Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My new normal.

The state of Ohio says that I am now allowed to carry a concealed handgun. The license itself is a little plastic thing, similar to my drivers license. I keep looking at it, somewhat bemused. It bears a photo of me looking grim, some personal information, and a number that I can only assume represents my place in the line of people who have applied and been accepted before me, and those that will come after. Such a simple thing, and yet...

I waited to make my "armed in public" debut until Mike got home last night. Since we had done the class and the application together, I wanted to share this moment with him too. And of all the places available to us, we went to the pet store to buy cat litter.

Getting ready to go, I put on my black leather blazer-style jacket. "Can you tell? Can you see it? I can see the lump, can you?" My hips felt uneven as I smoothed the jacket down.

"No, no, you're fine," Mike said. "Dark colors are good, it does a better job of hiding any shadows or outline. Now turn around...lift up your arms. Uh-oh. There it is. I can see it now."

"I don't normally walk around stores with my arms raised above my head, you know." I pulled the jacket back down and grabbed my purse. "Besides, no one will notice because they're not expecting to see it, they're not looking for it."

I watched Mike walk to the car. I couldn't even tell he was carrying. He's a big guy, uses an inside the waistband holster and was wearing a bulky sweatshirt. It seemed easier for him. "Am I going to have to buy a new holster, maybe a new wardrobe?" I wondered. Summer is bound to be complicated. I quickly began to understand why Leah, our NRA instructor, open carries everywhere. She dons a cute outfit and then straps on her belt and holster like anyone else would wear a wristwatch.

As we pulled out of the driveway and headed down the street, Mike said, "There. It's official. You are a now free person, no longer a subject." I looked over at him and started laughing. I felt my world change. It's a wild feeling - enormous freedom and enormous responsibility all at once.


Robb Allen said...

My first outing was to see a show at the local theater. I felt like I was wearing a neon sign that said "I HAVE A CONCEALED WEAPON!!!" but you do learn that unless someone is specifically looking for it, they'll see nothing.

In fact, my holster attaches to my belt, so you can see the black, plastic clips. We're so accustomed to cell phones and PDA's that nobody even gives them a second thought.

Last thought - In the words of someone great (I think it was you), remember that you are exercising a right and have nothing to be ashamed of.

Zendo Deb said...

For shorts and tee shirts - my standard uniform in Florida - I find that the fanny packs work good.

(I've had 2 purses snatched, so I don't like to carry in a purse, but Coronado Leather has some nice stuff if it comes to that.)

Guns with single stack magazines are a lot skinnier than the rest, though unlike Tam I don't carry a 1911.

The Duck said...

They really are pretty easy to hide, I carry a Browning HP, in a paddle holster, all summer. A couple of my guys carry Sig 226's, at least one carries a Goverment 1911, & we never scare the sheep.
You will get use to it in a couple of weeks, it only takes a little forthought

Bitter said...

I'm a purse carry girl. I haven't found a solution to any other kind of carry for practical every day situations that wouldn't require a completely new wardrobe.

It's not just a matter of new clothes, it's cutting clothes I like wearing out of my wardrobe. In other words, I couldn't continue to be me.

Of course, when I decided that purse carry was the way to go, I had the same issue with purses. Most of the purses on the market were ugly and not styles I would like carrying as an actual purse. So again, I could carry, but I couldn't really be me. Until I found this particular purse from Coronado.

Now I don't carry because I work in the District. But when I'm out of here, as Sebastian has pointed out, one of the benefits of purse carry is that you can arrive to work, lock the purse in a drawer and no one thinks twice. Of course, in the one job that was in a state where I could carry, they purse was left out in the open because the culture was very pro-gun and we liked knowing that all of the personal guns around the office were accessible by the rest of us. :)

That said, I'll say again that if the carry market really wants to embrace more women, they would start making purses and other products to fit more with what women really like to carry and show off. I have very simple tastes and I had trouble finding something I liked. I can't fathom how some of the women I'm trying to recruit into the carry culture would react if they saw the options today.

Weer'd Beard said...

I'm right now waiting for a delivery truck to show up at the house. I took the day off, so I decided today would be a good day to lock-and-load my 1911. I keep seeing the bump under my sweatshirt, but for months now I've been strapping on my holster without telling Mrs. Weer'd and she's been suprised every time I've opened my sweatshirt to reveil the holster with gun.

Also I've asked my Buddy: "So What are you carrying today?" once at the range. He wasn't, but I saw a buldge of his IWB holster, even though it wasn't there. I also see other people who are carrying around town, but I have no idea if I'm imagining it or not.

