Carrying a firearm, concealed or open, is a topic of great controversy, but in this podcast, Tim Schmidt, founder of the USCCA (United States Concealed Carry Association) speaks openly with Buck about possessing and using firearms for self-defense. Tim tells us the story behind USCCA and discusses open carry versus concealed carry. He also explains the consequences of insufficient training requirements for gun owners.
How do you best handle firearms around your kids? Why is it important to pick the right firearm, and what kind of training should you go through? And what is Tim’s preferred firearm? To hear the answer to these and many other enticing questions, listen to the podcast here or read the transcript below.
In Today’s Episode:
00:14 – Who is Tim Schmidt? Background and info
06:57 – How the USCCA got started
10:24 – Open carry versus conceal carry
12:35 – Handling firearms in the presence of children
15:38 – Training for firearms / concealed carry
18:28 – Tim’s preferred conceal-carry firearm
20:53 – How the USCCA helps its members
23:38 – Steps needed to conceal carry in Tim’s perspective
26:20 – USCCA giveaway
Who is Tim Schmidt? Background and info
Buck: Hey folks, Buck Rizvi here with Survival Dad. I am here with Tim Schmidt, and Tim is the founder of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association and publisher of Concealed Carry Magazine that’s read by over 115,000 responsibly armed citizens. He also has a nationally syndicated radio program called Armed America Radio, which is in 36 cities across the country — that number may not be correct, maybe it’s more now. But I’ve had a chance to spend quality time with Tim, and I can personally attest to the fact that he is one of the kindest, most polite and sincerest people you’ll ever meet.
Tim? You there?
Tim: I sure am, Buck, it’s great to be here.
Buck: [Laughs]Good to have you, man. By the way, I loved, and I’ve always loved, your flat-top haircut. I don’t know if it is technically a flat-top, but it looks great.
Tim: [Laughs] Thank you, I appreciate it.
Buck: Is there any military background there?
Tim: No, I was never in the military. My Dad was, but I’ve studied to be an engineer instead.
Buck: OK, yeah, you’ve got a really interesting background there. I know that you’re truly a gun enthusiast, obviously. In fact, your codename is “Tactical Tim.” Can people really be nice and polite and love to shoot at the same time?
Tim: You know, Buck, I think you’d be surprised at what I would consider your typically responsibly armed American is probably one of the nicest, most conflict-avoiding people that you’ll ever meet. And a lot of it has to do with the fact that you know if you decide to go armed, it’s a tremendous responsibility, and you kind of have this new duty of avoiding trouble. So yes, it is possible.
Buck: That’s… I’m really glad to hear that coz I think I fall onto that camp too. [Laughs]
Tim: [Laughs] Excellent.
Buck: I know you got a wife and three kids — unless you’ve had another kid that I don’t know about.
Tim: Oh no, still have three.
Buck: OK. So everyone in the family shoots?
Tim: Ah, yes actually. My two sons are very good shooters. My oldest son, Tim Jr., shoots a .45 auto. As good as, if not better than, his dad.
Tim: He’s only 16. My youngest son is a great shot. My daughter, she’s not as much into shooting, but she certainly can shoot a handgun quite well.
Buck: OK. Well, you’d be very proud of me. I took the family to a dude ranch last year, and everyone shot, including my four-year-old daughter.
Buck: A little rifle, though. [Laughs]
Tim: That’s amazing, fantastic.
Buck: So pun intended: What was the trigger that caused you to look seriously into self-defense?
Tim: Well, I mean, the original trigger that caused me to go down what I would refer to as my “path of self-defense awareness,” or awakening, was when my first child was born. Tim was born 16 years ago, and it wasn’t more than six months after that where I realized, wow, I’m the guy that’s ultimately responsible for his safety.
And you know, I always felt that way with just my wife, but it’s a little bit different now when your wife is a lot more vulnerable with the kids. So really, it was the birth of my first kid. And that really caused me to kind of go down this rabbit hole of self-defense research.
