Author respectfully suggests that most of the time, the handgun should be concealed until it needs to be drawn. Here author clears Massad Ayoob Signature Model Ed Brown .45 from Leather Arsenal holster under EOTAC vest, en route to winning CDP division in an IDPA match.

On my first safari to South Africa more than 20 years ago, the South African Police at the Johannesburg airport who issued me my gun permit went to great pains to tell me that while it would be legal to wear my handgun exposed when “out in the bush,” it was imperative that I keep it concealed in towns and cities. If it became exposed without good reason (such as self-defense), I was told, both the gun and the permit would be confiscated. I understood that, lived by it, and got into no trouble in a pleasant three-week journey that took both me and my kid from Jo’burg and Pretoria through the Eastern Transvaal and into Southwest Africa, which is now known as Namibia.

On a subsequent safari in the same country some time later, I spent at least as much time sightseeing as hunting. It was still the time of Apartheid, and I was interested in seeing one of the Homelands settlements. My guide knew some people at a Shangaan homeland site, and offered to take me there for a tour. As we got out of the bakkie (pickup truck) on arrival, I commented on the heat as I reached for a jacket to cover my 4-inch barreled Smith & Wesson .44 Mag, which rode in a Milt Sparks rig comprised of matching brown gunbelt, #1AT hip holster, and double pouch for HKS speedloaders. “Oh, you won’t need that,” the guide assured me. “The tribal folk are quite accustomed to seeing handguns on people’s belts.” It sounded good, so I left the covering garment in the car.

Apparently, foreign visitors were not a common sight at this particular settlement, and soon we were surrounded by a large group of school kids who were eager to see the newcomers with pinkish faces who spoke in strange tongues. I noticed some of the children appeared frightened, and were staring and pointing at the right side of my belt. I whispered to my guide, “I thought you said an exposed gun wouldn’t be a problem!” He too was puzzled, and he spoke to one of the African teachers in the tribal dialect. The teacher laughed, and explained that the gun was no problem at all. It seemed that the little tykes hadn’t seen speedloader carriers before, and were afraid that the pouches on my belt held small grenades.

An explanation and show-and-tell at the teacher’s request eased tensions, and everyone laughed. But it was a reminder that what you and I as gun people can take for granted as harmless may be frightening to others who don’t understand what we carry and why we carry it.

Unexpected Gun
Many years ago New York City cops told me of Case One on their turf. A gentleman who had qualified for one of the relatively few unrestricted concealed carry permits issued by the city was apparently late for his subway train, and was running to catch it. As he sprinted along the platform, his suit coat came open and revealed a sidearm in his hip holster. Others on the crowded platform saw it and were alarmed, and notified Transit Authority Police, which were then a separate agency in New York City. The man was unceremoniously seized by officers, put up against a wall, and disarmed.

His carrying of the gun had been legal. His allowing it to be seen was something the city had always frowned upon, and still does. He wound up losing his carry permit, a most precious commodity to lose in that particular city.

It is in part because of incidents such as Case One that a certain saying has arisen among those who legally carry discreetly concealed firearms. It has lately been repeated so often that for some it is almost a mantra. The saying is: “Concealed means concealed!”

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