Close family or spousal relationships can be challenging to navigate at times. Recently I spoke with a young man who had just turned 21 and was getting into concealed carry. He told me that his parents were adamantly against him carrying a handgun. The young man didn't live with his parents but respected their opinions enough to consider his decision. In the end, he moved forward with his training but wanted to talk about how he could respectfully discuss the topic with them.
You may not be in this person's position, but maybe you have a spouse who isn't crazy about the idea of carrying a handgun concealed. Or perhaps you have a family or friends who say they ‘are fine with guns, they just think concealed carry a dangerous practice and don't understand the necessity.' I even have family members who are pretty anti-gun and don't feel comfortable around them at all.
The point is, there is a broad spectrum of comfort levels people have with firearms. You may have to discuss the topic with a loved one who isn't entirely on board with the notion of everyday carry (EDC). I hope this post helps the reader deal with the challenge of overcoming a loved one's objections to concealed carry.
The best way to start is to understand that not everyone against concealed carry is a gun-grabbing commie. Indeed, some are, but not all.
Appeal to their intellect:
Sometimes the main objection to concealed carry is trusting erroneous statistics supporting the notion that guns do more harm than good. As a factual matter, this is not true.
It probably isn't a shock to find that when we look at the FBI crime data from 2015-2019, firearms appear to be the weapon of choice in homicides. Here is the data:
|Year||Total Homicides||Firearms Used||Percentage|
Now at face value, these numbers seem to support the idea that firearms are the problem. However, estimates for the number of times people use guns to save lives range from 500,000 to 2 million times every year. The exact number is impossible to know, but Gary Keck conducted some research and came up with a number that most on both sides would agree. His study put the number of defensive gun uses (DGU's) at 1.2 million per year. Moreover, in a phone survey, 1 in 6 Americans said they used a gun defensively in a situation that had they not used the gun, they believe someone would have died.
Appeal to their emotions:
To some, statistics are everything. Stats are compelling, but I am always suspicious of statistics because they can be misleading depending on who presents them. Numbers also don't always hold the same emotional weight as individual stories or something visual. I believe this is why politicians often show a picture and tell the story of a victim to help solidify some proposed legislation. To some, this is even more compelling than blabbing on about statistics.
Understanding this, appeal to their desire to protect lives. When someone anti-gun says, they desire strict gun laws to save lives, point to the numerous stories of women, elderly people, and average joes who would be dead had they not used a handgun.
These stories rarely get any media attention, and when they do, it's only a few sentences. Consider explaining that, contrary to what anti-gun media report, armed citizens avert mass shootings all the time. Even the FBI contradicts the mainstream media.
Maybe share the monthly defensive gun use (DGU) episode from our Concealed Carry Podcast, where we discuss good and bad instances where people used a firearm to protect life.
Don't confirm their bias about gun owners:
I love freedom and our Constitution just as much as the next guy. However, answering a question about guns with ‘because the 2nd Amendment says I can' isn't particularly persuasive. The media and popular culture have painted gun owners with a broad brush as impulsive, unstable, homicidal, ignorant, and hard-headed. And those are the kind attributes.
Instead, be a visual contradiction to that bias. Rationally engaging on the issues and refraining from assuming you know their thinking may positively affect their view of gun owners. The bible says in Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
Maybe they never realized that citizens choose to carry firearms to protect lives and are overwhelmingly law-abiding. Yet, they even intervene in situations knowing that in doing so, they may die saving others.
Be an example of responsibility:
This method is significant when trying to influence someone who lives with you. Fear is a powerful thing, and some people have either never been around guns or had bad experiences with them. Their fear may be irrational to us but very real and visceral to them.
Show them how responsible gun ownership mitigates risk. Things such as:
- seek professional training
- use a safe
- follow standard best practices for firearms handling and safety
- expose them to the degree they feel safe around the gun
In my entry-level concealed carry classes, I often find that a husband brings his wife to the class even though she isn't overly excited about shooting or guns. Some are terrified even to hold the gun. Sometimes this is due to their first time shooting when someone gave them a shotgun or a large-caliber handgun to shoot.
I try to help overcome their fears by exposing them to firearm handling safely and systematically. Establishing fundamentals like grip while shooting a .22 semi-automatic takes away a bit of the anxiety. Quite often, they leave the class more excited about shooting than their husbands.
Explain your motivations:
If the person you're discussing this with is someone you care about, explain your heart's intent; if true (which I hope it is), explain that your ultimate desire is to have better options to protect yourself and them. You're investing in the gear and training because you actually love them and value their life.
Adress the particular aversion to concealed carry:
In this regard, the concern is almost always that carrying the gun is dangerous because ‘it may just go off.' Frequently people and the media use this term when the person negligently presses the gun's trigger. Guns almost never fire without someone or something pressing the trigger.
One way to mitigate any negligent discharge is to use an appropriate holster. Refer to the linked post to learn about all the attributes you should consider when selecting a holster.
Explain how using an appropriate holster that secures appropriately to the belt keeps the gun accessible to only you.
Finally, consider their wishes:
Again, I assume you're having a conversation with someone you care about and interact with. The level and type of interaction should dictate where you ‘agree to disagree,' so to speak.
For example, I have a family member who does not like firearms. So when I go to their house, I don't carry my everyday carry (EDC) handgun. However, when they come to my house, I don't lock up my EDC. Similarly, if we go out in public together, I still carry. I just choose to respect their feelings when I'm in their house.
If it is your spouse who objects, things become much more complicated. Marriage joins the two of you, and not that every thought must be in sync, but the desire should be to honor one another's feelings and concerns. If you are unsuccessful in persuading your spouse that carrying a firearm isn't a death wish, you have to make a tough choice.
Postpone carrying and continue to appeal to them, or choose to carry anyhow.
If you can't come to a mutually accepted path, you may need to postpone carrying. Maybe you could agree to ‘phase in' carrying every day. Start with an unloaded firearm, only carrying around the house. Over time, they may become more accustomed to the firearm, making it less taboo.
If you choose to carry against their wishes, the issue may work itself out over time. Additionally, you will have the option of using a handgun in a situation that requires a deadly-force option. Unfortunately, this strategy isn't a real solution and will likely cause significant tension in the relationship.
I hope that applying some of these strategies will help maintain relationships and respect if you have a family member who is opposed to concealed carry.
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