Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Carrying A Concealed Firearm In A Purse...

...or in an attaché case or in any other type of handbag (or bag hanging by a shoulder strap) is almost always something I have suggested against (there are very few exceptions that I make to that recommendation). My biggest gripe with that type of carry is that it is virtually inevitable, that at some point during the course of a day while carrying that way, the person carrying a weapon that way will put the bag down and thus not be in control of the pistol that is inside it. In addition, it is way too easy to have a bag snatched away from you by an opportunist and let's face it - most crooks are most certainly opportunists. Another thing is that if a pistol is carried that way, and not in a holster within the bag, then there is the risk of something getting wedged into the trigger guard and actuating the trigger or maybe even blocking it when you need the pistol. The possibility also exists that a small item that is loose in the bag, say a pen, could get stuck in the barrel and cause an obstruction with a potential for disaster. Thus I have always recommended my preferred style of carrying - on my strong side hip in a multiple retention type holster that is secured to my belt by loops integral to the holster itself. I prefer an outside the waistband holster but I suppose an inside the waistband holster is equally acceptable.
A tragic example of why one should shy away from such carry was reported in the media today. While article I am about to cite does not specifically mention one of the above pitfalls of handbag carry that I just outlined, it gives a fairly strong indication that a bag containing a firearm was put down and at least momentarily left unattended leading to a fatal accidental shooting and that the firearm was probably loose in the bag and not in a secure holster inside the bag. According to this report a 2 year old reached into his mother's purse and fired one shot from the mother's pistol which was in the purse, the shot struck his mother and killed her. This happened as she was shopping in a Walmart and while the child was "left" in a shopping cart. 
"The woman, whose identity was not released, had a concealed weapons permit. Miller said the young boy was left in a shopping cart, reached into the victim's purse and grabbed a small caliber handgun, which discharged one time." (source)

So how do I arrive at the conclusion that the bag with the gun in it was left unattended? Well, if the reporting is spot on, then had the bag been in the woman's hands, or hanging by a strap on her shoulder, it probably would not have been within reach of the toddler who had been "left" in the cart. Even if it was on the mom's person but within the child's reach, had the kid been fishing around in mom's bag - she probably would have seen or felt it and had time to prevent this tragedy (especially if it had been holstered inside the bag). My guess is that the bag was left in the cart with the child. Of course it is just a guess but I am basing it on what is said in the article about the child being left in the cart thus implying that the mother may have moved away from it briefly.  Had the pistol been secured in a holster, it probably would have taken a lot more fiddling with by the youngster and quite possibly would have resulted in the mom seeing his messing in her bag in time to prevent this.

Regardless of how it happened though, it remains a tragedy and it also should be a wake up call to folks who carry concealed weapons in bags that sooner or latter will almost indubitably wind up at least momentarily out of their control. A moment was probably all it took for this to happen with the all too sad results being the loss of a life, a baby left without his mother, a husband left without his wife and father left with the obligation of having to someday explain to his son exactly what happened.

Please note that I often wait day or three before posting about a tragedy, out of respect for the victims, instead of posting so immediately afterward. However, in a case like this, my posting without waiting is not meant to be disrespectful to the family or the victim but only as a warning to others who might find themselves in a similar situation. In other words, I am posting immediately afterward in the hope that my advising you of the potential for disaster, when carrying in a similar fashion, may help prevent a similar tragic situation from taking place.

My condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased.

All the best,
Glenn B