Buck: Well I don’t know if it’s a rabbit hole. Sounds like it’s a very worthwhile endeavor. So that’s exciting.
Buck: You know, you have a few stories in this genre, and you’re an entrepreneur; I think you did your engineering business like not too long after graduation, right? From college?
Tim: It was two years.
Buck: Two years, OK. So, wow, you went into entrepreneurship pretty early, right? So, I really think in terms of being a survival dad, which is what this program is all about, it’s this notion of not just self-defense but self-reliance — and I think you practice the same thing — and part of that is providing for your family and defending your family.
Buck: So, you’ve got some interesting sort of never-give-up stories. Do you mind sharing those? One of those with us?
Tim: Oh boy.
Buck: [Laughs] Pull one from the archive.
Tim: I’ll be the first to admit, Buck, that one of the blessings that I’ve had is this, like, temporary memory where I tend to forget and repress all of the memories of the struggle. I’m saying that half-jokingly, but quite frankly I think that every successful entrepreneur has a little bit of that trait. Because you have to, because, really, the only way to be a successful entrepreneur or successful at anything is being willing to fail on a regular basis and fail quickly as well.
My first major crushing defeat was soon after I started my engineering consulting firm, and it was really more like a contract engineering firm where we would do outsourced engineering projects for a variety of companies in the Midwest. So I just had this dream of having to develop my own product. And so I spent unbelievable resources coming up with everything from, like, an automatic home coffee roaster to a…
Buck: OK, because you’re a mechanical engineer. So you had, like, these…. [Laughs]
How the USCCA got started
Tim: Yeah, I wanted to build this better mouse trap. I launched this business that was going to create and sell all of these home security produces when I was getting closer to that self-defense awareness thing, and that was an abysmal failure, lost a lot of money. Even when I started the magazine, which turned into the association. You know, that business lost money for two full years. I was on the verge of bankruptcy until I finally figured out how to turn that around.
Buck: Does your wife get some kind of sainthood or something during this process? Because, I tell you, for most people it’s really tough to get your significant other to get behind you.
Tim: You know what, that’s so true. As a survival dad, the key ingredient is to have a wife or significant other who believes in you. And if you’ve got that, it’s so easy to take for granted, but you shouldn’t. My wife believed in me long before she should have.
Buck: [Laughs] Before she knew any better.
Buck: Wow, amen. That’s great man. I tell you, that is really part of the secret formula, and when it comes to your family you can’t give up. There’s just no choice.
Tim: Exactly, Buck. And that’s always the way that I view it. It’s like, look, I’m put on this earth for a reason. Initially I thought I was to be an engineer, was pretty good at it.
But then when I realized that, hey, there’s a business opportunity regarding this helping to teach other people to become responsibly armed Americans. I knew that was my calling, and it was really up to me to figure out how to make it work.
Buck: Well, speaking to low points, if you will, and not giving up. I heard that your concealed carry business almost didn’t make it during the early days. Could you tell us about that?
Tim: Sure, yeah. So I launched the first; it started as a magazine, just a print publication. I was probably three or four years into my engineering business. I called it “Schmidt Engineering” of course, for a creative name. And, that’s a joke.
Tim: And I decided, hey, I’m going to start this. I just finished going through my own self-defense awareness, and I’m like, wow, there’s not a lot of good information or community about concealed carry. So I’m going to start this magazine. Bought three books on how to start a magazine. Read all three books. Each of the books said: “Don’t do it.”
Buck: [Laughs] Too expensive. Hard to get advertisers.
Tim: It’s hard, exactly. So I’m like, that’s for the other people. I’ll figure it out. Well, I was wrong. I was two years into that, and if I didn’t have the engineering business I would’ve [failed]. That was the sugar daddy. That was paying all the bills, and it was not a viable business.; I was getting my butt kicked.
