The American Concealed Carrier as Gunfighter

At the same time I am wrapping up my book chapter on guns and gear technologies for concealed carry, I am ramping up the work on my chapter on the rise of the private citizen gun training industry.

To this end I am reading books and articles, watching TV shows, and listening to podcasts by and about gun trainers. This week, I have been listening to Mike Seeklander’s American Warrior Show podcast. In episode #62 from 2 April 2017, Seeklander has a long interview with Gabe Suarez of Suarez International.

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One comment Suarez made stood out to me in particular:

I’ll use a term that they maybe they don’t identify with, but that’s what they are: American gunfighters. Because you know what? You get up in the morning, you put a pistol in your belt, and you go out into the street — you’re carrying that for a reason. It’s not to make yourself feel good. It’s because you may have to shoot somebody that day. That makes you a gunfighter.

He prefers this term because it connects the behavior of concealed carriers to a larger mindset, one might even say ethos. This is analogous to others who talk about civilian concealed carriers as “warriors” or “sheepdogs.”

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Thinking about concealed carry as meaning that you “may have to shoot somebody that day” can be jarring, but I have seen many CCW classes taught in which the instructor starts with this same idea. And I have seen people discontinue CCW courses because they don’t feel comfortable with the idea that they might have to use the gun they are carrying to shoot another human being. So the plain talk can be helpful in that respect.

Of course, plain talk about these things can be uneasy. And sometimes speaking too plainly can generate backlash, as when a seminar that Gabe Suarez is teaching in May called “Killing Within the Law” drew some some criticism from gun bloggers Bearing Arms and TTAG.

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The course title is certainly jarring, as is the notion of the “Gentleman Killer” in the course description. But if I was in Arizona I would certainly be interested in taking the course, if only to compare and contrast it to other courses I have taken which deal with self-defense and the law like Andrew Branca’s Law of Self Defense and Massad Ayoob’s MAG-40.

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In any event, Seeklander and Suarez are certainly high on my list of gun trainers to learn more about for this part of my work.


  1. Blunt talk is good. There is nothing quite as blunt as being shot or shooting someone. No point in beating around the bush on this topic.

    When I took my CHL class the instructor went through an analysis of what happens when you shoot someone, concentrating on the massive blood loss that causes loss of consciousness (when shooting center of mass and not immediately hitting something that instantly disables or kills). Was glad he did that. If you are not willing to own the point and process of carrying a firearm for self defense, don’t do it.


      • Most of us just sat there and let it sink in. But the room was pretty quiet for a while. Mike, the instructor, said he did that to make the point that if you are carrying, you need to understand what the emotional and physical processes are in a gunfight.

        I took a Motorcycle Safety Foundation class and further, downloaded every bit of the broader curriculum as I may want to teach it. Sort of had the same idea: The class began with “Not Everyone Is Cut Out To Ride A Motorcycle” and then examined the fatality rates, crash types, lack of protection when on a motorcycle, and the need to constantly be on cutting edge of the motorcycle equivalent of Col. Cooper’s White-Yellow-Orange-Red situational awareness spectrum. Its the opposite of the bicycling mantra that anyone with a pulse should be empowered to ride a bike. Works fine until the first time a newbie cyclist is cut off in traffic (I am a League of American Bicyclists instructor).


      • Interesting. I have seen people hear the “you should only do this if you are willing to kill another human being” part of ccw class and just leave at the next break.


      • No one left. Several in the class were security specialists at LANL, one was a jewelry store owner in Santa Fe, one was a retired security specialists, and me. It was a pretty experienced bunch.

        I live in Los Alamos so not much chance I will need to shoot someone. The one time in New York State where I was armed and someone was threatening me, I talked the guy down and never drew my weapon (I worked my way through college as a student security aide in the Security Dept. at my university, so had some experience in conflict resolution). Disarming the situation has always been my preferred course of action and we discussed that in the class. I took the class in part to learn something, much like you seem to want to do.


      • David, I am sure you know this already, but the class emphasized that one never states that one is willing or wants to kill someone, but to “stop the threat” which is a legal fine point meant to say that one uses deadly force only when neccesary, and only until the threat is eliminated, not to kill.


    • The part about choosing the proper weapon for blowing holes in someone’s chest with expanding bullets designed for self defense so you cause a massive rupturing of blood vessels, causing the adversary to bleed catastrophically, lose blood pressure, and go unconscious was pretty blunt. Of course, death is a likely outcome in many cases, but not the stated intent.

      Quite the opposite of hunting, where the idea is to kill the animal quickly and humanely and hence bring it home for dinner!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I want to take a Mike Seeklander course. Maybe we should try to set one up. I’d really like to take his 5 day Competition Handgun Intensive class, though.


  3. Reading the original post struck me as being odd since when I carry a gun around like when I go run I look at it as something to make noise to keep the bears away from my house or take out rabbits when they get too numerous. There is seldom anyone else on the road where I live. Also, I wondered how the gunfighter concept applies to law enforcement people or military people since they are gunfighters at times. But concealed carriers or the other groups are potential gunfighters not full-time gunfighters. Finally this morning I remembered the concept of roles from a sociology class a few decades ago. Should we be talking about ‘gunfighter’ and ‘concealed carrier’ as roles some people chose to take on and other people do not think of those actors as being legitimate roles for people to play? The clash over the idea of roles and who gets to define the roles sounds like a topic for your book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sociology! The social statuses we occupy (man, father, husband, brother, son, professor – in my case) all come with socially defined roles or role expectations (the do’s and dont’s of that status). There is some variation in how people understand and enact those roles (we are not robots after all), but there is still social/cultural pressure to play within the accepted boundaries. With newly emerging statuses (civilian concealed carrier), the role expectations may be more in flux and less agreed upon. So, there are more debates over those role expectations. Is it a role expectation that you are a gunfighter or a warrior, and what does that mean exactly?

      I’m not necessarily going to talk about these issues in these sociological terms, but they are definitely applicable.


  4. I no longer have the job were I carry a pistol. But before I signed up for that I thought long and hard about the reality of carrying a firearm. You have the power of life and death in that object. And yes that applies to many other things however, to me at least, it is different were firearms are concerned. I use Hornady Critical Defense 115gr JHP in my pistol because of the enhanced wound effect and in an effort to avoid over penetration.

    Fate of Destiny did a video asking those very questions. I found it on Lucky Gunner Lounge. I think it is well reasoned and is of use to anyone thinking of carrying or is carrying.

    Keep your powder dry and your faith in God.


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