According to the dictionary, one of the definitions of the word myth is a commonly believed but false idea. Myths are harmless enough when we’re talking about classical Greek mythology, but they can have dangerous ramifications if we apply them to something as serious as concealed carry.
There were over 5 million first-time gun owners in 2021. These are people new to guns and the culture of gun ownership. Many of these folks rely on more experienced gun owners to help them learn and understand what it means to legally carry a concealed firearm effectively. Unfortunately, there is too much inaccurate information floating around in the form of myths and internet hearsay regarding best practices when carrying a gun. A few of the worst follow.
You Don’t Need to Carry with a Round in the Chamber
Carrying with an empty chamber, also referred to as Israeli carry, is just not a good idea. The theory is that it makes carrying a gun safer by reducing the chances of a negligent discharge. The concept of carrying with an empty chamber didn’t originate with the Israelis. It originated with the famous firearms instructor W. E. Fairbairn around 1910 when he was training the Shanghai police department. He asserted that with all the administrative handling police did of their guns, it was safer not to have a round in the chamber.
The Israelis adopted it after the formation of modern Israel in 1948. At the time, their military and police were armed with a hodgepodge of handguns with every conceivable type of action. With so many different manuals of arms to consider, it was better to carry without a round in the chamber so the action upon drawing was the same no matter what kind of gun they were carrying.
Neither of those situations is relevant to an American concealed carrier in 2024. First, modern pistols have internal safeties such as drop safeties and hammer bars. They simply will not fire unless you pull the trigger, and if you follow the rules of safe gun handling, that shouldn’t be a problem. Second, no concealed carrier should be carrying a different type of gun every day. You get one or two carry guns, and you learn to use them. Period.
If you want a simple illustration of the hazard of carrying without a round in the chamber, there are a couple of simple tests you can do. In the first, you and a partner should line up to targets on the range. With a round in the chamber, both of you draw and fire. Then, unload your chamber and have your partner keep his or her chamber loaded. Draw again, but this time, you will have to work the slide before you can shoot. The difference in time should be illustrative.
If live fire is not possible, use dry fire or snap caps to time yourself drawing and squeezing off a shot with the gun cocked and locked as if it had a round in the chamber. Now try it again, but this time carry it as if it did not have a round in the chamber, and you must work the slide before you can shoot. The difference in time should give you an indication of how far behind the power curve you would be if you had to work the slide before you could shoot in a life-or-death situation.
Small Guns Are Best for Concealed Carry
I have related a conversation elsewhere that I once had with a female work colleague where she told me that when her ex ran her off the road and jerked her door open, she had her gun in the console but didn’t even try to use it. Why? Because it was a little Ruger LCP that she had never practiced with because it hurt to shoot it, so she had no confidence in her ability to use it. Fortunately, she survived the encounter. I told her to sell it and get a larger gun she would enjoy shooting so she could practice with it. And that’s just one problem with a small gun. Other problems include lower ammunition capacity and the inherent difficulty in shooting a small gun accurately when compared to a larger gun that is easier to handle.
The best rule of thumb for an EDC gun is to carry the largest gun you can realistically carry and conceal. Depending on how you’re dressed, with a quality holster and a stiff belt designed for concealed carry, you should be able to carry something larger than a pocket pistol. Yes, it will weigh a little more, but modern polymer-framed pistols are much lighter than older designs like the 1911 or Beretta 92. The benefits in capacity and shootability overshadow a little extra weight or the need for some extra care in dressing to conceal.
Open Carry Will Deter a Criminal
This one is just patently untrue. All open carry does is tip off everyone around you that you have a gun. I live in an open carry state, and it is not unusual to see someone in a store carrying openly. My first impression on seeing someone with a gun on their hip is to give them a covert but careful once over. How are they acting? Is there anything about them that sends out warning signals? How careful are they to ensure that someone cannot get close to them from behind and snatch their gun? After all, that sort of thing happens with all too much regularity.
As for deterring a criminal, once the bad guy knows you are armed, all he must do is be sure he points his gun at you before anyone else. You have already given up both the initiative and any tactical advantage that comes from being armed.
He (or She) Who Shoots First Wins
History and the news are replete with examples of the person who shot second winning the fight. Why? Because they shot accurately. There is a saying in competition shooting that goes, “You can’t miss fast enough to win.” The point is simple: shooting fast is not enough; you have to hit what you’re shooting at to win the fight.
On July 21, 1865, a man named Dave Tutt squared off against the famous Wild Bill Hickock. Tutt drew first and began shooting rapidly at Hickock, missing with each shot. Hickock took his time and killed Tutt with a single shot to the heart. Handgun rounds generally lack the power to incapacitate an opponent quickly with one or even several shots, even if you do manage to hit them. The only way to do that is to hit a vital spot. And the only way to do that is to shoot accurately. Speed is good. Accuracy is better.
A Justified Shooting Will Not Lead to Legal Problems
This may have been true a few decades ago, but things have changed drastically over the years. Liberal prosecutors in Democrat-run cities seem to take great pleasure in prosecuting armed citizens who are forced to defend themselves against criminals who should have never been out on the street to begin with. Even more bizarre is the trend of criminals or their survivors suing crime victims for damages in wrongful death litigation for daring to defend themselves.
As unfair as it may seem, just being in the right isn’t enough anymore. Anyone who carries a self-defense firearm or even keeps one in their home should invest in self-defense liability insurance. A good plan will pay for an attorney, liability coverage, legal fees, and even bail bonds. Most also maintain a listing of solid self-defense and Second Amendment attorneys in your area. Two of the best are the United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) and U.S. Law Shield, but there are others out there to choose from. Find the one that fits you best and get signed up. The monthly fees are nothing compared to the alternative.
Five or Six Rounds Are More Than Enough
I see this one all the time on gun forums, usually in threads where people are discussing the capacity of pocket guns, 1911s, or revolvers versus more modern carry guns with larger capacities. Someone will invariably write that if you can’t do it with six rounds, you can’t do it at all. While there are indeed examples of gunfights that ended with a single shot from an armed citizen, those are the exception rather than the rule.
The reality is that in most self-defense shootings, people shoot multiple rounds, often emptying their magazines before the fight is over. That can be a harrowing experience, especially if the bad guy still has more ammo in his gun. And if there are multiple assailants, as there often are, it becomes even more of a disadvantage. The story of Elisjsha Dicken, who stopped an active shooter at the Greenwood Park Mall in 2022, is a case in point. Elisjsha shot ten rounds from his handgun, hitting the shooter eight times before he dropped.
While we are sometimes restricted in how large a carry gun we can conceal due to the environment or clothing requirements, it is always best to carry a gun with as large an ammunition capacity as you can realistically manage. At times, I have to carry something that only holds seven or eight rounds; I feel as if I will be at a distinct disadvantage should something happen.
There are plenty more concealed carry myths. Enough that there isn’t room here to cover them all. If you have thoughts on any of these, or if I missed one you feel should be addressed, please share it with us in the comments section. As the saying goes, we’re all in this life together, and none of us is going to get out of it alive. Your thoughts could make a positive difference in how a new gun owner approaches concealed carry.
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