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.






  • wildflower

    A pistol is really only to shoot another person. As you say, a rifle or shotgun can do a better job than a pistol in almost any hunting situation.
    I think of a pistol as insurance. With insurance you hope never to use it, but if you do, it may save your life. Most of us are not proficient in self-defense and in many situations need the security and protection that a pistol provides. Of course, a responsible citizen learns how to use the pistol responsibly through “gun classes” given by organizations, gun retailers, or law enforcement.
    Your self-defense weapon must be loaded for it to be effective. Otherwise you might as well carry a rock.
    Remember, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

  • Fscott

    A handgun, like a rifle, is just a specialized tool. Like using a tool, practice is what makes the difference. Ever watch a talented brick mason use a trowel or a skilled backhoe operator at work? I have a problem with thousands of folks carrying handguns with absolutely no training or practice. Unlike a trowel, a handgun can have deadly consequences and yet very few owners really practice on a range. I’m not talking about standing there and punching paper. If you are not moving, under some stress and “running the gun”, you are not training. How many citizens take the time, money and effort to do this kind of training?
    If you believe handguns are primarily for self defense, then you better start practical pistol training through organizations like IDPA or USPSA. Learning to shoot through these organizations is actually easy, fun and cheap, considering the training you get. A trained shooter can hit targets with amazing speed and accuracy. Want to see what that looks like? Go to youtube and type in Dave Sevigny, Jessica Hook or Jerry Miculek. Incidentally, there are tons of training videos on the web. But, you still have to put in the sweat. Carrying a weapon without proper training is like having an operation performed by a surgeon who has only cut open a few frogs. Think about this the next time you decide to strap on a pistol. The best defensive weapon ever created is sitting right between your ears.