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Carrying Concealed Guidelines: Part 1

Copyright 2020 by the Spartan Firearms Training Group. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced, edited, or modified without written permission.

Spartan Firearms Training Group was formed in 2016. We provide high quality firearms training to help Maryland residents exercise their 2nd Amendment Rights legally and safely.

The training we deliver is informed by Maryland and federal firearms laws and by the training we received from former high-speed special operation warriors (Army Green Berets, various Special Operations Force Task Force unit members, Rangers, Navy SEALs, Marine Raiders and Marine Force Recon unit members, Canadian Special Forces, and police SWAT officers) in training facilities like Academi, Torn Tactical, Gunsite Academy, and Oak Grove Technologies.

What we learn from that personal training we pay forward to our customers.

This article is divided into two parts. In Part 1, you will learn about concealed carry guidelines including four primary safety rules, moral guidelines for carrying concealed, personal defense triad, civilian defensive decision making, and civilian use of force continuum, on-going training, and firearms insurance to protect you should you need to use your handgun for self-defense.

In part 2, you will learn about the components of a concealed carry system including handgun selection, holster selection, spare ammunition, tactical flashlight, and other equipment you should consider having with you while carrying (which should be as often as possible).

Concealed Carry Guidelines

FOUR FUNDAMENTAL RULES OF FIREARMS SAFETY

These four rules must be complied with if you want to prevent negligent injury or death caused by a firearm.  If you haven’t memorized them please do and make sure everyone in your immediate family knows and understand these rules. If you show your guns to friends when they visit, before you have a couple of beers, review these rules with them.

  1. Every firearm is loaded
  2. Don’t point the firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what’s behind it.

Carrying Concealed: Seven Moral Obligations

Moral obligations are associated with gun ownership and a permit to carry a firearm. We identified seven moral obligations for those with concealed carry permits. These values and moral obligations are reflections of the mind-set, knowledge, and skills that responsible gun owners should develop.

  1. Moral Obligation #1: Your firearm is a deadly weapon. It does not discharge itself. It first must be loaded (by you), the safety disengaged (by you, if there is one), then pointed at a target (by you), and then the trigger must be pressed (by you). You are responsible for the safe use of your firearm.
  2. Moral Obligation #2: Make sure your firearm is inaccessible to children, prohibited (which are also legal requirements), and at risk adults.
  3. Moral Obligation #3: Learn how your firearm operates.
  4. Moral Obligation #4: Learn how to shoot accurately.
  5. Moral Obligation #5: Take your training seriously. Dedicate time to practicing (live-fire practice or dry practice).
  6. Moral Obligation #6: Not all firearms training is of equal quality. Seek out skilled trainers who provide superior training opportunities.
  7. Moral Obligation #7:  Reflect on who you are and what your handgun skill-level is. Assess your personal moral and ethical values. Determine if you have the will to wound or kill another human being in a self-defense situation. Decide if you have the mind-set and courage to engage an attacker when your life or the lives of your loved ones are at stake.

At all times you must comply with the concealed carry guidelines of the Maryland State Police and Maryland firearms law. Failure to do that will find you in legal trouble. An excellent source of information about Maryland’s firearms laws is found at www.handgunlaw.us.  That site is updated regularly with changes to firearms laws for all 50 states.

If you travel with your concealed carry firearm please be advised that each state has rules for who can carry concealed and where they can carry concealed.  The handgun law website mentioned above has an interactive map you can use as a travel planner. Before you leave your house with your gun click on the states you will be visiting or passing through to review their firearms laws.

Civilian Self-Defense Decision-Making

Personal Defense Triad

Carrying a concealed carry handgun for self-defense requires, in our opinion, the adoption of the “personal defense triad.”  The framework for that triad is illustrated below. It is based on the work of Colonel Jeff Cooper.

The triad is constructed of three key components for effective self-defense. People with concealed carry permits must master the handling of the their firearms (drawing from the holster, clearing malfunctions, and so on), develop mastery-level marksmanship skills (acquiring a sight picture, sight alignment, grip, trigger press, follow-through and so on), and adopt the mind-set, through practice and mastery-level proficiency, that when faced with an imminent threat they think “I knew this could happen someday and I know what about it.”

As you are mastering the Personal Defense Triad you must also consider and remember Maryland’s criteria for the justifiable use of force.

Self-Defense Decision-Making Framework

When you carry a concealed handgun for self-defense you must comply with state firearms and self-defense laws for the use of force.  In Maryland, a justifiable use of force for civilians must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Innocence–you cannot be the aggressor.
  • Imminence–you must believe the threat is going to happen right now
  • Reasonableness–disparity of force, big vs. small, male vs. female, etc.
  • Avoidance–in Maryland you have a duty to retreat if it is safe to do so.
  • Proportionality–just enough force to stop the threat

*Even if all of these conditions are met, you could still face legal consequences.

