The topic of Off-Body Carry is talked about today as much as it's ever been. The topic is most prevalent with women who carry a handgun in their handbag. I commend all women who make the choice to carry a handgun for their self-protection and of course I understand the dilemma that's created by the choice of off-body carry or on-body carry. Sure, it's easier to just throw your pistol in your handbag and forget about it... until you need it. Because when you become the victim of a crime of violence, it most often happens in the blink of an eye and the option of retrieving your handgun from somewhere inside of your handbag can render it completely ineffective as the tool it was intended for. Most predatory criminals will select you based on whatever their "likes" are, stalk you, flank you, and blind side you when they decide to attack you. By the time you realize you're under a violent attack, it's too late and getting to your gun is likely impossible.
In my many years in the patrol bureau, I've responded to many parking lot robberies and purse snatchings. Pick a parking lot of any shopping mall, any Walmart, any movie theater, any office building, or any grocery store in the US and that's where they'll most likely happen. Many of the victims who've lost their purse, had a handgun inside the purse. Whether the handbag is taken from the victims by physical force OR taken when it was left in the shopping cart while loading groceries into their vehicle. Now that gun is in the hands of a criminal and Lord knows where it'll end up while it moves around in the criminal underworld. It may be used in any crime from street robberies, sexual assaults, to homicides and even the homicide of a police officer. Obviously, that's not what you had in mind when you decided to start carrying a handgun for self-protection. But that's how bad things can go if you're not vigilant about carrying one.
Accidental separation such as leaving your handbag behind somewhere like in a restaurant, or a restroom can happen. Men are not immune from this happening to them as well. A veteran deputy sheriff I used to work with who carried his off-duty handgun in a fanny pack once left his fanny pack in a bathroom stall of a fast food restaurant. The fanny pack was retrieved by an honest person who turned it over to the restaurant's manager who found the firearm within and the deputy's ID and called the sheriff's office to come and get it. The embarrassed deputy got his belongings back from his commanding officer and promptly got a written reprimand and a one day suspension to go with it. Yikes! He never did THAT again. To his defense, he was a good cop, a good guy, a top-tier martial arts expert and a very disciplined person... and I say that to exemplify that it can happen to ANYONE.
So I've outlined a few of the common problems that can arise from Off-Body Carry, and the solution is the most obvious one. Carry ON your body as much as possible. As a Florida cop for over 30 years working in the tropical environments of the state, I've carried a firearm while wearing the typical warm weather apparel such as jeans or shorts and a t-shirt or button down shirts.
Concealing a firearm isn't a very difficult task at all, you just have to make the investment in a quality, concealment holster that fits you, while considering your body type, your dress type, considering seasonal issues i.e. winter dress versus summer dress, and the manner which you prefer to carry. A good belt that's designed for concealed carry is a must, top tier belts from Nexbelt, Crossbreed, Blue Alpha Gear, Galco and Bravo Concealment should get you well on your way to finding that right belt for you. I'll do a deeper dive into holsters and carry modes in a future blog but for now, do your homework, ask questions from professionals and other firearms enthusiasts that carry... and figure out what works best for you.
And get that gun on your body because when you need to deploy your handgun in a life or death encounter, every second counts.
Augie 'Shark' Malagon
Senior Firearms Instructor, LRRAT