Seven Concealed Carry Mistakes, and How to Avoid Making Them


Seven Concealed Carry Mistakes, and How to Avoid Making Them
How to Get Your Florida Concealed Weapons
Permit without Getting Robbed
Before we go any further, please do yourself a favor and think about what
carrying a gun for protection could ultimately mean for you and your family. If you
carry a gun, someday, you may have to line up your sights on another human
being, and pull the trigger. You will have just killed another human being, and the
aftermath will be horrific – no matter how right or necessary it was for you to pull
the trigger.
Think about this before you start carrying a gun for self-defense. If you make the
wrong decision during that one critical split-second you have to decide whether to
shoot or not to shoot, you and your family’s lives will be changed forever. Worse
yet, the wrong decision could cost you and your family’s lives.
In the real world carrying and using a gun for self-defense is not like it is on
television or in the movies. People think they know this, yet in every firearms
class I’ve taught, I see try to handle guns and get questions that tell me people
really do believe what they see on TV, especially when it comes to guns.
If you are going to carry a gun, I want you to commit to doing it correctly. Carrying
a gun is not something you do. Carrying a gun is a lifestyle. It requires time,
money, and commitment to safety, equipment, and training. If you fail to realize
this, it could cost you your life in more ways than one.
So are you ready to make the commitment to the concealed carry lifestyle?
Then read on!
What Your Permit Will and Won’t Do for You
First of all, there is no such thing called a Florida concealed weapons permit. After
you take your class, you will receive what is officially called a Florida Concealed
Weapons and Firearms License. Lots of us just call it a “permit”, mainly because
it’s easier to say and faster to type. So from here on out, we’ll call it a concealed
weapons permit.
What Will Your Florida Concealed Weapons Permit do for You?
Your Florida concealed weapons permit will allow you to carry a firearm and a
variety of other weapons concealed, and in public.
Now the word “concealed” is very important. According to Florida State Statue
790.001, concealed means “from the ordinary sight of another person.”
Some states have what is called open carry. This means you can strap a gun on
your hip and walk around like a cowboy or cowgirl. I’m not a fan of open carry. I
want to keep my gun a secret until the worse possible moment for the criminal
who wants to victimize me or my family. By the time the attacker finds out I am
carrying a firearm, it will be too late for him or her.
Florida is one of the few states left that attempts to abide by the constitution and
the 2nd Amendment. You don’t have to prove to the state, or worse yet, your local
sheriff or police chief that you need to carry a gun.
The local news and crime statistics do that for you. As long as you meet the
eligibility requirements outlined in the following section, state law says Florida
MUST issue you a Florida Concealed Weapons and Firearms License. Sorry – got
all official on you for a second.
You don’t need a permit to buy or own a gun in Florida like you do in states that
have disregarded the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment. One extra benefit of
having your permit when you buy a gun, is that you won’t have to wait through an
unnecessary three business day waiting period.
A waiting period, or “cooling” off period, is what ignorant people think will allow a
person unstable enough to want to kill someone, time to cool off and reconsider
their plan to murder someone. In my opinion, all it really does is give the wouldbe murderer three extra days to figure what they’re going to do with the body.
What Your Florida Concealed Weapons Permit Won’t do for You…
Your Florida concealed weapons permit does NOT turn you into an honorary
police officer, deputy sheriff, or caped crusader. You will NOT be responsible for
ridding Florida’s streets of criminals. If you want to catch bad guys and bad girls,
get a job as a police officer!
So who can get a Florida concealed weapons permit?
Anyone who meets the following requirements can get a Florida concealed
weapons permit.
Eligibility Requirements
You must be 21 years of age or older.
You must be able to demonstrate competency with a firearm.
Unless you are serving overseas in the United States Armed Forces, you
must currently reside in the United States (US) AND be a US citizen or
deemed a lawful permanent resident alien by Department of Homeland
Security, US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). If you are serving
overseas in the US Armed Forces, submit a copy of your deployment
documentation with your application. Those who are 'Resident Aliens' must
provide a valid Permanent Resident Alien card.
Who Can’t Get a Florida Concealed Weapons Permit?
Possible Reasons for Ineligibility:
The physical inability to handle a firearm safely.
A felony conviction (unless civil and firearm rights have been restored by
the convicting authority).
Having adjudication withheld or sentence suspended on a felony or
misdemeanor crime of violence unless three years have elapsed since
probation or other conditions set by the court have been fulfilled.
A conviction for a misdemeanor crime of violence in the last three years.
A conviction for violation of controlled substance laws or multiple arrests
for such offenses.
A record of drug or alcohol abuse.
Two or more DUI convictions within the previous three years.
Being committed to a mental institution or adjudged incompetent or
mentally defective.
Failing to provide proof of proficiency with a firearm.
Having been issued a domestic violence injunction or an injunction against
repeat violence that is currently in force.
Renouncement of U.S. citizenship.
A dishonorable discharge from the armed forces.
Being a fugitive from justice.
Training Requirements
Here’s where things start getting a little confusing. Read over the training
requirements listed below and tell me if they make perfect sense.
Florida law requires you to submit proof of competency with a firearm in order to
qualify for a concealed weapon license. A copy of a CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION
or similar document from any of the following courses or classes is acceptable:
any hunter education or hunter safety course approved by the Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission or a similar agency in another state;
any National Rifle Association firearms safety or training course;
any firearm safety or training course or class available to the general public
offered by a law enforcement agency, junior college, college, or private or
public institution or organization or firearms training school, utilizing
instructors certified by the National Rifle Association, the Criminal Justice
Standards and Training Commission, or the Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services;
any law enforcement firearms safety or training course or class offered for
security guards, investigators, special deputies, or any division or
subdivision of law enforcement or security enforcement;
any firearms training or safety course or class conducted by a state-certified
instructor or by an instructor certified by the National Rifle Association.