We recommend that you adopt a self-defense decision-making framework to ensure that you comply with the above criteria. The framework we teach our concealed carry students is shown below.

The baseline for the framework is “avoidance.”  You must make smart decisions to avoid potentially dangerous locations. “Informed Situational Awareness” (which we teach our concealed carry students) helps identify potentially dangerous situations and people. “Threat assessment” is an easy to use color-coded process to assess potential threats. If a potential threat exists you “seek assistance” if you have time. If you must act immediately to save your life then you “Decide on Action.”

Civilian Use of Force Continuum

Once you decide to act then mentally and physically you enact the “Use of Force Continuum” shown below.

Our military and police are required to follow use of force rules. Citizens with concealed carry permits should do that too if you want to avoid severe legal consequences.

Level 1: Your physical presence. Prison inmates were interviewed about how they selected their targets. They said they chose people who looked vulnerable. If you look strong and if you walk with your head up and eyes looking around then a potential threat will likely not mess with you. 

Level 2:  Strong verbal commands. If level 1 behavior doesn’t stop a potentially threatening person then you can try. If a potentially dangerous person approaches you sometimes a loud “stop, don’t come any closer to me (or something like that). Might be enough to stop the person from approaching. 

Our vice president used the “stop” command at a gas station in Washington, DC. A young boy approached him and asked if he could pump his gas. He agreed. Within seconds an adult male was approaching at a fast pace. He extended his arm with palm facing upward and loudly said “don’t take another step closer to me.”  The adult male stopped immediately, turned around, and walked away.

Level 3: Soft hand techniques. If your physical presence or strong verbal commands don’t work then another response used by executive protection specialists might work whereby you physically redirect a person’s approach by sweeping him or her off course, perhaps into a wall.  This technique, of course, would likely not work with an armed assailant but does work with unarmed assailants.

Level 4:  Non-Lethal Weapons. Another option to deter or end an attack is to use non-lethal weapons. Three examples of non-lethal weapons are pepper spray, stun guns, and Tasers.  Pepper spray is more effective than mace. Stun guns require you to be close to your assailant so you can touch the person with the stun gun. A Taser shoots two projectiles attached to cables, the use of which requires significant practice. Our president and vice president both carry pepper spray.

Level 5: Hard Hand Techniques. A fifth option for stopping an assailant is to physically engage the assailant by fighting with fists, hands, and feet and include fighting systems like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, boxing, Krav Maga, Judo, and wrestling.  These are self-defense fighting systems proven to be effective. Our president and vice president both have Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training. Our vice president has 20 years of martial arts training including hand-to-hand military training, 11 years of Aikido, 2 years of krav maga, and 4 years of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

We strongly recommend Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai. They are very effective self-defense system. The Jiu Jitsu training academy we recommend is the Rising Tide Academy run by Mike Stewart, Jr. and his brother, Jordan with locations in Finksburg and Columbia, Maryland. Their website is found at www.realjiujitsu.com/#2. Rising Tide has a cadre of Jiu Jitsu black belts with pedigrees linked to Relson Gracie and Pedro Sauer. They are also starting a Muay Thai program.

Clearly, you need to be in fairly good shape to use these fighting systems effectively and you need to be strong.  One of the best places to get strong, no matter your age, is at the Westminster Strength and Conditioning Gym in Westminster, Maryland.  They are a “starting strength” gym run by Beau Bryant and his wife Angie Sloan Bryant.  Our vice president trains there. Their website is found at http://www.westminsterstrength.com/. Beau is a former special operations warrior. Angie is a physician’s assistant and a nutrition specialist. They both provide coaching assistance at the gym, which is a basic, down-to-earth “bars and plates” strength building gym that helps men and women, young and old to get stronger.

Level 6: Deadly Force. If you find yourself in a deadly force situation you will not have time to work through the use of force continuum. You will need to act decisively, quickly, and aggressively to save your life by going directly to level 6. You do not need to say “stop, let me get my pepper spray” before going to level 6. However, we can say with a high degree of certainty if you use deadly force when a non-lethal weapon or “soft hands” would have worked you will face serious legal consequences.

Also remember the Maryland’s criteria for the justifiable use of force discussed above. Your decision to go to level 6 must satisfy those criteria.

You need to act decisively, quickly, and effectively in a deadly force situation. You simply do not have time to think through the uses of force continuum. We strongly encourage you to memorize the continuum levels and then envision possible self-defense scenarios and imagine what you could or would do. Would you use level 1 or maybe level 3; or would you go directly to level 6? These mental rehearsals are very effective for increasing your effectiveness because if you have these possible responses worked out in your head you will not need to think about what to do. You already know because you “knew this could happen one day and you know what to do about it.”

