So, You Want to Carry a Gun?

If you are reading this, I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s because you have decided you might want to start carrying a gun. So, let’s get a couple of disclaimers out of the way for starters:

I reside in Georgia. Any reference to laws and other legal considerations are done with that reference in mind. Check your local laws and regulations.

I am obviously not an attorney and this does not constitute legal counsel in any way, shape, form or fashion.

I assume no liability whatsoever for any action you or another person takes after reading this article.

Clear? I hope so. Can’t be too careful in today’s world. Which is a nice transition to the topic at hand, carrying a gun. For the purpose of this article, we will primarily be discussing concealed carry, as opposed to open carry, so bear that in mind. When discussing carrying a firearm with someone in person, I usually like to figure out what prompted this decision, as sometimes there may be an underlying issue that needs to be resolved, with the desire to carry a gun being a symptom of that issue. For example, an ex boyfriend stalking a woman. She should be taking legal routes to resolve the stalking, while absolutely getting the means to defend herself should the need arise. I’m not saying getting the permit and firearm is a bad idea at all, but the issue needs to be resolved, whatever the “issue” may be.

Here in the state of Georgia, our firearms laws are fairly relaxed compared to other states across the country. The usual restrictions to firearms ownership still apply, such as felony convictions, domestic abuse, dishonorable discharge, etc. We will be going from the assumption that you are legally allowed to possess a firearm from here on out. What is NOT required, per state law, is any kind of formal training to get a carry permit and carry a firearm. Without delving into the politics surrounding this, suffice it to say I think carrying a gun without at least rudimentary training is a bad idea. You should have a working knowledge of your firearm, basic understanding of your legal rights and responsibilities as a concealed carrier, and practice enough to maintain proficiency with your firearm. We aren’t talking SEAL Team 6 stuff here by any means, and it behooves you and the general public to obtain this knowledge and these skills.

Classes are available to teach you how to shoot. Ranges are available for you to practice and maintain your skills. What is not so easily taught is the mindset that you should have while carrying a gun. That gun is to defend your life, to put it simply. If you were a maintenance tech before you started carrying, you are still a maintenance tech, your job didn’t change. You didn’t somehow become Superman. Yes, there are cases where a concealed carrier used their weapon to save the life of someone else. No, that’s not a bad thing. If your moral compass and your legal rights and responsibilities align in a moment of need for someone else, great. But your primary purpose in carrying a firearm as a civilian is for self defense, not crime fighting, not to get yourself in bad situations just because you have a gun now.

It takes only a minute or two to see a news story about someone being killed or assaulted in a violent crime. There is a criminal element out there that does bad things to good people. Such has been the case for all of human history, and likely will not change in our lifetimes. If these news stories are what prompted you to start down this path, that’s completely understandable but also understand according to National Institute of Justice statistics, violent crime is consistently decreasing. Remember that there is a fine line between fear and prudence. Do not let fear dictate your decision making when it comes to big decisions like carrying a gun.

After discerning your reasons to begin carrying a concealed firearm, the next step is to go to your county courthouse and apply for a permit. While some states allow “Constitutional” or permit-less carry, Georgia requires a permit to carry a firearm on your person. There will be some paperwork you will out, as well as having to obtain fingerprints from the county Sheriff or other local law enforcement agency. There will also be a fee that will need to be paid. This fee can vary from county to county, so check with your county to get accurate pricing. Turnaround times on permits being issued can vary. Mine took about two weeks. That seems to be the average from talking to friends. The Georgia permit is good for 5 years, and if renewed before expiration, is typically less expensive when renewing it. The Georgia permit also will serve as a background check when purchasing a firearm in the state of Georgia. The gun store will simply copy the permit and your driver’s license and file it with your other paperwork from purchasing the gun.