I'm waiting to hear back about my permit. Not a question of if, just a question of When. : ]

Jay G said...

Given that I've had a LTC (License to Carry) since the early 1990s, I forget where my first CCW experience was (one of the many downsides to gettin' old...)

I *still* fret over "can anyone see it".

'Course, I'm trapped behind the Iron Curtain in the Volksrepublik of MA, where gun owners rank slightly lower than circus carnies...

Congrats, BTW. You are now a sheepdog.

Shamalama said...

"It's a wild feeling - enormous freedom and enormous responsibility all at once."

Amen, sister. Congratulations. Welcome to the Family.

Timmeeee said...

That's such a beautiful story, I'm all misty eyed.

Mike W. said...

One nice thing about your being in Ohio is that if you do come unconcealed or you're printing it's no big deal since OC is legal as well.

It's ridiculous that in some states it's a crime if your pistol comes out of hiding accidentally.

BTW, what are you carrying? The snubby?

Sevesteen said...

Don't worry about random lumps. When my brother in law found I carried, he would try to find my gun, and would invariably find my cellphone instead.

Breda said...

robb - thank you.

deb - I'm in the market for something a lot slimmer than my revolver.

duck - do you wear a big tshirt to cover it?

bitter - that purse looks like something I'd carry (simple, black) but I'm not sure that purse-carry would be right for me.

weer'd - I hope your day comes very soon.

jayg - thank you!

mike w - yep, the snubby. Until I decide on something else.

sevesteen - I should probably get a cellphone now, huh?

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I am so jealous. I'm not allowed to carry in Maryland, but that's ok because the police are really good and always stop criminals before they hurt people.

Now that you are armed I have to be even MORE polite to you, naturally

Breda said...

TBolt - hmm...OH to MD. I don't think I'm that good a shot yet.

Willorith said...

Ms. Breda:
I am exceptionally happy for you. I am working on my sisters and my niece to get their ccw license. The world is a brighter, happier, safer place since you began carrying a weapon.
I carry a full size 1911 Taurus and I have never been "made." My mom once hugged me and placed her hand directly on the gun butt and didn't recognize it, she assumed it was some sort of multi-tool or electronic device. People carry so much crap on their belts these days, bulges go unnoticed. I carry in a blackhawk SERPA OWB. It provided very secure retention and very fast access. I give up some concealability in exchange for better access. I now wear my shirt tails out, and use suspenders to help hold things up, and have a double mag carrier on the weak side to balance the big pistol, and to provide 15 more bangs.
I read your blog several times each day. You are becoming a person i care for. Thanks.

Most humble regards,

Breda said...

Brian - thank you, so very much. I am honored.

Weetabix said...

Welcome aboard, Breda. I say that like I'm an old hand - I've been "permitted" for about a month and a half.

Keeping things concealed is a bit of a challenge. I'm looking for a tuckable IWB with the back leather going up high to keep the gun off of your skin. Then I can go back to my standard "uniform" of jeans and a polo shirt.

Wear it well, and may you never need it.

Yuri Orlov said...

For various reasons I carry in a "fanny pack." I started out with a polished stainless J-frame .357 Mag that weighed a lot and then switched to a Kahr CW9, which oddly enough fits the same "fanny pack."

I felt like a dork the first few times I went out (fanny pack syndrome) and was convinced everyone could tell I was armed, but now days I've mostly gotten over it.

Congrats on getting your permit!


tyskkvinna said...

I have been having the wardrobe thoughts, too. With exception to the purse-carry, I haven't seen a lot of options that I really like that won't require me to change my wardrobe.

I found a few websites that had good advice for women on how to hide a gun (one of which linked to your site, which is how I originally found your blog, actually.) but most of them boiled down to wearing baggy clothing and/or men's jeans. "Accept that you'll just have to wear clothes one size bigger" seemed to be the mantra. I don't like that. I'm a pretty small person (with the exception of being six feet tall.) and honestly... even if I did wear clothes that were too big, they'd hang on me in such a way that it wouldn't help my cause.

My solution to this problem is to find a tiny gun I'm comfortable with. This seems reasonable to me. My CPL instructor had a few tiny little things (of the 32 and 22 variety) and I really enjoyed shooting them... the larger guys in the class couldn't hold them.But as I was carrying it, it kept crossing my mind all the different places I could hide it.

Good luck on finding the right combination of gun and clothing. :)

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I'm a skinny bastard, and I like to wear tight tee shirts to show off my heroin chic physique. I pack an airweight 442 routinely, and with my IWB holster (El Paso leather c-force), I can't say I've ever printed at all. The round lines on the revolver lead it to print less than my PPK ever did back when I carried it.

