There have been no less than three mass shootings in the United States since June 17. If I had written this last night, before the Louisiana theater shooting, the number would have been two. I follow the news and I’m embarrassed to say the shootings are all starting to run together. It’s incomprehensible. I’m a legal gun owner. I possess and exercise my legally-issued concealed carry permit more and more every year, especially when I ride. My wife has been robbed at gunpoint. She carries now too.
You may be considering arming yourself in today’s world too. Many are, but you don’t want to become part of the problem. There is no substitute for proper training and familiarity of your firearm for maximum safety and effectiveness. Know the laws in your state and be sure you know the laws in other states you may be traveling to. Concealed carry laws and permits aren’t all the same and they aren’t all reciprocal. It’s not like a driver’s license that’s good in any state.
Sometimes, concealing a legally-owned sidearm when your mode of transportation is a bike can be challenging. Different states have different laws and states like Pennsylvania don’t allow for lawful, concealed carry in places like bars. If your transportation is a car, the solution may be as simple as locking the firearm in your car, but it gets more complicated on a bike, especially a bike with leather bags or no bags.
If you’re on a bike and are staying at a hotel, leaving the firearm in your hotel room can be an option. But there are some things you need to do first to protect yourself and others. First, unload the firearm and remove the magazine if you carry a semi-auto. Next, break it down, removing the slide from the firearm. This will render it relatively useless and harmless to any unknown guest, such as hotel staff, who may be entering your room when you aren’t in it. Then you can lock the firearm with a cable lock to the coat rack. Lastly, take the slide with you. For an extra measure of safety, put the “do not disturb” hang tag on you door. Another option is to carry a compact locking gun safe with you, but with space at a premium on a motorcycle, that’s not usually a very attractive option.
I’ve seen products designed to store firearms on a motorcycle in recent years, the most notable being concealed-compartment floorboards. I’m not sure if they still make them and if they do, I’m not sure I would lock a firearm in them, outside of a bar in a strange town, and expect it to be there when I got back, but it is an option. Hard bags could be too, but that seems like tempting fate.
In the end, actually carrying your concealed firearm if you’re taking it on a motorcycle trip seems the best option when it’s legal. Gun pocket vest, shoulder rigs, paddle holsters or inside- the-waistband holsters are all options. Many advise against a small-of-the-back carry option, especially on a motorcycle, due to the possibility of paralysis if you fall and land on your firearm. Just take some time to plan it out and be comfortable with what you’re doing. If you aren’t comfortable, don’t take it. If you do take it, be sure to have the proper documentation readily available.
I’m not a trained professional or an expert on CCW laws; I’m just trying to help some of you considering concealed carry on a bike to understand what may be involved if you decide to do so and what has worked for me to make my experience a hassle-free one. Honestly, I feel kind of strange even sharing the information with you all in such a public format, but being comfortable and confident and speaking out about lawful, responsible and safe firearm ownership that could enhance the safety of myself and my family during these turbulent times is what it’s going to take to help keep responsible gun ownership, by sane, law-abiding citizens a viable option, so I’m starting the discussion. I’m a regular, law-abiding citizen with nothing to hide—no pun intended.
So in a world where normal is changing fast, worship how you choose, marry who you will, fly whatever flag makes you proud, and I’ll do the same. If we can all find two out of three of these things to agree on, maybe not even the same two, our country just might make it. Please remember the innocents who have lost their lives recently to senseless violence, right here in the U.S.A., taken by others who were born and bred here that should have understood that’s not what we stand for, but didn’t. Seeking out people you don’t even know and killing them in cold blood is not freedom; it’s indefinable.