As we continue to see concealed carry expand, it is natural to see it grow in all areas. The majority of those who carry concealed are not your “tacticool” guy or girl. They are the everyday armed citizen, many whose workplace makes it challenging to carry concealed. I have been fortunate to work with not only professionals who must carry in the performance of their duties, but professionals who choose to be armed in their workplace. Those who choose to be armed must confront several obstacles: Non-permissive environments, long-term sustainability and wardrobe selection, to name a few.
Carrying concealed in a workplace creates all sorts of problems. These stem from poor selection of firearm for the mission, to poor choice of holster, to, overall, an ill-advised decision to carry in the first place. This decision (to carry in your workplace) must be well-thought out, not taken lightly. Can you carry concealed in the first place? Many workplaces attempt to create a “safe” environment by prohibiting possession of a firearm on premises. These “gun-free” zones have little to no effect. Permit me a moment of grandstanding. I have yet to find an evildoer who has come forward to confess they were about to conduct a heinous criminal act only to be thwarted by a sign stating “no guns.” I am still waiting to see the observable, repeatable and positive results of these “gun-free” zones, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
If this is the policy at your workplace, what are your options? You can defiantly carry and risk termination, you can seek employment elsewhere or you can suck it up and leave the firearm secured in your privately owned vehicle. I think it is reckless to risk your job and career. If there is a verifiable threat to your safety, then approach management with your concern and get it documented. Then request special permission given those circumstances to carry concealed. Choosing to chance carrying without approval from management is quite likely to end in a negative outcome. Whether you like it or not, the world is watching. We as responsibly armed citizens, must act accordingly. You can seek employment elsewhere, someplace that values your God-given right to self-defense, but they may be harder to find than you think. At the very least, carrying concealed during your commuter hours and securing the firearm in your vehicle becomes your least-bad option.
Yes, it is terrible to know your firearm or lifeline in some cases is out of reach should an evildoer come calling, but those are the cards you are dealt. It is a good idea to ensure your employer does not have over-reaching policies that infringe on your right to leave the firearm secured in your vehicle. If the firearm is secured in your vehicle, when you retrieve it at the end of the day you should strive to do so in a manner that reduces unwanted attention. The last thing you want to do is create the temptation for theft from a passerby who may see the opportunity as an easy way to obtain a firearm. While these options are challenging, they are (in some cases) the least-bad alternatives.
For those of us who can carry concealed at our workplace, the challenge is just beginning. The average American worker spends approximately 261 days, or 71 percent of the year, on the job. That is a lot of work hours. Even excluding hours in transit to/from work, you are looking at the majority of your year spent on the job. The major takeaway here is the importance of long-term sustainability. The reality is what you carry on the weekends may not be best suited for what you carry at work. It is frustrating to see students come to class with a firearm they cannot reasonably carry concealed for any length of time in the workplace (where they spend the majority of their year). Instead, what I typically see is a student who brings a firearm with more bells and whistles than a smartphone, something not ideally suited for everyday carry in the workplace. I get it, I totally understand, but what many don’t understand is you still have to conceal and wear your daily “uniform.” Some are lucky, with a more-casual work “uniform,” while others do not have this luxury and are more constrained in their garb. This restrictive uniform can come in all shapes and sizes, from the coat and tie of the boardroom, to the work overalls of the repair shops to the uniforms of delivery drivers.
This reality forces you to reconsider your choice in firearms. It forces you to think of the long-term sustainability as well as the effective concealability of your choice, which are not mutually exclusive. Each of the environmental conditions listed require unique solutions, which may not be mainstream or what we typically see in concealed-carry classes. Examples may include, but are not limited to: business attire that may require a tuckable solution; bulky safety gear, such as work overalls, which are restrictive; and certain uniforms like medical scrubs that have no belt options, making belly bands a serious consideration. While I have concealed extensively in business attire, the other methods are familiarization only, meaning I wore these items to help students figure out their best concealed-carry solution. I will say I have a greater appreciation for their struggle after trying to teach in their uniform. It gave me a unique perspective; while I might be able to make the standard carry methods work, trying to make them work 70 percent of the year is unrealistic. The demands of work take priority over your preference for carry.
Many folks fail to fully recognize the reality of long-term sustainability. Working in a two-day class is a great way to discover the pros and cons of your loadout, but it is still only two days out of the year. Intensive classes such as these can highlight drawbacks, such as finding a carry method uncomfortable. If it’s too cumbersome to deal with for only two days, imagine what it will be like to sustain that over a year. Comfort shares a priority with security when it comes to carrying concealed. If you are not comfortable, you will find yourself fidgeting, adjusting and playing with your loadout. Once or twice you might get away with it, but long term is another question. It is hard to make informed decisions without examining the actual conditions you will face in your workplace on a daily basis.
One of my favorite responses from a student happened years ago when I showed up for day one of training in a three-piece suit. It should be obvious the point behind my decision, but I’m still surprised to see students fail to look at the big picture. Range gear is not what one typically wears in the workplace; a business suit, as the uniform of the day, requires the student to consider less-common carry methods. As mentioned above, a tuckable option is worth considering, but it still prints the attachment system on the outside of your belt. Pocket holsters in polyester pants show a large item in your pocket. You can find a good balance for a smaller-frame firearm, and my experience shows that the lighter the firearm is, the less it will print through the day. As the weight of the firearm bears down on the pants-pocket material, various features of the firearm may be silhouetted at times.
Belly bands are great, giving you the ability to carry your standard loadout plus supporting gear, while remaining concealed under your wardrobe with no residual presence such as a belt hook. The downside is added complexity of defeating a tucked dress shirt to gain access to your firearm, largely a training issue that requires dedicated, time-consuming practice. Another option would be an ankle holster. I have found this to be my go-to more often than not, but it does require insight into purchasing my pants. I like them to be longer than what is socially acceptable, eschewing fashion for function. However, when I sit down I don’t have to worry about the hem rising up to reveal my holstered firearm. Long-term wearing does take its toll, so finding a comfortable ankle holster is a priority.
More and more self-aware citizens are choosing to be responsibly armed as often as legally possible, including at work. While some workplaces prohibit firearms, others choose to support being armed and others have no official policy. It is ill-advised to risk your career and livelihood to carry in a non-permissive environment. Make sure you consider and practice carrying in your preferred manner for extended periods—not just hours in a day, but days in a year. Choose your gear wisely. Lastly, consider your wardrobe options and any possible restrictions they might impose in your day-to-day operation.
Formalized instruction from qualified instructors provides the opportunity to test your loadout under stress, explore additional options and safely practice your technique under their watchful eye.