The copy of the training certificate/document must be clear and legible. The
certificate/document must include your name, your instructor's name, your
instructor's qualifications/credentials (National Rifle Association instructor, law
enforcement firearms instructor, Class "K" Firearm Instructor licensed by the
State of Florida, etc.), and your instructor's license/certification number. United
States Concealed Carry Instructors have also recently been approved to teach
these courses.
Make sure you ask the instructor to show you a copy of his or her Instructor
Certification, and make sure it is up to date.
Other acceptable forms of training documentation include the following:
documentary evidence of experience with a firearm obtained through
participation in organized shooting competition;
active-duty military personnel may submit copies of any of the following
documents that confirm your experience with a firearm gained during your
service: military orders including call to active-duty letter; a statement of
military service signed by, or at the direction of, the adjutant, personnel
officer, or commander of your unit or higher headquarters which identifies
you and provides your date of entry on your current active-duty period;
former military personnel can submit a DD Form 214 reflecting honorable
discharge from military service.
How to Select a Firearms Safety Class Meeting State Requirements
Selecting the right training class is as important as selecting the right concealed
carry handgun. When you go gun shopping for the first time, you’ll likely be
overwhelmed by the wide variety of choices. We’ll cover how to select a
concealed carry handgun later in this book, but for now let’s concentrate on
getting you into the right concealed carry class.
Chances are you’ve recently Googled “Florida concealed weapons permit class”,
or you wouldn’t be reading this book.
You may not have noticed that when you hit your “enter” button, that in only
0.46 seconds, Google found about 117,000 results. That’s a lot of “Pick me! I’m
the best. I’m a super-ninja!” results to sift through.
Now before some of you instructors out there get your “I Love My Glock”
underwear all bunched up, most of us are highly qualified instructors. Some of us
may actually be super-ninjas, however, none of us are the best. Even the topnotch instructors, the ones who have their own TV shows and write for the gun
magazines, will be the first instructors to admit this.
What You Should You Look for in an Instructor
To start with, your instructor must be certified by one of the following
certification agencies.
United State Concealed Carry Association, (USCCA)
National Rifle Association, (NRA)
Florida Criminal Justice and Standards Training Commission, (CJSTC)
Class "K" Firearm Instructor licensed by the State of Florida
According to Florida’s current application packets, these are the only instructors
who can sign your certificate, but hopefully Florida will change this because there
are some really talented instructors, newer organizations, and incredible training
facilities opening throughout Florida and all over the USA.
It’s a good idea to talk to the instructor before your class to see if he or she is a
good fit for you personality-wise. Ask the instructor for references from people
just like you instead of folks looking for military type training. You want to be
trained how to carry your gun in the mall, not how to root the Taliban out of their
mud huts.
Don’t base your decision on all the cool photos of the instructor’s website
showing him or her parachuting, shooting machines guns, or dressed in full battle
gear in a desert someplace just outside of Jerk-a-Derka-stan.
What Could Happen if I Pick the Wrong Instructor or Class?
Horrible, horrible, horrible things can happen to you and your family if you chose
the wrong Florida concealed weapons permit class or instructor.
Some dinosaur instructors still teaching Florida concealed weapons permit classes
preach the “It’s better to be tried by twelve than carried by six” theory. These
guys should be home on the couch watching old “Charles Bronson Vigilante”
Following their shoot-them-no-matter-what advice will get you put in prison. You
may be okay with prison, but I don’t think your kids will enjoy visiting you in
prison, will they?
Another thing to watch out for is instructors who “rubber stamp” permits. This is
pervasive and running rampant in South Florida. If you get your permit from an
instructor who collects your money and hands you a certificate, you’re just as
guilty of fraud as the instructor.
If the state wants to push it after you shoot someone, (even if the shooting was a
“justified shooting”) you may very well end up in jail. Maybe in the same cell as
the criminal you shot – if he survived that is. That would be a rough 20 years huh?
You may take a class from an instructor who does not enforce or teach firearm
safety. You could end up getting shot and killed during class, or you accidently kill
a family member when you get home because you didn’t learn how to safely
handle your gun.
Once You Get Your Certificate, How do You Get Your Application Processed?
There are three ways to get your Florida concealed weapons and firearms license
1. The old fashioned way is to run around town getting your fingerprints done
at a local law enforcement agency, getting a passport photo taken, find a
notary, and then mail it up to Tallahassee.
2. You can take it to one of the Department of Agriculture’s Regional Offices
(See the Helpful Resources Page for Locations and Phone Numbers)
3. If you’re lucky enough to live in Highlands, Indian River, Nassau, Okaloosa,
or Pinellas Counties, you can take it to your local tax collector’s office.
See the Helpful Resources Section for Contact Info and Addresses for numbers
two and three.
What to Bring to Your Appointment
Don’t bring your gun because the certificate you get after your class is not a
temporary permit.
If you’re taking your application to one of the Department of Agriculture’s
Regional Offices…
 You’ll need a copy of your certificate (don’t bring them the original because
you’ll never see it again)
 A check, money order, or credit/debit card to pay $112.
 Lastly, you’ll need a state Id or driver’s license. If you’re a permanent
resident, you’ll need you “green card” and utility bills proving you’ve lived
here dated over the last three months.
