There are few areas of concealed carry debate that are more contentious than the issue of off-body carry. Just bring it up with a fellow gun-owner, male or female, and you will likely get an earful of opinion. Many have no issue with it, and many think it should never be done, and most fall in between with a myriad of legitimate concerns. It’s worth a realistic look at the merits and disadvantages…after all, off-body carry happens a lot and information on what to look out for and how to mitigate the problems would be useful.
Your Bag Just Got More Valuable
Part one brought up the issue of getting your bag, complete with gun, stolen, and how that can be dangerous. There is an added danger here that many people don’t think of. It is generally good advice, when a bad guy grabs your bag, to let go of it and get away from him. Your stuff can all be replaced, and it’s really not worth the risk to life and limb to try to wrest it back. Unless your gun is in there. You might want to fight for that. Are you equipped to do that? Even if you have taken martial arts classes for years, you still are risking a lot engaging in a fight with a bad guy… but I, for one, would feel compelled to keep my gun out of his nasty bad-guy hands. That might not turn out well for me. If my gun is on-body, I will let my purse go and count myself lucky.
Should I Chamber an Off-Body Firearm?
Generally, I prefer to have my firearm chambered. In a defensive situation, split seconds might count, and when adrenaline is running through your system the act of chambering a round becomes difficult. People under stress often bungle the manouevre, leaving them with a jammed and useless gun. But when the gun is off-body, keeping a round in the chamber becomes a riskier proposition. Think about the stories you hear where someone’s kid gets hold of the gun in Mom’s purse, and winds up shooting her or someone else. It’s usually a kid far too young to be physically capable of chambering a round, and the tragedy would not have happened had the chamber been empty. I’m not saying to keep the chamber empty…I’m just throwing that issue into the mix for you to think about. Guns are excellent tools, and I value my right to own them, but there is potential for danger. It’s foolish to not think hard about how you handle them.
Are You Using the Right Bag?
Many years ago, there was a woman living near me who practiced purse carry. I didn’t know she did it until one day she opened her bag in front of me and I saw the gun floating around in there, surrounded by makeup and coins and hair ties and a ton of other stuff. No holster, unsecured, nothing over the trigger. I was horrified. I didn’t know anything about guns at that point in my life, but I was pretty sure that wasn’t smart. Not only would she need to dig through all the junk to get to the gun, but there was a risk of it tangling on something and having the trigger depressed. (And the gun was getting scratched up, which isn’t a safety issue, but it was a nice engraved piece and should have better care taken of it.) If you are going to carry in a bag, get a bag designed for carry. Your gun should be secured and the trigger should have hard cover over it. If you are at all clever, you can even modify your favorite handbag or backpack to safely carry your firearm. But if your gun can shift around, or if the trigger can be inadvertently pressed, you are doing it wrong.
No matter where you carry your concealed firearm, carefully think about safety and effectiveness. It’s your responsibility.