Constitutional Carry: What You Still Need To Know

by Tommy Grant

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Unlike some other instructors, I’m not against constitutional carry at all. Sure, it might mean fewer students and less money in my pocket, but an out of control government that doesn’t respect the limits placed on itself in the law is a much bigger problem. So, I’m going to support the lack of training requirements and background checks regardless of short-term personal costs.

At the same time, though, I also know that there is some value in a good concealed carry course. So, even if you don’t plan to get a permit, taking that course from a qualified instructor is still a great idea. But, I know that not everyone has a spare $100-$200, or more for an even better course, so in this article I want to share a few essential things you need to learn more about if you’re going to carry a gun for personal defense.

I can’t cover them all in a comprehensive way in a short article, but I can give you a shopping list of the skills you need to learn to get yourself more ready to carry.

Physical Skills

This one might seem obvious, but you need to know the basics of firearms. Carrying a firearm without knowing how to be safe with it, how to use it effectively and knowing how to hit your target can bring a lot more trouble into your life than it helps you with. I can’t give you all of that knowledge here, and I’d recommend that you take an in-person class to learn the basics if you never have.

But, if you’ve got a pistol already and you can’t get into a class or don’t want to take one right now, you should at least try to memorize these four rules:

  • All guns are always loaded. (In other words, treat them like they’re loaded.)
  • Never point a gun at anything you don’t wish to destroy.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
  • Know what your target is and what lies beyond it.

Beyond these four rules, you need to know how to safely:

  • Load and unload the firearm
  • Use any safeties or other features the firearm has
  • Know how to deal with malfunctions (misfires, hangfires, squib loads, double feeds, stovepipes)
  • Practice the six fundamentals of marksmanship
  • Safely unholster and reholster the firearm
  • Retain the gun if someone tries to steal it from you

Again, I’d recommend learning all of this in-person with a qualified instructor. But, you can also find some great internet resources for all of the above items to get started on your own if needed.

The Law

Once you know the basics of safe handling, marksmanship and basic defense, you need to learn about the law. In short, there are two things in the law that you need to learn about: possession laws and use of force laws. I’m not qualified to teach you all about this in every state, but I can point you to some good resources from people far more qualified than I am.

For possession laws, one great resource is You can click on each state to get a complete list of what places you can’t have a gun, among many other things. It also has some information about federal laws, indian reservations, and more.

For use of force laws, the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network has a great booklet explaining the basics. Important things like the Reasonable Man Doctrine, ability/opportunity/jeopardy, the initial aggressor rule, how a self-defense claim works, and much more can be found in the booklet.

Finally, you need to consider your right to remain silent. Here’s a video that goes into great depth about why you shouldn’t talk to the police after self defense without consulting with a lawyer.

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