If you’re taking your application to a Tax Collectors Office, you’ll need…
 You’ll need a copy of your certificate. Don’t bring them the original
because you’ll never see it again.
 A check, money order, credit/debit card or cash for $134.
 A State Id or Driver’s License. If you’re a permanent resident you’ll need
you “green card” and utility bills proving you’ve lived here dated over
the last three months.
Other States that Honor the Florida Concealed Weapons Permit
Your Florida concealed weapons and firearms license is considered a “strong”
permit. By strong permit, I mean it is recognized by several states – due in part to
the requirements that need to be met in order to be issued a permit.
As of this publication date, the following states honor the Florida concealed
weapons permit… (Note that there may be stipulations described by the numbers
next to the state)
Alabama (1,3,5)
Alaska (1)
Arizona (6)
Arkansas (1)
Colorado (1,4)
Georgia (1)
Idaho (3,6)
Indiana (1,3,6)
Iowa (6)
Kansas (1)
Louisiana (1)
Michigan (1,4)
Mississippi (1)
Montana (3)
Nebraska (1)
New Hampshire (1,3,4,6)
New Mexico (1)
North Carolina (1)
North Dakota (3,6)
Ohio (1)
Oklahoma (1)
Pennsylvania (1,4,6)
South Carolina (1,4,6)
South Dakota (1,3)
Tennessee (1,6)
Texas (1,3,6)
Utah (1,6)
Vermont (2)
Virginia (1,6)
West Virginia (1)
Wyoming (1,3)
(1) While Florida's law allows licensees to carry stun guns, knives, and billy clubs
in a concealed fashion, the laws in these states allow for concealed carry of
handguns or pistols ONLY, NOT WEAPONS IN GENERAL. Florida license holders are
prohibited from carrying other types of weapons while in these states.
(2) The State of VERMONT does not issue weapon/firearms licenses. Florida
licensees - indeed, licensed or unlicensed citizens from any state - may carry in
Vermont. This presents a problem for reciprocity with Florida. Florida law
provides that an out-of-state resident must have in his or her immediate
possession a valid license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. Since Vermont
residents have no such license, the right to concealed carry cannot be extended
to them under Florida law.
(3) Individuals qualify for concealed weapon licenses in these states upon
reaching 18 years of age. HOWEVER, any licensee of these reciprocity states who
is not 21 years of age or older IS PROHIBITED from carrying a concealed weapon
or firearm in Florida.
(4) These states will honor the Florida concealed weapon license ONLY IF the
licensee is a resident of the state of Florida.
(5) The Attorney General's Office of the State of ALABAMA has indicated that
Alabama will honor BOTH resident and non-resident Florida licenses. However,
the Alabama Attorney General notes that there is some uncertainty as to the
limits of Alabama's reciprocity law as it pertains to non-resident licenses. Pending
clarification by the Alabama Legislature or a decision by an Alabama court, he
urges non-resident Florida license holders to exercise caution. Refer to the
Alabama AG's Web page for the latest information.
(6) These states issue concealed carry licenses to qualified individuals who are
non-residents. These non-resident permits cannot be honored under Florida's
reciprocity provision.
REMEMBER: It is YOUR responsibility to know the laws for whatever state
you’re in, including but not limited to:
What you can and can’t carry
How many, and what type of bullets you can have in your gun
Where you can and can’t carry
Most importantly… the self-defense laws of the state you’re in. If you shoot
a criminal in a state that differs from Florida laws, the defense of “That’s
how we do it down south, damn it” is not a valid legal defense.
Where You Can’t Carry in Florida
1. Any place of nuisance as defined in s. 823.05 (places of prostitution, illegal
gambling houses, crack houses, criminal gang headquarters, meth labs etc.)
2. Any police, sheriff, or highway patrol station;
3. Any detention facility, prison, or jail;
4. Any courthouse;
5. Any courtroom, except that nothing in this section would preclude a judge
from carrying a concealed weapon or determining who will carry a concealed
weapon in his or her courtroom;
6. Any polling place;
7. Any meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district,
municipality, or special district;
8. Any meeting of the Legislature or a committee thereof;
9. Any school, college, or professional athletic event not related to firearms;
10. Any elementary or secondary school facility or administration building;
11. Any career center;
12. Any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for
consumption on the premises, which portion of the establishment is primarily
devoted to such purpose;
13. Any college or university facility unless the licensee is a registered student,
employee, or faculty member of such college or university and the weapon is a
stun gun or nonlethal electric weapon or device designed solely for defensive
purposes and the weapon does not fire a dart or projectile;
14. The inside of the passenger terminal and sterile area of any airport, provided
that no person shall be prohibited from carrying any legal firearm into the
terminal, which firearm is encased for shipment for purposes of checking such
firearm as baggage to be lawfully transported on any aircraft; or
15. Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law.
I Have My Permit, Now What?
The first time you leave your house while carrying a concealed firearm will be
much like the first time you drove a car by yourself. You’ll feel like you’re carrying
around a ship’s anchor, or wearing a neon green shirt that reads, “Look at me I’m carrying a gun!”
Don’t worry, must people walk around with their heads so firmly implanted up
their ass, that they wouldn’t notice if you “open-carrying” your firearm. Some
people walk the earth so unaware of their surroundings that you could shoot a
few rounds off right next to them and they still wouldn’t notice your gun. Know
anyone like that?
There are several things that get new (or experienced concealed weapons permit
holders who picked a bogus instructor) in trouble, arrested, or killed. I listed seven
common mistakes concealed weapons permit holders make in the first free Bonus
Section of this publication, so don’t stop reading now.