West, By God said...

Way to go! My (and my wife's) first time carrying (we did it together, how cute!) was at a theater like Robb. I also felt the neon sign, especially when surrounded by hundreds of people, and even some cops scanning the crowd while working security detail (I later realized they were only looking for troublesome teenagers, not dorky looking adults with concealed guns.) If anyone had made us, it would have been because we were too fidgity and kept tugging on our shirts and belts to make sure everything was in place. Of course, Beth may have been fidgiting more than normal because she spilled half a bottle of water on herself during the movie... heh.

As for the idea of purse carry... Beth and I both thought it was a good idea before we got our licenses... she specifically bought (count 'em) three new purses with well placed and sized pockets. Needless to say, she hasn't used them once. Ans she still fondles the Coronados at our gun shop... I think I'm getting played a little bit here.

Her first time carrying was an OWB holster and an untucked shirt and she was quite comfortable with that. Of course, she wants me to buy her a Glock, which might change things, but as of right now, she's convinced that on-the-body carry is best (assuming she can find the "perfect" holster.) I tend to agree that off-body carry isn't the best choice for the same reason mentioned by both zendo deb, and cornered cat.

My problem is that I always have to tuck my shirt in for work, and the "tuckable" holster for my Bersa just doesn't work well enough for me to risk being made at work (the guy in the next cube is a gun nut too, and most everyone else is ex-military... mostly special ops... so, I doubt I'd get away with it anyway.) We don't have a specific company policy outlawing concealed weapons, but I'm not willing to risk getting in trouble just in case. I visit a military base on a regular basis, which means I'd have to find a place off base to leave my gun...

I do carry everywhere else though, and it has gotten quite natural. I don't fidgit nearly as much as I used to, because I know people don't naturally look for a concealed gun. Plus, I wear my blackberry right next to my gun now, so I have quick and discreet access to either, and the blackberry's print is much greater than the gun. It works out nicely.

The trick, I've found, is to find what works best with each outfit. Some outfits just won't work no matter what, and you'll have to either no wear them, or not carry when you do (or purse carry...) As a guy its probably a lot easier for me to fit a gun into my wardrobe, because I have very simple tastes My wife is very specific about what she'll wear, and of course it changes depending on her mood. I have a strange feeling that when she does get her Glock, the new clothes will cost as much as the gun.

the pawnbroker said...

congratulations, breda: the world around you was already made better by your presence; now it is a safer place as well...

many of your concealment concerns will be solved when you choose your new carryon...and though i share your aversion to that chunky hk, make no mistake, you're not choosing a purse and it's not about labels to impress others; making the comparison trivializes...

nothin' wrong with a pretty gun for a pretty lady but with a personal firearm more so than most anything else, form follows function; i've said before that handling and shooting several that fit your needs in terms of quality, caliber, price, size, weight, etc. is the best way to choose a firearm, and really the only way to find the one that feels and shoots like a natural extension of yourself.

the self-consciousness of carrying soon fades, and is replaced by a sense of well-being and quiet confidence that is only understood by experiencing it...your life and the lives of those around you are improved and enhanced by your choice to carry...your "new normal".

respect and regards...jtc

farmist said...

Weetabix phrased my thoughts perfectly - "Wear it well, and may you never need it."

Earl said...

A good day in Ohio, and I will sleep better there at the rest stops knowing there are more good people with guns than bad ones. The clothing thing is a bit of a problem, but then the place you work and its rules are another... they really won't allow me to carry into a prison library. The interior guards never get armed either. Keep safe and sleep sound.

Trebor said...

Congrats. Have you checked out yet?

Most people aren't goig to notice the lump under your clothes or even the grip if you accidently flash the gun. Most people just aren't that aware.

I do recommend that you get a cell phone though. If you carry a gun, you NEED a cell phone. If you ever have to draw, whether you shoot or not, you want to to contact the police AS SOON AS POSSIBLE afterwards. Basically, as soon as it is safe to do so, call the police so you can report what happened.

You do NOT want the "other guy's" report to be the first thing the police hear about the incident. In the police view, the first one to report is the "victim" and the next one is the "aggessor." Yeah, that's a bit overly simple, but true at it's core.

So, if you ever feel threatened enough to draw, and then wind up not shooting, you need a way to call the police right away. Don't forget there may also be witnesses who can call in reports of a "women brandishing a gun" as well, which is why you can't just figure "no harm, no foul" and not call if no shots are fired.

