The mundanity of concealed carry

Carrying a gun does not make me special. It doesn’t make me different, it doesn’t make me a sheepdog, and it shouldn’t be treated like an occasion. The act of every day concealed carry should be no more interesting or dramatic than the act of buckling your seatbelt, washing your hands during flu season, or changing the batteries in your smoke detectors.

Ruger Blackhawk western star holster

What we do when we carry a gun is reinforce the statement that “I am responsible for my own safety.” That’s why I chose the example of seatbelts, hand washing, and smoke detectors. Doing those things are all common-sense activities that any rational adult would agree reduce your risk factors. But the gun community has this weird cognitive dissonance about CCW, where on the one hand we want it to be normalized and accepted, but on the other hand we want it to make us special and different.

Carrying a gun comes with a certain amount of responsibility. But I would argue that the responsibility associated with carrying a gun every day is no greater than the burden of driving a car on public roads. In both cases you’re in the care of an item, which if used in an irresponsible or illegal manner, could quite easily kill and injure a lot of people. However, most people don’t treat driving a car with that level of seriousness, because it’s become a mundane, every day task to them. “I get in my car, I go to work, I check Facebook for 3 hours, do 30 minutes of work from 11:00 to 11:30, take an hour lunch until 12:30, do 30 minutes of work until 1pm, check Facebook until I get back into my car and go home.” The majority of these people will accomplish that routine without killing or injuring anyone, despite the fact that they’re all probably terrible drivers, cruising around in condition white and texting.

That’s the extreme negative of a dangerous task becoming mundane. We obviously don’t want people wandering around strapped and completely indifferent to their gats…or do we? Truthfully, what I want is a world where concealed carry is so routine, when people find out you’re carrying a gun, their reaction is the same as if people find out you drive a car. It shouldn’t be special. It should be common, simple, and unremarkable. That’s not to say it should be unsafe. We should strive to make sure that while the act of carrying a gun is boring, it’s done in a safe and responsible manner. It is just like driving – the act of driving in itself is unremarkable, but I still make sure to signal when I change lanes, check my blindspots, and watch out for reckless drivers. Carrying should be the same thing. You get up, put your pants on, clip your knife in, buckle on your gun, and go about your day. You still take reasonable precautions, like being alert in parking lots, not staring at your phone while walking, but you don’t need to be paranoid.

Stop treating CCW like it’s special. It’s not. You’re just carrying the most effective tool available to defend yourself from violence. It’s a fire extinguisher. There’s nothing special about keeping a fire extinguisher under the kitchen sink. I want owning and carrying a Glock 19 to have the same level of remarkableness as owning a Toyota Camry.


  1. re: … weird cognitive dissonance about CCW …

    from earlier: You fiddling with your damn shirt, thinking you’re super sneaky.

    CCW rule 13A:
    Carry like you’ve forgotten that you’re carrying.
    CCW rule 13B:
    Never ever forget that you’re carrying.
    CCW rule 13C:
    If you can’t handle this tension, don’t carry.

  2. Very thoughtful post and a nice follow up to yesterday’s about sheepdogs. As with the sheepdog idea, I think that some of this is being driven by people in the gun community who have to sell an idea of the average armed citizen as an “operator” or a “warrior” in order to sell their goods and services. A while ago I reflected on why the idea of a “civilian operator” rubs me the wrong way and I caught some flack for that as I’m sure you’ll catch flack from this (

    I thought then and continue to think that the average guy carrying his gun from his house to his suburban office park is no more a “civilian warrior” than the guys in the movie “Office Space” beating down a printer with a baseball bat are gangstas.

    Or, using your car driving analogy, maybe ordinary citizens who carry concealed firearms are no more “operators” than people who drive to work are Formula 1 racers?

    In conjunction with yesterday’s editorial, Caleb, you are on a roll brother! Keep up the good work.

  3. Driving a car has always been, to me , the best example of how your average person is more than capable of carrying a gun. A gun just sits there. It doesn’t have to be actively controlled(every single second) in order to stop it from killing and maiming. A car in motion has unbelievable lethal kinetic energy, just waiting for a split second lapse in your concentration to unleash tragedy and death upon the general public.

    A car IS the thing that many people project on to guns. A uncaring machine with a mind of it’s own(physics). Yet they think that more special training is needed to safely carry a firearm.