And I’ll never forget the day when I was sipping on my porch in the house that my wife and I just built. It was two years in and still losing money, every single month. And my feet are on gravel coz I couldn’t even afford to put a driveway in my house. Oh my God! What am I even doing? And that was the beginning of the turning point and a bunch of events fell into place. I’m a firm believer in “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
Tim: A few key events happened, and finally, after two years of struggle, things started to turn around.
Open carry versus conceal carry
Buck: That’s fantastic, man. Amen. And this is… I’m sure a lot of people have these kinds of stories, but it’s so inspiring to hear them. As well, if someone is struggling and thinking about giving up just before they turn the corner.
So, this is something you probably hear a lot: What is this notion of carrying of concealed, given that guns themselves are taboo” But above that, this notion of carrying concealed is so taboo — why do you think that is?
Tim: You know, I think it’s taboo mostly due to the general lack of education and knowledge that people have about what it takes to actually do this. And especially when you combine it with guns, carrying concealed is something that seems scary. So therefore, when a person senses something that they’re afraid of, they get really emotional, and then it becomes that taboo subject.
But when you really look into it, if you put the emotion aside and look at the logic, carrying a gun for personal protection really makes all the sense in the world, and it is a huge responsibility. And when you prepare yourself mentally and physically to do just that, you can’t help but become a better, more patient, more conflict-avoiding person.
From that perspective, I really feel that the USCCA is helping Americans become better just by doing that. So the taboo aspect is too bad, but I’m doing everything I can to help people learn about the other side.
Buck: So I think you put your finger on it, which is that fear aspect of it. I was open carrying in Nevada once. I was coming back to my hotel room from a defense-of-handgun training course. I had the training belt on, I had the weapon and the ammo still in the belt, and I was just going from my car to the hotel room, but I could tell that during just that short distance I was definitely causing a stir. [Laughs]
What are your thoughts on open carry versus concealed carry? Coz I know there’s a lot of stuff in the news, people being kind of aggressive with running around with AR15s and stuff like that. What’s your take on that?
Tim: Oh boy, Buck, that’s a tough one. My personal feeling is that open carry has its place and time. And for me, that place and time is when I’m up north in my property, and I know my neighbors, and I want easy, quick access, and I want to carry a big gun, so I don’t want to have to conceal it in case I run into a bear or some other animal that wants to do harm. But, open carry in an urban environment? I don’t think it makes much sense. Number one, you lose the tactical advantage of…
Tim: Yeah, not knowing whether or not you’re armed. And number two, it freaks people out. And quite frankly, if I’m walking into a store, and I see some guy slinging an AR15, guess what? If you’re not put on guard by that, there’s something wrong with you. You should be, because the guy’s carrying a rifle. So you should take that into account.
Buck: Well, someone with your training? You’re taking cover, I would take it. [Laughs]
Tim: Yeah, so you know this is definitely a hot topic, and I know that there’s groups down in Texas who are doing this, and the NRA [National Rifle Association)] got in a little bit of hot water on account of their position on it. I’m sorry, but if you’re going to try to make a point I prefer to do it in a more pro-active way and educate people as opposed to try to scare them.
Handling firearms in the presence of children
Buck: I definitely agree with you. It also creates some interesting questions, kids’ minds and so forth when they see that happening. So I definitely feel the same way.
I haven’t added to that that guns are fun to shoot, and they’re tools for self-defense. I keep my guns locked up at home. But I also make sure my kids know gun safety. I’m not hiding the fact that I have guns, and, as I mentioned, I took them shooting last year. What’s your recommendation on when there’s kids in the house?
Tim: That’s an excellent point, especially in the context of what you’re doing here. All I can do is speak from experience. Here’s what I did, as my kids were very young and growing up: I got them into some, I taught them the fundamentals of firearms safety at a very early age. My kids are three, four, or five years old, sitting around the kitchen table, and I’m not taking them shooting, but what I’m doing is I’m familiarizing them with the manual operations of these firearms.
