This is a tough one to write about. I’m not disabled in any way, nor have I ever been. In order to get the information I needed for this article, I had to talk to some CCW folks who are. They prefer to remain anonymous, but I would like to acknowledge their contributions.
The first thing that became apparent to me is that not every disabled person is disabled in the same way. The variation in what people can do really dictates that disabled CCW find their own approaches to it. A prime example I ran into came while talking to two CCW folks who were wheelchair bound. One was in a chair as a result of an accident which robbed her of the use of her legs while leaving her upper body strong and healthy. The other was in a wheelchair as a result of a chronic illness; he has reduced strength and mobility in his entire body. This obviously changes how they can carry. Whereas someone with full control and strength in their upper body might be able to use whatever firearm their non-disabled equivalent would choose. Someone with a wide range of disabilities may have to adjust their approach: a weapon with lighter recoil and a more ergonomic grip, for instance. Some level of experimentation is going to be required.
The carry mechanics of CCW are likely going to be very different. Using wheelchair carry as an example—while reminding ourselves that there are so many different kinds of disabilities—holster choice is going to be very different. A IWB holster designed for 5 o’clock carry isn’t likely to work well for someone in a chair. They might be better off with a shoulder rig of some sort. Likewise, someone reliant on a cane or walker may have to carry on the front of their body. If at all possible, I do not recommend mounting the holster to the chair/walker/whatever. The basic rule of keeping it on your person if possible stands—see our articles about purse carry and the like.
Then we come to training, and this is where things get complicated. The initial trips to the range will require some additional learning curves for the disabled shooter. While working on the fundamentals, they’ll also be evaluating individual weapons to see if they fit their needs: Can I handle the recoil? Can I grip it comfortably and securely? Is the weight too much for me? Can I reach the safety? Can I reload it easily? Are the sights big enough for me to see?. If all of these questions, and more, check out, you may have found your carry piece.
Tactical or practical CCW training is going to take a different tone as well. Many people with disabilities have much less body mobility than their average counterpart. This shapes every aspect of tactical and self defense training, meaning that disabled folks will need to adapt techniques to their needs and abilities. This isn’t an impassible barrier in many cases—with a little creativity you’ll be able to find the solutions that work for you. No one is defined by their disability, no matter what it is.
This article showed me yet again that we have entire communities of differently-abled people, living full lives in ways we often never see. Taking some time to learn more about their lives, their needs—and maybe getting them involved in shooting and CCW—is well worth the effort.