The Seven Stages of Concealed Carry
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The Seven Stages of Concealed Carry

This is a discussion on The Seven Stages of Concealed Carry within the Handgun Tactics, Training, and Practice forums, part of the Handguns category; I got my CCW when I was 21 and lived in Pennsylvania. At that time, all you needed were the ...

  1. #1
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    Default The Seven Stages of Concealed Carry

    I got my CCW when I was 21 and lived in Pennsylvania. At that time, all you needed were the signatures of three reputable citizens on your application attesting to the fact that you were a responsible person. Since I grew up in a small town and knew most of the cops, I got three of them to sign my application.

    The approval process took 2 minutes. The police chief approved my application after laughing at the signatures. The waiting time took another 2 minutes as I waited for the secretary to type up my permit.

    I moved to Colorado almost 30 years ago. (Yea, go ahead and do the math…)

    Over the years, I’ve noticed that most people who get their carry permits go through seven distinct stages:


    1. The Wyatt Earp Syndrome:
    You walk with a swagger, looking for trouble because you’re the fastest gun in town.

    2. The Intimidator Syndrome:
    You don’t take crap from anyone; and if someone looks at you wrong, you casually let the wind blow your coat open to expose your “equalizer”.

    3. Holy Crap Syndrome:
    Sometime during your Intimidator phase, you realize that people aren’t as intimidated as they used to be; in fact, sometimes guys look at you as a good source for their next “piece”. (Maybe they spent a few years in prison practicing disarming techniques with other cons – so to him, you’re fresh meat – he’ll just kick your ass and take your gun.)

    4. Slap in the Face Syndrome:
    You realize that one-day, you may have to take a life in defense of yourself or someone else. Can I really do it? Will I make all the right moves? Can I handle myself in a life or death confrontation? (It’s at this stage that many people stop carrying altogether or only carry when they feel it’s REALLY necessary. High profile mass shootings usually trigger this stage.)

    5. Sheep Dog Syndrome:
    OK, you’ve read through the pile of gun magazines that your wife has been nagging you to throw out and you make the decision to get more training. You want to have the proper knowledge, be confident, and do everything correctly if the stuff hits the fan in your presence. (This phase kicks in a month or two after you’ve thought about the high profile mass shooting.)

    6. Do I Have The Right Gun Syndrome:
    Does my 9mm have enough stopping power? Should I buy a bigger gun? What about a .40 caliber? No, I’ll go with a .45. It has combat-proven stopping power.

    7. Just Another Tool Syndrome:
    Going shopping with the wife? Grab your keys, slip your gun into your holster, grab your hat, and grab your jacket. You do it so quickly and efficiently, your wife doesn’t even notice that you’re packing every time you leave the house. Nor does she even notice you slipping your gun into the drawer of the stand right next to your easy chair when you return.

    Best part is that the sheep at the mall, restaurant, and gas station where you stopped during your outing had no idea that you were one of probably several sheepdogs in their mist that day.
    Last edited by Instructor_Dennis; 03-11-2008 at 11:50 PM. Reason: extra comma
    Dennis Young

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    Default

    My wife told me one day that I am calmer, less confrontational and more considerate lately with her and others and wondered what had changed. As I thought about it I realized that it has been since I began carrying. Carrying a lethal weapon is an immense responsibility and has caused me to be more aware and more prepared for other peoples actions and therefore I'm less startled and less reactive. Therefore, I don't buy into your stage 1, 2 or 3. As for the rest, once I made the decision to carry there was a concurrent commitment for continuous education and training.
    Howard
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    This certainly is not what I experienced. Briefly, it went like this:

    Stage One: "Dang, EVERYONE knows I'm armed! Crap! What if they call the cops about an 'armed man?' Why are those two guys looking at me then whispering to each other? Do they see my gun?"

    This lasts for about 2 weeks. After which, you realize that no one is paying attention to squat, much less YOU, much less any invisible bumps you thought they saw the first two weeks. (if you do it right, they should never see your gun.)

    Stage Two: Do I have the right gun/holster/clothing to do this right? What might work better? Experimentation followed.

    Stage Three: The "what if" phase where you run realistic scenario possibilities through your mind and coming up with reasonable, realistic responses to them as they present themselves. IE; you're in the checkout line at the store when a suspicious person comes in and you run the "what if he robs the store by doing this, then that, what would I do?" kind of thing.

    Stage Four: I settled into a subtle "Condition Yellow" mindset. Ever watchful and alert, but able to do it casually and effortlessly.

    Stage Five: Some make it to this stage, but others do not. I'll call it "burnout," because they decide they don't need the hassle of carrying a gun, since they've never needed it yet, so they stop carrying it altogether, or "in the car" is good enough for them.

    For Stages 1 thru 4, I had a quiet confidence, knowing that if something happened, I'd be able to do something about it. Or at least, have a chance to do something about it, if I chose to. Carrying a gun is not a guarantee, it's only an option.

