Compounds, caliber, concealability make campus carry pragmatic

Concealed handgun carry has been legal on public college campuses for nearly a year and a half.

Any students age 21 or older, or younger if they have served in the military, can apply for a concealed handgun license or license to carry. Applicants who pass the stringent background check can then attend a training course and, assuming they pass, become licensed to carry a handgun on campus, according to the law and campus policy.

Students interested in carrying a handgun on campus should buy equipment that allows their firearm to be secure on their body at all times and not visible to others, including through an outline in clothing. Carriers will need to wear a jacket with a shoulder-style holster, or wear pants or shorts that have more than enough room for a waistband holster while also being able to support the weight of what they carry.

Without others knowing who carries, criminals cannot plan around it, and students don’t have to feel uneasy at the sight of a weapon. No matter how discreet a student carries, the SPC guidelines of where one may carry must be strictly followed.

Students can get licensed and obtain a waistband holster for under $200 depending on what product they use. But a handgun can cost anywhere from under $500 to more than $2,000, before considering attachments. A working handgun is all a carrier needs, but reliability becomes an issue since a carrier needs to train. Spending hours training for an event that no one wants to happen, and most likely won’t happen, isn’t something everyone is willing to do. But anyone who carries concealed must be competent and familiar with their handgun to the point when they will not make a disaster worse.

The ideal handgun for concealed carry is compact, lightweight, striker-fired, has at least one safety feature and is chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum. Striker-fired pistols won’t engage the firing pin with an external mechanism that could dig into a carrier’s side or be blocked by debris. Weight and size are important for concealment and comfort, while caliber is essential for reducing collateral damage. A 9-millimeter is a very affordable cartridge that law enforcement routinely trusts with their lives and will not penetrate well through buildings.

In recent years the firearms industry has been more focused than ever on meeting all of my criteria and prospective carriers can look for certain features to meet these needs. A polymer frame will reduce weight by using lighter materials for the largest component of the handgun, while skeletonized parts will do this by using less metal. Subcompact and compact are terms manufacturers use to describe smaller handguns that fit the need for concealment. Safety levers are very common and many compact models have indicators that flip upwards when a round is in the chamber.

Attachments are hindered by the need for concealment and some are surprisingly pointless. A knife mounted to a pistol is impractical and adds size and weight. A flashlight is pointless during school hours and railings added to the frame to extend to the top of a pistol to mount sights can be uncomfortable and bulky. Carriers should never exclusively train with sights they don’t carry. The only attachment a carrier should consider is a laser used with a holster that activates it upon drawing the weapon. Lasers make aiming in a high-stress situation much easier.

The firearms industry has flooded the market with options, often dividing consumers on everything from the reliability of a certain model to the effectiveness of different ammunitions. Every concealed carrier should consider my criteria while developing their own preferences. Sights, triggers, guide rods and grips can easily be changed after purchase. Certain components such as frame size cannot be changed so easily, and if a concealed carrier can’t wrap their hand around their firearm and manipulate its controls, they can’t be effective. Listen to what experienced shooters recommend for a carry handgun, but never let someone else make the decision for you.