By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
It takes some people longer than others to find a concealed carry set-up that’s comfortable enough to carry every day. Normally that quest results in the holster drawer or holster bin somewhere in the house that contains a number of gun holsters that get used either only occasionally – say, at the range or in the woods – and holsters that gather dust.
Some people swear off the typical holster altogether and resort to off-body carry.
A person might think off body carry only affects women, since purse carry is very popular and there are a whole bunch of companies out there that make concealed carry purses. However, it’s not isolated to just women, as some men pack a concealed carry gun in a briefcase, backpack, messenger or laptop bag if they don’t want to be spotted carrying in the office.
Regardless of gender, it’s a bad idea and for a number of reasons.
First is the most obvious.
Purses, briefcases, backpacks, laptop and messenger bags are taken on and off and set down with a certain frequency. Stopping in the coffee shop to get some brain fuel, and you set it down, etc. Say you need to visit the bathroom while there; do you always take it with you?
This leaves your gun susceptible to being lost or worse, stolen when unattended. It’s difficult to steal a gun from someone who happens to be wearing it, whether it’s being carried concealed or openly, though the latter can be more easily accomplished if a person is open carrying without a level II retention holster. (It has been known to happen.) Additionally, a purse, briefcase or messenger bag can be stolen off a person carrying it – the reason “purse snatching” is a popular phrase is because it happens.
Losing or having a gun stolen when you could otherwise have secured it on your person and thus avoided the risk is just a bad idea.
Carrying on the body doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Plenty of firearms in compact, subcompact or micro sizes are easily carried on the body and there are a plethora of holster makers out there that specialize in comfortable carry holster designs. (I know of at least one…) If you are going to carry, you owe it to yourself and your fellow citizens to do so safely.
Off-body carry also creates two additional dangers besides losing the gun or having it stolen, along with whatever else is inside one’s purse, backpack, satchel or laptop bag. One of them is the danger of a drop-fire or slam-fire if a purse, briefcase or other bag is dropped. Granted, the chances of a drop-fire are much lower with modern firearms compared to older firearm designs.
However, 1911 carriers should be aware of the design of their pistol. Series 70 designs, which are still produced and widely, are more susceptible to drop-fire than the Series 80 design, which is still quite common but includes a firing pin block. (Some people complain about the effect on the trigger, but it’s really not that noticeable so don’t listen to the peanut gallery on the forums.)
Again, nearly all modern guns have a firing pin block, so a drop-fire is not as much of a danger as it was back when most people carried a single-action Colt…but mechanical safeties do fail, so it’s best one doesn’t count on it as a safety net, along with following the four rules of gun safety.
Here’s a refresher, in case anyone needs one:
The other danger of off-body carry? Anyone can get into it.
And they do. Just a few days prior to this writing, a 3-year-old boy got into his mother’s purse on Saturday, Dec. 31 (2016) in Indianapolis, according to the Indianapolis Star, and shot his 5-year-old sister in the head. Literally minutes before writing this piece, the Star updated the article, reporting that the girl had died. The mother could face criminal neglect charges.
A similar incident happened in Indianapolis in April 2016, wherein a 2-year-old boy obtained his mother’s Bersa Thunder from her purse and shot himself. The child, Kiyan Shelton, died after being transported to the hospital. His mother, according to a May 2016 report from the Indianapolis Star, was charged with felony neglect of a dependent.
There are dozens of such incidents reported annually. It’s estimated that more than 250 accidental shootings where children obtain a firearm and accidentally shoot themselves or others occur every year, according to the Washington Post. Many are fatal.
There are a number of preventative measures that can keep such incidents from happening. One is to have and use a gun safe in the home. Another is not to carry off the body.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.