The number of gun owners with concealed-carry permits is growing, thanks to the rising number of states — 37 so far, and that's not counting the states that don't require permits at all — that allow people who aren't felons (yet) to easily hide deadly weapons on their bodies. More than seven million Americans now have concealed carry permits, as opposed to five million in 2008. This, of course, poses a serious problem, tragically highlighted by recent events such as the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. Just kidding! The real issue is that guns are sooo unfashionable. Those unslightly lumps! Those pinching holsters! What's a genteel gunslinger to do?
Thank God not only for the right to bear arms but for "covert fashion," a new style for concealed carriers who wants to look stylish while packing. Woolrich, a 182-year-old clothing company, launched its concealed-carry line in 2010 with only three shirts, but, thanks to popular demand, has since added new shirt patterns, pants, and the "Elite Discreet Carry Twill jacket." The clothes offer "secret" second pockets for concealed weapons, stretchable waistbands for those who prefer holsters, and back pockets designed to help hide accessories, like a knife or a flashlight. One jacket has a channel cut through the back that can be used to store plastic handcuffs. The clothing line isn't geared toward Secret Service agents, celebrity bodyguards, or Indiana Jones, but toward guys like Shawn Thompson, an auto dealership employee who keeps a blog called "Loose Rounds," on which he recently reviewed two Woolrich Elite Concealed Carry shirts:
I do not consider my self fashionable, but I do kinda of like my clothes to be presentable for dinner or a date. Most of the clothes I used in the past to hide my sidearm looked pretty sloppy and had my girlfriend complaining about my looks. She is always dressed in current fashion and when we went out , I did not think it was asking to much for me to look like something she would not be ashamed to be seen with, at least clothing wise. So Last year she bought me a woolrich elite CCW shirt to wear. Not only did it hide my gun well, it looked great!. It was comfortable, it was light, it did not stain easy and it let me stay cool in the summer. After this, I became more interested in shirts that hide guns and all the other stuff that usually goes along with them.
...Sure I can hide a 1911 , two reloads and a Ar15 mag under a wife beater Tshirt, but why not look good and have something the wife/girlfriend/ boyfriend?? would be proud to be seen with you if you are wearing it.
He's SO right! Why would you want to embarrass your significant other by looking like someone who owns a gun? Maybe the real question is why this guy feels the need to bring his gun to dinner dates, but no matter. Thompson, who also often carries a folding knife and flashlight, told the New York Times that he appreciates the shirt's "barely discernible slide slit" with Velcro that allows him to grab his Colt 1911 as quickly as necessary.
5.11 Tactical, another company profiled by the Times, makes a shirt that "includes a stealth compartment in front so the wearer can appear to be warming his hands while actually gripping a pistol in a waistband holster." UM. Seriously, HOW is that legal? A vice president at 5.11 Tactical said the company's goal is to "create a collection of garments that allows the end user to have stylish lifestyle apparel but have features in the garment that enable them to carry a weapon and draw the weapon quickly." However, he admitted that most people who buy the clothes don't care as much about looking chic as they care about not looking like they're carrying a gun.
Gun owners say their goal is to practice "maximum uncertainty" — potential criminals won't be able to attack if they don't know if anyone around them is armed — but, wait, that makes absolutely no sense? Wouldn't criminals be less likely to attack if they knew people around them were armed? Isn't that the whole point of having a police force? Speaking of cops, it's also true that the police won't question you if you're dressed like a golf club member, another reason why "covert fashion" appeals to so many gun owners.
In case you were wondering: gun experts told the Times that research is inconclusive about whether "maximum uncertainty" actually reduces crime. You don't say! That information certainly isn't deterring clothing makers, who will continue to make tons of cash from "covert fashion," regardless of who or how many people get shot as a result.