Any responsible gun owner should have three elements in place before stepping outside the home with a gun: the correct mindset, proper training and enough of it, and self-defense liability insurance. All three are important for protecting yourself and loved ones. Let’s find out why.

Table of Contents

The Correct Mindset
The Correct Training and Enough of It
Self-Defense Liability Insurance
United States Concealed Carry Association

The Correct Mindset

Mindset is something that should be decided before ever purchasing a gun. It’s something that takes deep thought and contemplation for some people, but it’s the first step toward carrying a gun. Carrying a gun for self-defense means you must confront the fact that should the worst situation arise, you may need to use the gun, which in effect could cause great bodily harm or even death to another person. 

It's a tough pill to swallow for some people, but it is the truth. If you can’t prepare your mind to clear that hurdle, then maybe you should reconsider carrying a gun until you can. Violence can happen anywhere and at any time. That’s why we carry guns, but if you are not prepared to meet violence with violence, then carrying the gun might get you in more trouble than it could save you. 

There are many great books about self-defense to help you clear the mental hurdle of carrying a gun. Perhaps one of the best is On Killing by the famed Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. (Photo: Seth Rodgers/

Self-defense is always a last resort. Having the correct mindset also means being cognizant of your surroundings, looking for exits before you need them, and learning tools like conflict moderation and command presence. It means knowing when to walk away. 

A trainer I used to work with would tell me that he would “stack himself” before leaving the house every day with his gun. This would consist of him standing in front of the mirror and telling himself, “Head over heart; heart over hips.” 

It was a simple mantra that not only improved posture but reminded him that he needed to always think logically with his head first and his emotions last. He would tell himself this three times every day before putting on the gun and claimed that it centered him and prepared him for the day. I took that tip from him years ago and can attest that if nothing else it brings a calming presence to life. 

Remember, your gun is only a tool. It can’t think for itself. That’s why I suggest getting your mindset right before you even buy a gun. You need to do the thinking and training to become proficient at using the gun before it can be considered useful to you.

The Correct Training and Enough of It

After mindset, the next most important thing needed to carry a gun is training. There is a common saying in the training community that goes something like, “You will not rise to the occasion; you will sink to the highest level of training you have.” If you’re a new gun owner and you buy your gun and lock it in a drawer next to your bed stand, it’s of little use. Perhaps you could get lucky and hit something in a self-defense situation, but the odds are not in your favor. 

Training means shooting your self-defense gun on a regular basis to ensure you’re proficient at aiming and operating the firearm properly. It should also mean taking a class and learning applicable state and local laws. We live in a country where over half the states now have permitless carry. 

That’s a good thing. You don’t need any government agency to affirm your natural right to self-defense, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek solid training because a permit isn’t required. In most cases, it still makes a lot of sense to get a concealed carry permit, regardless of your state’s laws.

Concealed carry permit instruction in classroom
Even though over half of our states are now permitless carry it is still a good idea to get a concealed carry permit for the training alone. (Photo: Don Summers/

Mindset feeds into training and vice versa. The more your mindset evolves to consistently carry a gun, the more you want to train. The more you train, the more your mindset is affirmed that you are making the right decision to carry the gun in the first place. 

Training doesn’t have to be difficult. You can start with simple drills at your range to gain proficiency. You can dry-fire at home for free and become quite capable at things like drawing from the holster. But you should also seek out professional training if you can afford it.

Firearms range training with instructor
If you have the time and budget you should consider in-person firearms training from a knowledgeable instructor. (Photo: Don Summers/

It's up to each person to decide what best fits their budget and schedule for training. It should, however, be more than zero hours a month, or just like that skill you haven’t practiced since high school, you’ll lose the muscle memory and become rusty. Train as often as you can, because should the worst happen and force you to draw your gun in self-defense, you’ll be happy to have gotten good, competent training.

Self-Defense Liability Insurance

The last critical step to carrying a gun is having a good self-defense liability insurance plan. This may be a bit controversial, but it shouldn’t be. I’ve even heard other gun owners who have carried for decades scoff at the idea of needing such a thing. For me, it’s essential for protecting myself, my freedoms, and my loved ones.

I’ve heard things like, “I don’t need insurance, because I never go anywhere with my gun I’m not supposed to.” Perhaps even more dubious is, “I’m the good guy with the gun; if I’m ever in a situation where I need to defend myself, I’ll be exonerated.” 

By this same logic, you also shouldn’t build your house where the tornado is going to strike. But just like we don’t have the power to control funnel clouds, we don’t have the ability to control where or when violence will present itself or the aftermath of that encounter.

As responsible gun owners, we always like to think we’ll do the exact right thing and act in a heroic fashion. If a self-defense incident occurs, you may very well be the hero and be exonerated by the law, but you could still lose everything in civil court defending yourself again. 

I hope I never have to use or present any of the cards in this picture, but I rest easier at night knowing they are in my wallet. (Photo: Seth Rodgers/

The truth about self-defense incidents is that they are not always open-and-shut in the eyes of the law. You might have to pony up serious money for a defense attorney, or else trust your life and freedom to an overworked public defender.

Knowing the law around self-defense is just as important as being able to use your gun. After all, if you pull the trigger and it’s deemed that it wasn’t in self-defense, then you’re in a whole new world of trouble. 

Remember, a self-defense scenario must have the triangle of the attacker’s ability to attack, the opportunity to do so, and clear intent. Without all three, you don’t get to draw your gun – and if you do, it’s straight to jail. No training or lawyer will be able to help you then.

United States Concealed Carry Association

This frightening reality is why I choose to carry self-defense liability insurance through the United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA). There are many organizations that provide self-defense insurance. For me, the best deal is USCCA because it helps with all aspects I’ve talked about today.

For the money, no other organization provides the level of training that USCCA does with its membership. I feel like it also provides the best legal support, coverage, and freedom, but it’s the training that won me over and continues to sell me on the membership every year. Concealed Carry Magazine is the preeminent magazine covering the topic of concealed carry.

The training and magazine from USCCA is second to none. (Photo: Seth Rodgers/

It’s full of useful and relevant information to keep your skills and mindset sharp. The magazine publishes stories about real-life self-defense encounters from members, which only reinforces the notion of carrying a gun every day and the need for membership. 

In stories that I’ve read, no one woke up and thought, “Today is the day I’m going to have to use this gun in self-defense.” They were all saved by their gun first, but a close second was the comfort and reassurance of knowing that they were covered by the USCCA. Having a competent defense attorney and knowing they weren’t going to lose everything they had worked their entire lives for was worth its weight in gold.

I suggest you look into the USCCA and all the perks and benefits that come with membership for yourself. It’s a lot more than just a top-tier magazine and self-defense liability insurance. 





Of course, there will be those who disagree with me, but these are the three crucial elements I wouldn’t leave the house without when carrying a gun. Not only do I feel more confident with them, but I think they each could save my life. What do you think of my list? Are there things you would add or take away? Feel free to comment below to let me know what you think. 

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