Concealed Carry: What To Do If You Are “Made”

Concealed Carry Tactics.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.


Recommended:

12 Essentials of Concealed CarryGrant Cunningham’s 12 Essentials of Concealed Carry Download (PDF)

27 thoughts on “Concealed Carry: What To Do If You Are “Made”

  1. desertrat

    This is directed to allendavis58 & grgdnls and ultimately to Joseph Terry. Yesterday I posted replies to yous & subject of Handicap (HC) stalls for convenience sake of the non-HC. Perhaps I overly pontificated and use too many puns, as they do not appear.

    Both of you raise good points, and I’m sure that Mr. Terry had one of those Senior Moments when he made the suggestion. My original reply to you both was simply the DOJ appears to be changing its view of HC intended uses of stalls, evidenced by ‘Diaper Change Stations’ being removed, and changing the numbers of HC Reserved Parking spaces. My thoughts are simply that stalls should have the International HC symbol on the door’s exterior to serve as a reminder of intended use.

    The observations of an over-abundance of HC parking spaces is simply good business practice.

    I believe Mr. Terry simply made a mistake in his suggestion in an otherwise well written article. As a past instructor, I would ask that anyone doing their initial CCW certifications, or renewal certs raise this issue in class. If you have a question about things like this, at two other folks in your class will, but won’t ask.

    Now back on to topic….

  2. desertrat

    Kind of crappy (pun intended) how a suggestion in an article can stir up emotions, but there are things that need to be said and corrective actions taken- if not by law,, then social conscious & cultural mores.

    allendavis58 I don’t think Mr. Terry meant to be rude or inconsiderate, but those that need some sort of physical assistance is ever increasing, and will become more prominent as the Mid-East withdrawals are completed. Age wise, we are behind the bell of the [age] curve of baby-boomers, due to circumstance we are the tip of that spear. If you look a DOJ dedicated Handicap Parking spaces required (commercial parking approx 2% total spaces, with ~1% of that van accessible) the amount of spaces gain perspective. The smart stores that have weathered the last two recessions and current depression know who kept them in business & whose ranks will increase, and have preplanned accordingly. I fought off getting into a chair, but as I was spending too much quality time one the deck since my legs were steadily going South, the chair, then scooter became a reality. The ability to get from lift to driver’s seat diminished over a short time, so a van and ultimately a transfer seat- such is life. Resist that spot as long as you safely can!

    grgdnls Generally I agree with you, but as changing stations are being remove from, it would appear that the law’s intent has shifted to Handicapped [use] Only. Frankly, I believe the stalls should have the International Handicapped symbol on them just as a reminder of intended use. There buildings that retrofits have left only one regular stall & only one HC stall for a whole floor. The HC only that I was thinking of is like airports, convention areas, etc.

    Your ramp illustration is good, as people will use a ramp before a stairs, that is human nature. Ramps currently being installed in commercial or public areas are currently 7+ wide. Why? So at least two chairs can pass, or 2 chairs and an able bodied person can all pass each other.

    To wrap this up (groan), my point was simple common courtesy. There are exceptions to everything, but if you’re going to CCW or Open Carry, think ahead as using the head isn’t the only time that you can be caught with your pants down. If your CCW class Instructor doesn’t raise this issue in class, you readers of this post now have a duty to. Don’t let a good teaching point go down the drain!

  3. allendavis58

    With all this talk about open vs. concealed carry, another issue I’d like to see Mr. Terry comment on is permit reciprocity.

    Indiana and Michigan were the first two states with reciprocal recognition of carry permits back in the early 1980s.

    Since that time, 30+ states have passed permit laws, and reciprocity has grown exponentially since then. Most states recognize Indiana permits, and vice versa. The only two exceptions I was aware of were Ohio and Texas. Those states require permit holders to complete a state-approved safety/training course before issuing a permit. And since Indiana, and most other states, don’t require such a training course, Texas and Ohio would not recognize any other states’ permits except their own.

    I heard on the radio (Greg Garrison – WIBC 93.1 FM in Indianapolis) this morning that Texas is now recognizing Indiana carry permits, but have not been able to verify that. This same program also stated that when Illinois finally gets its act together and becomes a “shall issue” state, they will not reciprocate with ANYONE. In fact, Illinois’ laws and proposed laws still strongly smell like they will be a “MAY issue” state. Any info on this would be helpful.

    Additionally, a local company is holding self defense classes in which they guarantee graduates a Utah carry permit, which allows for reciprocity with every state (Ohio included, I presume) which doesn’t presently recognize Hoosier carry permits.

    1. Bradysdad

      It’s true about Utah. Ohio won’t recognize my neighboring indiana resident permit, but do recognize my non resident Utah permit. Living near the state line means I never know when I might stray over into Ohio.

