Until 2020, the wearing of masks in public was highly unusual and unwelcome in American society. They would draw extra attention, with thoughts of disease or evil intentions; the mark of the sick or criminal. Now, with inescapable COVID-19 restrictions, the tables have turned. Masks are mandatory nearly everywhere, and many who refuse to wear them are demonized and avoided. There are many who refuse to wear a mask for various reasons, even when the law demands it.
No matter your personal politics or closely held beliefs, there are some benefits to mask wearing. No, I'm not about to ramble on about saving grandma, nor preventing a second or third wave of COVID. Throw all that out the window for now. Today I'll be discussing benefits of wearing masks as it pertains to conceal carry and personal defense in 2021.
Avoiding Unnecessary Confrontation
With masks being more common than Nikes, refusing to wear one makes you stick out like a sore thumb. Everyone notices a mask-less person, and many are not afraid to confront you about it. At best, this leads to a soccer mom hassling you at the grocery store. At worst, these confrontations can turn lethal. People have been on edge for over a year, and violence is on the rise across our nation. Below are just the first few results of a quick Google search. The stories go on for pages and pages.
My social media feed is pretty diverse, despite my Liberty-heavy leanings. I've seen more than a few contacts support serious violence against those refusing to mask up. Even those who aren't currently supporting physical violence, are more than happy to call law enforcement to their side, demanding fines or jail time for mask violations.
We should be doing more than just hiding our pistol in our waistbands. Take the cliché "Gray Man" concept to heart, and disappear into the background. I want as little attention as possible, so that my chances of needing to defend myself, verbally or physically, are nearly non-existent. Throw on a mask, wear it right, and use something non-descript. I don't know how effective my KN-95 is at stopping Corona, but nobody gives me a second thought. Fights about mask violations are not the hill I want to die on, no matter my personal opinion.
Masks Reduce the Likelihood of Doxxing
First off, let me define "doxxing". From Merriam-Webster: "to publicly identify or publish private information about (someone) especially as a form of punishment or revenge".
Unless you've lived under a rock, you've probably seen many cases of doxxing in your lifetime. From Jessie Slaughter, to Eric Clanton, to Kyle Rittenhouse, and more. Spouting racial epithets, smashing skulls with bike locks, or lawfully defending yourself, it doesn't matter. If you do something to draw attention to yourself, people will find you. The past several years have seen people lose jobs, have their homes vandalized, and become social pariahs for their actions. With high definition cameras on every corner and in everyone's back pocket, your chances of being recorded are only growing. Combine this with today's cancel culture, and the public's ability to punish you is stronger than it has been in decades.
How do we protect our identity from those seeking to do us harm? Easy, hide your face. It's why common criminals, Antifa, Hong Kong rebels, and special forces do it. Now you don't even need an excuse; society has given us a free pass to disguise ourselves. Mask up, throw on sunglasses and a hat. Wear things you wouldn't normally wear. This doesn't guarantee you won't be doxxed, but it sure helps.
Of course this isn't to say you should find trouble. But if inescapable danger finds you, a little bit of identity protection can pay dividends.
Protection Against Viruses, Bacteria, and More
If things go sideways, and a physical confrontation occurs, there's a significant chance of exchanging bodily fluids with your attackers. No, not like that, the bad kind. Blood, spit, snot, and more commonly leave the body during fights; from cuts, gunshot wounds, screaming, and other means. Chuck Haggard has been in more scraps than most, and he can attest to this. Throughout his law enforcement career he's been exposed to Hepatitis B, lice, fleas, and more. Friends and coworkers of mine have caught tuberculosis, herpes, and HIV after getting into serious altercations.
Of course not all of these transmit through saliva, but many illnesses do. A mask may not protect you from everything, but it's better than nothing. That small barrier could make a world of difference.
Mitigates the Effects of OC Spray and Other Chemical Irritants
In this world we laser beam focus on defense from guns, knives, and fisticuffs. The thought of being pepper sprayed (OC) is far from the average person's mind. That's what happens when a creep tries to bad-touch a college girl; why would I worry about that as a conceal carrier? Unfortunately, pepper spray is making its way into the hands of those who wish to do us harm. Criminals and radical elements recognize the power it has to quickly and quietly subdue a target. As someone who has been exposed to OC on multiple occasions, it severely degrades my ability to function.
Much like how masks can protect our identity, and defend against pathogens, they can also help lessen the impact of OC and other less lethal sprays. I've seen first hand people receive solid blasts of Sabre, POM, and Def-Tec spray directly to the mask, then continue on like nothing happened. Afterwards, individuals noted some spicy air, but that they felt zero effects of the spray. This is immediately after others were sprayed with the same products on their bare faces, putting them out of commission. Now add glasses or goggles, and you're nearly immune, at least in the short term.
The same can be said, to a lesser degree, about CS gas and other irritants. We've seen masks of varying types employed in riots across the world for decades, and their efficacy cannot be denied. A cloth mask isn't the same as your issued CRBNE gear, but it sure helps. Even a dampened T-shirt helps reduce the impact of tear gas, and a tight fitting medical mask will do the same. If you find yourself caught in the middle of civil unrest, throw that mask on as your egress the situation.
Final Thoughts on Wearing Masks for Conceal Carry
With this information, hopefully you can start to see some of the advantages that wearing a mask provides. While we can endlessly debate their efficacy against spreading coronavirus, interpersonal implications, and more, masks look like they're here to stay. Even with some localities removing restrictions, social stigma will persist for the foreseeable future. If you were me, I'd don the mask when necessary and blend into the crowd, ready for whatever comes my way.