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RetroWON: When Strangers Ask if you Carry a Concealed Firearm

Should strangers ask if you carry a concealed firearm? And should you answer?

It’s no surprise I’m an open and vocal public advocate for concealed-carry rights. In my book Assault and Flattery, I detail the importance of women being able to exercise their Second Amendment rights and lambaste politicians who put women in vulnerable situations by taking those rights away.

Katie Pavlich Volquartsen Banner

Katie Pavlich’s column is sponsored by Volquartsen

When you look at data collected by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, you’ll find self-defense is the number one reason why women purchase their first firearm. Because of this, they usually purchase a pistol. The natural progression from owning a handgun for self-defense is the practice of concealed carry, which serves the purpose of comfort and self-defense in rural and urban settings. In states across the country, concealed carry among women is skyrocketing. In Washington State alone, concealed carry has increased by 63 percent since 2013.


Because of my work covering legislative progress and controversy surrounding concealed carry, in addition to sharing my own training experiences in a number of media formats, I often get questions on the practice from strangers online and in person.

So Katie, do you carry? What do you carry? What handgun? What caliber? Do you carry all the time? Do you carry on body or off?

These questions can be uncomfortable. Is this simple curiosity? Likely. After all, we love discussing guns and gear. But are these appropriate questions for strangers to be asking? And should women like me answer them?


To be clear and before I proceed, I am not accusing anyone of ill intent, but these questions make me cringe. I rarely give a direct answer. And I’ll admit, when I’m asked these types of questions by a woman, the hairs on my neck don’t stand up like they do when I’m asked by a man.

That aside, unless someone knows you well, this is out of their business zone. One of the main benefits of concealed carry is that the practice creates an environment of deterrence and decreases the risk that individuals are willing take when there’s a chance of a firearm being used against them. We’re taught to keep personal information private and not to tell strangers where we live, where our kids go to school, how often we travel, what our schedules are like, etc., for a reason. (This is taught extensively in the NRA’s Refuse to Be a Victim course, which I highly recommend.) Discussing the details of your concealed-carry habits is no different.

Katie Pavlich

Katie Pavlich

Carrying a concealed firearm is about personal protection and safety. It’s a choice that has life-and-death consequences. The purpose of carrying is to save your life and to keep away harm. Unless trust has been established, the personal question of whether a woman carries a concealed firearm and the details surrounding that choice shouldn’t be asked by strangers, and the answer shouldn’t be given to strangers, either.

This Retr0WON, “When Strangers Ask if you Carry a Concealed Firearm” first appeared May 31, 2016.

  • About Katie Pavlich

    Katie Pavlich is passionate about shooting and hunting. She’s also an advocate of the Second Amendment over at Townhall.com and FOX News.


The Conversation

  • Rob Wilson says: May 13, 2018 at 11:00 am

    For exactly the same reasons (deterrence), the answer should be exactly the same as the U.S. Navy uses when asked if it’s warships actually have nuclear weapons onboard, “I can neither confirm nor deny”.

  • Debby Dufrene says: June 10, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    Good read, enjoyed reading this article. thank you,

  • Greg F. says: June 10, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Without being equally rude or katty, one might reply to the question by asking them “Why do you ask?” Then after hearing them out say “I prefer to remain private on that subject.” Then immediately ask a diverting question to steer the conversation to other areas of mutual interest.

  • DJ says: June 2, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Great blog! I used to say, “If we get attacked you will find out.” I was worried about my kids being frightened for whatever reason and asking me to pull out a gun. Now I just say, “What color is my underwear? I don’t think you need to know.”

  • SH says: June 1, 2016 at 10:10 am

    My mom is afraid of firearms and is a prime example of someone who should not carry. But every time the two of us head out for shopping or lunch she always wants to make sure I have mine handy. As far as strangers are concerned, my answer is “maybe”. If they want to discuss laws and pros and cons I’ll be happy to do so but it’s none of their business when I carry.

  • MrApple says: May 31, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Tell them that it is none of their damn business.