up Theater 9 prior to being apprehended by the police. The result was 12 dead and 70 injured.

OK, I’m ignoring the fact that the theater was posted with a “No Guns Allowed” sign, but that’s another battle to be fought. Get comfortable with carrying, get a gun and holster option that works for you, and quit worrying that everyone knows you’re carrying a gun.

Discover how you can join nearly 300,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.

***Buy and Sell on GunsAmerica! All Local Sales are FREE!***

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Ted February 14, 2020, 4:34 pm

    I used to carry everyday. Now I work for a company that prohibits firearms in company owned cars(I have a company vehicle), company owned or leased properties, customer sites and even more recently I have been working in Chicago. I’d say in my old job (very pro 2A) I carried 95% of the time, that 5% being concerts, sporting events and school functions where I was prohibited. Now it’s reversed. I get to carry 4-5 days a month. I thought about buying a throw away, unregistered gun for Chicago especially. But I do follow the law.

  • johnnyraygun October 28, 2019, 2:57 pm

    A Ruger LCP is better than an “excuse” any day. It fits in my front pocket and I am never without it. I can carry a bigger firearm on my hip, if I choose, but I never go out without an LCP. It is easier when one lives in a firearm friendly state, for sure.

  • Mr. Sparkles November 25, 2018, 7:37 pm

    Thank you for a well conceived and presented article that addresses an important issue.

    While I carry daily everywhere but at work I am familiar with and have had to deal with each excuse.

    I encourage everyone I know who has a permit to carry whenever possible under the premise that you need to be comfortable and this is the best way to do it. As I have pointed out to several reluctant CCW ers, a gun is like a parachute, if you ever need one and don’t have one, you will likely never need one again.

  • Ajis Leyjes November 25, 2018, 5:29 am

    Too many of us now live in states with extremely restrictive gun laws that now include going around due process, being put on multiple state and local registries, giving up medical privacy rights, or are people that live in a state that decided to pass their VA medical history of those that had seen a psychiatrist, regardless of reason or a diagnosis (expect this to happen to everyone, everywhere eventually), or they became old and were added to the prohibited list if they have a caretaker (VA related also, but national), or they live in any one of the many states that if people know they have a firearm and carry it often and don’t like them, they can lie and get them on the prohibited list and they don’t want the hassle of having to prove they aren’t crazy or that the accuser is not a family member of theirs. Or they live in a state where if their neighbor even owns a gun and thinks they drink to much, they can lose their gun rights and become prohibited in state which can be avoided by not owning any firearms.

    The short version is, a good 1/4 of the states have laws to not only bypass due process to become prohibited, not only have ways to bypass due process to confiscate a persons firearms from a phone call as evidence, not only require the person to go to court to prove themselves worthy, lose medical privacy, have medical information be used to prohibit them, live in a state where can be avoided by not owning a firearm owner, ect, ect. 6 years ago, there was only 1 state that had a single law like this that was a 3 or 5 year ban with no due process, 6 years later there are dozens of laws spreading like wildfire across the country that permanently prohibit people.

    And then there are simply the people that live in open carry states and it’s very easy for anyone to get a concealed permit, but the state will arrest people if there in the wrong place at the wrong time which increases in area over time. When it was just not carrying inside city limits things were easy to understand where you could and couldn’t. Now you can be walking in bear country in some states, non-prohibited lawful citizen with no record and then be arrested and charged such that most people I’m sure could defend, but why the hassle, money, time? And how long until that won’t even hold up?

    I think people that haven’t been hit have no idea that the early buildup of prohibited persons, registries, background checks has led to a situation where 2A rights are incredibly easy to circumvent. Not to mention even if the supreme court determined these laws all unconstitutional, our old firearm laws would simply allow all a state’s traffic citations to carry a potential sentence of 1+ years being added to law would retroactively prohibit nearly half the drivers in the country. And all of this if ignoring the states ignoring supreme court rulings like CA.

