Concealed Carry: It’s About to Get Real

After years of talking the talk, I’m about to walk the walk.

by posted on July 20, 2022
Gunsite Concealed Carry Il Ling

For the nearly 22 years that I have been employed by NRA Publications, I have written, edited and posted thousands of articles on all things related to the Second Amendment. In fact, NRAWomen.com alone—only two years new—is home to more than 1,500 such articles and videos. Through this work, I, along with our readers, have been educated, inspired, entertained and encouraged by the information shared in our broad spectrum of articles. While our topics span hunting, firearm reviews and 2A advocacy, a significant percentage of them are designed to empower the segment of our readership who has made the decision to take charge of their own safety, both at home and away—myself among them.

I have followed along and implemented much of the advice laid out by our expert contributors, hardening my home and being as prepared as possible in the event of a worst-case scenario. However, the one area that has been largely theoretical for me has been concealed carry, at least on a daily basis. My Utah concealed-carry permit allows me to carry in the majority of our states, and I have done so on occasion while vacationing or traveling for work. But it is ironic that while I have pushed out to our audience countless articles on CCW gear, firearm training and the concealed-carry mindset, this aspect of daily life has eluded me. You see, I live in one of the six states that has long had a stranglehold on its citizens’ right to self-protection. But no more.

Thanks to the favorable U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Bruen case, the “good and substantial reason” clause that has been etched into the Maryland State Police policy on concealed carry was finally stripped away. While some other states on which this decision had an impact reacted with a haphazard “Not so fast, on July 5, 2022, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued the following statement:

“Over the course of my administration, I have consistently supported the right of law-abiding citizens to own and carry firearms, while enacting responsible and common sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

“Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision in New York law pertaining to handgun permitting that is virtually indistinguishable from Maryland law. In light of the ruling and to ensure compliance with the Constitution, I am directing the Maryland State Police to immediately suspend utilization of the ‘good and substantial reason’ standard when reviewing applications for Wear and Carry Permits. It would be unconstitutional to continue enforcing this provision in state law. There is no impact on other permitting requirements and protocols.

“Today’s action is in line with actions taken by other states in response to the recent ruling.”

In response, the Maryland State Police provided this advisory

The Maryland State Police Licensing Division is in the process of updating the Licensing Portal to reflect these changes. Until these updates are complete, applicants submitting a Wear and Carry Permit application are directed to select “Personal Protection / Category Not Listed Above” as their “Handgun Permit Category”. Applicants are not required to attach documents to the “PERSONAL PROTECTION DOCUMENTATION” section on the “Upload Documents” page of the Wear and Carry Permit application.

So. It’s about to get real. This is a day that I honestly thought would never be realized in my state, in my lifetime. Decades of oppressive anti-gun sentiment continue to plague our state legislature, and no doubt they are already working on restrictions. But I won’t dwell much on the past, because the present and future have so much to offer. I can actually exercise my God-given right to self-defense, guaranteed to me in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. Alleluia!

But as elated as I was to celebrate the SCOTUS decision, I suddenly felt overwhelmed. Overwhelmed at the responsibility, the seriousness of how it will change my daily life: how I will carry, where I will carry, being even more aware of my surroundings. After everything I have preached about concealed carry through this site and others, including editing hundreds of weekly “Armed Citizen” columns, I have had to give pause to consider the magnitude of responsibilities that goes along with this new state of being.

I do a lot of trail hiking with my young, active dog. And while the area is “safe,” it’s only safe until it’s not. The fact that I will legally be able to carry a handgun on my person while I venture into deeper woods gives me tremendous comfort that I will be able to have an advantage over potential dangers.

I also know I will have to modify some behaviors, like no more darting disapproving glances at drivers who simply have to get where they’re going faster than I. And although I have numerous friends who have concealed carried for years, it will be some time before I will adopt it as second nature. Meantime I will refer to the advice offered by NRA Women columnist Jo Deering on how to carry a gun and feel normal.

I am not looking to be the next hero, nor do I want to be a sheepdog. I hope I never have to draw my pistol in defense of myself or loved ones. I don’t dream of that moment, and I will avoid it to the extent I am able. 

As you might expect, I own a number of handguns suitable for concealed carry, so I need to decide which I will carry most often, and become as proficient as possible with it. I take comfort in the fact that I have had some of the best professional defensive pistol training this country can offer, instructed several times over by the incomparable Il Ling New and Mario Marchman at the renowned Gunsite Academy. I feel comfortable knowing I have mastered drawing from a holster, but I have so much more to learn, mostly about the concealed-carry mindset.

I have taken the next steps in becoming a proper steward of our Second Amendment by registering for the “wear and carry” class, still required in Maryland, which has existed for a long time but has primarily been attended by those who have been deemed to have a “good and substantial reason” to carry a firearm. Until now, personal protection was not a good enough reason. If you carried cash for your business; if you were the victim of a violent crime or a stalker; or were somehow otherwise exempt from the restrictions upon which the sheriff determined your “carry worthiness,” you may have been issued a permit. The rest of us were not to be trusted. Second-class citizens, basically. Again I digress, and I promised not to dwell … .

And actually, I’m OK with taking this additional training. Although I fully support constitutional carry (half of the states now permit it), I will be in the good hands of my friend, firearm instructor and passionate 2A defender Donna Worthy, a former Baltimore police officer who knows all too well the need for concealed carry. In fact, prior to Gov. Hogan’s announcement, Donna had been attaching a copy of the Bruen decision to new CCW applications as proof of their “good and substantial” reason.

Once those formalities are out of the way and I have my permit in hand, I will only have to decide on one thing—which is a question I typically ask myself every day anyway: What to wear, what to wear …?

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