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Licenced To Carry - Now What?

You took the Illinois Concealed Carry Class with Pew Pew Guru, to get your State of Illinois Concealed Carry License, but you are afraid to carry… Now what?!

Let me be the first to congratulate you on taking the first step, signing up for a concealed carry class. You have the certificate; you took the 16 mandatory hours of training with a State Illinois Licensed Instructor.  You did all the hard work.

Now for the love of God, please apply!

I usually get three groups of people, one, those that can’t wait to apply and carry, two, those that put off applying, and finally, those that apply get the license but get stage freight when it comes to actually carrying when they get the license.

In the last two months I have had 5-6 people contact me because they didn’t actually submit the application after making the decision to take the required training from the state of Illinois within the one-year allotted time frame mandated by the state. The most recent lady to reach out to me, took her class two and a half years ago, but had issues with her Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) and a change of address. When she finally got around to applying, the Illinois State Police said her certificate was invalid, and denied her application because her training happened over a year ago. This lady had extenuating circumstances, but others just get to the point of applying and have had fear creep in and the realization of carry a gun, just freezes them in their tracks. Another gentleman, did not apply within the 1 year, for whatever reason. His only option, retake the class. This one I can’t really help you with, you have no options but to retake the class.

Again, go ahead and apply. I can walk you through the FEAR part. You know what F.E.A.R. stands for right? False Evidence Appearing Real.

Fear -False Evidence Appearing Real

Let’s talk more about those students who complete the class and apply but are afraid to carry when they finally get the license in hand.

You’ve got the license, but you are afraid to start carrying. The realization of it all seems to hit them like a ton of bricks. And they become crippled by the weight of the added responsibility and the what ifs.

I understand the gravity of this and why you have the trepidation.  This is a big step and a lot of responsibility to strap on and carry a firearm, but let’s remember why you took the plunge and decided to take the class in the first place: you felt unsafe, the news media’s 24/7 coverage of carjackings, home invasions, assaults and shootings- mass and otherwise. But then you had to try to remember when you could use deadly force! Was the threat immediate? Should you de-escalate the situation? Would the prosecutor consider you an active participant and that you kept things going? Whew… that’s a lot! Like I said, I get it.

Let’s take a look at the state of the union if you will.

FBI statistics show that on average, violent crime has climbed by 12 percent in US cities. Safehome.org reports that out of all of the largest metropolises, Detroit (my hometown) led the nation in both murder and rape in 2020. Seattle had the most reported burglaries and Memphis had the most larceny-theft incidents. If these stats tell us anything, it’s that this crime wave is not constrained to any geographical area, nor is it only a big city problem.

The murder rate in small cities (those with population levels between 100,000 and 249,999) climbed by more than 80 percent on average between 2010 and 2020.

Motor vehicle theft was the only property crime that increased in the past decade by a whopping 48%. Carjackings making up a huge portion of these. According to CNN and data released by the NYPD, New York City saw carjackings quadruple in the last four years. But the Big Apple isn’t alone. Philadelphia reported more than 800 carjackings, up from 170 in 2015. New Orleans saw a 168% increase going from 105 in 2018 to 281. And in this current year through January 21,2023, New Orleans Police Department reported 39 in the first 21 days of the year.

Unfortunately, at the top of the leader board is Chicago with an incomprehensible 1,800 reported carjackings. Chicago’s 2021 numbers were the highest in 20 years, but the uptick started during Covid in 2020 when the city had 1,400 carjackings.

If these stats don’t help remove the anxiety of concealed carry, let’s look at the crime numbers for Chicago. Heyjackass.com’s shot clock, shows a person was shot every 2 hours and 26 minutes in the city of Chicago last year? And a person was murdered every 11 hours, and 56 minutes.

HeyJackass.com graphic for Chicago shootings

 Watching the news on channels 2,5, and 7 in the city of Chicago, one could rationalize that this level of crime only happens in the known bad areas of the city and that is mostly true. The usual suspects are at the top of the list, but crime and violence hasn’t been contained to one or two bad neighborhoods as this chart shows.