Seven Concealed Carry Mistakes
Not Following the Four Firearm Safety Rules
Recent news headlines consistently describe
tragedy after tragedy that could have been
prevented if the gun owner had known and
followed the Four Basic Firearm Safety Rules.
Anytime we can review these rules and let them be absorbed by the grey squishy
matter that is our brains the better off we’ll be.
Let’s review the Four Basic Firearm Safety Rules, shall we?
1. Treat all firearms as is they are loaded, even when they’re not.
2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re on target and ready to shoot.
3. Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, either at the target or towards
the ground. Never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to kill or
4. Know that your target is threat to life, or is something safe to shoot. Know
what is behind your target and what could cross in front of your target.
By following these four simple to understand and adhere to rules, you can avoid
accidently killing or severely injuring yourself, a family member, or an innocent
bystander. You have a lot to lose even if you accidently kill or injure someone. You
can be sued in court or thrown in prison for accidently, shooting someone, so
review these rules often, and follow them no matter what.
Thinking Your Permit Turns You into an Honorary
Police Officer or Vigilante
Thinking that your permit turns you into a horary
police officer or vigilante has resulted in some wellpublicized court cases here in Florida. I’m not going
to mention names, but we all know about these
incidents in Florida because they were covered nationally by all the major
One involved a concealed weapons permit holder who, despite being told not to
approach a suspicious person, left the safety of his car to confront a person he
though was acting suspiciously. This resulted in a shooting that did not have to
happen if this hotheaded permit holder had simply stayed in his car – just like the
police dispatched told him to.
The permit holder was ultimately cleared of any criminal activity, but he spent
months in prison and racked up a huge legal debt that will be very difficult to pay
off. If you really want to go out and fight crime, get a job as a police officer.
I recently read a report about a permit holder who had been described as a
“wannabe” cop. This genius (not the kind of genius who fixes your iPhone) sees
something going on alongside a roadway. Keep in mind that this incident did not
involve him or any of his family members, and it had actually started to
Everyone was starting to calm down, and it looked like everything was going to
work out without more violence. That is until our genius with a gun jumped into
the situation and reignited everything and everyone. Had this genius stayed in his
car and actually used a cell phone to call the police, he would not be in a
wheelchair today. Turns out he was the only one who got shot that day – right in
the side of his neck.
I am willing to bet that both of these boneheads wish they would have stayed in
their cars instead of allowing their misguided emotions and egos get the better of
them. Think about these guys before you jump out of your car and make a life
changing mistake for the worse.
Not Knowing Firearm and Self Defense
In just about every concealed weapons
class that I’ve taught, I am usually
interrupted by someone who disagreed
with what I was saying.
The person usually recites something they’ve read on the internet, or repeats
something they’ve heard from their uncle or brother-in-law, who was either a
police officer, former Sheriff, Navy SEAL, or a super-ninja.
It’s usually the same myth or urban legend I’ve heard a thousand times, but with
slightly different circumstances. You’ve heard them too. Maybe from your superninja brother-in-law who used to be a Navy SEAL and Sherriff, right?
My favorite myth is that if you shoot someone outside of your house, simply drag
him inside your house, and you’ll get away with it. Have you heard this one too?
This could not be further from the truth. If you tried this, it would only take even
the most wet-behind-the-ear rookie crime scene technician about thirty seconds
to figure out what you did. Then you’d be in big trouble.
Then there’s the “Three Step Rule” nonsense, not being allowed to shoot
someone in the back or head, and hollow points being illegal in Florida – all of
which are untrue! Another huge mistake that gets otherwise law abiding gun
owners in trouble is assuming that firearms laws are the same from state to state.
You need to know the firearms laws for whatever state you’re in or are traveling
through. You need to know…
 If your Florida permit is valid in whatever state you’re going to or through
 What you can and can’t carry. Some states allow handguns only, while
other states allow you to carry pepper spray, batons, stun guns, and
 Where you can and can’t carry. Some states allow you to carry your gun in
bars, while other states won’t let you carry your gun in a place of worship.
Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum, right?
 And of course you need to know the self-defense laws for whatever state
you’re currently in. Some states don’t have a Castle Doctrine or a Stand
Your Ground law. Even if they do, they usually differ considerably. Make
sure you know the details, because “That’s the way we do it down south” is
not a legal defense in a court of law.
Allowing Anger and Ego to Get You into Trouble
This is “usually” a big problem for us guys, but a
recent and certainly avoidable tragedy unfolded
in Las Vegas. A forty-four year old mother was
teaching her fifteen year old daughter how to drive, when she had some sort of
incident with another driver who made her upset.
Mom and daughter drive home, and instead of staying inside where it was safe
and calling the police, this mother and her twenty two year old son (who grabbed
a gun) and headed back out to the streets to look for the person.
The would-be vigilante mother and son team found the other driver, and now the
mother is dead.
An on-going case in Florida involved an ex-cop in a movie theater who confronted
a person texting (to check up with the babysitter) as the previews started. The excop ended up shooting and killing the “unlawful texter”, and spent months jail
and several thousand dollars in legal bills to date. If things don’t go his way in
trial, he’ll likely die in prison. This could have easily been prevented had egos and
anger not gotten in the way.
Assuming That Your Firearm Will be The
Great Equalizer
Another mistake that concealed carry
permit holders make is believing that
simply carrying a gun or displaying it
when confronted by a dangerous criminal is enough to make a would be attacker
pee in his pants and run away like a scalded cat.