      1. sootsme

        Utah does reciprocate, and recognizes any state’s permit. They did recently change their law and will now only issue non-resident permits to those who have resident permits in their own residence states. (Many non-residents have Utah permits just for the recognition by other states factor which their home state permit often doesn’t provide.)

  4. Bradysdad

    As a disabled person who also carries, I would suggest using the handicapped stall is both rude and discourteous. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to wait for an able bodied person to vacate the handicapped stall while all of the regular stalls are empty. Shame on you.

  5. allendavis58

    I’ve had a carry permit since 1983, and thankfully, Indiana is one of those states that doesn’t specify “concealed” or “open” carry. The permit holder may choose his/her preferred carry method. Until Kentucky passed its carry permit law a few years ago, gun owners didn’t need a permit at all as long as they carried open. Personally, I don’t understand why some states are now debating open carry, even though I know a lot of people want it. I don’t think open carry is a very good idea. It gives the bad guys obvious targets to take out in the event of really bad things about to happen.

    I’m even more thankful to live in a small town where the per capita carry permit rate is the highest in the state. Some stats estimate as many as 65-70% of the adult population is armed. I don’t need to mention that our violent crime rate is the lowest in the state, do I?

    Business owners love us. And we who carry “print” one another constantly, even though it’s never spoken of openly. A few years ago, there was one business, a franchise restaurant, whose owner posted a “No Firearms Allowed” just inside the front door. The business went belly-up in only THREE MONTHS. A thriving local eatery drove itself out of business due to that sign! A restaurant right down the street posted a bunch of those novelty tin signs with gun themes inside its business, particularly one of the redneck proclaiming “I’m all for gun control! I use both hands!!!”

    Whenever I travel to Indianapolis, I take every precaution to keep my weapon concealed. Never been printed there, even though I used to live there and carried for more than 20 years.

    1. allendavis58

      Area 51–

      We already have one: its called the Second Amendment.

      Of course this would make no difference whatsoever to Barack Obama or his lapdog Attorney General, Eric Holder. They pick and choose which laws they will or will not enforce. And where no law exists, Obama simply whips out his pen and issues an Executive Order, which, by the way, have been largely unconstitutional from the beginning.

  6. Area 51

    How about making a law that says it is illegal for any person or government official to make a law that violates the Constitution so we can stop the gun grabbers before they get started?

    1. sootsme

      Our Supreme Court has already ruled that anything, even if in the form of “law” that is repugnant to our Constitution has no force, is void at inception, and creates no duty to obey. Of course, this is no guarantee that you and your dog won’t be shot in in your home in the middle of the night over such a trivial detail as a Supreme Court ruling, or your God given Constitutionally protected rights…

  7. JoeUSooner

    Although there are very few gun owners who Open Carry in this state, Oklahoma recently enacted Open Carry as an addendum to Concealed Carry licensing (one license is good for both methods, now). It was enacted primarily because of numerous “accidental,” “unintentional,” and “momentary” displays of handguns by licensees [Oklahoma enjoys hot summers and a fairly warm overall climate, requiring only light clothing].

    Civilian and law enforcement pressure on our state legislature… worked! LOL

    Prior to the Open Carry enactment, I was “made” only once. In a grocery store parking lot. After stowing my purchase in the rear of my SUV, I reached up to grab and close the rear door, when a gust of wind exposed my pistol (in an OWB holster) for just a moment. An older gentleman was walking past me, and as we made eye-contact I apologized. He just politely shook his head and walked on.

    Since the Open Carry enactment, police have been saved a lot of time and effort, and we licensees have been spared a lot of potential embarrassment.

  8. RDNK

    I have carried concealed since ’95 and I carry everyday,everywhere I go.( that I can carry legally) This was a great article. In that time I don’t guess I’ve ever been” made” because I aint never heard nothing to the contrary. Hopefully this will become a mute point when Texas passes open carry. Open carry will sure make life alot easier.

      1. allendavis58

        Well mash my mouth with a corn pone skillet! I’ll hush up and not speak a word about this little faux pas! Or should that be “fow paw?” ;-)

  9. mstrmstr

    As mentioned Be calm and show respect.

    Things you NEVER say when anyone questions you about a carry being made. 1. What’s it to ya?”
    2. “you can’t do that to me” 3. ” I have rights”

    As mentioned NEVER take a threat pose.

    This great article says a lot for real world happenings.. I try to include real life scenarios that have nothing to do with the actual use of the weapon but more in tune with day to day responsible reality of concealed carry.