    The difference is the confused emotional perception of “violence”. To them a terrible car accident is not “violence”, but an openly carried firearm is caged violence just waiting to be unleashed. Kind of backwards.

  4. Glad I stumbled across your blog. (h/t The Gun Feed.) Looking forward to exploring it more.

    An interesting take on the whole sheepdog thing: “The Flawed Sheep, Sheepdog, or Wolf Analogy” (

    That said, I AM a “sheepdog” of sorts:

    I’m a husband and a father. My family is my number one flock.

    Then there’s work. After having let my “carry habits” slide several years ago, Sandy Hook was a wake-up call, and now I carry daily. So in the (unlikely) event that — God forbid — the SHTF at work someday, and I’m on my way towards the door, but then see the bad guy drawing a bead on a co-worker, I should hope that I wouldn’t flee just to save my own skin.

    And lastly, I’m an active church member — if I miss a Sunday, it’s because I’m sick. So in the (also unlikely) event that the SHTF at church some Sunday morning, I and a handful of others who carry will have become defacto sheep dogs.

    As someone said under your “5 Reasons You’re Carrying Your EDC Wrong” post, “Unless I know you, you’re probably on your own bro!”

    And I hope that I would do whatever I am able to defend those I know.

    Peace …

  5. So why aren’t you posting photos of our fire extinguisher wrapped in your seat belt?

    1. I can carry a gun and have it be a boring activity but still like guns. The same way I carefully and responsibly drive my Dodge Charger.

      1. Yep. Although your article wasn’t about liking guns. It was about how carrying a gun should be “mundane” which is defined as “lacking interest or excitement; dull”. Nothing about the revolver or knife in your picture is mundane. Neither is a Dodge Charger, so I don’t think that helps make your point. I agree that concealed carry should be mundane, and still think a picture of a fire extinguisher wrapped in seat belt would have better illustrated your point.

        And now that I think about it, while it should be mundane, the act of carrying concealed is currently special. Internet definition of special is “better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual.” Not the better or greater part, which is your point, but certainly the different from what is usual part. According to US Concealed Carry there are 9-20 million concealed carry holders. Legally armed estimates over 11 million There are over 300 million people, over 100 million households, and over 225 adults (people 20 and over) according to the US 2010 census. So, even using the high estimate of 20 million concealed carry licenses, and the low number of 100 million households, you get just 20% of the US is carrying. And since we all know people that have a license and DON’T carry, the percentage is probably lower.

        So carrying a gun does make you special, and it does make you different. We can hope and dream of the day when it doesn’t, but that’s not the current reality.

        Thanks for the post. It didn’t help my shooting, but it helped me clarify some thoughts. Best of luck to you.

        1. I think the point I was trying to make is that the act of carrying or driving can and should be mundane, but can simultaneously use interesting tools.

  6. Maybe it’s a city thing, I don’t know.

    I agreed with most of your previous post, even linked it. And I don’t actually disagree with anything you said in this one. But…

    Stop treating CCW like it’s special. It’s not.

    Who’s doing that so much that it’s got your ire up? I know a bunch of people who generally carry guns, concealed or open, and none make a big deal of it. Nobody’s trying to be Batman.

    1. He has to write something, otherwise no one will frequent the blog, no patrons, no need for advertisers, no advertisers no money, it’s a vicious spiral . . . .

    2. Not to contradict Daniel S (but absolutely to contradict him) – I spend a lot of time online, because well, I write for the internet for a living. I see a lot of people on other sites who talk about the act of concealed carrying like is an awesome, cool thing. That grinds my gears.

      1. I spend a lot of time online…I see a lot of people on other sites who talk about the act of concealed carrying like is an awesome, cool thing. That grinds my gears.

        You’re not the only one.

  7. Concealed carry is only a little part of it. It’s about a mental and philosophical norm that people want to encourage:

    1) I am personally responsible for my own safety.

    2) I am personally responsible for the safety of my community.

    I’m all in favor of this ethos becoming more popular, because it’s completely against the common mindset of most people today.

    In actuality, it should mean a lot more safe driving and first aid kits than guns. But… guns are cooler.

    1. I think your comment is correct – as far as the fact that there are folks who want to promote that entire “ethos” to everyone. But I also think that those two statements illustrate exactly why it should NOT be promoted to the general public as the basis of most people carrying a firearm daily.