I know from personal experience that this is not always the case. I’ve pointed
guns at people in the lawful performance of my police duties, and once as a
private citizen carrying under my Florida concealed weapons permit. More than
once criminals have responded by saying, “Shoot me motherfucker, I want to
Had I not had weapon retention training, I could have been killed with my own
gun when these criminals attacked me even though I had a gun pointed at them.
There really are some BAD guys and girls out there who are not afraid of having
guns pointed at them. For some of these people, being shot at and having guns
pointed at them is a part of daily life.
They are not afraid of being shot, so you better make sure you’re ready mentally
and emotionally to pull the trigger someday, or may end up being killed with your
own gun.
Choosing the Wrong Firearm and Equipment
Mistake Number Six is not always the fault of
the concealed weapons permit holder. Most
of the time, we can blame this mistake on the
permit holder’s super-ninja brother-in-law.
Super ninja may have been shooting all his life and can master any weapon from a
sword to a sawed-off shotgun. This does not mean that super-ninja knows what
gun is best for you.
The best firearm for a super-ninja will usually be a wrong choice for a concealed
weapons permit holder. Some people believe you need to carry the equivalent of
a hand cannon like Dirty Harry or Sonny Crockett. And since we’re talking about
them, they carried their guns in shoulder holsters, so we should too, right?
But it may not be super-ninja’s fault this time either. Often times we can blame
the “expert” at the big box gun shop who badgered you into buying a much bigger
(and more expensive) gun than you really need, or can shoot well for that matter.
Don’t let the gun shop employee who needs sell expensive guns and gadgets (so
he gets a bigger commission check at the end of the month) outweigh your need
to carry a gun that you can shoot well, operate, and conceal easily.
A real “expert” firearms sales person will ask you questions and will be glad to
help you purchase the firearm right for you. Remember that it’s your life that may
depend on buying the right gun someday.
Not Getting Proper and Ongoing Training
If you make this mistake it’s 100 % your fault.
Even in states that are less than gun friendly, quality firearms instruction is easy
to find. There also are plenty of free and inexpensive ways to train when you can
make it to the range for a while
You can start with a basic four or eight hour introductory handgun course, or you
can immerse yourself in a week-long handgun training program that will take you
from being an untrained novice up to a highly trained, safe, and confident
If you ask any of the top firearms trainers how they got to be where they are, they
will tell you it’s because they never stop taking classes or trying to better
themselves as shooter. Any Special Forces warrior will tell you they got to be as
good as they are through daily training year after year.
Many retired Special Forces operators have opened their own training centers, or
they travel across the USA holding one to five day classes teaching the latest selfdefense shooting techniques and weapons handling techniques for both new and
experienced shooters. Make sure you get to as many as these as you can afford!
Even if you can’t get to a shooting range regularly, there is a lot you can do to
improve your chances of winning a lethal force situation. Better yet, you can do a
lot of this training right in your own living room. An obvious choice would be to
start a collection of firearms training DVDs. Many top-notch instructors and
trainers offer for purchase and download online.
YouTube can be a good source for free videos. Be careful with YouTube videos.
Anyone can upload them – super-ninja or not. I have seen several YouTube videos
posted by people claiming to be “experts” teaching techniques that will get you
killed – either on the street or even while trying to learn them.
Books are not as exciting as training videos. Including this one, there are several
good ones out there. Make the next book you read a book on firearms training
instead of the latest book in that romantic “Stud-Muffin the Vampire” novel series
you’ve been devouring late at night.
Check your cable listing for the “Outdoor Channel” and the “Sportsman Channel”.
Each and every Monday and Wednesday night you’ll be treated to several hours
of high quality and potentially life-saving programs specifically for us armed
You don’t need to be a super-ninja to safely and successfully carry a firearm for
self-defense. Understand that carrying a gun for self-defense requires calm
common sense, an in-check ego, and a commitment training as often as possible,
you will stay out of prison and out of the graveyard.
How to Choose a Concealed Carry Handgun
Let’s get something straight right from the
start. You are about to purchase a mechanical
device that you may someday have to rely
upon to save your life or the lives of your
family. Now is not the time to be a
Extra money is tight these days, but you’re better off delaying the purchase of
your concealed carry gun for a month or two while you save up enough money to
buy a quality firearm.
Give up those $7 cups of coffee. Remember guns are mechanical devices, and like
cars, computers, and air conditioners, they do fail. The better your gun is, the less
likely you’ll hear a “click” when your life depends on hearing a bang instead.
I own a gun shop and sell lots of guns, but I am still amazed when customers
come in looking for a “cheap” carry gun. If you had to have brain surgery
tomorrow, would you call around looking for “cheap” brain surgery? If you had to
jump out of an airplane that was about to crash, and there happened to be a
person on the plane selling parachutes, would you ask the parachute salesperson
for the cheapest parachute possible? I didn’t think so.
I get madder than a barefoot caterpillar standing on a hot rock when I hear a socalled “expert” working at the local big box sporting goods store tell a customer
that they happen to have the perfect self-defense handgun for him or her. What
makes me angrier is when they suggestion a gun before they even ask the
customer a single question about their shooting experience. If this ever happens
to you, find another shop, or at the very least, find another salesperson.
Before we talk about the different types of concealed carry guns, their pros, their
cons, and what features to look for, you need to figure out how and when you’re
going to carry it.
I can certainly suggest when you should carry it, that’s easy. Carry it every-frickinwhere you legally and safely can. You never know where and when you’ll need it. I
know, that’s easier said than done.
Many new concealed carry holders make the mistake of letting their neighbor – a
highly decorated and highly trained Special Operations Warrior fresh off the
battlefield tell them what gun is the perfect gun for you.
