Should you carry a gun? Do you understand that if you do carry a gun, you may be called upon to use it to take a life out of necessity to defend yourself, a loved one, or an innocent person near you from great bodily harm? Are you willing to accept this responsibility? Do you understand the legal and social turmoil your life may be cast into should you have to use that gun? All very important questions that the answers to will change your life. If you’re willing to accept the responsibilities, read on. If you’re not willing, please understand that this post is not an attempt to convince you otherwise.
If your answer to all of those questions is “Yes”, you’ll want to consider how you will carry lawfully and intelligently.
First and foremost, read, understand, and learn your state and local laws for carrying a gun. And if you’re going to travel to other states, do the same for them as well. This does NOT mean go solely by what your friend told you, or what you read on the Interwebz. Even government websites can be incorrect, so do your homework.
I also found out that you cannot trust the information you get from law enforcement personnel. Yes, the people sworn to uphold the law, don’t always know the current laws. When I first moved to Georgia, I applied for the Georgia Firearms License (GFL) because I didn’t know the carry laws and wanted to be legal while carrying between my home and my parents’ home 3 hours away. I asked a city police officer one day what that license allowed me to do. He didn’t know, but it would maybe keep me from being harassed too much. On the back of this license were a couple of the carry laws in legal-ese. Another law enforcement officer told me that the license allowed open carry, but I could not carry concealed, even though it mentioned it on the back. (I read it to mean I could carry concealed.) My native Georgia coworkers were no better. When asked, most of their opinions started with, “I think it means…” So read and understand the laws that apply to you.
There is nothing wrong with getting informed opinions from others to help you understand what a law means. Your state Attorney General probably has formal opinions of some of your gun laws on the Internet. I know Georgia does. These help as well. Befriend a lawyer or two. They are experts at interpreting the law, and they know how the laws are interpreted by the courts.
Go get some training. Not just on how to shoot better, but on the laws and how to apply them in real life. There are thousands of firearm training facilities. Find a reputable trainer; check their credentials, then go. This is something you cannot get enough of.
Lastly, carry. Bad guys don’t make appointments and they don’t have boundaries. Carry everywhere you possibly can within the law. Know where your laws say you cannot carry. If in doubt, stay the heck out.
I’ll get into actual carrying in a later post. The main thing to remember once you’ve decided you are willing to carry a gun is education. Know what you can and can’t do, where you can and can’t go, when you can and can’t use a gun.