Heyjackass.com Homicide Map by Neighborhood

2022 Homicide Map

N’hood Homicides Wounded Total
Garfield Park 47 248 295
Englewood 48 213 261
Austin 48 172 220
South Shore 42 132 174
Grand Crossing 20 147 167
Auburn Gresham 37 120 157
Humboldt Park 21 136 157
North Lawndale 28 118 146
  Roseland 29 109 138
New City 23 94 117
Little Village 21 93 114
Near West Side 20 86 106
Chatham 27 74 101
South Chicago 19 66 85
Chicago Lawn 22 62 84
All Others 283 1066 1329
As of 1/1/23


Chicago Final 2022 Totals (vs 2021)
Shot & Killed: 665 (-16%)
Shot & Wounded: 2937 (-22%)
Total Shot: 3602 (-21%)
Total Homicides: 737 (-14%)

I think the state of the union solidifies our case why we all should be carrying.

It is normal to be scared, nervous and anxious when something is dangerous. Concealed carry requires thoughtfulness about potential situations and the rules of engagement. But you need to remember that a firearm is just a tool and shooting is a skill set to develop. If you practice trigger control and practice dry firing drills, you will develop the confidence to carry. Having the proper gear will make you feel more confident and prepared as you carry. So, what do you really need?

Buy a good holster. It should cover and protect the trigger and you should ALWAYS carry with a holster. The most preferred position to carry is inside the waistband on the waist or hip area. I like to carry with an inside holster but an outside the waist holster is also an option. You just need to make sure you keep the firearm mostly concealed per Illinois state law. If you are outside of Illinois reading this, make sure you understand your state’s laws and are in compliance. When choosing a holster, remember these F.A.C.T.S.



C- Comfort

T- Toughness

S- Secure/ Safety

Practice with a training gun. I recommend practicing as often as possible, these training guns can be purchased on Amazon (link here) for under $10. Make sure to never touch the trigger and always position your trigger finger on the slide (as shown). Personally, I will sometimes practice holstering and unholstering during commercials or even taking the time to go the a full length mirror and practice so I can see myself. It doesn’t matter what gun you own if you can’t get it out efficiently in a self defense situation. This practice gives me the confidence that I can get my gun out and on target in a real-life scenario by creating muscle memory.

For women, concealed carry purses are convenient and safe. Just make sure the trigger is protected and the gun is readily available to you. Again, think Tueller Drill. As a reminder, the Tueller Drill is a training exercise for law enforcement that shows a person with a knife inside of 21 feet has an advantage over a person with a gun. I filter everything through the Tueller Drill. If I couldn’t survive a Tueller Drill- its not for me. Think, ankle holsters, articles of clothing, carry positions etc.

Gun safe. Do you have a gun safe to make sure your firearm is inaccessible to unauthorized users? If not, this should be a priority. Remember that an unauthorized user includes kids, burglars, felons, and in Illinois, anyone without a FOID card.

It’s not about paranoia – it’s about preparedness! As a former Boy Scout, I’d like to share our motto- Always Be Prepared!

Lastly, let’s discuss what a defensive mindset is. It is the knowledge that if pressed in a life or death situation, I am capable and prepared to take a life if necessary. This definitely needs to involve some soul searching and asking yourself several questions in advance of actually conceal carrying:

Can I take the lift of another person in defense of myself or a loved one?

Does my religion permit the taking the life of another in self-defense?

Can I withstand the judgment of friends, family, media, especially in the age of social media?

Be sure you have the right frame of mind when you step outside your front door and into the world. You never know what situations you may encounter, and you want to insure you are mentally prepared for those unknowns.

In conclusion, understanding the laws of your state, recognizing that crime is on the rise, facing the fears head on, buying the right equipment and having the defensive mindset should make you feel comfortable and ready to conceal carry. Nothing replaces the value of training, practice, and repetition. Have you taken advantage of all the training you can get? The USCCA Protector Academy has hundreds of hours of training available that can also add to your knowledge, peace of mind and confidence.

One last thing to consider: everywhere that you can carry-are you licensed to carry? Do you have Florida, Arizona CCL and the Utah CFP? If not, reach out to Pew Pew Guru to understand how we can help you maximize your conceal carry potential and always feel safe and prepared. Pew Pew Guru also carries an assortment of holsters, concealed carry purses, and handguns if you are in the market for something new.

Coming soon Pew Pew Guru will have a women’s only class called Women’s Handgun and Self Defense Fundamentals series.

Compensated Affiliate Disclaimer:

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you buy the product I may receive some monetary compensation. I only recommend products I use and love!

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