You don’t have the experience they do, and even though the can master any
weapon you put in their highly skilled hands, they are not you. Don’t get me
wrong, they can give you suggestions about what to look at, but if they say you
need to buy xyz gun period, thank them for their advice and keep reading.
I’ve been carrying professional and later selling concealed carry handguns since
1986, and I can’t tell you which concealed carry gun is perfect for you. I can tell
you this though, you may never find a perfect concealed carry gun. I own a gun
shop, and I still have not found a concealed carry gun perfect for me.
Remember, we’re all different sizes, we all dress differently, and we all have
different skill levels when it comes to shooting. Let’s start with how you dress.
Yeah, I hear you, “What about the way I dress?”
That’s not what I mean.
Maybe you’re a yoga instructor and really can rock a pair of yoga pants, but have
you ever tried to conceal a mid-sized handgun in them? Yes as a matter of fact
Yoga instructors carry guns too. I know one that can go from “Namaste”, to
putting well-placed shots into a bad guy’s chest in under a second.
When it comes to concealed carry, there’s basically only two ways to carry; onbody or off-body.
On-body means the gun, or holster it’s in, is attached to your body. Off-body carry
means the gun is kept in a purse, briefcase, or back in the 90s, a fanny pack. If
you’re too young to remember fanny packs, google them.
Let’s start with on-body carry. As with anything in life, there’s going to be pros
and cons. I prefer on-body carry for several reasons, and the first one is that I
tend to forget and lose stuff. My mom likes to say that I’d forget my ass if it
wasn’t attached to my body. For example, as I said, back in the 90s carrying your
handgun in specially designed fanny packs was all the rage.
Fanny packs had built in holsters, all sorts of
different pouches for extra ammo, and even a can
of pepper spray. You could even fit a full-sized
handgun in them without having to wear shirts
and pants two sizes too big. My problem is I
usually forgot about the fanny pack once I took it
off and sit down. I remember once having to
break just about every traffic law in Florida to get
back to an Olive Garden when I realized I have
left my fanny back in one of their booths.
Yes, I made a mistake that could have cost my career as a police officer, and
worse yet, maybe it could have cost someone their life. Surprised a firearms
instructor risked embarrassing himself by revealing such a stupid mistake? My job
as a firearms instructor is to teach you everything I can so you don’t make the
same mistakes, and not to worry about my ego.
But let’s get back to my fashionable fanny pack. I’ve spent lots of years working as
an undercover narcotics detective, and that fanny pack was a great way to
conceal a gun. (At least until every cop and his or her brother started using them,
then fanny packs screamed, “Hey drug dealer, I’m a cop!”)
So one day I quickly devoured a couple questionable burritos in-between drug
deals. About a half hour later, let’s just say I had to make an emergency pit stop. It
was a long way back to our cleverly disguised narcotics unit’s headquarters, and
there was no way I was going to make it back to take care of my business on what
I like to call “safe porcelain” – even if my undercover car had lights and sirens.
We were working in a neighborhood ripe with crack houses, dealers, and users. I
pulled into a gas station that didn’t look too dirty. I made it to the bathroom,
hastily took off my fanny pack and hung it on the coat-hook inside my surprisingly
clean stall. A couple sixteen or seventeen year old thug-wanna-bes came in, and
one peeked through the crack in the stall door.
Let’s say I was still in a very vulnerable position, and I got that feeling that tells me
something bad is about to happen. By “bad” I don’t mean “bad” because of the
burritos either.
One of these young criminals reaches over the top of the door and grabs the strap
of my fanny pack. He started pulling it over the top of the door. Thankfully I was
not in the middle of anything that would have required me to remain over
porcelain, and even if I had been… well never mind. I was able to grab the fanny
pack, but now the tug-o-war was on.
So here I was, literally caught with my pants down, trying to keep a criminal from
taking away my gun. I swallowed my pride, and yelled, “Police officer, you’re
under arrest!” Thankfully they both took off running, and I didn’t have to write
the worst memo I’d ever have to write. It was then and there that I decided to
never carry “off body” again.
That being said, there are some high quality concealed carry purses and
backpacks available these days. Depending on how you have to dress at work, or
how you like to dress when you’re not working, off-body carry may be you only
option, especially if you live at a nudist colony.
Alright, let’s talk about on-body carry. No matter where you carry your gun, for
your safety and the safety of everyone around you, carry your gun in a holster.
Forget about the TV tough guy who tucks a gun into his waistband and pulls his
shirt over it before going out to save the world. That’s disaster waiting to happen.
A certain NFL player found that out and ended up in a painful legal matter that
resulted in an extra hole in his body and some time in jail.
Right now I have a small “pocket pistol” more specifically a Glock 42 .380 in my
right front pocket. Even though it’s in my pocket, it’s still in a pocket holster. It’s
also the only thing in that pocket. You may be thinking, “Well if he’s carrying a
Glock 42 in a front pocket holster, so should I.”
Not true. You’re not me and I’m not you. I’m actually considering switching from
pocket carry to an “appendix holster that clips inside my pants and rests about
where my appendix used to be. (One day I thought that burrito came back to
haunt me but turns out my appendix was about to rupture instead.)
So why am I thinking about switching to
appendix carry when I should be finishing
this section for you? Because it would be
difficult to draw my gun from my front
pocket while sitting in front of my computer
if some crazed criminal smashes his way
into my house. So what I am getting at is
this, think about how you dress and spend
most of your day before you buy your concealed carry handgun. I could go on for
another six pages about this or that type of carry, but there’s tons of books and
videos available on each one of them. Let’s get back to the guns.
