Accidental discharges – some people prefer to call them negligent discharges, because in truth, such events are almost always due to stupidity rather than random blameless accident – are invariably unfortunate and sometimes fatal. They are particularly unfortunate when they happen to a person while carrying concealed, because the event provides valuable ammunition to gun control advocates as ‘proof’ that people can’t be trusted to safely carry firearms.
So you want to do all you can to ensure your concealed carry is as safe as possible – for your personal safety, for the safety of those around you, and as a responsible firearms owner keen to protect and preserve your rights.
Here’s an example of a woman who did not optimize her concealed carry. We don’t know the exact details, but according to the report, she had a .25 caliber semi-auto inside ‘a small gun bag’ which in turn was inside her apparently capacious purse and she forgot it was there. She dropped the purse, and that caused the pistol to discharge, and the round struck her friend (probably now her former friend!) in the leg.
There is one very important lesson from what we do know about this incident – make sure that none of your pistols are of a design, or in a state/condition where they can self-discharge if dropped. These days all modern pistols have been designed so they
can not are not likely to self-discharge when dropped, no matter how you drop them, or from how high.
To explain the strike-through text – there may sometimes be exceedingly rare combinations of situations that might cause a pistol, if dropped forcefully enough (ie from a sufficiently great height onto a hard surface) and if landing in exactly the right way to possibly have the force of the impact work the slide, perhaps causing a round to partially chamber and then be detonated by part of the slide mechanism. But the chances of this happening are close to one in a million; maybe less, and for sure, if you’re dropping pistols from ‘only’ 6 ft or so, this would not happen.
Some old model pistols, without ‘transfer bars’ or ‘disconnectors’ could fire if they landed on their hammer, but those designs are largely a thing of the past now. However, check with your local gun store or a respected gun expert to make sure that your pistols can not accidentally self discharge if dropped.
If they can do this, get rid of them. You don’t want to end up less ‘fortunate’ than the woman in the story above (at least she didn’t accidentally shoot a lawyer’s kid!).
Maybe the woman’s pistol self discharged, or maybe the ‘small gun bag’ didn’t protect the pistol’s trigger and the drop caused something else in her purse to bump into the pistol and its trigger.
Which leads to a couple more things to consider.
First, always have your concealed pistol in some type of holster. The holster should do several things. The two most important are that it should hold the pistol securely in whatever location the pistol is intended to be, and that it protects the trigger area making it impossible for something to catch on the trigger and pull it.
If you have a soft nylon holster, it may not give adequate trigger protection. And if you can see any part of the area inside the trigger guard – if any of that space is not covered by strong holster material – then toss the holster. It is unsatisfactory and potentially unsafe. Spend $50 – $100 on a proper holster – it is cheap insurance that might save your life or that of a lawyer’s kid, a friend, or anyone else.
Second, if you are keeping your pistol inside a handbag or other larger container, you must have some way to hold it securely in place and in position and to protect it from the effects of whatever else is in the handbag/purse/container.
You want it held securely in place and in position so you always know, when you put your hand inside the container, where your pistol will be and so you can ‘index’ your hand to your pistol, under stress, without looking and without fumbling.
You obviously want to keep other objects as far away from the pistol as possible to make it easy to reach the pistol and so other objects don’t interfere with your drawing and presenting the pistol when you need to.
Bags that are specifically designed for concealed carry have a dedicated compartment just for the pistol, or possibly for the pistol and a spare magazine or two, and will have a retention/protective/holster system for the pistol and also pouches to hold the spare magazines.
Choosing a good pistol is essential, but it is only one part of the chain of dependencies that come into play when you carry your pistol and if/when you ever need to present it ‘for real’. Don’t be like so many people and, after spending a great deal of time researching your pistol choice, then treat the manner of its carry as an afterthought. You should consider how to safely, comfortably, and conveniently carry your pistol just as much as you considered the pistol choice in the first place.