Off-Body Carry – Part 1
I am not a huge fan off off-body carry; there are too many disadvantages and chances for things to go wrong. However, there are times when it is the only option for carrying a concealed firearm. I wish I could always use a dominant-side holster. It is, without question, the most efficient way to keep my sidearm close and quickly accessible. However, because of wardrobe and activity choices I often have to move to ankle, corset or purse carry. This is more of an issue for women than men, as women’s body shapes and clothing styles make it difficult to keep a hip holster truly concealed. A rig that stays invisible on a man’s hip doesn’t behave that way on mine – it sticks out like I’m Boba Fett on the prowl. Not particularly discreet.
There Goes Your Purse….and Your Gun
Several problems of off-body carry are easy to see. The first one that springs to my mind is that your purse or briefcase can be the actual target for a criminal. If your gun is in your bag, and your bag gets snatched, the bad guy has your gun. Just in case you are unclear on just how bad that is, let me spell it out. He might discover it immediately and use it against you. He might find it later and use it against someone else, or sell it to someone who then uses it in the commission of a crime. Moreover, even if he doesn’t realize right away that he’s got your gun, you are still defenseless against any physical attack he might launch with his hands or whatever other weapon he is carrying.
Keep a Close Eye on Your Bag
The only help for this problem is to be very protective of your bag. Never set it down where it can be nabbed and run off with. If you are using a shopping cart and want to set it in the basket, use a carabiner to clip it to one of the rails of the cart…but keep your cart and bag with you and in your sight at all times as well. Criminals are opportunists; they wait patiently for you to turn your back or become distracted, and then they move quickly. It is worth the extra time and caution to avoid losing your bag and firearm to a bad guy. And if it is taken, in addition to the fear of it being misused, you now have to report your gun stolen. (You have your serial number written down somewhere, don’t you? Please tell me you do…)
Have You Ever Forgotten or Misplaced Your Bag?
It’s hard to be constantly vigilant – most of us have at least once left our purse or briefcase somewhere after setting it down, if only briefly. But how fast could someone steal it? How quickly could a curious child pull that gun out? There is no time brief enough to leave a loaded firearm unattended. You simply cannot become careless with it. When your gun is on your ankle or hip, you are in control of it and aware, at least peripherally, of its presence. You have to concentrate on keeping that control and awareness when it’s off-body. That is just one of the obligations of the responsible gun owner.
Having your handbag or briefcase misplaced or stolen is bad enough without a gun being part of the situation. Hang on to it…clip it to your cart, keep it in your hand or on your shoulder, and be aware of your surroundings and the people near you.