Military and Police

Carrying a Concealed Weapon Without a Round in the Chamber is a Matter of Life and Death

“The only reason this could be true is that you’re either scared of your firearm or you’re simply not properly trained. If either is the case, STOP CARRYING!”

As a firearms instructor that carried a firearm as a cop for decades, and still carries one today, I understand the need for quick and immediate access to your self-defense firearm. That is why I am a proponent of the open carry of firearms if you are legally able to do so in your state. There is a reason why we LEO’s carry our firearms openly. It acts as a crime deterrent, and it gives ready access to your defensive firearm. I am also very set on teaching the benefit of carrying with a round in the chamber as you can tell from the title!

There is absolutely no reason not to carry your defensive firearm with a round in the chamber. Let me make that clear – THERE IS NO REASON NOT TO CARRY A ROUND IN THE CHAMBER OF YOUR DEFENSIVE FIREARM! Now some may think that is rather presumptuous of me. Who am I to tell people what they should and should not do? How you carry is up to you. But I am tired of trying to explain that, contrary to what you may have heard or seen on the internet, modern handguns in good repair do not just shoot on their own. You cannot make a modern quality firearm go off just by dropping it. Modern firearms are specifically built to prevent that from happening.

I receive emails from various sources asking me what I think about carrying firearms without a round in the chamber. My first question to these inquires is, “Why would you do that?” What possible reason could you have for wanting to carry without a round in the chamber? The answers I get most are twofold; first, “I don’t feel safe with a round in the chamber. I am afraid I may accidentally shoot myself or cause the gun to go off,” and second, “My instructor told me it’s safer that way”, or “My instructor told me that is the law.”

Well, let’s address the first excuse – you don’t feel comfortable or safe carrying with a round in the chamber. The only reason this could be true is that you’re either scared of your firearm or you’re simply not properly trained. If either is the case, STOP CARRYING! You are a danger to yourself and others until you receive the proper training!

Once you become comfortable with your firearm you’ll realize that it is nothing to fear. It is nothing more than any of the other tools you can use to defend yourself or your family. And again, I will state for the record – firearms do not go off all by themselves! Humans make firearms go off.

In regards to the second reason – check your state laws! Please do not take any instructors word on legal issues unless you have checked their background and have confidence in their knowledge of the law. Just because someone has an instructors certification does not mean they are a competent and knowledgeable instructor. I live and work in Florida, and someone once asked me, “My concealed carry instructor told me it’s illegal to carry a firearm with a round in the chamber, is that true?” Firstly, I was glad this person was at least double-checking. Secondly, he was misinformed, there is no such law. Why tell someone that in class when it’s not true? It serves no purpose and does more harm than good.

Why not carry a firearm without one in the chamber if it makes you “feel” more comfortable? Well, incident after incident has shown that you will not have time to manipulate your firearm to chamber a round when you truly need it. Further, one of the first things to go when in a life and death situation is your motor skills. The very same skills needed to manipulate your firearm.

There are scores of videos on the internet of actual shootings involving a person who has decided to carry a firearm without one in the chamber. Sadly, some of them end up like this unfortunate victim (be advised mature content). Remember, you have the rest of your life to chamber a round, however short that may be.

Chris Wagoner

Chris Wagoner is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Army Veteran. He has been in law enforcement the last 35+ years. He specializes in LE Firearms Instruction, and is in charge of a large Police Academy in North Florida. In his spare time Chris is a freelance writer and posts his articles on "Down Range with Chris Wagoner".

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