This next section is largely subjective, so bear with me. If you hang around “gun people” at all, you have likely heard the term “carry gun” thrown around. This is because a “carry gun” is something most concealed carriers spend a great deal of time researching and considering before making a decision on. For me, a gun I intend to use for concealed carry has to meet some very important criteria before I would consider carrying it. I need to be able to shoot it well under simulated stress, both accurately and quickly. It needs to be unquestionably reliable and fool proof to operate under stress. Lastly, I need to be able to conceal it fairly easily. In my case, this brought me to the Glock 19 9mm pistol. It just works for me and my needs. It may not for you. The best advice I can give you, the novice carrier looking for a concealed carry gun, is to find a range that will allow you to rent guns and try them out. Tell the range staff that you are in the market for a carry gun, and try several out. Or, if you have a friend that has several guns and you trust, ask them to let you go shooting with them and try some of theirs out to see if you find a potential match. Inevitably, someone will ask if I have some recommendations to start the search with, so here are a few that I personally have carried, and would recommend to someone new to carrying a gun:

  • Glock 19 9mm
  • Smith and Wesson M&P 9c 9mm
  • Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 9mm
  • Glock 26 9mm
  • Glock 30s .45 ACP

Some of you have probably noticed two things: I like Glock and Smith and Wesson, and I like my carry gun chambered in 9mm. Both are true. That’s not to say there aren’t other options out there that may make more sense for your needs and preferences. These are just what I am willing to put my stamp of approval on, based on having actually carried these guns. My reasoning for the 9mm is quite simple: it is cheaper than the other two members of the “big three” self defense calibers, .40 S&W and .45 ACP, delivers enough energy for self defense needs, and is mildly recoiling and easier to shoot more quickly and accurately than other options. Again, these are my personal reasons and based on my experiences.

Once you decide on a firearm to carry, you are going to need a holster to carry it in. This is almost more subjective than the firearm selection portion of the article. Where on your body you carry will largely be determined by your day to day activities and your clothing that you typically wear. Find what works best for you. It’s alright to have more than one holster style for different occasions. Just remember to practice drawing from each holster you have. (With a completely unloaded firearm for practicing!!!!) There are a few features I think it is necessary to have on your concealed carry holster.

  • The trigger guard and trigger should be completely covered by the holster. This lessens the likelihood of negligently discharging the firearm.
  • The holster should hold the firearm securely. This can be accomplished through a tight fit, or a retention device such as a snap, or button release.
  • On leather holsters, make sure that the leather is in good shape and stays well maintained. Over time, leather can become very flimsy and start making its way into the trigger area of firearms upon holstering the gun, resulting in catastrophic consequences. LOOK as you holster your gun to also make sure nothing is being pulled into the holster with the gun, such as a shirt tail, jacket cinch cord, key lanyard, etc.

Ammunition choices for concealed carry are bountiful, to say the least, and we won’t be diving into the various choices available in this article. Hollow point ammunition is the best option for carry, however. This is due to two main reasons, the first being that hollow point rounds are designed to “mushroom” and expand when entering a soft target, thus slowing the bullet down so that its potential to overpenetrate the target and cause unintended damage is greatly reduced. The second is that by expanding, the bullet is effectively delivering more kinetic energy to the target, making it more effective in the application of stopping a violent attacker. I will urge you to YouTube carry ammunition in the caliber you decide on, and make an informed decision based on the results of your research. My carry load is Federal’s HST 124 grain hollow point round. That can serve as a starting point for your research. Don’t get so caught up in which round you want to carry, that you forget to practice. You can have the best ammo available and it not do a bit of good if you can’t hit your target consistently.

I commend your decision to take responsibility for your own safety, and since you’ve made it all the way to this point in the article, taking it seriously enough to do some research before assuming such a responsibility. Remember, you will win 100% of the fights you do not get in. Effective risk mitigation decision making, a confident demeanor, and not making yourself a soft target will go a long way towards lessening the probability of even needing your firearm. Bear in mind that a gun is just one tool in your self defense toolbox. Not every self defense situation will warrant deadly force (even brandishing your firearm unjustly can land you in jail) and it would be beneficial to obtain some quality martial arts or unarmed self defense training as well.

If you found this article helpful, please, share it with others who you think would benefit from it. Thank you so much for reading. Stay safe, and stay prepared.

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Published by Nick

Nick is an avid shooter and 2nd Amendment content creator with 20 years shooting experience. You can usually find him testing guns and equipment at his range on his property, or creating video content to help others enjoy the shooting sports as much as he has over the years.

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