Chat about concealed carry with Journal-World reporter Chad Lawhorn

August 6, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Chad Lawhorn

To report about the process of getting a concealed gun permit, Journal-World reporter Chad Lawhorn bought a gun. Now he's going through the permit class. He'll take your questions about his gun experiences.


Hi: I'm Joel Mathis, managing editor for convergence. Chad is here and ready to take your questions about his series on concealed carry.

Chad Lawhorn:

Hi. Let's go.


Chad: You're working on this series, making yourself a guinea pig in the process of getting a concealed carry permit. Why did you decide to do this project in this manner?

Chad Lawhorn:

I thought it probably would be the easiest way to really get details about the process. It seemed easier than trying to find someone who would consent to let us follow them around to the degree that we would want to. The only downside is that it has brought more attention to me than I would like. I just try to remind people that I'm not an expert on any of this. I'm just the test dummy -- emphasis on dummy.


now that you have completed the class, do you feel more inclined, less inclined, or unchanged in your thought of carring a concealed handgun?

Chad Lawhorn:

Probably unchanged. It was a good experience. It was a thought-provoking experience. I would encourage any one who is thinking about getting a concealed carry permit to make sure you have thought through it.



I have a question. What is the number of individuals carrying a concealed weapon without the permit? You'd have to do one of LJW's anonymous polls to figure this out, but it would interesting, and enlightening, to see the results.

Chad Lawhorn:

I have no idea. Sorry.


Now that you've done the training, will you be packing?

Chad Lawhorn:

First, I have to get the permit still. You must go through the class before you are allowed to apply for the permit. Now that I've went through the class, I'll apply shortly. They'll then do a background check on me to make sure I'm not a felon or any of the other things that prohibits people from obtaining a permit. I think I'll pass the background check. Assuming I do, I will at least carry some because I'm planning on writing about the experience. After that, I'm not sure. Part of it will probably depend on how it feels to me.


A lot of our commenters criticized your choice of firearm that you bought in the first story - a .22-caliber semiautomatic. Care to respond?

Chad Lawhorn:

Sure, boss. First, it is a crappy gun. It is not real reliable because it jams up some. So on that point, I would agree that it is not a great gun for concealed carry. Any gun should be reliable at a minimum. Some people criticized me because it was a .22 caliber, a pretty small caliber. They said it wouldn't do much to a would-be attacker. I don't know. I don't want to get shot with it. My guess is it will stop some people, but not all. The same can be said of a .44. Bottomline is you have to decide what type of situation you're going to prepare for. You can always come up with a scenario where you are not going to have enough weapon for the job at hand. I bought the .22 because it was cheap and it was small. I think that was what a lot of ordinary Joes may do, so I wanted to report on how that worked out.


Your first article had an antigun ring, whether intended or not. The 2nd was more informative. comments?

Chad Lawhorn:

I didn't think the first one had an anti-gun ring. I didn't intend it to, but everybody reads things a little differently.


I've also heard from people who thought this project was a defense of the practice. What sense have you gotten, after these pieces, about how intense the gun debate is - at least locally?

Chad Lawhorn:

Folks certainly have strong opinions about the subject. That didn't suprise me. I was pleased that there are some folks on both sides of the issue who have really thought about it. There are plenty who haven't too, but that's always the case with anything. I think it is an issue that lends itself to a real good debate. I think rational people can see points on both sides.


Have the people you've talked with so far -- gun sellers, instructors, etc. -- given you any sense of how many other people are trying to obtain concealed carry permits? A few? A middle number? A lot? Your story this weekend said you only had three people in your instruction class...

Chad Lawhorn:

I don't think people are beating the doors down, but there has been a noticeable increase in business for some gun sellers, I believe. My class only had two other people, but it was on a Monday. Most are on a Saturday or Sunday.


In your first article "Buying into the gun culture", you seem to be a bit detached...
In the second article "In the line of fire" I felt a more personal side was communicated... 1.) Did you wrestle with thoughts of not actually submitting your application?
2.) In discussion with a significant other or those close to you, have you had to defend your decision?

Chad Lawhorn:

No, I haven't had any second thoughts about submitting the application. I think the wrestling may come when it is time to carry one concealed. On your second question, let's just say this hasn't been the most popular story I've ever done on the homefront.


Chad - thanks for answering some questions. Have you ever had a gun pointed at you? I ask only because I have, and my sense of the experience is that had I had a gun, and had I tried to use it, the only outcome would be that I would be dead. Given a scenario like this, in your opinion what function does CC perform? Do you think that the idea is that if a criminal *thinks* that you have a gun this will prevent any nefarious action?

Chad Lawhorn:

Well, it comes down to every situation is a little bit different, I've been told. One thing that seems pretty clear to me is that if the other guy already has a gun pointing at you, and yours is still in your holster, you're at a pretty big disadvantage. To me that's the toughest part about the whole deal -- knowing when to pull your gun. You don't want to pull it too late, but you also don't want to pull it too early and escalate the situation. It is tricky business, but there's some situations it would help, and some that it wouldn't. It kind of depends on how you play it. Do really do this right, you probably need to go over several scenarios in your mind, and quite frankly, that's not a lot of fun.


Kneejerkreaction offers some information...


moderator, fewer than 300 have applied for permits in Douglas County so far. Less than 3/1000s of the total population.


As you go through this process, how easy or difficult does it seem to you to obtain the concealed carry permit?

Chad Lawhorn:

So far, it doesn't seem too hard. It costs a little bit of money, and you have to devote a day to training, but other than that there hasn't been much to it.


Chad, your latest article has enjoyed a much better reception than the previous effort. I think that might be because of a much more serious tone set in the current piece. Can you discuss how purchasing a firearm and getting training changed your attitude about guns and gun ownership?