    Before and during these stages, I practiced, so I'd be reasonably sure of where my shots would go, should I ever need to fire my gun.

    I personally never had a "Wyatt Earp" syndrome or ever used my gun as an intimidation device. NO ONE ever saw my gun by accident. Outside of my LE uniform, no one saw my gun, period.

    .

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    If you decide to carry a gun BEFORE you have a long, serious discussion with your conscience about your true ability to shoot someone with the full expectation of killing them, then, to be blunt, you're an idiot.

    EVERYONE thinking about buying a gun for personal defense, much less carrying one should have that deeply reflective "talk" with yourself.

    THEN your answer better be the right one !

    Please don't give me the weasel response: "Well, I don't think anyone knows what they'll do until it happens" bullcrap. You should know yourself well enough to dig as deep as you need to for that answer, whatever it is. If you do not, then you should not buy or carry a gun for defense.

    This is serious stuff, so be serious about it !!

    .

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    Default Great Responses!

    OK, I confess... Not everyone goes through every stage.

    Those of us who have carried for several years can relate to at least some of the seven stages that I listed - and maybe even a few that I missed. I have to admit that the more mature you are, the less likely you are to go through the the first few stages.

    I agree totally with David E's above response. Read his Stage Three. What he's talking about is "mental rehearsal". You must not only be mentally prepared, you must see yourself coming out on top.

    It would be great to hear about the experiences of others out there. What happened to you that caused you to move to another stage? What stage were you in? What stage did you move to?
    Last edited by Instructor_Dennis; 03-12-2008 at 09:03 AM.
    Dennis Young

    dennis@theshootingschool.org
    www.theshootingschool.org

    NRA Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, and Personal Protection Instructor
    Law Enforcement Force-on-Force Instructor
    ASI Certified Baton Instructor
    ASI Certified Defense Spray Instructor
    Member - National Concealed Firearms Instructors Association

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    7. Just Another Tool Syndrome:
    Going shopping with the wife? Grab your keys, slip your gun into your holster, grab your hat, and grab your jacket. You do it so quickly and efficiently, your wife doesn’t even notice that you’re packing every time you leave the house. Nor does she even notice you slipping your gun into the drawer of the stand right next to your easy chair when you return.

    My wife may or may not notice as she may be busy getting her gun. She has no doubt though that I have mine.
    By faith Noah,being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear,prepared an ark to the saving of his house;by the which he condemned the world,and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith Heb.11:7

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    By the way Instructor Dennis, I love your part of the country. Untill about 12 years ago my brother and sister-in-law lived in Denver. He was there from the early 1960's until they moved to AZ. She was born there and has a brother that was on the Denver police force. While he was there my family and I spent many a vacation in CO. I know some of the towns better than a lot of my on state. It has been a while but hope to get back up there soon.
    By faith Noah,being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear,prepared an ark to the saving of his house;by the which he condemned the world,and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith Heb.11:7

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    pretty cute. Being as I wasn't 21 when I started CCW legally I went from
    1. Holy crap they know I'm packing'
    2. which gun, which holster...you mean I gotta buy new clothes to fit the darn thing??????????
    3. OK, so shooting a target standing still is easy, this moving and shooting at moving things is hard.
    4. it's a tool and with me, just like my cell phone, wallet.
    5. when are those darn phasers coming out. :icon_cheesygrin:
    Rule #1 of CCW: Don't get made.

  9. #9
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    I concur with David E. I've never had "Wyatt Earp Syndrome", because I'm just not that kind of person. The Wyatt Earps of the world give me a headache, and along with small children, should not use guns when unsupervised to begin with.
    Silent Running, by Mike and the Mechanics

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    Quote Originally Posted by toreskha View Post
    I concur with David E. I've never had "Wyatt Earp Syndrome", because I'm just not that kind of person.
    I've never had the Wyatt Earp Syndrome and as of recently, I catch myself bouncing between the Sheepdog/Do I Have the Right Gun/Just Another Tool syndromes.

    My wife and I had a discussion earlier this week about her taking her CHL class next month with a group of females from my car club. While I'm a proponent of CHL/CCW I am also fearful of people carrying for the wrong reason. My wife said, "It boils down to being comfortable with a gun in your hand."

    And BTW, DavidE, I don't fully agree with you about the "...weasel response: "Well, I don't think anyone knows what they'll do until it happens" bullcrap." I do agree that one better be serious about it. You can train and train and train, and mentally go thru thousands of senerios; but when it comes down to it and the fecal matter comes in contact with the oscillating-mechanical-wind-circulating-device no one really does know what they will do the first time. Yeah, I'm about 98.6% sure of what I would do in a real BG senerio, but like Bruce Lee said, "Boards don't hit back."
    And similarly, paper targets don't shoot back. In that split second before one pulls the trigger, its normal for many thing to run through his/her brain. That causes the 1.4% of uncertainty that I fear. Other than that, I am extremely comfortable with a weapon in my hand...
    Samurai - "...he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." Luke 22:36

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