Self Defense in Chicago, an Unarmed Gun Girl

gabby has no gun in Chicago, but she's still thinking about self defenseI’ve been working hard lately to regularly carry concealed. While spending a week in an unfamiliar Georgia city my CCW was in my purse every day. When running around my home turf of Atlanta I prefer using a small-of-the-back holster, although I may alternate to my purse if I’m jumping in and out of the car excessively. It’s easier to carry in the fall and winter because layered shirts and jackets help to prevent printing. However, I often find myself checking that the back of my shirt hasn’t rolled up and tucked behind my gun. If anyone were paying attention I’d be blowing my cover. But today I wake up in The Windy City with no gun to strap on because Illinois is still working to put in place the gun rights that they recently gave back to their citizens. What can I do to keep safe while unarmed? What lessons can I take from carrying concealed and apply when my primary weapon must stay at home?

Avoid the clump – While in Chicago, I am traveling with a large group of people. We will be eating in restaurants, walking on streets and piling into taxis, and at certain points there my be upwards of twenty of us. It may seem counter-intuitive, but when these are my circumstances I tend to walk slightly separate from the group. I find that the familiarity can often cause me to relax and let down my guard. If someone is moving closer to me, or about to bump into me, I want to be on alert rather than assuming that it is someone in my party.

Less talking, more walking – The group with whom I am traveling is likely to be loud and excited, but the more wrapped up in conversations we get the less aware of our surroundings we will become. Maybe it will seem a little anti social if I walk slightly separate from the group, but I think the benefits are worth it. Further, knowing where we are headed is equally important. Tourists tend to make easy targets for criminals because they are distracted and overwhelmed, but if we move down the street with a bit more purpose, we can sightsee safely.

Does wearing an empty holster make me smarter or just a gun geek? – I have noticed that when I’m wearing my gun I am reminded of the responsibility of carrying and the need for situational awareness. So even though I can’t conceal carry in the state of Illinois, maybe I can trick myself into operating in the same way. Maybe this is a silly idea, but isn’t the first step to not being victimized not appearing to be an easy victim?


  1. Hope you enjoy your visit; beautiful downtown area and great food. I agree with most of what you posted as it involves paying attention to your surroundings. I don’t know about the empty holster as it could make for some interesting conversation with the local po-po. Are you carrying pepper spray or anything else that could be used for self-defense?

  2. Quite frankly, I think your personal behavior and demeanor has a lot to do with a criminal picking you out to be his next victim. Everything you mentioned is important. So is looking like a person who has it all together and thus not to be messed with. I think you should leave the holster at home and put a small defensive flashlight in it’s place. Make sure you are visiting safe places and check with locals as to the best way to get there. GPS’s don’t tell you if you are about to travel through a bad neighborhood.

    1. I very much like the defensive flashlight concept as a strategy. At night I believe it could be very helpful in creating a get-away opportunity. However, in a city with lots of street lights and during the day… Less affective

      1. You won’t be on the street all or even most of the time; even or especially during the day. There are -always- dark corners that could need illumination, particularly at dawn and dusk and in the canyons of downtown. And, you’ll be indoors much of the time, nice to have a flash if the lights go out. Carry a flashlight 24/7. There is -no- downside to doing so and a host of positive reasons, mundane to tactical, illumination to innocuous looking impact weapon, to do so.

      2. A flashlight can also be a good impact weapon. A strobe works in many lighting situations, although not in the mid day sun.

  3. How about Pepper Spray?
    Just like staying warm in cool weather, self defense is all about layers.

  4. Careful about wearing the holster. Even though it’s a big city PD, it’s not above corruption/beatings/shakedowns. It’s shameful to think of, but some of the CPD are a disgrace to the fine men and women serving as LE.

  5. Better check the laws in CHICAGO specifically, there are all sorts of restrictions for all sorts of self-defense items. Knife blade limits, pepper spray laws, it’s Chicago, the safest city in the nation . . . . . ; ) Whatever u do, if you’re driving, keep the doors locked and windows most of the way up, when in any of the hoods. I lived there for 40+ years, it can be interesting.

  6. Hello!
    I recently went to Chicago. I carried concealed all teh way up to the state border, then I unloaded and locked it up. While in the city, I still wore my IWB holster as a reminder to be more aware and to help hold my pants up. 🙂

    I did carry a knife and a surefire flashlight. I agree with Daniel to check the laws about edged weapons and nonlethal weapons like pepper spray.

    Be aware if you visit Willis tower, they do make you walk through a metal detector and scan your coat/purse. I managed to make it through without any trouble though.

    Have fun in the windy city! Be aware and stay safe.

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