Anyone who carries concealed for more than a few days finds something that annoys them about toting a gun around all the time. Whether it’s the occasional nostalgia about wild weekends with friends or the way that a particular holster sometimes scratches your side or the uneven pull in a particular pair of jeans. There is always something.
Brushing these small inconveniences aside, I asked myself what things about carrying a gun have been the constant annoyances over the last decade. I compiled my list below as well as the things I’ve done to mitigate these frustrations.
1. Post Office
Unless you wear a particular type of badge, carrying on federal property is reserved for, well, the feds. Imagine my surprise, and subsequent annoyance, when I moved to a town that had an ordinance against mailboxes. Everyone in the town was assigned a post office box, which was the only way to receive mail. This meant daily trips to the post office where my gun was not allowed. In order to avoid committing a felony, I had to find a safe way to store my gun when I went to get my mail.
Seven years and three kids later, I still make the daily trek to the post office. Whether that means a quick trip sans gun or stashing the gun in the lockable glove box or in a mobile safe, it’s something that must be done to stay within the law. It’s annoying, but short of legislation amending the restriction on carrying in a post office and on other federal property, I do what I must to stay legal.
[Editor’s note: It is not legal to bring your gun onto post office property, even if you leave it in the car. Melody parks on a city street for her visits to the local post office.]
2. Signs and Schools
Lucky for me, I live in the state of Iowa where the majority of “no gun” signs do not carry the weight of law. I can waltz past them with my greatest fear being a trespassing charge if I fail to leave the premises when asked. Other states are not so lenient so keeping an eye out for signs, and having to remove and store my gun safely and securely, can be a hassle. My state does have some strange restrictions as to where we can carry guns, and not all of those are posted clearly. I have to know the laws and remember them when going about my day, which can be difficult and frustrating for a busy, often distracted, mom. Additionally, the debate as to whether or not one can pick up their children from school in my state while armed continues to rage in concealed carry classes.
For those who are properly trained and responsible, the constant removal and temporary storage of their firearm in places like vehicles in parking lots are far more dangerous to the general public and increases the potential thefts than the continued carry of a firearm into these prohibited places.
Having holsters that allow me to quickly and safely remove the holstered gun that can then be stashed in a lockable, portable safe or glove box has been my go-to answer for these moments, but to avoid the hassle and additional danger, I try to just stay away from any place I am prohibited from carrying my firearm.
3. Different State Laws
Individual states have sovereign say on what they will and will not allow as to their carry laws. While we could enjoy a lengthy and passionate conversation about what the 2nd Amendment provides for US citizens in regards to a national right to carry wherever, as it stands right now, the states have the supreme authority to tell us where we are legally permitted to carry firearms and where we are not.
In one state, you may be permitted to carry to church while in another you are not. In some states, you can carry in a bar but not consume alcohol. In other states, you can carry and consume but are cautioned not to get drunk. In other states, you may only carry if you have a permit while other states have adopted permit-less carry.
If you never travel outside your own state, this frustration is limited to your understanding of your state’s laws. If you travel like I do, however, the constant juggling of state laws and reciprocity can be exhausting. Additionally, conversations with others as to what is allowed and where can be muddled when people are advising based on their own state laws, forgetting that these laws vary depending on location.
Resources like handgunlaw.us and the CCW app (for iPhone or Android) can be indispensable resources for those who need to know the carry laws of other states in a hurry.
4. Putting It All Back On
With all the “taking off” that goes along with concealed carry laws comes another constant annoyance: putting it all back on. This is particularly frustrating when sitting in a parking lot, attempting to be discrete, vigilant, and safe.
Most days I carry a Glock 19, a spare magazine and/or flashlight, and a fixed-blade knife. The flashlight and knife can usually come with me to places where guns are forbidden, but every now and then, it all has to come off and then back on again. It’s always a pain.
A commitment to quality holsters, sheaths, and carriers that allow quick but secure on/off helps in keeping me safe, speedy and mostly discrete unless I’m at home, and then I don’t care.