  • Schmuck Shoomir November 24, 2018, 2:52 am

    They didn’t have “Because I work in Libtardia Swamp (a.k.a. Washington DC).” on the list. I forfeit my civil rights every time I cross the 14th Street Bridge.

  • Chris November 23, 2018, 10:58 pm

    I would like the author to explain how “… shall not be infringed.” allows the government to require you to get permission to engage in a right?

  • Chris Baker November 23, 2018, 10:51 pm

    I’m curious if the author of this article can explain to me how “…shall not be infringed.” allows the government to decide whether or not a citizen gets to carry a gun, concealed or otherwise.

    As far as I’m concerned having to ask permission takes it right out of being a right and smacks it right down under the category of privilege.

  • G November 23, 2018, 1:25 pm

    One thing that concerns me with the start of the article is people in public asking if you are carrying today. Concealed means concealed. You having a firearm should not be part of any social interaction unless you are forced to draw your weapon. This needs to be explained to anyone who is asking you in public. Why are they even asking unless they are seeking some kind of juvenile thrill? Unless we hold to a standard of keeping it private, people who are unfriendly toward firearms gain fuel to start reducing places we can carry. This is how stores start restricting… when it’s concealed no one knows and it’s fine. But then someone unfriendly finds out (overhearing a conversation or they sees print, etc) and they call police. Then once it is clear you are carrying legally someone complains further to officially eliminate carry in that area. We need to be smart and responsible as a group.

    • Greg November 25, 2018, 11:34 am

      I agree. If anyone asks me I either don’t answer, smirk and say “what do you think”? or say something like “Part of the effectiveness of concealed carry relies upon not knowing who is carrying and when”.
      If it’s another CCW friend or LEO friend, I just tell them so they know to grab my mags and/or a spare weapon if I can’t use it

  • Michael Bernard November 23, 2018, 12:26 pm

    i like what you said and i do carry every day and small is just as good as a larger cal. i always carry my north american arms 22 mag. a long with a 9 mm and if i am just going to the store and back i always have my 22

  • phil November 23, 2018, 12:04 pm

    As the comment about locations banned by federal law, on federal property, a military installation has a hazard hard to overcome. One is subject to search. Most likely one will encounter a vehicle stop upon exit from the installation. I’ve heard of a couple in which the firearm was not discovered even with a thorough search to include canines. They were most fortunate. I won’t press my luck. My wife was stopped one time on the way out. The SP asked her to open the hood. She said she didn’t know how! her vehicle was searched as well as herself. I would like to carry at all times but if I have an errand on the installation, the firearm stays home. I don’t like it but that’s the way it is. Why travel to a military installation? Pick up the grandkids from daycare, prescriptions at the pharmacy, commissary, etc. Anyone have a way around not carrying and doing it legally?

  • Michael Bernard November 23, 2018, 12:02 pm

    i agree i have been carrying for almost 2 years and wish i started sooner and i also agree that it is not size that counts but hitting your target i carry a north american arms 22 mag. in my right front pocket and it is the weapon i will not forget to carry every day

  • Dave Brown November 23, 2018, 11:57 am

    Good read, yet I only read the High-Lights. First it appears this ain’t a right or left reading, which is good as attraction is our best weapon. Please remind the NRA that they used attraction to get me into firearms at the age of 12, or 54 years ago. First Gripe, why do we allow our Governments to Bar Firearms form their Safe Areas?? I mean it, they all speak with forked tongue. Second, I support some gun control, IE the FFL System, and I have lived during times of greater control, yet it really did not inconvenience me. Now I do lean right, yet I just sold off 115 firearms by way of my FFL, and I might sell about 30 more as I need to down size at 66. Now I shoot most every week, so I will keep the best shooters, or what I like the best. I started carrying before SD had permits, or about 40 years ago. Today, it is part of my getting dressed, and yes I have a firearm in every-room, my garage, under the dash of my autos, plus one in the top box on my motorbike. In my daily driver I carry an extra firearm. A Kel-Tec Sub 2000 in 40, and I move that to my travel auto when I go on a trip. Yes it goes into many a state that I am Not Legal in but that is my choice.