Types of Concealed Carry Handguns
To simplify things let’s just say there’s two types of concealed carry handguns.
Revolvers and semi-autos. Again to keep it simple, a revolver has a wheel looking
thing that kind of bulges out on the sides that holds the bullets. Semi-autos are
flatter and skinnier. You put the bullets into something called a magazine (NOT a
clip!) For the most part, semi-autos are easier to conceal because they’re flatter.
Now you may be thinking, “Sounds like I need a semi-auto because they’re easier
to conceal.”
Not necessarily.
You may have arthritis, or you may have lost a couple fingers to your pet snapping
turtle. Semi-autos come with sometimes several different buttons and levers that
can take some finger-strength to manipulate before you can make them go bang.
Revolvers only have one latch you need to open to load the
things. This does not mean that you won’t be able to figure out
how to “work” a semi-auto despite the limited number of
fingers you have left after your run-in with your pet turtle
Revolvers are much easier to load, and once loaded, all you have to do is aim and
squeeze the trigger. There are less moving parts that can break or malfunction,
which means they don’t jam in the sense that semi-autos do. If a revolver does
not go bang when you squeeze the trigger, it’s the bullet’s fault, or a lack of
bullets altogether.
Ok, now you may be thinking, “So you’re saying my first concealed carry gun
should be a revolver.”
Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that either, so let’s talk about semi-autos.
As I’ve said, semi-autos are flatter and easier to conceal. With some training from
a knowledgeable firearms instructor, most people can learn to shoot and operate
a semi-auto pistol.
Semi-autos usually have a lighter trigger pull than most revolvers. This makes
them easier to shoot. With some training, and then practice, you can also learn to
quickly fix most malfunctions in a matter of seconds. Semi-autos require a little
more maintenance, but with training and a proper grip, a quality (not cheap)
semi-auto pistol will keep going bang shot after shot.
Size Matters – But Not How You Think
Bigger is not better when it comes to concealed carry because after all, your gun
has to be concealed. Nobody is supposed to be able to see it. We live in Florida,
and I don’t have to tell you how hot and sticky it gets during the summer. You
don’t want to carry a handgun so big you have to wear a winter jacket just to hide
the thing. Imagine all the attention you’ll get walking around in your winter coat
at the Fourth of July fireworks this summer.
So let’s forget about the big guns, and talk about “pocket pistols” first. When I say
“pocket pistol” I’m sure you were able to figure out what kind of gun I’m talking
about. If it’s early when you’re reading this and you have not finished you coffee, I
mean small guns that fit in one of your pockets. They’re usually no bigger than the
palm of your hand. Right now, that’s my favorite way to carry – but that does not
mean you have to carry that way.
My Glock 42 pocket pistol is small and light enough
to slip one into my sweatpants pocket that I wear
around the house. It does not pull them down, and I
even run up to the convenience store without
worrying about accidently exposing my gun or
anything else for that matter.
I have given up on being “fashionably dressed” over being “tactically dressed”.
These days my pants consist of “tactical” pants with plenty of big pockets that
hold guns, extra ammo, and even a flashlight. Same goes for my shorts, and
pocket-sized pistols work well with my wardrobe choices.
There are quite a few quality “pocket-sized” revolvers hitting gun shop shelves
these days too, but they are a little thinker and a little heavier that pocket sized
semi-autos. Test as many as possible before you whip out your credit card.
In case you dozed off, we’re talking about gun size, not caliber (or size) of the
bullets. We’ll get to that in just a minute or two.
On to mid-sized guns. Some manufacturers and gun
magazines have labeled these as “Sub Compacts”.
You may be able to stuff one into your pocket, but
only if you have really big pockets. These guns will
be easier to hide if you carry them in a waistband
holster or in a purse.
You may have correctly guessed that waistband holsters are worn in your waist
area, so give yourself a gold start. You got that one correct. But did you know
there are two types of waistband holsters?
There’s outside the waistband holsters, and there’s inside the waistband holsters.
Inside the waistband holster slip inside your pants and are held in place by a clip
that remains outside your pants. The clip is concealed by your shirt, and some are
cleverly disguised with a cell phone case.
Some outside the waistband holsters have a clip or paddle that slips inside your
pants, while the gun and holster remain outside. Some come with belt slots that
you run your belt through. You’ve seen them on most TV cop shows.
You conceal the gun and holster with a shirt or
outer garment, but it usually has to longer and
looser than what you normally wear. Some months
Florida’s heat may make this a little less
Most waistband holster are made to be worn on
your side, but some are made to be worn around
where your appendix should be, or in the small of
your back. I may be testing “appendix” carry soon, but I will not carry in the small
of my back. It takes longer to draw the gun, and you kind of have to “swing” the
gun around in front of you to get it up into a firing position.
This may cause you to point your gun at people you don’t want to shoot. This will
cause you to violate the basic firearms safety rules. Since I mentioned them, and
since I’m a firearms instructor, and since you can never hear the basic rules of
firearms safety enough, let’s review them, shall we?
1. Treat all firearms as is they are loaded, even when they’re not.
2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re on target and ready to shoot.
3. Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, either at the target or towards the
ground, and never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to kill or
4. Know that your target is threat to life, or is something safe to shoot. Know
what is behind your target and what could cross in front of your target.
The other problem with behind the back carry is that you may have already been
knocked to the ground by a punch. Your attacker may already be on top of you
trying to rape you. It is going to be almost impossible to draw your gun quickly if
you and your attacker a laying on top of it. I think I’ll keep my gun on my side, or
in the appendix position thank you very much.