5. Holes in my shirt
There’s something about those rear sights and cotton t-shirts. They simply do not get along. You might get one hundred days out of a good quality shirt or just one out of a delicate one, but eventually, they will come–those micro-holes in the shirts. While tougher fabrics and more flowing garments can help eliminate the hole problem, sometimes you just have to say good-bye and move on or, if you are particularly committed to your favorite style, attempt a patch job.
6. The Box-O-Holsters
I have a box in my basement that is filled with holsters. It is larger than the box my fake Christmas tree lives in for 11 months out of the year. Next to this box is a canvas bag that is also filled with holsters. Beside it is my range bag that also has a few holsters in it, and that is in addition to the dozen or so holsters that sit in a chest next to my back door that I go to more regularly.
If you’ve carried a gun for any length of time, I can hear you nodding in agreement. The box-o-holsters is real, and it is as heart-warming and nostalgic as it is frustrating when you think of all the money you spent on things that didn’t work.
If you are like me, you keep those holsters for “what if” moments or to use as examples to others. If you want to make a little money, however, you could consider turning to the interwebs and find buy/sell/trade groups that focus on holsters.
I actually like flying. I would like it a lot more if I didn’t have to always check a bag to take my gun. Over the last decade, I have flown probably one hundred times with everything from a single carry handgun to multiple handguns and rifles for classes. While the process to fly with guns is not difficult, it can slow down your check-in time and cause minor hassles if the agents you are working with are unfamiliar with procedures where civilian firearms are concerned. On top of that, because all firearms must be checked, you will always be hit with checked baggage fees, automatically adding cost to your trip.
To make flying with your firearm easy, be prepared with printed copies of TSA guidelines for flying with firearms. Be prepared with the phrase, “I have firearms to declare,” and ask for a declaration slip. Make sure the case your firearms are stored in is a quality, hard-sided case with stout locks. It’s always a good idea to hang around the check-in counter until your bag has gone through TSA and never, ever allow anyone to put a tag on the outside of your luggage indicating a firearm is inside. Justin has some additional tips for flying with firearms in this article.
8. People Telling Me How I Feel
There are people who carry guns and never tell another living soul. Their anonymity protects them from people who are bound and determined to tell them what they are and are not experiencing.
“That cannot be comfortable.”
“You can’t sit down with your holster like that.”
“You are paranoid.”
“You can’t conceal a firearm that big.”
“You can’t carry a gun in that dress.”
For outsiders looking in, it can sometimes be surprising to see the gear and ways that people like myself and others have chosen to carry guns. As long as those methods are safe and sound, it’s always a good reminder that people who say it can’t be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Also, for those who may have gotten disparaging advice about what you can and cannot carry or wear while armed, keep searching. There is probably a solution out there for you.
Full disclosure: I am a hugger. I love to show affection to the people closest to me, and it just so happens that most of them also carry guns so gun-bumping is neither awkward or off-putting.
I do, however, have friends and family who are not gun people, and they like to hug. In moments when the presence of a gun can mean the difference between a happy family gathering and excommunication, hugging can be a stressful affair.
This is why I have mastered the art of the under-arm hug or the one arm squeeze. If you immediately dive your arms below the arms of your fellow hugger that will force them to hug high above the waist and away from your gun. One-arm shoulder squeezes can also keep your gun away from handsy huggers and, if you aren’t feeling comfortable with either of those techniques, “Hey, grandma, I think I’m coming down with a cold and don’t want to get you sick,” often does the trick.
10. The Reminder That the World Is Not As I Would Like It to Be
Carrying a firearm has never been something that I have enjoyed doing. I go about it with the same neutrality as loading or unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry, or changing the oil in my car. It’s neither pleasant or unpleasant, at least not if we are truly understanding of what that firearm truly represents. I put on a firearm every day because I understand that the world is not as I would like it to be. There are people in the world who would do me great harm and this thing — this tool that I wear — is meant to stop them when coupled with the appropriate application of my skill. That is a sobering and weighty responsibility and one which I do not take lightly.
Yet, I’m also reminded that life is good and worth defending. The evil I am preparing to defend myself against is only a dim shadow against the brightness of this life and my desire to live it to the fullest. I’ll put up with a few annoyances and frustrations to preserve my life and the lives of those I love.