    So, first find what works best for you. Then learn to carry it daily. Give it time as it will grow on you, and you will seldom realize you have a gun on your person. Second, Attraction of the non-gunners beat beating them up with words that usually make little sense. Third, get after all Governments to allow Every State Carry, and also carry into their well protected offices! The last one has to be within reason as We should all know that among US good guys we have a few nuts mixed in. I usually shot out in the middle of no were SD as we never know if the guy next to us on the range is a nut job of not. Now I might accept a part time Range Master gig, and I know 99.99% of US are ok. Dave

  • johnnyraygun November 23, 2018, 10:39 am

    LCP, or LCP2 in your pocket is not a burden, EVER. I use Lehigh Defense .380 ammo (Extreme Penetrator) and always have it in my pocket. If you want to carry it as a back-up fine, but always carry this or similar pistol. I have been carrying this for 6 years with a C/T laser and sits in a pocket holster.

  • Kb31416 November 23, 2018, 10:34 am

    I too like a gun that begins with 4 (or ends in 15), but the .380 Ruger LCP in a Recluse holster gives me 13 second chances with the extra mag. I carry it daily, and when I think about it (which now is rarely), I wonder how many of the hundreds of people that I passively interact with every day know my carry status. My guess is nearly nine.

  • Gopher Baroque November 23, 2018, 10:33 am

    “So, I mentioned that about six percent of all eligible Americans have their concealed carry licenses, but based upon my own informal surveys, less than 10 percent of those permit holders regularly carry.”

    The former statistic may be obtained from state records but the latter must be based on self-reporting. I suspect braggadocio or discretion may be trumping accuracy in responses.

  • Mark Brown November 23, 2018, 9:17 am

    Finally, a writer with common sense reasoning about carrying. I have a new LTC and I am enjoying the chance to try different small 9 mm, 38’s and 380’s to see what works best for me. I also have a S&W EZ that is the most accurate of them all so far. I carry it the most. Thanks for writing an article that doesn’t beat up people because they are still working out the how and why of carrying. Good job!

  • Mike in a Truck November 23, 2018, 8:28 am

    I agree with the author that even a small gun is better than no gun.You Chairborne Rangers spare me your non-combat wisdom.Like most here I have a safe full of fighting pistols and revolvers. So what do I carry mostly? A little North American Arms mini revolver in 22 magnum! Go ahead and laugh. But my mini is with me always . On the road,around town,on my Harley trike,in the toilet(think about it), in the shower on a shelf.Its the first thing I put on and the last thing I take off. That along with pepper gel and a good folder is my EDC.Add some empty hand skills-you dont have to be a black belt-and youre better armed than 90% of the dinks with thire noses in a smartphone.Carry on.

  • Dr Stephen Vadas November 23, 2018, 7:00 am

    I live in Florida and carry daily – except when I take my granddaughter to school, Florida prohibits weapons on school property, even in the parking lot. That is my sole eception to carry.

  • John November 23, 2018, 6:08 am

    I have traveled and still do this whole country. I carry no matter where I am, and you would never know it. The proper firearm, and holster is the key to all the above excuses. The day you don’t have it, just could be the day you need it. Oh and by the way I am from AZ where we don’t need any of that permit shit to carry open or concealed. But I always carry concealed as the guy who walks around and flaunts it will be the first casualty if a firefight ever broke out. If you make it a habit to never leave home without it, then it just becomes second nature to have it with you, like having your wallet is. I will never become a victim in any kind of shooting scenario.

