If you think the big story from the NRA’s recent Annual Meetings in Atlanta is the speech to membership by President Donald Trump, you’re absolutely correct. Not since President Ronald Reagan in 1983 has a chief executive addressed the membership directly. And to say that he was welcome is understatement; to say his words were deeply heartening, more so.
The Second Amendment does indeed have a sincere friend in Washington again, and by extension, so does the Carry Life. Despite much good news of late, however, those who are determined to protect their families and communities from demonstrable threats are still awash in hyperbolic accusations, recriminations, insinuations and plain lies of every sort. Progressives simply do not want anyone but themselves to have any sort of power. Never forget that this is why they hate your firearm—it represents the ability to say “no,” and to make it stick.
So the big and buoying story, certainly, was President Trump’s appearance. The other big story is a welcome addition to the wheelhouse of Carry Life—the unveiling of the NRA Carry Guard program. The Second Amendment does indeed have a sincere friend in Washington again.
The broad strokes you may well already know. Closest to our own heart is the training aspect: “The gold standard in CCW training,” in the words of NRA Carry Guard National Director (and retired U.S. Navy SEAL) George Severence. Whether students are entry-level in shooting and carry, or relatively experienced, three days of classroom and extensive range work focus on consistently sound fundamentals.
These are burnished with performance of those same skills under stress, and not just the beep of a timer. While it’s true that a real-life encounter will dump you down to your lowest level of proficiency and training, NRA Carry Guard helps assure that your lowest level, so to speak, will be high indeed. Partly this happens through virtual reality scenarios, one of which we had a (chilling!) chance to try out at the NRA booth—as did many hundreds of others—but it can also be experienced through things like “force-on-force” Airsoft. If nothing else, it will forever eradicate the idea that you’ll have lots of time to summon help if trouble finds you.
Other aspects of NRA Carry Guard will prepare you for the legal implications of carry, both before you face a threat, as well as after you defend against one. Here, NRA Carry Guard doesn’t stop with information, but provides three levels of insurance to cover civil and legal costs up to $1 million and $150,000, respectively. This includes a members-only 24/7/365 hotline to report incidents and receive emergency assistance. Spousal coverage is also provided at no additional charge at whichever level of insurance you choose. Never forget that this is why they hate your firearm—it represents the ability to say “no,” and to make it stick.
As you may imagine, we’ve been afforded some insights into the program, and three things particularly impress us. If you watch the Dana Loesch video (highly recommended), the first will likely be obvious—the quality and background of instructors. Drawn mostly from military (and often from the Special Operations community) and elite law-enforcement sources, they bring thoroughly modern and engagement-proven techniques to the physical and intellectual aspects of carry and personal security.
Second is the plain acknowledgement that “doctrine,” however good, cannot stand still. In the nearly three-year run of “Carry Life,” we’ve spent a lot of time on this, but rarely will you hear such candid acknowledgement that there is no “monopoly on good ideas,” as Eric Frohardt, NRA CG director of training, put it.
Last, and most important, is the not-everybody-gets-a-trophy mindset of performance assessment within the NRA Carry Guard program. By and large, CCW permittees nationwide have demonstrated remarkable and well-documented restraint over a long period, but if we are to move successfully to national reciprocity in the coming months, more will be required. “More” is both complex and exasperating, but a short version is evident in the conversations we most often have with non-shooters, particularly those opposed to carry in the first place: Civilians are de facto incompetent. That this is arrogant, ignorant and decidedly unproven is obvious only to those of us already immersed in the Carry Life. Last, and most important, is the not-everybody-gets-a-trophy mindset of performance assessment within the NRA Carry Guard program.
It is also the impression that the carry community must change. We see people from all walks of life get serious and stay careful, and move through everyday life with astonishingly few mistakes. But the enemies of meaningful self-defense are well-funded and vigilant, and they’re looking to exaggerate and excoriate any and every misstep. As if that weren’t bad enough, their willing lapdog—the so-called “mainstream” media—stands ready to give them apparently unlimited ink and air.
We believe NRA Carry Guard is part of, if not the, solution.
Now Carry on.
Frank Winn has been studying arms and their relationship to tyranny, meaningful liberty and personal security all his adult life. He has been a firearms safety/shooting instructor for more than 20 years, and earned state, regional and national titles in several competitive disciplines.