So, essentially, what I’m doing is I’m taking away the mystery of them. They’re just Dad’s guns, they’re dangerous, you don’t play with them. But anytime you want to touch them you can, just talk to Dad. Right?
And so, what I’m doing is actually the ultimate form of gun safety because that follows your child everywhere they go. If you attempt to protect your children from guns by just putting a gun lock or hiding them, what’s going to happen when they go to somebody else’s house?
Buck: Right. Yeah.
Tim: So that would be the first piece. The second piece is when do you make the decision to actually keep a loaded gun around the house. Because here’s the thing, Buck, if you have guns in the house for self-defense and they’re locked up in the safe, well, guess what, they’re not going to work for self-defense. Right?
Buck: That’s a good point; I have that dilemma all the time.
Tim: Here’s how I would suggest you address that.
Tim: First of, you have to look at a case by case basis on your children, and you would never keep a gun not locked up when you are not in the house, right? So the only time the gun should be available is when you’re there, and, ideally, when you’re sleeping, right? And that’s it. As soon as you wake up in the morning and everything is fine, you either holster the gun and go off to work, or lock it in a safe and leave.
Buck: Makes a lot of sense, and that’s perfect, especially because I have a young five-year-old, and a twelve-year-old in the house.
So this whole notion of teaching — in fact, I was just talking to my five-year-old daughter the other day, she got a copy of the NRA magazine, American Rifleman I think it was. It came in, opened that up, and I’m not afraid to show the kids that I’m looking at a magazine about guns. She is asking questions, and I remind her that, “Hey, if you ever saw a gun, would you touch it? Would you pick it up? What would you do?” Those kind of things, and she’s telling me the right answers. Which is great.
Tim: And that’s perfect, Buck. That’s exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, so bravo.
Training for firearms / concealed carry
Buck: Thank you, Sir.
I remember when I took my conceal-carry course that was required to get my conceal-carry permit. It was interesting because I felt the training was rather light. Especially when I contrasted that to, like, a four-day defensive handgun-training course, which was very intense. What’s your stance on training if someone decides to carry concealed? Is the training that you take to get the permit okay? Do you need a lot more training?
Tim: Excellent question. First of all, there is not one state in the U.S. that requires [training], or whose training requirements for the concealed-carry permit are enough.
Tim: Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that the government should tell you how much training you need to carry a gun.
Tim: Essentially, and this may be a little over the edge for some of you, but that doesn’t matter.
Buck: [Laughs] No one’s tuning out — they’re on the edge of their seats right now.
Tim: So here’s what happens. First of all, you know I personally believe that self-defense is not a right granted by the constitution or is granted by any president or law, but rather it’s affirmed by the constitution, and it’s a natural born right. OK. So there shouldn’t be any governments telling you, “Well, you need to pay this tax, and you need to go down to this department and get this stamp and blah blah blah,” coz that’s infringing the right.
Secondarily, the unintended consequence of all these states having these different requirements is that none of them are enough [training] for a responsible person to carry a gun. You should go through weeks of training before you actually carry a gun, right? So what happens is that your typical person that decides to get into this, they get lulled into this false sense of responsibility that they have enough training when they’d just gone to four to six hours of training.
So I personally believe that all these states are doing a disservice to people because, like I said, they are lulling them into thinking that “Oh, I went to the concealed-carry class, now I’m good.” I agree with you, Buck, in a sense that you should go to Front Sight; you should be fully immersed in what it really takes to confidently and professionally carry a gun.
Buck: Amen. Amen. I definitely… Well, I was embarrassed at how little I knew until I went to a more extended training course. So that was good, I highly recommend it. The Front Sight was where I went as you could probably tell, so I’d definitely recommend that to folks to check out.
Tim: Front Sight’s a great place.
