Carrying a concealed weapon is an enormous responsibility. I knew this; deep inside, I really knew this.
However, after taking the concealed carry class required by the Illinois State Police in order to obtain a license to carry, the enormity has truly sunk in.
Last weekend, I spent 16 hours in class and on the range in order to qualify to apply for a concealed carry license.
I knew how to shoot a gun. I learned when I was 7-8 years old. My dad, a competitive handgun shooter, said that I was a natural.
I've never been afraid of guns, and I'm a strong supporter of our 2nd ammendment rights.
When Illinois approved the concealed carry laws in 2013, as required by our federal government, I seriously considered whether or not to take the classes and apply.
Back in January, I discovered that a friend of mine, a sergeant on a local police department and former Marine, had started his own business.
Being able to take a class taught by my friend, someone I know and trust, helped me make the decision to sign-up. I'm so glad that I did.
Even if I get the license and choose to only carry at times, what I learned in the class is invaluable.
- ... what it means to use one level of force above the one you are being threatened with.
- ... the laws governing where I can and cannot carry a weapon. In Illinois, they really ought to just tell you where you can carry, because it is a MUCH smaller list than where you cannot.
- ... that just by unholstering my weapon, I am implying deadly force and am legally obligated to be able to articulate why I felt that it was necessary to do so.
- ... that Illinois has ZERO reciprocity for concealed carry licenses. Other states do - Utah's concealed carry is reciprocated in 30 states.
- ... that even if I do shoot someone because they were threatening my life, I am still obligated to render medical aid directly (hands on first aid if safe to do so), or indirectly (by calling an ambulance). If I do not render aid of some kind, I can be charged with a variety of felonies, such as negligent homocide if they believe that person may have lived if given proper treatment.
- ... how to clean a weapon (someone else has always done that for me, because I personally do not own a weapon. Yet).
- ... all of the details of sighting and shooting a handgun in order to facilitate the most judicious aim possible. (I happen to be quite good at this part of it).
- ... that Illinois has no "stand your ground" or "a man's home is his castle" law, the way some other states, like Florida and Texas do. If I choose to shoot someone that is in my home uninvited, I have to make sure they are about to commit a forcible felony, or my butt could be in serious trouble.
- ... how to handle speaking to an officer about my concealed carry weapon if I'm carrying in my car and I get pulled over. Number one rule? Never freak out the other person who is also carrying a weapon.
- ... just how much I didn't know, and that I really will need to take more classes and practice shooting on a regular basis.
- ...that just because I am armed and can defend myself, doesn't mean I will either live through the encounter, or come away without being seriously injured. Sobering thoughts, huh?
What I already knew going into the class, but the class intensely reinforced, is that by carrying a concealed weapon, I am putting myself in a position to make life and death decisions.
I've made life and death decisions before as a paramedic. I know what it feels like to stop treating someone that has a "do not rescusitate" order. I know what it's like to watch life leave a person. I know what it's like to make the decision to change a rescue situation into a recovery situation. Never have I taken those decisions and that responsibility lightly.
I do not, in any way, shape or form, take the responsibility of carrying a concealed weapon lightly, either. That's why this post may seem a bit dry and dark; I have a hard time finding levity in this topic.
For those of you that think that concealed carry is a bad idea, you have that right to think that way. I strongly recommend that you don't carry.
You should also know that there is nothing simple, easy or cheap about getting a concealed carry license (and it is a license, not a permit). One must fill out paperwork, take classes, fill out online applications, submit to photos (and fingerprinting which is optional but recommended) and pay lots and lots of money in class fees and application fees just to APPLY for the license.
An applicant must also qualify in a live fire situation. That means that the applicants must go to a shooting range, fire live rounds into a paper target and be accurate enough to pass the requirements.
I took top marksman in the class, thanks to my previous experience, my natural abilities and the terrific instruction I received in class. See for yourself:
Then there is the cost of the weapon, the cost of the ammunition, the cost of the holster or other carrying device, the cost of the multiple lockboxes one needs in order to comply with the laws and the cost of the renewal every 5 years.
In addition to all of that, you could take all the necessary steps, pay all the fees and still be denied a license by the Illinois State Police.
If someone, like me, wants to carry a weapon, there is nothing simple, quick or easy about, as it should be. Carrying a concealed weapon is an enormous responsibility and should be treated as such; make sure to take the responsibility seriously.
Exodus 22:2-3 (NIV)
2 “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; 3 but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.
Matthew 5:7-9 (NIV)
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Will you apply to concealed carry? Do you think that having a concealed carry law is a good thing, or a bad thing?
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