Carrying a Gun

As a Private Investigator in some countries, most notably perhaps in America, PIs are allowed to carry a weapon (gun). There are situations where PIs in America can carry a weapon, and the rules about how to go about this change from country to country and even, in America, from state to state. Just to make sure you’re being safe and not creating a hazard for anyone in your family, here are some guidelines that can help.

  1. Make Sure You’re Licensed, Trained, and Properly Permitted.

When you’re carrying a weapon for self-defense, you’re also carrying a responsibility. Make sure that you’ve taken all the steps toward getting your paperwork in order so you can carry that weapon with confidence. Also, make sure and get the training you need to be competent in the use of (and when not to use) that weapon.

Taking a simple test is not enough. You need actual practice. If you don’t know how to handle your weapon well, whether it’s a gun, knife, or anything else, a perpetrator with more practice and confidence than you might well get it away from you or use your lack of knowledge and preparedness against you. Remember that a criminal often has the advantage of surprise attack.

Make sure and go to the range on a very consistent basis and practice until using the weapon is second nature. This can take hundreds, if not thousands, of hours. Also practice taking the weapon apart, cleaning it, and reassembling it until you feel that it’s easy. I can’t emphasize regular practice enough.

Seek out extra training from people who have experience with weapons in action situations. Some of the best mentors to seek out are police, ex-police, military, or ex-military people, because they have training under all conditions and can put you through various scenarios, just like they do in police academies, where you have to think fast and think right.

  1. Don’t Be a Hot-Head.

You should never carry a gun for emotional reasons. If you’re the type of person who blows up at other people, feels that there are lots of people out to get you, or who has any anger management issues, you might want to seek out training along those lines first. Call it mental agility. To really be effective and safe with weapons, you have to understand what they’re for and what they’re not for. Emotion should not be a factor in your decisions on how to use the weapon, so make sure you’ve got some Emotional Intelligence on your side.

  1. You’ll Probably Never Have to Use It.

Understand that the purpose of carrying a weapon is not to become a vigilante. In fact, most people in the world will never be faced with a weapon used by another person. And when they do, playing it cool will result in no physical violence the vast majority of times. So even if they carried a weapon, the occasion that would require using it would be so rare that most people never would. The best armed person knows the statistics and how rare it is for a weapon to be used.

  1. Make Sure You Store Your Weapons Properly.

Guns and ammo should both be locked up when not on your person. And, they should be locked in separate, secure cabinets where children won’t be tempted to break the glass and play with the weapons or ammo. Displaying a weapon might also tempt a visitor to steal it, so make sure you are smart when it comes to storing your weapon of choice.

  1. Know Verbal Judo.

Statistically, more confrontations are diffused with a favorable outcome by using what police call “Verbal Judo” ( When weapons are displayed, people get very disturbed and frightened, and those kinds of people are less likely, not more, to use good judgment, including the perpetrators themselves and the victims.

If you have a confrontation with a perpetrator, chances are that the person is not thinking too clearly in the first place. Verbal Judo is a way to get people to comply with requests and behave more rationally, because it puts several choices in front of the perpetrator or suspect and that forces the him or her to think.

Anytime someone slows down enough to think, it becomes very obvious that his or her outcome is dramatically improved by calming himself/herself down and becoming more cooperative.

Verbal judo is a very targeted way of talking that gets very good results, which is why police forces send their officers through the training. Often, it re-frames a potentially deadly situation to a more orderly and cooperative one.

Here are some reasons you should not carry a weapon:

  1. Not Enough Practice Time.

You really need hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of practice in a good shooting range to get good with a gun. And you need some scientific and mechanical information about how weapons work as well as the kind of scenario training that officers have to experience in able to wield a weapon sensibly. When you’re nervous, and you will be if there’s a confrontation, that’s when things start to go wrong. So make sure you’re very familiar and comfortable with the actual weapon. If you do, you’ll lower the chances that you’ll ever use one in error.

  1. Kids in the House.

If you’re living with children, you should know that they’re very unpredictable. We know for sure that kids can fool their parents, usually in some fairly harmless ways like sneaking biscuits and getting away with it, but they can sneak the key out of your nightstand and unlock the guns as well. Don’t think that just because you’ve taken measures to ensure their safety, they’re not aware of what your methods are and how to undermine them.

  1. When Not Helpful During Surprise Attacks.

When someone attacks you or another person, it is usually sudden and surprising. Because of this, you may not have the time to get your weapon out in a useful way. Remember that the criminals often think about and time their surprises to make it difficult for you to get to your weapon before they have you covered. And stealing your weapon can bolster their crimes.

  1. When People in Your House are Suffering from Depression.

When people are depressed, they could try anything. Often, you won’t know that the person is suffering. Depressives have a way of suffering in silence until they try something rash, and you don’t want to be caught unawares. That’s because if a person is suicidal, they don’t want you to know so you can undermine their attempts to free themselves with a permanent solution.

By writing this list, I am not advocating that you carry a weapon. Most PI’s do not carry a weapon because it’s generally safer if you don’t, and correctional officers working inside prisons do not carry weapons unless they’re posted in a locked tower, away from any possible personal contact with inmates. I only hope that by reading this, you will choose safety first whether you carry a weapon or not.

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About the Author

IPIA's Director of Investigations is an Indonesian national with a Diploma in PI work (with distinction) from the UK and an Australian Government accredited Certificate in Investigative Services. She has worked on over 400 cases for private and business clients.