Buck: Yeah. So anyway, I know this is a loaded question [laughs]. I’ve tried to slip in all my puns in this series of questions.
Tim: [Laughs] Just shoot, Buck.[Buck and Tim laughing]
Tim’s preferred conceal-carry firearm
Buck: I know you’ve got advertisers for your magazine, but any personal favorites when it comes to carrying concealed? Let’s start with what you normally carry.
Tim: So I have two normal carry guns. Actually, I’m transitioning right now — this is a whole other story — but I used to always carry a .45 auto. The .45 auto that I carry now is the Kahr PM45, which is a very compact, single-stack .45 auto. It only carries five rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. Great little gun.
However, I recently went to this two-day, live Simunition training, where my mind was completely exploded in a sense that I couldn’t believe how quickly I ran out of ammunition. When my adrenal stress response was in full force, and I was trying to shoot these guys, so they wouldn’t shoot me coz you don’t want to shoot these Simunition guns coz it hurts like heck.
Tim: And so, I’m like, “Man, I need to switch over to a 9”. So, I’m in the process of switching my primary carry gun, haven’t done it yet, but it’s going to be a Glock 19, which carries 15 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. So I’m going from .45 to 9mm after 10 years of carrying a .45.
Buck: You guys heard it here first on Survival Dad: Tim Schmidt going from the .45 to the 9mm.[Buck and Tim laughing]
Buck: I have a Kahr, they’re all 9mm. I have a Kahr, a couple of Glocks, and I do have a Glock 19, and I like the 19.
Buck: I think that’s a great gun.
Tim: Yeah. Great gun. In terms of holsters, my hands-down favorite concealed-carry holster is from this little — I don’t want to say hole-in-the-wall — holster company coz they may hear this, and they’re going to be like, “What do you mean? We’re not hole-in-the-wall!” But it’s a small, custom-leather-holster company called High Noon Holsters, and they’re in Florida. They make phenomenal appendix carry holsters, and that’s where I carry, in the appendix position. So High Noon Holsters, my favorite holster.
Buck: Fantastic. I love it. OK, so I’m going to go check out that holster as well coz I buy every holster that someone that I respect recommends [laughs].
Tim: So if you’re going to carry concealed, one of the requirements is you have to buy at least 20 holsters. [laughs]
Buck: And 20 guns as well. People don’t understand, there’s always room for one more gun.
Tim: Yeah, exactly.
How the USCCA helps its members
Buck: So, that’s really what I had, Tim. This is fantastic, fantastic information. And I know we were just chatting earlier about how people can learn more about US Concealed Carry, and what you do. I know I do have one more question, and this is a big one, I apologize: A big part of your business is providing liability insurance for responsibly armed Americans. Why is that so important?
Tim: Yeah, first of all, you’re correct, that is a very big part of USCCA membership. We call that our Self-Defense Shield.
Tim: And the neat thing, the way it works, Buck, is that every member that joins the USCCA is automatically covered by the Self-Defense Shield. And what it is is an insurance benefit that essentially is the deep pockets that you’re going to need if you ever find yourself in a self-defense situation.
Tim: So let’s paint this picture. Let’s say you’re lying in bed, your family is all asleep. It’s 2:30 in the morning, breaking glass, there’s three guys in your house, you’re outnumbered. You manage to grab your firearm, and you defend your family’s safety and honor, but you end up killing someone.
Tim: You were forced to do that. So, I mean crystal-clear self-defense situation. Even in that situation, especially depending on where you live, there’s going to be a full criminal investigation. There’s a good chance you’ll be charged with a crime, not to mention the thug’s family — there’s a good chance that they could sue you.
Tim: Unfortunately, I wish that wasn’t the case, but the way our legal system works, that’s the reality.