Ongoing Training

If you are legally carrying a concealed handgun you absolutely must develop and implement an on-going personal training program.  If you have to use your handgun in self-defense and shoot an innocent bystander you will go to jail. Therefore you must train your marksmanship and firearms handling skills to mastery-level.

There are two ways to train:  live-fire and dry practice.

Live-Fire Practice. This approach requires shooting live ammunition. Each time you go to the range you should first prepare a training plan. The training plan is an outline of which handgun skills you will practice at the range.  It makes no sense to go to the range just to send rounds downrange without a plan for what you want to accomplish. Live-fire practice without a training plan is a waste of time and money.

Dry Practice.  If it is difficult for you to get to a live-fire range or if you can’t afford to purchase ammunition on a regular basis then you train using the dry practice method.  With this method you work with an unloaded firearm and no ammunition close by. There are many handgun manipulation drills that can be practiced using this method; for example, drawing from a holster, target acquisition, sight alignment, trigger press, grip, and stance.

You should also work with a reputable firearms instructor from time to time.  Our president and vice president train yearly with former special operations high-speed operators.  Not only do we get to shoot with guidance from those real world highly experience experts but we also learn new techniques.

You may not be able to train with the same kind of experts we train with but you can still find qualified instructors. After you identify a trainer you’d like to work with be sure to check out his or her reputation and references because there are some men and women who think they know how to teach firearms skills but really don’t know how and they cannot shoot accurately (a good instructor has to walk the talk).

Keep a log. If you have to use your handgun in a self-defense situation, as we said earlier, you will likely be detained or arrested. If the person you shot or his or her family hire a lawyer to prosecute you the investigation will examine your background including how often you train.  Our president and vice president use a firearms training log called “Burnett Handgun Training Log.”  These logs also include live fire drill cards.  They can be purchased at Handgun Training Log Book

Legal Protection as a Concealed Carry Permit Holder

We are strong advocates for purchasing legal protection as concealed carry permit holders. If that day comes when you need to use your handgun to protect yourself or your family you will likely be detained or arrested until the police can investigate to determine your innocence (or guilt). They will investigate to determine if your use of force complies with the criteria for justifiable use of force identified earlier. They will scour your social media presence, examine your background to identify propensities for violence, and they will question your level of training.

You will need legal representation in the aftermath of a justifiable self-defense shooting. An estimate of how much it will cost to pay for legal representation for a “murder one” charge follows:

  • Bail-$500,000 ($50,000 paid to bondsman)
  • Attorney Fees-$200,000 to $300,000
  • Investigators and expert witnesses-$40,000
  • Pre-trial discovery- $10,000 to $25,000
  • Jury consultation and social media investigation $25,000
  • Appeal-$50,000
  • Total defense- $325,000-$500,000

Fortunately, there are firearms insurance firms that provide that kind of legal representation and that will cover the costs.

One is called CCW Safe.  The other is USCCA.  Our president and vice president have insurance with both of those companies.

CCW Safe

Ultimate Plan:   Starting at $499/year

Defender Plan:  Starting at $179/year

Protector Plan:  Starting at $149/year

Home Defense: Starting at $299.00/year

The first three plans require a concealed carry permit. The home defense plan does not.

CCW Safe can be accessed using www.ccwsafe.com/sftg.  Please use this link because it will inform the company that you have completed our firearms safety course including the use of force continuum and self-defense triad.

USCCA

USCCA website says “Civil defense and liability coverage from USCCA pays for the costs of a lawyer to defend you in court, as well as any financial damages you are required to pay as a result of a lawsuit. You’re protected in any incident that’s a result of you acting in self-defense, whether it involves a gun, another weapon or no weapons at all.”

They have three different levels of insurance coverage:

Gold Membership

$22 per month

Platinum Membership

$30 per month

Elite Membership

$47 per month

You can purchase USCCA insurance at  Sign up for USCCA  If prompted please enter affiliate #19316.  Using this link will inform the company that you have completed our firearms safety course including the use of force continuum and self-defense triad.

Conclusion

In Part 1 of this article you learned about concealed carry guidelines including four primary safety rules, moral guidelines for carrying concealed, personal defense triad, civilian defensive decision making, and civilian use of force continuum, defensive handgun selection considerations, on-going training, and insurance to protect you should you need to use your handgun for self-defense.

In part 2 of this article you will learn about the components of a concealed carry system including, handgun selection, holster selection, spare ammunition, tactical flashlight, and other equipment you should consider having with you while carrying (which should be as often as possible).