At a defensive pistolcraft class I was running one of the students with a carry permit asked what might happen if somebody noticed they were armed.
This is practically never discussed at the concealed weapons qualification classes and should be a minimal risk if common sense is used in manner of carry and concealing garments.
It does happen occasionally and, as a matter of fact has—oops!—even happened to me.
Us cops call it “being made” and it merits at least a little thought to keep an awkward moment from becoming dangerous.
Getting made usually occurs one of two ways: (1) “drops” and (2) “prints.”
Believe it or not, cops get calls from citizens who report, “Somebody just dropped a gun on the floor in the bathroom at my store.” It happens.
What to do with your gun while sitting on the throne is one of those awkward little pieces of business that you have to pay attention to. Don’t hang the gun by the trigger guard on the garment hook on the back of the stall door! (The wrong tug can cause an accidental discharge.)
Rather than let the holster and gun clank on the deck when your pants drop, keep a grip on it with your strong side hand and learn to tidy up with your weak-side hand. This keeps the gun and holster above the level of the gaps at the bottom of the stalls. Or use the “handicapped” stall. They usually have more distance between the walls and the toilet so nobody can catch a peek at your “hardware.”
Far more common is that somebody who knows what to look for sees the outline of the gun through the covering garment or catches a glimpse of the holster or mag pouch if you do some awkward movements.
This is known as “printing” and it happened to me three times. Once at a restaurant with an open backed chair. Once at a lumber yard where I was reaching high to load material on my truck and once at the car repair shop when I bent way over to look in the engine compartment. The response was different each time.
The first time at the lumber yard a guy walking behind me just asked, “You got a permit for that?” “Yep”, I immediately answered and pulled out my badge.
At the repair shop shortly after I finished talking to the tech guy, a marked unit pulled up to the bay and a local deputy contacted me. The manager had called it in and a unit was close. I showed him my ID and we ended up talking “shop” for about a half an hour.
At the restaurant, another patron stopped by our table and asked me a code question cops use and I gave the right answer. (I won’t disclose the code but if you have any cop buddies you might ask them to share it with you.) It was so discreet that my wife didn’t even figure out what happened until I told her when we got in the car.
In every case I was wearing a small frame semi-auto in an inside-the-belt, thumb snap holster covered by an outer garment. It must have worked pretty well most of the time because I only got made three times in thirty one years.
What was common to each one of those instances was this important tip. Immediately apologize for disclosing that you are armed and then say “I’m going to show you my permit.” Very S L O W L Y get out your wallet and your permit.
If you are contacted by a police officer they may move close to you when they first approach. This is to put them within disarming distance if you make a sudden move. Believe me, you do NOT want this to happen, so keep both of your hands raised in front with your palms out and politely ask “May I show you my permit?” if they move in close and ask if you are carrying a gun.
What you do not want to happen is to be made and appear in any way belligerent or aggressive. One such citizen complaint is likely to get your permit pulled. With a cop it will probably get you busted.
Getting made? Carry every day and you either have been or should assume you will be eventually. If it happens, be cool. Remain polite. And stay safe.