    • Ken November 23, 2018, 9:27 am

      That ridiculous bias towards people who open carry is why more people dont. Every shooting involving a good guy with a gun has been a concealed carry….e very one! Thats because the bad guys dont know that you are armed. When they see you open carry….they change their minds and nothing happens….never has. Get over your bias.

    • Barry D Thomas. November 23, 2018, 11:56 am

      Don’t come to jersey, they will put you in prison. And it will tske tha governer to get you off

  • Randall Richardson November 23, 2018, 6:05 am

    SORRY for the double post, thought the 1st one got deleted by a missed keystroke and it did not show up until after I re-posted!! MY BAD!

  • Randall Richardson November 23, 2018, 6:01 am

    Quick question for a public survey for your magazine-newsletters to gather a % of responses from!
    I am a NON-VIOLENT FELON who wants my gun ownership rights reinstated by the ATF, not just the State of Texas! After all according to the old school belief: “WE HAVE PAID OUR DEBT TO SOCIETY”!?
    Many of us out here have been raised correctly and are a responsible breed who knows how to only pull a gun in an EXTREMELY CRITICAL LIFE & DEATH situation like a SCHOOL SHOOTER, OR A MASS KILLER NUTCASE about to open fire on mass of people like VEGAS!
    Maybe if one of us SOCIETAL OUTCAST were to have been packing, that tragedy would not have happened?
    I’m interested in an OPINION POLL just to see how the mass general public thinks about it and possibly help to change the ATF’s rules on reinstatement of ownership rights **AFTER a “PROVING PERIOD” of say 5 years without any more incidents or runins with the Laws!?**
    TYVM for reading and hope to see a survey that I WOULD BE VERY THANKFUL FOR YOUR HELP!

    • Phil November 23, 2018, 11:54 am

      Randall – FL just passed an amendment allowing some felons to vote after their debt to society has been paid. That should extend to firearms authorization too.

  • Randall Richardson November 23, 2018, 5:51 am

    Since you are a Concealed Carry Instructor I have a survey question for you to ask the general public to possibly HELP America & the ATF-STATES recognize some true facts! I am a NON-VIOLENT FELON, (bogus charge but not going into that), Common knowledge & older LAWS states we have “PAID OUR DUES TO SOCIETY”!? Based on that, why can’t **NON-VIOLENT FELONS** have their gun ownership rights reinstated after 5 years of a clean record?! Fact is there are many of us out there, like ME, who are very responsible with a weapon and are PATRIOTIC AMERICANS who would be a huge plus in any case os spotting a school shooter, mall, a shooter in any case, who would be ready to stop them IF we could be issued our rights again after a *PROVING PERIOD* of about 5 years with no further issues with the Police or Laws of the Federal and\or States levels!?
    IF you receive a majority of positive replies, possibly you could help with the NRA to propose a change in Federal laws to help people like me on SSD who cannot afford to hire a lawyer to get any action of change instigated! Especially with the onslaught of known terrorist entering the country illegally, I would love to be able to carry legally & go to the TEXAS border to help stop the unlawful entrance into our GREAT AMERICA, to preserve our AMERICAN LIFESTYLE & WAY OF LIFE, BELIEF SYSTEM, ETC!!
    But because I cannot legally own a weapon, my hands are tied and a vigilante status just doesn’t appeal to me.
    I am just curious as to how the masses opinions on this would be to see if there might be a overwhelming support FOR or AGAINST

  • Barry Thomas Sr. November 23, 2018, 3:35 am

    I LIVE IN THE DEMOKRATIK REPUBLIK OF NEW JERSEYSTAN, NUFF SAID!

  • Cadeyrn November 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

    Non-excuse: I had to move to a place where they don’t issue carry permits and will throw you in jail for that and unregistered “assault pistols” which include wheelguns. Assault wheelguns, of course.

  • Anton Regis November 21, 2018, 10:33 am

    Some of us work at a facility (nuclear power plant, US mail, etc) where we cannot have a weapons in our vehicle not matter how secure.

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