I shouldn't have to mention the necessity of being able to call for police and/or an ambulence in the event you actually had to fire the gun, do I?


Xavier said...

Congrats freewoman!

Less said...


Not to rain on the parade, but methinks it bears reiterating, that a.) just because you're armed doesn't mean you're invincible b.) just because you're armed doesn't make you immune from an "OH SHIT!" moment (I'm sure a few in this group have ND'd...) c.) it feels like a big responsibility, until one day, you relize that you've forgotten to be self conscious.

The day you hit "c" is that day you truly feel what it's like to be free - you don't even consciously know it and you just do what you do without anybody really giving you shit for it...

But, WTF do I know, I'm stuck in Illinois...

West, By God said...

Trebor: one of her articles is published on Cornered Cat. Heh.

The Duck said...

I usually wear a vest or light jacket over it.
A couple of the guys I train with just wear a size larger shirt (untucked) over a t-shirt.
I know a lot of people don't like vests (they call them "just shoot me" vests) but really they are more main stream than they were a few years ago, the worse part is when I'm out at Lowes, or K-mart etc, people are always asking where things are at in the store.

Lin M. said...


Anonymous said...

I'm envious of you (all of you). I live in a country where it's not only illegal to carry, it's also pretty much illegal to use a gun for self defense even if somebody happened to threaten you in your home (even if that was only showing that you have one in the house).

And that is not likely to change in my lifetime. Well, one reason for that is that this country is actually pretty safe, it's very rare for anybody to get robbed or assaulted (by a stranger, anyway, we do have more than enough cases of domestic violence). Combine that with several decades of indoctrination with the ideas that guns are bad, guns should only be carried by police, well, you know the drill I suppose, all the same stuff gun control groups tell you.

Anyway, you are the lucky ones. Just make sure to hold on to your rights.

The Remittance Man said...

Congrats I hope you keep feeling so good about it.

Just don't let buggers ever take your gun aweay from you.

Arcticelf said...

Welcome to the club.


Nicole said...

Say hello to the real "Anita Blake". That's awesome!

Fits said...

Eventually you'll have to clean out the holster drawer once there isn't room for anything else, then the hardly/never used rigs get tossed in a box that gets dragged out every time you get the itch to try something different yet again. You'll look at the old contraptions wondering how in heavens name you ever purchased so ludicrous a thing, and at that precise point in time you are officially an old-corps heat packer.

And if I may be so bold; two words.

Ankle Holster.

Anonymous said...

If someone asks, "Are you expecting trouble?"

Reply by saying, "No. If I was expecting trouble I would have brought a rifle!"

red said...


I still do the "can you tell I'm carrying game" in the mirror or with my wife. I've been spotted once but it didn't cause panic.

stay safe and enjoy your new role in society!

Alex said...



I have a recurring nightmare where I'm carrying my Glock 19 in public, and everybody can see it. I'm always so glad when I wake up.

The next holster I intend to try out is the MacDaniel II from Andrews Leather. It has a lot of functional options and comes highly recommended by knowledgeable shooters. See:

They also have wallet and notebook holsters, and will customize their products to fit your needs.

Dedicated_Dad said...

I still can't bring myself to carry a full-size gun - my body type and clothing styles just don't support it, and I cannot -- CANNOT -- be spotted. It would end my career.

I carry a "mousegun" - a P3AT or my Seecamp - in one of a couple of styles of "pocket holster.

No, I don't feel undergunned, as I remember the day when a .32 could still kill a man...

You may want to consider the same for the times when you can't carry "a real gun."


staghounds said...


I second the "tiny gun" idea. Used to be a CZ VZ45, then a TP-70, now a Seecamp. Which is a stainless CZ VZ45, but in 32 or 380.

Because it is so tiny, it goes every time.

When I carried bigger guns, I often found myself not carrying because they were too big or likely to cause a sensation.

The bigger gun lives in the car though.

Just discovered the CZ VZ45 is being made now in Stainless! They call it the CZ 92.

Anonymous said...

My firt outing with my pistol was a walk with my dog. On the return trip I took a bad fall on some slippery grass - pistol, holster, shoes - if it could fall of it did! No one saw. But to this day whenever I get dressed in the morning I think of that moment and remind myself to be careful.

Anonymous said...

I pick up my renewal license on May 22. After four years of concealed carry, I have a comment.We are still not free when our government who is supposed to work for us has the ability to denigh us our right unless we pay them a fee and submit to their dog and pony show,( training and background check.)The right to protect ourselves should be understood ,not licensed.
We should not stand for our RIGHTS to be "Licensed".