Chad Lawhorn:

Honestly, it hasn't changed my attitude. Evidentely some people took the tone of my first article as a sign that I don't like guns. I didn't intend for it to come off that way. I also tried to have some fun with it by pointing out that I wasn't going to carry a loaded gun - cocked and ready to fire - down the front of my pants. I still think that is a good decision. Others may not.


Since there was no follow up statement about training to the clear reference in your article on the butcher knife attack, please follow up on whether or not this how experience prepared has you for a butcher knife attack.

Chad Lawhorn:

Well, if someone was charging me with a butcher knife, and I didn't think I could get him to stop any other way, I guess I would shoot him.


I think we're ready to wrap up. Any other thoughts about this topic?

Chad Lawhorn:

Not many. I realize as I read it, my answer to that last question may sound a little flippant. Sorry about that. It is a serious subject. I hope no one ever attacks me or anyone else with a butcher knife. Who knows what I would do in that situation. Unfortunately, I think you don't figure it out until you are there. Hopefully, most of us will never have to figure it out. Thanks for the reading the articles.


ihatelv 10 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Sigmund 10 years, 10 months ago

I thought "In The Line of Fire" was one of the better feature articles I've read this year in the LJW. I hope Chad follows through with the application.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 10 months ago

"I bought the .22 because it was cheap and it was small. I think that was what a lot of ordinary Joes may do, so I wanted to report on how that worked out. "

Whether he realizes it or not, this was a SMART thing to do, if he wants "the experience" of carrying a gun. More people are killed by .22 handguns than any other gun. We think ".44 will put a hole in you" but .22s are easy to come by, and if they don't jam, the easiest to shoot. If you've ever shot a handgun, you'll know that it's much easier to miss with a Dirty Harry cannon than with a small, lightweight pocket pistol. My point is this: .22s are big time killers. You may not be dead before you hit the ground, but you'll be dead before the ER patches up your bleeder.

kmat 10 years, 10 months ago

Scenebooster - that was a great question. Those that think it was stupid most likely have not had a gun pointed at them. Unfortunately, my husband did while being robbed at the bank he works at. People look at the gun debate quite differently when they've had one against their head. CC would work if the person attacking you has a weapon that they have to get close to use (knife, bat, etc....), but if you are dealing with someone that has a gun, most likely one or both people will be dead.

I'm not anti-gun, but definitely anti cc. Just wait until the first death occurs because someone was packing and drunk and kills someone, thinking there was a threat. And it's quite sad that unless a bank puts up signs saying guns aren't allowed, it is now legal to carry a gun into a bank. The lawmakers were really using their heads and thought the law out well when they decided that guns could be brought into banks legally unless a sign is posted.

And those that think any comment against CC is anti-gun - you can save your insults. No matter what I say, unless everyone is pro gun in every situation, you will attack their comments. I grew up in a home where there was one in every room of the house (but my dad was a trained sniper and taught us that no one but him could ever touch a weapon). Being brought up with someone as trained as my father truely teaches that guns have only one purpose - to kill.

BigDog 10 years, 10 months ago


And it's quite sad that unless a bank puts up signs saying guns aren't allowed, it is now legal to carry a gun into a bank. The lawmakers were really using their heads and thought the law out well when they decided that guns could be brought into banks legally unless a sign is posted.

kmat, I was present at the capitol during one of the debates on this issue. The reasoning for not making the banks a place you couldn't not conceal carry was because they are private businesses and thought it should be up to the individual bank or bank chain; just as it is for grocery stores, gas stations, etc .

There was a long debate also on whether they should be automatically banned in churches. There were several preachers from churches in high crime areas who thought that it should be the individual churches decision. I believe it was kept as a banned location for CC because they would have not been able to pass the bill otherwise.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 10 months ago

Concealed Carry, in part, is about the human and civil right of self defense.

Michael Capra 10 years, 10 months ago

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kmat 10 years, 10 months ago

Big Dog - anyone that works in a bank or has a loved one that works in a bank doesn't care one little bit why stupid KS decided it is ok to bring guns into a bank unless a sign is posted. Find me one person in town that works for a bank that wants it to be legal to bring a gun into the bank! Just one would suffice. It just shows how stupid the law is. There is no reason EVER for a weapon in a bank, unless you're trying to rob it. It doesn't matter whether it's a private business or not. No banks allow employees to pack heat and they certainly don't want anyone else coming into their institutions to be packing heat. Even if a bank was being robbed and a good samaritan was legally packing, those bank employees don't want that samaritan to dare do a thing. It's standard procedure to give a robber what ever they want. Money is insured and the banks will get it back. The employees lives are more important.

I have to smirk every time I pass by this one fabric shop downtown that has a no guns allowed sign up. You know you live in redneck KS when bank and fabric stores have to have no guns allowed signs.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 10 months ago

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Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 10 years, 10 months ago

This topic has more comments removed by the newspaper than any other topic I have ever seen. It certainly indicates to me that the subject is very controversial. I hope that everyone can work their problems with it out. Thank You, Lynn

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 10 months ago

My heavens, a lot of folks violated the usage agreement today. This must be a hot topic.

Steve Mechels 10 years, 10 months ago

"There is no reason EVER for a weapon in a bank, unless you're trying to rob it. "

Tell that to the security guard. Would you like to rephrase that statement?

matahari 10 years, 10 months ago

A reason person would carry a gun to the bank with them would be if they were carrying a large amount of money on their person. Yes? Don't the armed guards and trucks who pick up money from ATM's and banks stay aware of their firearms?? YES! And why? To protect themselves and the money!~ I don't think they would care who would be intimidated or insulted by their carrying a firearm, I sure wouldn't. I'd be more concerend in protecting myself and my money!

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