Tim: And so, what the Self-Defense Shield does for all of our members is that it provides up to 1.1 million dollars, and that money is for civil defense, criminal defense, any damages that maybe assessed to you. It pays for a criminal-defense attorney retainer, bail bond, compensation in court. Like I said before, essentially it’s the deep pockets that you’re going to need if you ever find yourself in that situation. So that’s what the Self-Defense Shield is. And another neat thing about the USCCA is we actually started our own law firm.
Tim: We have over 300 attorneys all across the country who have been pre-vetted and are literally waiting for the call from the USCCA members to say, “Hey, I need help. Please help me out.”
Buck: Well, I know I sleep better because I’m a member as well, and I receive the same benefit. So thank you for expounding on that. [Laughs]
Tim: It’s my pleasure. It’s something that I’m really proud of, and I’m glad you’re a member as well. That’s great.
Buck: Thank you, Sir. Can we do a bonus question?
Tim: Sure, bring it on.
Steps needed to conceal carry in Tim’s perspective
Buck: Do you mind giving folks a quick rundown of the steps they’ll need to go through in order to carry concealed? From Tactical Tim’s perspective.
Tim: Tactical Tim’s perspective, sure. Well, I guess I’ll preface it by saying that every state is a little bit different.
Tim: In terms of the legality, you know, depending on the state, some states operate their concealed-carry permit through the sheriff’s department. Some go through the attorney general. So, I will start by saying you’re going to have to figure it out by your own state.
Tim: But even before you get to the point where you’re actually applying for your own permit, I highly recommend that you find someone that you know and trust that’s a gun person, and ask them, “Hey, I would love you to take me to the range and teach me the fundamentals of shooting.”
Tim: Because you’re going to want to know some basic fundamentals before you go shopping for a gun. Otherwise, you’re going to buy the wrong gun.
Tim: You’re going to buy a gun that’s not comfortable. You’re going to buy a gun that’s some guy’s at Gander Mountain or some store favorite gun.
Tim: Next thing I’d do is I would read up on, you know, understanding the legality of the judicious use of deadly force. Massad Ayoob writes a great book on that.
Tim: And then I would find a good trainer that can take me through the concealed-carry course.
Tim: And then, the last thing I would do is I would enroll just like you did, Buck, in a one-week program whether it’s at Front Sight or Gunsite or Thunder Ranch. There’s places all over the country that can give you like five or six days of training. And that’s going to give you a crash course in terms of really becoming familiar and comfortable with your firearm. And ultimately, what it’s going to do is set you up to get on a regular, bi-weekly, maybe three times a month training program, so that you can stay consistently comfortable with that gun. Honestly, I could make a list of a hundred things that you ought to do.
Buck: But this is the juice, you just made a great point. You go get the training, you go get the gun. Maybe you’d gone to Front Sight, but your job’s not done, you still need to get out there and shoot.
Tim: Yeah, and you know the best way that I like to think about it, Buck, is that it truly is a lifestyle. It isn’t something that you just go “Oh, I did that.” No no no, you live it.
Tim: You live the responsibly armed lifestyle. And you find yourself a group of people that have made that same decision, and it’s going to help you. You’re going to have that community of people that understand just how important it is, and they’re going to help you stay accountable. You know, so that you can be that responsibly armed American.
Buck: Fantastic. Well, you’ve been very generous, not just for this interview, but you’ve allowed me to give away one of the reports that are “members-only reports if you become a member of the USCCA, entitled How to improve your shooting accuracy in one evening. I know we talk about getting a lot of training, but apparently there’s some really cool ninja tricks that you could take advantage of to improve your shooting accuracy.
So I’m going to make that report available at survivaldad.com/tim and also provide a way for you guys to get back to Tim and check out USCCA if you want to take a look at what Tim has put together with his association, his magazine, and his liability insurance program, which is just phenomenal, and I’m a part of it as well.
Tim: Sounds good, Buck. Fantastic. I really enjoyed talking to you today.
Buck: Tim, thanks so much, and I look forward to the next time we get together.
Tim: Sounds good.