  10. boutaswell

    I’ve only been CCing for about 3 years but I’ve never had to show my permit as of yet. Being from WV, we have open carry also; when I’m just out and about like to Lowe’s or the local WalMart, I’m as apt to be concealed or open. If I’m wearing a questionable shirt, I’ll most times just flip the shirt tail behind the weapon. In winter, I’ve selected jackets/coats, that unless I’m standing on my head, will normally cover very well, even while seated. When eating, I always try to sit in a booth with my carry side to the wall. The only comments I’ve ever received(so far) were when open carrying.

  11. tjg

    Great article Joe. I do have one point of contention. As a proud constitutional patriot, I don’t see why I should apologize to anybody for exercising my second amendment right to carry a firearm for self defense. I don’t find it offensive to carry a firearm, anymore than an armed police officer would find it offensive. I have never heard a police officer apologize for their open carry, why should I apologize for my concealed carry?

    1. Gun Tuner

      tlj, with the typical 2A response. Its that kind of I’m above God attitude that gets us bad press. Just follow the instructions and apologize while avoiding the hard headeness you would rather portray. Again avoid escelating the sitiuation and further causing more distress to the person or officer present.

      1. msglaigaie

        “Just follow the instructions and apologize while avoiding the hard headeness you would rather portray.”

        Just follow the instructions,eh? Avoid the “hardheadedness” ? sheep

        Boutaswell, I, too, live in an open carry State. Much more honest, much safer as I am old and handicapped, a prime target in my area. I do not apologize for exercising my rights under the Constitution. For those who are afraid of the sight of a weapon, I pity them for a lack of education.

        1. larryarnold

          We’re talking about accidentally flashing a concealed handgun. If it’s too hard to “apologize” perhaps you could go with, “Oops. Didn’t mean to do that.”

          As an instructor I’m fairly high profile as far as CHL goes, so I sometimes get asked if I’m carrying. I find that responding calmly with, “According to Department of Public Safety we’re not supposed to tell people whether we’re carrying concealed” tends to start pleasant and educational conversations. OTOH, “It’s none of your *%^@ business!” tends to have the opposite effect.

          Teaching is a lot more effective than pitying.

    2. Joseph TerryJoseph Terry Post author

      In response to “tjg” I agree that we should never apologize for what is a constitutional and a natural right to effective self-defense. What I was describing is the very narrow condition of accidentally disclosing that you are carrying concealed. A well-crafted apology is meant to diffuse any allegation that you are armed and hostile or belligerent. “Brandishing” (the intentional display of a firearm to intimidate or threaten) is a crime in many areas and could be interpreted to include intentionally exposing the handgun in the holster. Offering an apology could deflect a brandishing allegation. (Be sure to know your local laws.)

      1. desertrat

        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.”

        The handicapped stall is for handicapped users only! as a chair user that needs the assist rails to mount the throne, I’ve come too close too many times to to start what I went to the heads to do because some self entitled idiot wanted ‘room’ to read the morning paper, a book or more room while camping out in a Special use or Reserved use stall.

        Your suggestion to use this stall is unconscionable and an affront to those that need this accommodation in order to to try for a degree of normal in their lives.

        Yes, I realize a lot of places also put diaper changing stations in there as well because of the extra room. Letters from DOJ are bringing this to a halt.

        I would ask that you retract your suggestion about using this stall for convenience sake.

        When I was ambulatory, I carried a bit of 550 cord and a thin holster (like a pocket holster) and so my weapon was secure in it around, hanging on my back. It was always out of sight and secure. More than once that was my carry method as well, the cord could be lengthened and the weapon as ‘sandwiched’ between my under & outer shirt, with the pants waist band providing enough tension for retention.

        Please retract the suggestion about using the Handicapped Stall as the ranks of those that truly need the far exceed the DOJ minimums for buildings.

        1. allendavis58

          I’m sure Mr. Terry has had second thoughts about using handicapped stalls. You made your points in a biting, insightful, eloquent and thoughtful manner. I’m sure Mr. Terry didn’t intend to be thoughtless or rude.

          That being said, I’ve pointed out that I live in a small town of perhaps 50,000. What gripes me is that there are dozens and dozens of handicapped parking spots with easiest access to Kroger, Wal-Mart, etc., which are far in excess of the number of handicapped people in our town who might actually all be shopping at the same time. Even on Black Friday or the run-up to Christmas.

          I am partially disabled with osteoarthritis in my lower spine, hips, knees and ankles. Yet I refuse to get a handicapped license plate or handicapped mirror hanger. I know others are worse off than me. But why are SO MANY parking spots reserved??? Ah, hell, I suppose the exercise won’t kill me!

        2. grgdnls

          I don’t want to sound mean nor denigrate your handicap, but handicap stalls are
          meant to be handicap accessible, NOT HANDICAP ONLY. They are not parking places
          that are, by law, handicap only. Just like the handicap accessible ramp on the curb,
          non-handicap people are allowed to walk on them. We can also use the handicap toilet if it is open

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