Doug Richards for U.S. LawShield of Colorado. I want to speak today about an incident that one of our members recently had: she was at a store and she was carrying concealed—legally—and another patron at the store saw the firearm and there was a bit of an incident that occurred. I think it’s an important thing for us to talk about, because it obviously can happen to anybody that’s carrying concealed.
Legal, but Highly Political
While you carry concealed because you are interested in self-protection and your Constitutional rights, for other people it is a highly political issue. So, if somebody else sees your firearm that you’re carrying concealed, and it is an inadvertent exposure of that concealed firearm, that could lead to either some rhetoric from them that is aggressive towards you, or just create concern or alarm within the establishment.
So, what do you do? One way to handle it is just to tell the other person, “Listen, this is my Constitutional right, and you need to get over it.”
That’s only going to further escalate the situation and do more harm than good to you and to other firearms owners that are carrying concealed. The best practice may be for you to look at the person and say, “Listen, I’m very sorry. I am carrying a concealed firearm. I am licensed to carry concealed. It was an inadvertent exposure and I apologize for that,” and walk away. If the person continues to engage you, you should either find a store manager or a person of authority, or just leave the establishment until that other person leaves.
This is not what you have to do, but I think that is best practice. Obviously, this is going to lead to some discussion, and I welcome it, because this is something that does happen routinely, and it might happen to you one day.
So, if you have any questions about this or anything else, feel free to call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
In Colorado you can carry concealed or open carry so it doesn’t matter if you’re printing if you have a concealed carry. Be aware of what cities or establishments frown on concealed carry. If legal, never apologize for carrying a gun, that puts you in a defensive position and makes you more vulnerable. Remember why you carry, not for anyone but you. The best way I’ve learned and this includes my law enforcement background, is to teach. A simple explanation; I carry to protect myself, my family and if I choose, to protect you in case of a shooter. If they persist, I just say it’s the law in this state, if you don’t like it, move. If they persist and you feel there could be a confrontation, pull out your phone and tell them you’ll contact law enforcement. Never get the manager of the store involved, because you don’t know their views and they could turn on you. Handle it yourself, that’s why you carry.
This is a good topic! What if someone calls LEO because of an inadvertent exposure? Can they charge you with trespassing if they don’t want your firearm on the premises?
Doug, I read (and watched) with interest this post regarding an inadvertent exposure of a Concealed Firearm.
My concern is the “apologetic” or “submissive” reaction you advised. You suggested a person say: “Listen, I’m very sorry… It was an inadvertent exposure and I apologize for that”… and walk away. If the person continues to engage you, you should… just leave the establishment until that other person leaves. I agree, these are politically motivated (by the “uninformed”); about the law and reality of “guns”.
I would suggest that lawful gun owners are going to continue to face this type of “harassment” until we find a way to push back. If these people continue to get away with their tactics, the Good Guys will continue to be assaulted. Consider the upcoming “Red Flag” law… it is reasonable to think this stranger could call the police, who could then file a petition to have your guns removed.
I am planning on “adding” this issue for discussion in the class I teach at Centennial Gun Club. “The Psychology of Carrying a Gun”.