“Concealed carry” is a term that is tossed about rather loosely when discussing firearms, self-defense, or other Second Amendment issues in public forums. Yet even with the rapid growth of concealed carry permit applications in the United States, little thought is given to the intended meaning of the word “concealed” once training is completed.
In his article “Depths of Concealment: How Deep is Too Deep?” at USConcealedCarry.com, author George Harris provides the definition used in reference to firearms:
“Concealment relevant to firearms or other weapons simply means carrying a weapon in a manner in which only the person carrying knows what, where, and even if he or she is carrying.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Basically, concealment is a series of compromises. It begins with your choice of weapon. Options such as weight, size, and print must be taken into consideration as does practicality. A deeply concealed weapon that is inaccessible when you need it defeats the purpose.
Accessibility should be the primary consideration regarding levels of concealment. Unfortunately, everyday attire can often cause retrieval issues when trying to draw the weapon. In an ideal scenario, the weapon should be accessible with either hand, but in most of the common concealment locations such as the inside-the-waistband holsters, ambidextrous drawing is next to impossible.
For women, the problem is very much the same, if not worse. Designers have managed to incorporate holsters into the fabric of bras, corsets, and other undergarments that, while definitely achieve deep concealment, are problematic for practical use once a woman is fully dressed. There are some women’s apparel options that have magnetic or Velcro fasteners that cut back on the time it takes to draw the weapon.
The button overlap is also more of an issue with female clothing. Menswear generally buttons with a left over right overlap, which favors right-handed access and draw. Female blouses and dresses are the opposite, which favors a left-handed draw. Given that only about 10 percent of the population is left-handed, this puts women at a disadvantage for these types of concealment options.
For waistband and apron holsters, the problem is more one of printing and comfort. Generally, clothing worn with these items should be 2 sizes larger. This would help reduce any chafing and the larger sizes allow the material to fall away from your body and your gun.
Normal men’s trousers make it almost impossible to carry a gun in the pocket without a noticeable print, although there are some brands that have looser pockets and there are some really tiny guns on the market now. But the best solution is to purchase pants with extra material in the pockets, specifically tailored for concealed carry. For women wearing skirts or dresses, thigh holsters are a reasonable option with fairly easy access.
Ankle holsters provide reasonable concealment and access options since most people aren’t looking there, but they aren’t particularly comfortable. Boot holsters where the gun is tucked inside the boot gives two layers of concealment and a little more comfort to the wearer.
In the end, concealment options vary widely and are dependent on many variables including clothing, climate, and potential threat. These factors aren’t always the same, so it’s important to have a flexible mindset and make the best decision each day to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Twenty years ago, the notion that someone would carefully devise a plan to enter a church fully armed with intent to gun down the innocents within would have been practically unthinkable. It’s only in the post-911 age of terrorism that places of worship have become fair game.
Historically, the church has been viewed as a safe place or sanctuary dating back to ancient times.
By the 4th century, the right to sanctuary had been formalized by the early Christians. The churches offered sanctuary mostly to criminals for hundreds of years until being abolished during 1540 as part of the Reformation. The Catholic Church was the lone exception, keeping the sanctuary option as part of its Code of Canon Law until 1983.
It’s a sad commentary on modern times when churches can no longer be considered a safe haven, but it doesn’t mean that pastors and their congregations are powerless to protect themselves. Author and United States Concealed Carry Association Magazine editor Kevin Michalowski explains the mentality that is taking hold in the nation’s churches in his article “Carry Your Gun in Church? Hell Yes!” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“I cannot tell you the number of church groups that have reached out to the USCCA for help and guidance defending their congregations and ensuring those who would defend the flock are also protected from the legal system.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
By its very nature, carrying concealed in church requires due diligence beyond what permit holders practice every day. The pistol must remain absolutely concealed at all times. Becoming the center of attention for all the wrong reasons at church will undoubtedly bring down more restrictions for everyone, but may make for a different kind of sermon the following Sunday.
As most permit holders are aware, having a home defense plan is an integral part of anyone’s overall defensive preparations. Your expertise and training could prove invaluable to your congregation. If you are comfortable enough to talk to any of the congregation members or clergy, you can approach them about discussing some security options.
Even without the assistance of the congregation or clergy, there are steps you can take to better protect yourself and your family. Do not sit near the rear of the church, as this is most likely where any attacker would enter, and stay away from the seats closest to the center aisle to give yourself time to react. Be aware of other entrances/exits that could be used as an escape route.
Whatever action you decide to take, remember that the shooter will most likely be dead or gone by the time first responders arrive.