Perhaps though, over the years, you’ve developed a “ballistic belly” or “tactical
tummy” and there just isn’t enough room in your waistline for a handgun.
If you sit most of the day, or you drive for a living, you
may consider putting a pocket pistol in an ankle
holster. They’re hard to draw from when you’re
standing without looking like the “Karate Kid” in his
famous crane stance, but you can get pretty quick from
a sitting position in your car or at a desk. You also don’t
have to worry about your pistol poking your ballistic
belly all day either.
Back to the Guns.
So without getting too technical, next comes full sized pistols. As you can guess,
the bigger the gun the harder it is to conceal. So why would anyone consider
lugging around a full sized gun? Because they hold lots of full sized bullets, that’s
Most pocket pistols are going to hold .22, .32, .380, .38 special, and some will hold
9mm. There are a couple exceptions, and I know the super-ninjas reading this
may be cussing at me through their computer screen because I forgot to mention
their favorite caliber, but I didn’t write this for them, I wrote it for you.
These same super-ninjas, and many of the self-proclaimed experts who think
they’re so knowledgeable about everything that goes bang, have not attended a
training class since 1973 – if ever. Many of them seem to think you need to carry
a .45 caliber in order to have chance in a gunfight. Not true.
The first rule of gun fighting is to bring a gun. The second (and for me it’s the first)
is not to get shot. Of course the third is to shoot the criminal. I’ve been teased by
super-ninjas for carrying a .380 caliber pocket pistol. Yet when I ask the superninja if he would care to shoot himself in the foot with my .380, I never get any
When super-ninjas tell me they don’t want to be shot in the foot with a pocket
pistol because of the injuries it will inflict, I ask them to imagine being shot a
couple times in the chest and once in the face with one. This usually shuts up the
ones with a little intelligence.
Concealed Carry Calibers
This section on bullet size, or caliber as we call
it, is not intended to be an in-depth ballistic
comparison study. I’m just trying to get the
point across that two or three little bangs can
have the same, or better effects than one big
bang. So you don’t have to buy a pistol that
would give Dirty Harry “Pistol Envy”.
If you don’t enjoy shooting a gun that is really, really loud, or one that kicks really,
really hard, you don’t have to. Buy and carry something that you can shoot well
and enjoy practicing with. If you don’t practice with your gun because it rattles
the fillings out of your teeth every time you shoot it, you’re not giving yourself
every chance possible to survive a violent attack.
Before you found your favorite pair of shoes, you most likely went through a least
a few pairs before you found them. You may have to do this with guns too. Even
though I’m not of a fan of the big box gun stores, (because they are putting mom
and pop gun shops out of business all over the USA) they do offer one valuable
Most big box stores will allow you to rent and shoot several different types of
handguns before you buy them. Just make sure you buy from a mom and pop
store after fondling and drooling over all their guns.
When it comes to buying a concealed carry handgun, don’t be cheap. Do your
own research and don’t let the super-ninja next door convince you to buy
something you’re not going to be able to master. Consider how you’re going to
conceal your gun, and how often you’re going to be able to train with it.
Remember to try and shoot as many guns as possible before you buy.
Helpful Resources Page
Florida Department of Agriculture Regional Office Locations
Fort Walton Regional Office
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CST)*
111 Racetrack Rd., Unit 111-C, Choctaw Plaza
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547-1816
(850) 344-0300
(850) 344-0301 Fax
Orlando Regional Office
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EST)*
1707 Orlando Central Pkwy., Ste. 150
Orlando, FL 32809-5765
(407) 888-8700
(407) 888-8704 Fax
Jacksonville Regional Office
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EST)*
Agencies and Individuals
Regulated Under Chapter 493, F.S.
7825 Baymeadows Way, Ste. 106-A
Jacksonville, FL 32256-7504
(904) 828-3100 Option 3
(904) 828-3122 Fax
Punta Gorda Regional Office
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EST)*
230 Bal Harbor Blvd.
Ste. 111 - Agencies and Individuals Regulated
under Chapter 493, F.S.
Ste. 112 - Concealed Weapon or Firearm
Punta Gorda, FL 33950-0200
(941) 676-6060
(941) 676-6052 Fax
Concealed Weapon or Firearm License*
7825 Baymeadows Way, Ste. 123-A
Jacksonville, FL 32256-7557
(904) 828-3100 Option 1
(904) 828-3122 Fax
Miami-Dade Regional Office
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EST)*
Agencies and Individuals
Regulated Under Chapter 493, F.S.
7739 NW 48th St., Ste. 140
Doral, FL 33166-5407
(305) 639-3500
(305) 639-3503 Fax
Concealed Weapon or Firearm License*
7743 NW 48th St., Ste. 100
Doral, FL 33166-5407
(305) 639-3501
(305) 639-3502 Fax
Tallahassee Regional Office
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST)*
Capital Center Office Complex
4040 Esplanade Way, 1st Floor, Ste. 101
Tallahassee, FL 32399-7016
(850) 245-5498
(850) 245-5283 Fax
Tampa Regional Office
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EST)*
1313 Tampa St., Ste. 712
Tampa, FL 33602-3328
(813) 337-5377
(813) 337-5378 Fax
West Palm Beach Regional Office
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EST)*
400 N Congress Ave., Ste. 140
West Palm Beach, FL 33401-2912
(561) 681-2530
(561) 681-2599 Fax
Contact Information and Locations of Florida Tax Collectors’ Offices that Process
Florida Concealed Weapons Permits
Pinellas County
Highlands County
Indian River County
Nassau County
Okaloosa County