Archived Story

Carrying handgun poses practical problem

Published 7:17pm Friday, November 29, 2013

I’m taking a chance on stirring up a hornet’s nest here. It seems like anything anybody says about gun laws is controversial.

I have had a permit to carry a concealed handgun for a number of years, I have different handguns that I carry in different situations, sometimes concealed and sometimes in the open. Mostly when I’m out in the woods.

But even when I do carry a handgun, I almost never use it … unless I’m at a target range.

That’s because handguns aren’t very practical.

Unless you practice a whole lot – and by a whole lot I mean something close to weekly which is expensive if you can find the bullets in the caliber you need – it is very difficult to shoot accurately with a handgun.

And even if you practice daily, shooting a handgun is inherently much less accurate than shooting a rifle.

My brother, a retired FBI agent, is a very good shot with a handgun. But he doesn’t hunt with one, unless it’s a great big handgun with a long barrel and a scope, the kind of handgun that no one would want to carry around all the time.

If you want to increase the odds of hitting what you’re aiming at, shoot a rifle.

The handguns that are small enough carry all the time comfortably are meant primarily for self-defense when the person or critter that’s threatening you is a short distance away. And by short distance, I mean in the same room with you, for a person, or climbing up the same tree you’re in, for a critter. Maybe 25 steps.

It’s sweeping statements like this that make for high controversy. There will be someone who can take a pocket pistol and routinely hit 50-cent pieces at 25 yards. And there will be folks can’t hit the same wall twice with another small pistol.

Anyway, I’ve got no philosophical problem with private citizens carrying a handgun for self-defense.

Instead, I’ve got a practical problem with people carrying a handgun for self-defense.

In a word, it’s a pain. Carrying a gun all the time is not comfortable. When I wear a handgun in a holster on my belt, it almost always gets in the way of my seatbelt. And legally, you have to use one of those in most vehicles.

As far as I’m concerned, the only practical modes of transportation for pistol totin’ are four-wheelers, tractors and horses, which are mostly used by folks in places where there might actually be a need for a handgun, especially in snake season.

If you wear a pistol inside your pants, it’s even more uncomfortable. I’m not cool enough to wear one of those shoulder holsters, but I bet that’s uncomfortable, too. And in all those cases, you wind up with awkward bulges under your clothing.

Here’s the next problem.

I’ve read the Alabama’s handgun laws and I can’t decipher them well enough to make sure I’m not breaking the law.

That’s because while it is legal to carry a handgun openly in Alabama, or concealed if you have a permit, there are a gazillion exceptions.

The big ones are in public schools, law enforcement buildings, jails, places where people have mental or emotional disorders, city council and commission meetings, courthouses, any facility where there are athletic events. And then there’s the problem of carrying a handgun onto private property and in buildings that say no guns are allowed inside.

So here’s the deal, even if you do want to carry a handgun for self-defense, you’ll wind up spending a lot of time fiddling with your handgun, taking it off and putting it back on, and not having it with you at all times. And that’s just not very practical.

In fact, if you decide to leave your handgun in your vehicle – and there’s a whole set of laws about that, too – you either have to walk around with an empty holster like Barney Fife after a good chewing out by Sheriff Taylor, or for most holsters, you’d have to take your belt off in a parking lot, which opens up a whole new can of worms.

So I have a practical, not a philosophical, problem with carrying a handgun.

What do you think? Write us a letter to the editor.

Boone is publisher of The Outlook.