      Those two statements are very, very different. And whether or not one promotes just one or promotes both may affect how people perceive both others carrying and whether or not one should personally carry themselves.

      For (1) — “I am personally responsible for my own safety” — this is TRUE NOW, regardless of whether or not people accept it as fact. I assume that this is the primary reason that most people carry (and I think that’s a safe assumption).

      For (2) — “I am personally responsible for the safety of my community” — this is NOT TRUE, unless a person voluntarily decides to accept that responsibility (whether employed as a LEO or simply as an otherwise-ordinary person).

      Encouraging (1) should be done because it is ALREADY TRUE. It is true both as a simple practical matter (law enforcement cannot possibly protect everyone) and as a legal matter (they’re not legally obligated to anyway). It is the “mundane” bit that Caleb refers to, and I think this primary reason for carry should be promoted above others, and perhaps to the exclusion of all other reasons – especially to those who are not currently carrying a firearm.

      Contrary to the cries of the antis, it’s not a paranoid matter of “I’m scared to death that everyone’s out to get me.” It’s more a matter of “it only takes one lunatic/psychopath to damage or end someone’s life.” It is true that the vast majority of fast food restaurants / grocery stores / retail outlets / activity centers / etc. are safe the vast majority of the time. But yet we hear, again and again, stories of places being robbed, people attacked in parking lots, etc.

      Statement (2) is a more complex issue. One is NOT legally obligated to save others (at least in the USA). One may feel moral obligation to, and that’s fine. Others may not feel that moral obligation. If one decides that it is indeed their responsibility to protect others with the gun they carry, that’s fine and good. But that should not be the primary reason people carry, IMO. It should be for defense of self and one’s friends & family.

      Keep in mind that some will see (1) and (2) as incompatible. If one is responsible for the safety of others, does that mean that those others are not responsible for their own safety? If those “sheepdogs” are out there and are protecting me (be they cops or other citizens), why do I need to protect myself?

      IMO, statement (1) is far, FAR more important than statement (2) because it is correct right now (and everyday). Therefore it can be advertised to the general public as true without any caveats. If concealed carry is going to become mundane – or routine, or conventional, or ordinary, or pick-your-favorite-adjective – then it’s going to be done based on (1), not (2).

  8. I’ve carried for over 33 years. My mode of carry has changed periodically, depending on the sidearm, clothing etc. Since retiring, it’s a .380 in the pants pocket.

    I carry it like a set of keys or a wallet or my albuterol inhaler.

    And I don’t feel ‘special’ at all.

    At least, not because I’m carrying….


  9. “…I see a lot of people on other sites who talk about the act of concealed carrying like is an awesome, cool thing. ”

    Yeah, actually, exercising your rights is an awesome, cool thing.

    1. Only if you really think about it. Rights, when properly executed, tend to be pretty mundane. Do most Americans reflect on the fact they don’t have to go & give to a state Church? That you don’t have to find out who the informers are when you go to a party?

  10. Great article Caleb! Very similar to what I’ve always considered as a healthy attitude to maintain when it comes to off duty carry by LEO.

    Many people don’t realize that there are a minority of police officers who don’t carry off duty because they were never enthusiastic about firearms training in general which somehow led to the bad habit of not carrying off duty and a bad attitude that somehow associated concealed carry as a chore and a pain in the @$$ to deal with.

    Over the years I personally know of two incidents where off duty officers wandered into a gunfight unarmed and lived to tell about it.

    I’ve known several other lazy individuals who thought leaving their weapon in a vehicle center console or under the seat was sufficient for off duty carry, until some thief broke into their car and made off with the gun.

    I’ve always preached to rookies and occasional lazy veteran officers that the way to look at it is that the day you will need your off duty weapon is the day you left it at home or in the glove compartment.

    Once the new wears off, most officers that wisely carry concealed religiously when off duty soon adopt an attitude similar to how you perceive concealed carry. They view off duty concealed carry as something that is as simple and routine as carrying a billfold or a pocket knife, no big deal. The overwhelming majority also quickly realize that it is not their mission to save the world while off duty and that any decision to intervene during an in progress crime depends largely on where you are and who is with you (as in wife and kids).

    It is equally important for off duty LEO and concealed carry civilians not to forget that ability to access the concealed weapon, basic firearm maintenance, and sufficient practice and training to maintain perishable skills should not be overlooked.

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