You are not over thinking.
I lived in California for 35 years - basically my whole professional career. When I moved to PA, I went through what you are going through now trying to make a decision to carry or not. That wasn't an option where I lived in CA, it is here.
Originally Posted by faithmyeyes
I ended up with carry being my default condition but that wasn't an overnight decision. I get up in the morning, I put the gun on, I take it off and put it in the night stand drawer at night.
The only time I don't have it on me is if I'm going some place where it is illegal to carry, or the planned activities will make it impossible to conceal it.
I don't put the gun on to go someplace. I always put the gun on, and so it is just there, where ever I go, when ever I get there.
I ended up with the default condition of carry because:
First, I wanted to be able to defend myself.
Second, I simply did not want to have to decide every day if I was going some place I might need a gun - the truth of it is that I never go anyplace I would anticipate needing a gun. That said, there isn't any place one can go that it one can guarantee there won't be a need for self defense, for a gun. It can happen any time, any place, as becomes glaringly obvious reading the self defense stories posted here. I carry at home, I carry away from home, in the grocery store, at the PET store, at weddings, at birthday parties, at wedding anniversaries, riding my horse, mowing the pasture on my tractor, mowing the lawn, everyplace. Well, not in the shower, but I can always reach the gun from the shower.
I started with a gun for home defense. It lives in a 4 button programmable combination bed side safe that I can operate in the dark or with my eyes closed.
Then I got my LCTF, which in PA is easy - fill out the form. pay the fee, get the permit in about two weeks, assuming one passes the checks.
I read about everything I could get my hands on before actually buying a carry gun. I've only been carrying as a default condition for about a year. I'm still learning.
I started by carrying around the house, on the farm, at the barn while I was doing chores, watching TV, eating dinner, just to get used to it, and figure out how to conceal it, what worked, what didn't. When I had it worked out to the point where my wife couldn't tell if I was carrying or not, I figured I had it understood enough to venture out in public. My first visit wasn't Wal Mart, it was to get a hair cut. I worked into it from there.
I recently decided to add to add a Ruger LCP to the carry gun inventory for those occasions when the PPK/S or G19 in an IWB isn't concealable enough to suit me. The LCP is on order, don't know when it will show up. I already have a pocket holster for it, and an ankle holster on order. I'm not a fan of ankle holsters, but there are times it is the only way.
You are thinking about all the right things. Good on you.
For me, the decision to go armed whenever possible is not one to be made lightly. Not because guns are inherently dangerous or scary or anything like that - but rather because of the changes in my life that would have to occur to support full-time carry. From simple things like clothing choices and the dressing routine all the way up through concealment discipline, how to handle places I must go where I can't carry, how to deal with family sentiments on the issue, how my awareness and mindset will have to change to that of a proactive defender versus a "do my best with what's around if something ever happens" kind of guy, etc.
I didn't go to bars before I started to carry (I don't drink and drunk people are not entertaining to one who is sober). It has not had much if any influence on my life style other than I tuck my shirt in a lot less than before.
I'm retired, been married to the same wonderful woman for 40 years, live in a very low crime part of PA, and lead a very low risk life style. I carry every day, all day, at home and away, anyway. The only way I can be sure I can get to my gun in time to do some good is if it is on me. Going to it with folks crashing through the front door yelling threats is not the desirable situation - having them see the muzzle of the gun I have on me as their first perception is much better.
It has taken most of a year for me to get comfortable with the gun in an IWB holster. That said, there are times I go for hours and never think about it now. You will go through several holsters before you get it worked out.
You are right to be thinking about it. It takes a significant long term commitment to put up with both the learning curve and the long term change in habits that carrying requires. I tried carrying part time, it simply doesn't work.
Reading this forum, and selectively adopting things from it that make sense and are useful to me, has pointed me in a lot of good directions. For example, I read an account by a guy who had to draw, but not fire his weapon. Immediately after the crises was over, he called 911, the police arrived and were reasonable, but they did ask to see his gun. He described how he took it out of the holster, cleared it, and handed it to the officer. After the officer gave it back, he loaded it and returned it to his holster - all done in a way that would not alarm the LEO's. That got me thinking about how to do that, so I loaded up some dummy rounds (I reload) with bullet and brass, no powder or primer, and practiced clearing and loading my weapons till I could do it flawlessly and never, ever, not even once, point the barrel at anything that it shouldn't be pointed at.
There are other skills to acquire, but that one is maybe less obvious than others, so I mention it.
[/QUOTE]My father, who taught me safety and marksmanship, usually kept a pistol in his vehicle. A single-action auto in the door pocket, in a snap holster, with the hammer at half-cock over an empty chamber. To him, that meant he "had a gun" in case something happened. That doesn't work for me - I've either got to decide that the gun and I will be together in a state of readiness whenever possible, or choose another strategy for taking care of my family.
I'm convinced that being able to defend my family is worth some inconvenience and discomfort, but in I'm not exactly (that I know of) surrounded by like-minded friends to discuss these things with. [/QUOTE]
Being able to defend your family is worth everything. The considerable effort required to transition to carrying full time is insignificant compared to the value of what you are defending. What you are investing in is a "Life Assurance" program. Not life insurance, life assurance. The difference is profound.
Things that changed:
So my questions to you are: What changed in your life when you decided to full-time carry? How did you handle the changes? Do you feel like the changes were good, as in stuff about you that needed improvement anyway - or bad, as in stuff that you don't like but put up with to have an effective defense?
I became calmer.
I learned to be more aware of my surroundings.
I developed the habit of running through defense scenarios where ever I am when I don't have anything else to think about. Sitting in the doctors office waiting for them to call me in for a routine checkup, instead of reading an old magazine, I just sat there and ran through scenarios in my mind of how to react if someone came through the door of the waiting room with a gun. Variations came to mind. It is in some ways like a mental video game.
As was mentioned by an earlier poster - it affected my attitude. I became less confrontational. Thinking about situations lead me to conclude there were lots of ways to avoid conflict. Carrying a gun, my concern is to avoid situations where I might have to use it.
Which reminds me, you might find this web site very useful: www.cornered.cat.
You have the good sense to think things through. You aren't buying a gun in a testosterone runs, you are considering it and working through the issues that one has to work through in order to have a sustained commitment to carrying. Carrying isn't easy. It does affect your life style, but for me at least, the changes are all good.
Yes, I over-think everything. Thanks for putting up with me.
Read books. About anything and everything by Ayoob is a good place to start. Go on Amazon and do a search on concealed carry books, or self defense books, read the reviews, and pick some. If you haven't already, take an NRA handgun safety course.
And please don't hesitate to post more questions.