Thursday, May 31, 2012

Crutching Around With A CCW

By Jason Parks – Guest Contributor

I have some questions that I want you to think about for a minute:

How does someone with a permanent physical disability carry a concealed weapon?

How much more time does it take for them to draw and fire compared to someone without a physical disability?

How can they avoid a confrontation if they cannot quickly extricate themselves from a dangerous location?

What affect does having a physical disability have on your situational awareness?

Do laws take into account a person’s physical disability if they are forced to use their weapon?

Now I want you to consider this scenario:

A man is home in bed with his wife. The sound of breaking glass wakes him up. He lies there for a moment listening. Did he dream it or was it real? His wife is still asleep beside him. Then he hears it – the sound of the deadbolt unlocking and the slight squeak of a door hinge that he has been meaning to oil.

He realizes that someone has just broken into his home.

He wakes his wife up and tells her what’s happening. She grabs the phone and calls 911. He gets out of bed and into his wheelchair. He is paralyzed from the waist down from a car wreck. He gets his pistol and flashlight from the drawer of his night stand.

His wife has been shooting a few times, but is not that familiar with guns. He is armed and ready, but his two children’s rooms are between him and the intruder. To get to their rooms he has to wheel himself out of his bedroom and down the hall to their rooms. He can’t simultaneously hold the pistol and the flash light and wheel himself into the hallway.

What does he do?

Most people don’t think about the challenges that people with physical disabilities face when it comes to CCW and personal safety. I think about it because a little over two years ago, I broke my left femur while walking. Believe me, I wish I had a great story to go with it but it was simply that I stepped wrong and broke it. The bone was brittle, and it shattered because of the radiation treatment I received when I had cancer. For a good story, remind me to tell you about the chainsaw incident.

Anyway, I have been on crutches for two years, two months and counting. I recently acquired my concealed carry permit so all these questions have been on my mind along with figuring out how to best carry a concealed pistol while on crutches. The standard stuff just doesn’t work. I Googled “concealed carry”+”disability” a few weeks back and got a lot of links that I have not looked at yet. I wanted to be able to take you on this little jaunt into figuring all this out with me.

So what do you think? Is it harder for someone with a physical disability to protect themselves and their families?

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent those of Beretta.

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You can follow Jason on Twitter @thejasonparks.


  1. Humbling post, thank you. Me and the other able bodied folks I shoot with every weekend are so concerned with finding that extra few tenths of second...when we should just be thankful that we can manipulate the gun.

    Great write up.

  2. Phil,

    Thank you for the comment. I appreciate it.


  3. Kudos for the post and very good points brought up that all able bodied firearms owners should keep in mind for time catches up to us all. Being a firearms instructor many years and having a brother in law in a wheelchair for the better part of 10 years due to a degenerative neurological disease I have given quite a bit of thought to personal protection issues for individuals with physical disabilities. Although it is unarguably more of a challenge for an individual with a physical visibility to protect themselves and their families, it is by no means impossible although a bit of thought must be given to potential scenarios and the unique issues specific to those with disabilities.

    Although there is no one specific approach to guarantee success during a home invasion or break in, I teach my home defense students to spend time constructing a home defense plan, inclusive of specific roles for each family member and practice potential emergency scenarios diligently, so that each family member is confident of their roles and responsibilities. If there are younger children involved, I suggest analyzing and identifying the most convenient room and if necessary, move the children's rooms around so that during an invasion, the adults (and older children) immediately barricade themselves in the room of the youngest child, as it is usually easier and more efficient to go the the kids then have the parents wrangle them into their room.

    I also guide my students in how to set up the designated "safe room" with the appropriate items, and most importantly, a point of egress other than the main door. For brevity's sake, I won't list all of the requisites of the safe room / emergency space but I am more than willing to share with you my suggestions at a later date if you'd like and feel you'd find them beneficial.

    The bottom line is to have a plan in place and practice said plan BEFORE an incident takes place as we all know how plans tend to decompensate during stress, especially unpracticed plans.

    Again, my best to you and yours and my sincere wish that you identify, implement, and practice a plan that would help you and yours during a crisis and as I mentioned before, I am here to help in any way.

    With warm regards,

    Jose Morales
    NRA Certified Instructor in All Disciplines

  4. Perhaps a shoulder rig, opposite your strong side would be the answer.

  5. I understand your quandary as I am also disabled as I need to walk with ankle braces and a cane and only have full use of one are and about 30 % of the other ( don't get into a fight with an elevator you will always lose) don't ask. I was think about looking into what the people at IDPA might have to offer. I would also like to thank Jose Morales for his words of encouragement and advice.


    1. Mark,

      Send me a message if you have any questions. I have been considering approaching a local gun dealer who has a range about developing a class for disabled concealed carry and try to develop some best practices.

  6. I use forearm crutches full time. I prefer to appendix carry since it is easier for me to draw and still maintain balance. I practice one handed shooting a lot when I am at the range so I can get used to balancing and making an accurate shot. I practice letting my crutch fall from my draw arm, my crutch hanging off my arm, etc.
    Like anything you need to get good at, practice - find your comfortable position that maintains your balance and keep practicing.

    1. So far, I like appendix carry too but I also carry in my front left pocket.

      The most natural way for me to draw is to let my crutch fall left across my body and draw with my right while I catch the crutch with my left. That way I still have both crutches available with the option of dropping it later if necessary.

      I need to do a lot of practicing.

  7. Thanks for all the comments!